Arc’teryx Norvan LD Trail Running Shoes

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The Norvan LD is the second of Arc’teryx’s footwear offerings aimed at the growing trail and mountain running market. I tested the first shoe, the Norvan VT, aimed at more technical trails and scrambling, but unfortunately the fit did not suit me and I was unable to get the best out of them. So when the Norvan LD  arrived, I had high hopes…

So let’s just say I’ve not been disappointed.  

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Rock and hard pack in the Grand Paradiso National Park, Italy

LD stands for Long Distance. The Norvan LD is a shoe aimed at comfort for long distance trail runs. At 310g it is lightweight but still rugged and supportive. I’d say that the quality and durability of these shoes is pretty incredible. I have ran a full season in them so far (1200+ km basically starting at the end of March) and there are no obvious signs of wear and tear. The sole unit is also proving to be very durable too. I’ve used them on alpine trails, UK fells, forest trails and even a bit of road.

I think one of the reasons the Norvan LD is so durable, is the lack of seams. A single layer of durable and breathable mesh with strategically placed TPU film (laminated to reduce seams) and a synthetic toecap which adds protection at minimal weight cost, all add up to a comfortable, breathable and durable package with minimum weight penalty. The mesh is breathable – I’ve been running in the alps in temps of plus 30 degrees and these shoes breathe as well as any. They also dry incredibly quickly if I have dunked them in a stream or been running in torrential rain. I’d say the mix of breathability, durability and foot protection has been measured out perfectly here. 

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A neat, well made and slick package.

The sole unit provides great grip across a range of surfaces. The 3.5mm square-shaped lugs composed of Vibram® MegaGrip™ rubber gives constant grip on most surfaces, working best on alpine trails where a mixture of rock, gravel, grass and hard baked dirt are encountered. I’d say they perform best on hard surfaces with their limitations being most noticeable on steep wet grass or mud, the kind of things most commonly found on UK fells. 

With a heel drop (stack) of 9mm you get a comfortable ride and decent stability. Cushioning comes from a long-wearing EVA/Polyolefin midsole that mitigates impact for long-distance comfort. It performs very well in the real world, I have completed runs up to 60km with 3-4000m of ascent/descent and the Norvans are a dream to run in. For comfort and stability on alpine trails I have not worn a shoe that performs better or is anywhere near as durable. 

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Forest trails in Norway.

In terms of fit I’d describe these shoes as medium width, and I think they will appeal to quite a lot of foot shapes. The heel cup is secure and comfortable and the simple lacing system allows a secure and bespoke fit. I absolutely love the lace housing at the top of the tongue because it completely ensures that the laces never accidentally undo themselves. 

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Lace housing – simple and effective 

The Norvan LD trail running shoe is my go-to trail running shoe. I love the comfort, stability and durability. It’s amazing to see that the uppers are pretty much immaculate (apart from the dust) after a lot of use. The sole is wearing well too. It’s a light shoe (yeah sure not the lightest, but light enough) that lasts. This is a shoe that looks simple and it is. But the best things usually are! Top job Arc’teryx!

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