Gear Review: Arc’teryx Norvan LD Trail Shoe


The Arc’teryx Norvan LD is a ‘long distance’ trail shoe built for all day comfort while still providing top-notch technical performance. My size 12 comes in at a nimble 12.83 oz, which is impressive given the bombproof construction and design of the Norvan LD. The upper on this shoe is simple and effective, the midsole is firm and protective, and the outsole just never seems to fail me. I’ve been wearing the Norvan LD for hiking, backpacking, and trail running over the past few months and will share my experience in this review.

Gear Review: Arc'teryx Norvan LD Trail Shoe

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Fit and Weight

My size 12 of the Arc’teryx Norvan LD comes in at 12.83 oz. The size 12 fits true to size, as I wear a size 12 in almost all of my other trail shoes. I have quite a few Arc’teryx products in my gear bin, and the Norvan LD is just like the others…incredibly well designed with second-to-none construction quality. Everything about Arc’teryx products scream “premium” as soon as I put them on. Don’t let the minimalist look of these shoes fool you if you’ve become accustomed to trail shoes grabbing your attention with bright colors and flashy design elements. The Norvan LD is purpose built, and my praise in this review starts here with the fit.

Gear Review: Arc'teryx Norvan LD Trail Shoe

The heel on the Norvan LD is extremely comfortable with a seamless and buttery smooth construction. The heel rides a little high, but cups the rear of my foot nicely without creating any friction, slipping, or hot spots at toe-off. The lateral fit of the heel is average width, and works well for my slightly narrow heel. The Norval LD has a slightly rigid counter that provides really nice lateral stability on steep and off-kilter trails.

Gear Review: Arc'teryx Norvan LD Trail Shoe

Gear Review: Arc'teryx Norvan LD Trail Shoe

The midfoot of Norvan LD is precise and comfortable, accommodating my slightly wide foot perfectly. The Norvan LD can be adjusted for a super precise fit on technical trails, or loosened up a bit for longer days on buffed out single track.

Gear Review: Arc'teryx Norvan LD Trail Shoe

The toebox on the Norvan LD accommodates my wide forefoot and allows my toes to splay without feeling sloppy or loose. The overall fit of the Norvan LD is very similar to that of the Salomon Ultra Pro in that regard.

Gear Review: Arc'teryx Norvan LD Trail Shoe

Upper Build

The upper on the Norvan LD is made from a single layer of closed mesh polyester under a welded TPU film support overlay. When I first tried on the Norvan LD, the upper felt really stiff. It took around 25 miles for the uppers to really break in and start molding to my feet. Although the premium materials used on this upper took some time to break in, they have worn very well and show little wear despite my abuse.

The closed polyester mesh works well in warm weather, but doesn’t breathe as well as a shoe using open mesh. The trade-off is a slightly warmer shoe for colder outings, and much less sand, snow, and dirt finding its way into the shoe. The Norvan LD doesn’t drain very well when submerged in water, but they dry fairly quickly as the polyester upper doesn’t really absorb much moisture.

In use for hiking and trail running, the upper on the Norvan LD has performed very well. The TPU overlays wrap my midfoot and provide lateral stability without being too structured or rigid. Even with a pack on or while carrying my 35lbs son, this upper keeps each foot secured right atop the midsole.

Gear Review: Arc'teryx Norvan LD Trail Shoe

The tongue on the Norvan LD uses a sock-like wrap akin to Salomon’s Endo-fit. This provides a nice seam-free midfoot wrap. The top of the tongue uses a bottom-loaded lace garage to stow away tied laces. Like the stitching and materials used on the rest of this upper, Arc’teryx uses super high quality materials with a highly reinforced construction. This felt a bit stiff at first, but has since broken in nicely.

