Full disclosure: Sophia and I received these shoes as part of our ambassadorship for Icebug.
When we found out Icebug was coming out with a shoe this summer designed in collaboration with Tove Alexandersson, we were super excited. She is a big hero of ours – an orienteering world champion, sky runner and just so kick-ass – and we were pumped to try out the shoe she helped design. This shoe is being marketed as a sky running shoe, which basically means a shoe made for running fast on trails in the mountains, with long steep ascents and descent and lots of tricky technical terrain. Sophia and I have both run our fare share of mountain races here in Sweden – KIA Fjällmaraton most recently – and we really think these shoes would be ideal for that race.
We thought a quick little look at what our garden looks like after a cold May and a – so far – warm and sunny June could be fun, so we decided on sharing a photo tour. The status is overall quite good, despite a few mishaps over the past few months. Crane fly larvae destroyed our expected early spinach harvest, so we had to re-sow and ended up getting a smaller-than-ideal yield due to the unavoidable bolting in early June, but a yield nonetheless! We’ve then also had to battle slugs big time, but after a few weeks of relentless killing, trapping and applying Ferramol, it seems we have the situation more or less under control. On a brighter note: pak choi is a new favorite crop. Easier, yummier and more fuss-free vegetable must be hard to come by, and we’re hooked. Note though, that just like spinach, pak choi bolts (goes to bloom) when peak summer arrives. In other words: shoot for spring and fall harvests instead.
I remember so well the first time I found my way to Karoline Jönsson’s Instagram account @sjalvhushallningprojektet (The self-sufficiency project), because I immediately felt “that’s how I want to live too”, as I started scrolling through her magical pictures and reading her thoughts on self-sufficiency, countryside living, vegetable growing and the love for nature. We had recently moved to Sweden at the time, and it had dawned upon us rather quickly that we had found our home in more ways than just one, with our little house in the woods and a vegetable garden in the making outside our window. Here we had Karoline and her partner Alex, a couple roughly our age living what seemed to be the dreamiest of dreamy countryside lives on a farm in southern Sweden. Were you really allowed to feel that way? That you simply want to live immersed by serenity with nature as your closest neighbor, far away from city life, hectic careers and expensive habits?
Full disclosure: Sophia and I received these shoes as part of our ambassadorship for Icebug.
I’ve just come back form a long run (30 km) where I was wearing the OutRun model, and what can I say? This is where these shoes really shine. I’ve been wearing them now for about three weeks, and have thereby had the chance to break them in properly as well as test them on varying terrain. Here on the island of Yxlan in the Stockholm archipelago where I live, I have everything from pavement, dirt road and gravel road to buffed out trails, technical trails with a lot of roots and rocks and large boulders, and a typical run consists of hitting up almost all of this – although I do try to avoid pavement as much as possible. With a not too aggressive outsole and plenty of cushion, this shoe can easily transition from the trails to the roads without sacrificing grip or stability. With all that said, that’s not my favorite part about this shoe. No, that’s the fact that Icebug is referring to it as “the world’s most sustainable trail running shoe”, and does so with good reason. It comes with an upper of 100% recycled PET polyester, recycled rubber in the outsole and a midsole made with 20% algae, to name a few features. However no matter the stats, the real test to how sustainable a shoe is if 1. you actually use it and 2. it lasts. Time will tell if it lasts, but I can definitely see myself getting a lot of use out of this shoe.
RB9X rubber outsole made with recycled rubber, with a new lug pattern. Features 4 mm deep lugs which make this a great crossover shoe, allowing for easy transition from trails to roads and back to trails. The outsole shines the most on buffed out trails and dirt roads, while still giving decent grip on more technical terain, i.e. with lots of roots and rocks. It’s been dry here the past few weeks, so I haven’t had the chance to test these in mud, but with the short lugs I can see these perhaps not being ideal for particularly muddy conditions.
As far as cushioning, this shoe lands somewhere in the middle for me. Without adding a significant stack height, the midsole provides a moderate amount of support, allowing for a softer ground feel with a nice bounce back. If you’ve run in the Icebug NewRun, it has a similar feel. There’s also a forefoot rock plate which gives you added protection from sharp rocks and roots.
