Arc'teryx broke into the footwear market a few years ago and have subsequently been developing their range, spanning into several categories - alpine and rock, hiking and trekking, and finally (and most relevant to this review) trail running. The Norvan LD 2 is - as you might expect - the sequel to the original Norvan, only it is pitched as being both lighter and more durable. It is designed with long distance trails in mind, but does it live up to this claim? I'm not convinced.
Despite being pitched as a lover of long distances the Norvan LD 2 is - due to its levels of weight and support - best around the middle distance mark, ideal for something between 10-20 miles. Whilst it does have some degree of support, it doesn't have much and would - in my opinion - feel quite minimalist on longer runs, even more so on ultras, particularly if you're on firm ground, track or trail where you're really going to feel it in your legs and knees.
The sole (which we'll come onto in greater detail a little later) is very trail oriented, insofar as it has a respectable amount of tread (3.5mm square shaped lugs) - enough to provide adequate grip on easier and more predictable ground; however, when you go off-piste and into the mountains you're realistically going to need the weather to be a bit drier, as the lugs aren't deep enough to provide adequate grip in wet or muddy conditions.
Weight-wise they come in at 540g/pair size UK 9.5, which is undoubtedly at the light end of the spectrum given their spec, and overall I'd say that it is their weight that says the most about them. They ultimately feel like a lightweight, comfortable trail running shoe designed for shorter to middle distance trail running.
The first thing you notice when putting on the Norvan LD 2 is the low volume in the forefoot, and for me this is a problem, as it creates a pinch right at the flex point. With that in mind, if you have a higher volume (or wider) foot I would argue that it is essential to try before you buy, because for me they took quite a bit of wearing in - and even then I wasn't completely happy. In short: this is undoubtedly a shoe that is designed with a narrower, low-volume foot in mind and whilst it may fit those of a regular width, being broad is realistically a no-go.
The Norvan LD 2 is also available in a women's/lower volume fit.
Sole / Midsole
The Norvan LD 2 features a Vibram MegaGrip compound, with 3.5mm deep square lugs. As per the sentiments outlined above, this is fine for use on more mellow trails in all weather, but in the mountains - or on muddier terrain - it really does need to be dry, because when it gets wet things get very slippy very fast.
One of the ways in which the Norvan LD 2 has managed to lose weight is within its sole, where 50g has been saved as a result of it using the new 'Vibram LiteBase technology'. Having had a quick search to find out what this actually is, it turns out that this rather technical term simply means that they've made the sole thinner, with less rubber than before. This doesn't (in theory) impact on the durability as the rubber is taken from the upper part of the sole and not the lugs - hence it doesn't affect the depth of the tread.
The Norvan LD 2 features a 9mm drop and an EVA/Polyolefin midsole, which - much like the rest of the shoe - feels pretty minimalist.
If you hadn't guessed so far, the ongoing theme of the Norvan LD 2 is one of stripping things back to make an extremely lightweight shoe. As a result it should come as no surprise that the uppers are designed to be as light and breathable as possible, albeit with a TPU film around key wear areas and a synthetic toe cap to give a little more protection around the front end.
Other features include the luxurious finish around the entry to the shoe, which has a smooth and comfortable feel. Another nice little feature is the elasticated pocket at the top of the tongue, which is designed for you to fit your laces into. The laces themselves are of a flat cross section, which seem to do well at remaining tied throughout the course of your run.
The Norvan LD 2 doesn't feel like the long distance machine it's made out to be, being much better suited towards shorter to middle distance as a result of its lightweight nature. Fit-wise I was probably a little unfortunate, insofar as I am at the upper limit of their (limited) breadth and volume - hence they've never quite felt right. The lightweight and breathable uppers make them ideal for warm, summery weather and their construction is pretty much flawless and likely to last you a while. That said, they are not a shoe that gets me excited, and if anything they seem a little plain - particularly when compared to their predecessor, the Norvan VT, and other shoes that are available on the market.
Lighter and more durable than the original, but still delivering award-winning performance and comfort, the Norvan LD 2 is the shoe for long-distance trail runs. Created for daylong runs on shifting terrain, the LD leverages progressive materials and construction to shave grams and elevate durability. The all-season Vibram® Megagrip outsole utilizes their LITEBASE technology, and combines with a new midsole material and lighter, stronger, exceptionally breathable upper to shed weight.
- Sizes: 6.5-12.5 (men) 3.5-8.5 (women)
- Drop: 9mm (27mm : 18mm)
- Vibram® MegaGrip™ rubber compound is durable and grippy
- Ergonomically patterned 3.5mm square-shaped lugs for assured traction
- Vibram® LiteBase technology and a new midsole material, 50g have been shed while maintaining longevity and performance
- Single layer mesh upper is lightweight, durable, and air-permeable
- Long-wearing EVA/Polyolefin midsole mitigates impact for long-distance comfort
- Strategically placed TPU film and synthetic toecap add protection for minimal weight
- 4mm thickness OrthoLite™ 3D molded insert
For more info see arcteryx.com