Gear Review: Arc'teryx Norvan LD Trail Shoe


The Norvan LD is built on a 9mm drop platform with 25mm in the heel and 16mm in the forefoot. Arc’teryx uses a blend of 85% compressed EVA and 15% polyolefin. The polyolefin is used to make up a small medial post that runs from the medial arch to the medial heel. This technically makes this a “support” shoe, as the post provides a nice base for stability on rough trails and late stage pronation correction. The forefoot uses a .7mm stone guard in the forefoot for protection from sharp objects.

Gear Review: Arc'teryx Norvan LD Trail Shoe

The midsole on the Norvan LD is possibly the best I’ve used for combined hiking and trail running. The Salomon SLAB Ultra is the only other shoe I own that provides this much underfoot protection and stability while maintaining a comfortable and dynamic underfoot ride.

The overall feel of the midsole is on the firm side, which is perfect for my daily use. If you’re looking for a marshmallow, stick to Hoka. The Norvan LD is designed for protection and stability on technical terrain, but can still soak up a pounding for longer runs on hardpack and single track. The Norvan LD midsole is torsionally rigid, which makes it a great backpacking shoe as well.

Gear Review: Arc'teryx Norvan LD Trail Shoe


The Norvan LD outsole uses a trapezoidal lug pattern with a 3.5mm lug depth. The full coverage outsole uses a Vibram Megagrip rubber compound, and utilizes three flex points in the forefoot for a natural feeling toe-off. I wrote about my love of the Vibram Megagrip compound in my review of the Scarpa Spin. My thoughts remain unchanged on Megagrip here for the Norvan LD. Vibram Megagrip offers phenomenal traction on smooth, damp, and sandy surfaces, and has proven to be long wearing and durable as the miles add up. I’ve worn the Norvan LD on rocky ridge routes, dusty mountain single track, sandy desert rock slabs, and even a little asphalt. This outsole can do it all.

Gear Review: Arc'teryx Norvan LD Trail Shoe

Gear Review: Arc'teryx Norvan LD Trail Shoe

My only critique of the outsole on the Norvan LD is that it doesn’t shed mud very well. The wide trapezoidal lugs provide great traction on smooth surfaces, but there isn’t much space in between them. This causes thicker mud to build up and stick.

Gear Review: Arc'teryx Norvan LD Trail Shoe

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Closing Thoughts

At $160.00, the Arc’teryx Norvan LD is a premium shoe at a premium price. The Norvan LD isn’t just a premium performer though, as it’s premium build quality and materials make for a shoe that will outlast many others. On a per-miles basis, the Norvan LD can actually be viewed as a high value purchase. If you’re looking for a bombproof shoe that will provide stability and protection wherever your adventures take you, the Norvan LD should be at the top of your list.

Arc'teryx Norvan LD










Hiking Stoddard Peak via Barrett Stoddard Road – Mt. Baldy, CA

Hiking Magnolia Trail To Buzzard Peak – West Covina, CA


29 thoughts on “Gear Review: Arc’teryx Norvan LD Trail Shoe”

  1. Hi Drew — we’ve snagged a permit to do the Escalante Route in late March 2019, taking 6 days/5 nights. While I’ll try to go as light as I can, I’m likely to be carrying a bit more as our 12 and 14 year olds are coming too. With that in mind, as well as the long descent to the Colorado River and scrambling, etc. along the route, would you recommend a shoe like the Norvan LD or should I consider something more substantial? I day hike in a Salomon XA PRO 3D, but find I can’t crank the laces down enough (and make them stick) to make them feasible for a long descent with weight. Thoughts? Regards, Jack (met you in June near the summit of Baden-Powell, we with a toy Aussie Shepard and one child)

    • Hi Jack! I’ve read a lot of great things about the Escalante Trail. The Norvan LD would be a great shoe for this use. The toebox fits my foot really well, and feels great on long and technical downhill stretches of trail. The Vibram outsole will handle your scrambling without issue. If you’re looking for something like the XA Pro 3D with a better fit, the LS Bushido is a favorite of mine. My other top shoes for a hike like this would be the Adidas Swift R2- very firm and stiff, but great for a heavy pack. Salomon Sense Ultra Pro- Most plush midsole, but not as stable as the others listed.