The upper is made of 100% recycled PET polyester made from recycled plastic bottles and leftover textiles, with TPU overlays for further protection. I haven’t put too many kilometers yet on the shoes, but it feels like the upper will be pretty durable.
Wide toe box allowing the toes to splay, but snug fit in the forefoot. Fits very similar to the Icebug NewRun. Takes about 50k to break in, so they’ll feel a little stiff at first, but will fit like a glove after just a while.
I can see this being my go-to shoe for long runs and easy runs, especially when running non-technical trails and/or gravel roads. Comfort is the main sticking point here. While this shoe would work for everything, for the super technical terrain and speed work, I might choose another pair. I can also see myself using this shoe for walks around the woods and my neighborhood. I used to run a lot in Salomon shoes, and for the sake of possibly helpful comparisons, I’d say this is very similar to the Salomon Sense Ride. (For reference, I’m a 43 1/3 in the Salomon Sense Ride and a 43 in the Icebug Outrun)
Weight: 305 g (Men’s) / 265 g (Women’s) Drop: 7 mm More info: Icebug.com
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There’s just something about the simple life. We can’t pretend otherwise. It’s not about fearing the worst. About thinking society as we know it will collapse. About feeling the need to hoard and secure our food reserves. About going to bed with an unsettledness and wondering what the world will look like tomorrow. It’s not about that at all.
We moved to Sweden in August 2017, and got to enjoy a pretty normal Swedish late summer before an unusually rainy fall took over. The coming spring, in 2018, didn’t see any rain at all, on the other hand. And it was warm. Summer-like way too early, many would say. And so it continued. The summer of 2018 was indeed nice from a swimming and sunbathing perspective, but it left many of us with a big lump in our stomachs. A big one, even. I remember that Mike, still a beginner Swede at the time, asked me sometime in May-June if forest fires ever were an issue in Sweden. “Nah”, I said. “I can only recall one, and that was the one in the Tyresta National Park many years ago”. The one that dad actually smelled even out here on Yxlan and made him go for a loop around the neighborhood in the middle of the night, to see if something was up.
A while ago, we wrote on Instagram about how we want to live our lives, and how we tackle a world that, at times, feels rather grim. The answer to that (quite vast) question is this one: we want to be part of the solution, not the problem.
The most fundamental lesson of all these past few years of changing our life trajectories is that trying to be part of the solution has only made us happier, more grounded and more easily satisfied people. It has not made us feel poor. Or under-stimulated. Or as if we’re sacrificing a lot. Or as if we’re giving up ourselves in hopes of “changing the world”. No, none of that. It has just made everything better.
Today, we have the great pleasure of finally getting to publish the first interview of what we hope will turn into a long series of inspiring, interesting conversations about everything under the sun. Our inaugural interview object is a person we’ve actually never met in real life, but someone we’ve followed on Instagram for many years. And while Erika Borgström is mostly known for her athletic achievements as a trail runner and ski mountaineer, we’d like to say she has captured our interest just as much through her carefully worded reflections on life through social media. A person you can’t help but to love, it feels like. Let’s get started.
Today it’s time to ask some questions to the other half of our duo: Sophia. The interview with me, Mike, from last week can be found here: A Transplanted New Yorker in Sweden: An Interview with Michael. It’s been wonderful receiving your positive feedback ever since that one was posted, and we feel very inspired to get going with the “real” interview series this coming Sunday. Until then – here’s the interview with Sophia. Some of the questions have been submitted by you all through Instagram, and some are my (Mike’s) own.
For a while now, we’ve been daydreaming about putting together an interview series with people we find inspiring and interesting. One thing that defines us both is our curiosity, and that we can get excited about almost any topic if the story is compelling enough, or if the storyteller is a captivating character. Reading and listening to personal portraits and in-depth interviews is something we both love, and this is one of the primary ways we find inspiration and courage to test our wings, try new things and live our dream. There have been many times where the interview object or subject of, let’s say, a podcast hasn’t been an obvious point of interest, but where the outcome has managed to completely capture our attention. Now, we’re total beginners at interviewing people, and really have no clue as to how to put these enchanting stories together, but we’re too curious to not give it a try. We figured that if we just ask the questions we ourselves would love to hear the answers to, we can’t be too far off.