Last updated: 24-Mar-21
By Steve Diederich
Following on from the ground-breaking Norvan VT shoe – Arc’teryx had a tough act to follow albeit in a slightly different segment.
Described as being “specifically designed for all-day comfort on extended trail runs” this was a big ask of the designers.
Did they meet the brief and come up with something substantially different in a really crowded market?
- Drop (Stack): 9mm (27mm : 18mm)
- Ergonomically-patterned 3.5mm square-shaped lugs for assured traction
- 9mm heel drop
- Vibram® MegaGrip™ rubber compound single layer mesh
- Strategically placed TPU film and synthetic toecap add protection for minimal weight
- Long-wearing EVA/Polyolefin midsole mitigates impact for long-distance comfort
- 4mm thickness OrthoLite™ 3D molded insert
- Weight: 310 gms
- RRP UK – £135.00
So, some similarities with the Norvan VT then? The 9mm drop, the Vibram Megagrip sole? Well that is pretty much where it stops – this shoe looks and feels like a different breed.
Don’t get me wrong – the VT still rates as one of the most accomplished shoes I have reviewed, with some amazing features that are really useful. The Norvan LD (LD = Long Distance) has taken some of these and added some subtle but great features.
What makes the Norvan LD special?
Looks? Well no, whilst it isn’t a bad looking shoe, it just isn’t very exciting in my opinion (unless you get the “Venom Green” (Canary Yellow) version of course, which would look muddy yellow in days with my shoe care regime).
Lacing System? Well no, the LD carries the same conventional flat-laced, lacing system you get 90% on all trail shoes, of course this isn’t a bad thing, however Arc’teryx really found something special with the amazing and versatile variable tension lacing system on the VT.
In my opinion, it is a real shame they didn’t carry this over to the LD.
The soles? Hell yeah, I was really impressed by the VT sole on wet, slippery rock on The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica and I waited to get this review out as soon as we had some rain in the UK recently.
The LD didn’t disappoint, I could almost go as far as to say that the Vibram Megagrip soles are the best all round soles I have used (with the exception of deep mud).
The grip on wet and loose surfaces for a multi purpose shoe is extraordinary … I will definitely putting these in my kit bag for Costa Rica in February.
Structure and cushioning? Both are top notch, the underfoot cushioning is as generous as you would expect for an “all-day” long distance shoe.
My feet felt well protected with no excessive impact from hard/sharp rocks, maybe less so in the heel area, however as a mid-foot striker they performed well.
The feedback through the foot bed is also good, better than some of the more “marshmallow” type soles.
The uppers on the shoe matched this really well, holding the ankle well whilst still allowing a bit of give and the upper contact points around the foot entrance had no pressure point and held my foot well.
The tongue is a nicely-cushioned sewn in affair with an oversized pull tab. However a small oversight is the positioning of the lace pocket as it sits under where you tie the knot, a few mms higher would have been perfect.
My feet are slightly on the wide side of normal and this is one area of improvement for me over the VT – a wider toe box gave me a lot more comfort. I could happily spend all day in this shoe … pretty much whatever the terrain.
This shoe is marginally stiff in its flexibility all along the length of the sole giving it a comforting solid feel.
Protection? Not at the technical end of mountain running shoes – the footplate is only slightly noticeable as is the reinforcement to the toe box, although both are effective as they took every misplaced step and kick to rock and roots in their stride and my feet came out of the shoes in the same state as they went in – couldn’t ask for more.
The tops of the shoes are breathable and (the non GTX version) allow some dust and water ingress, however water sheds reasonably well from them so that you don’t end up with overly heavyweight sodden shoes after running through puddles.
Build and quality? I have probably done a couple of hundred kilometres in the Norvan LDs now and they are showing little sign of wear in any area. We have come to expect quality from Arc’teryx and the LDs are holding up this reputation really well in this respect.
Performance? Whilst the LD isn’t the ultra light shoe favoured by racing snakes, it is adaptable, fast and responsive, whilst still giving great feedback.
There is little to fault these shoes on – they have hit a sweet spot with comfort not compromising all round performance and quality of materials and manufacture with some excellent capabilities (did I mention the grip?).
This comes with a price tag of £135 (discounts available of course), however given the build of these shoes I would guess that this is probably good value.
If you are looking for a shoe that copes well in varying terrain and conditions, you may want to make room on your Christmas list for the Arc’teryx Norvan LD.
I will be interested to see how the GTX version stands up in winter conditions.
Other running shoes you may want to consider:
inov-8 Trailroc 285
Salomon Speedcross 4
Hoka One One Challenger ATR 4
Have you used the Arc’teryx Norvan LD trail running shoes? Don’t agree with this review? What’s your opinion? Add your own comment to this review and share your experience and passion for running with others.
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