      • Hi Drew —
        Jack here again. I snagged the Norvan LD, and while I haven’t hiked in it yet, I did use it for snow running in Canada over the holidays. I had sprayed the shoes with a waterproofing spray and while I buried the forefoot in snow and sometimes liquid slop, my feet stayed dry, warm and comfortable even in the teens or 20s (F) temps. (Wore Darn Tough crews as socks.) Traction was good except when both feet were on an unseen ice patch, at which point in time I picked up a solid bruise on my hip and a scuffed and sore elbow even through several layers of clothes.

      • Hi Drew — got back 2 weeks ago from our 6 day/5 night Escalante Route adventure with perfect weather and nary an issue. The Norvan LD performed wonderfully, even with a 55-65# pack (our food for four weighed in at close to 40#, split between my wife and me), unimproved trails and a fair bit of scrambling. I put leukotape on my outer toes and did not have any blisters there or elsewhere, and the heel and laces held firm even with the first day 9 mile, 5000 foot descent to the river. By the end of the trip I did not have any nicks or tears on the uppers, and the vibram sole provided great grip. I did roll my foot on a loose rock the first day, but no sprain and I suspect that between the total weight (I’m 190 to start) and the loose trail condition, as well as historically bad ankles following multiple sprains playing lacrosse, I would have rolled regardless of how I was shod. So two thumbs up for the Norvan LD.


      • One further note: the trip was approximately 37 miles long, with only one improved, maintained trail involved (Grandview Trail from Horseshoe Mesa, 4miles or so), and involved approximately 14,500 feet of descent and 14,960 feet of ascent.


  2. Thoughts on the Norvan LD versus the Salmon Sense Ride for a trail running shoe in mostly dry, rocky conditions, and anywhere from 5-40km distances at medium speed?

    • I love both shoes. The Sense Ride has a softer midsole, more flex, and less underfoot protection. It feels much more like a road running shoe underfoot, but with great traction. The Norvan LD is a beefier shoe, with more underfoot protection and firmer ride. The upper is also a bit stiffer, and offers more protection. Both shoes will handle dry and rocky trails up to 40km without issues. On rockier trails, I’d opt for the Norvan LD. For smooth trails mixed with road, the Sense Ride.

    • I loved my sense ride for about 6 months until they gave me some severe tendonitis on the top of where my ankle meets my foot because the tongue goes up so high. Worst part was with the lacing system I couldn’t just adjust the laces. Back to the drawing board and thinking about these Norvan as a replacement.

  3. dear Drew,

    I am looking for a so-called universal workhorse, I don’t like carrying much stuff. This May I am going to leave Krakow, Poland and cycle with my girlfriend to Lofoten Islands, via Sankt Petersburg; we will be cycling, hiking, strolling, going to fancy dinner parties, running and then working and driving 🙂 in Norway. How would these shoes perform on a bike (I have always used spd but this time I will disconnect) ?

    your answer / suggestion / comment would be appreciated

      • Hi there, just adding my 2 cents to this. I’m on my 3rd pair of LD’s now and they really are my universal go-to shoe. I do use them for some cycling as well (but not to the serious extend you’re talking about). Because the sole is reasonably stiff to protect your feet from poking rocks, it is also reasonably suited for cycling. But please do not expect SPD-performance, SPD-cycling shoes generally are way more stiff than any running shoe. On the other side, there are hardly any SPD-shoes you can walk in for serious distances, let alone run…

        So in the end you need to consider where your priorities are in this. If your core activity is getting to Lofoten, and the rest is just ‘extra’ you might look for something stiffer. You might look for a trail run shoe that has a partial or full ‘rock plate’ instead of a protecting film. Personally I usually find myself feeling rather ‘clumsy’ in them when doing serious running, but they might fit your needs just fine. You could opt for a pair of Nike’s Wildhorses, they’re generally available and good value. Choices – choices – choices…

