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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.