        So what would I do when in your place? (1) be very happy to go and make this trip 🙂 (2) Looking at the lush green in the areas you will be going through I guess there is no way escaping ‘wet days’. So I would NOT opt for taking just one pair of shoes and a pair of flip-flops for camp (what you might do in warmer areas). When you’ve been cycling for hours in the rain you just don’t want to be stuck with a wetted-out pair of shoes in camp… I guess I would mount pedals in my bike that have the SPD-system om one side and a ‘normal’ other side. For the days with long km’s you cam go for optimum power efficiency with a SPD shoe, and when in camp and just going out for groceries you can wear ‘normal’ shoes. In this usage scenario the LD’s would just perform well as the ‘normal’ shoe.

        Good luck with your choices, and have a great trip!

      • hey Guys !
        I feel so embarrassed I didn’t reply. thank you both for your comments, especially Tony. I share your thoughts and fully agree. However, Kasia, my girlfriend, has good a pretty serious knee injury and we are stuck.

  4. Hi Drew, can you comment on the sizing?
    I’m theoretically a size 8.5 US but in Salomon (sense ride, sense ultra) I usually wear a size 9 because I have a wider midfoot and so I need the volume. I recently bought a Hoka Torrent that fits in 8.5 but the Evo Mafate needed to be 9.
    Do you have a Salomon to compare this shoe size wise? I read that it is a bit looser and according to Arcteryx website when I compare the cm of the footlength I should go with 8.5 so true to my size not size up like the Salomon. What do you think?

    • Hi Andreas, Tony here. I use the same size in the LD’s as in Salomon shoes, and these are in the ‘group of brands’ I size up. Happy running, Tony

      • Yup thats exactly what I did end up buying. US 9 for Norvan LD, Sense Ride, S-lab Sense Ultra (2017) and Evo Mafate and a 8.5 US for the Torrent. Tough I must say the Evo is probably the snuggiest in the midfoot and the Norvan definately the one with the most room.

  5. Great review!!

    In regards to the mid-foot, will it loosen up once some miles are put on them? I just purchased them and they are just a touch snug but I’m hoping with some miles, they’ll form and loosen. If not, it’s back to the drawing board for me.

    Appreciate the write up and comments!

  6. Hey Drew! Love your reviews. Quick question regarding the midsole of the Norvan LD. Does it soften up a bit over time? I mainly ask because I purchased a pair but have some pressure on the outside of my foot where my 5th metatarsal and heel meet. This is one of the wider parts of my feet and I’ve felt this pressure on other shoes like the Sense Ride but it never caused irritation due to it being a relative soft ride.

    I love the forefoot of the Norvan and the torsional rigidity for rocky trails and think that after some use the midsole might soften some to reduce the pressure point. Thoughts? Or maybe other shoes to suggest in this category?

    • It breaks in a little, but is a stiff shoe by design. Nowhere near as flexible in the midfoot as the Sense Ride. You might want to try on the Bushido II. I’m really loving the fit and ride.

      • Hello Drew, Nice review on the top 10 trail shoes for the Camino. I’m about to walk del Plata starting in Seville in 1 month. I was wondering if I was better with trail or trek shoes. Im hesitating on Oboz Sawtooth Vs Norvan.

        Last Year I did Porto to Santiago in brooks running shoes and I ran into some minor problems(blisters, legs cramps, hips sore)despite a good athetic form… Would like to avoid that this year..

        I’m a 8.5 US running shoes but on some brand like oboz It feels snug, should I go for a 9 ?

        thank you and continue your good work !

      • You have to try on each shoe, as sizing for models is different. I like the Norvan a lot and think it is the ideal Camino shoe. I have no experience with the Sawtooth.

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