By guest blogger: Michael Geesink
Light but very light. The lightest trail shoes I have ever worn. That’s at the expense of something, right?
So the shoes are impressively light and airy with a lot of ventilation, the Norvan SL offers , in my opinion, is an imposing mix of lightweight and protection. Although many trail shoes offer more protection, it is hard to imagine a shoe that is so light and offers so much protection for this weight. Did I mention that they are light? The mesh and therefore the upper side (single-layer hydrophobic TPU mesh) of the Norvan SL is paper-thin and translucent, so in my opinion ‘beautiful weather’ shoes.
Despite a thin mesh, the structure and the fit are firm, and the whole feels very strong and holds my feet in place very well. The plastic safety nose is also very thin and flexible and only protects against twigs, stones etc. If you hit your toe well, then you will feel it.
I have taken half a size larger and am glad I made that choice. It feels like the shape fits well around my foot, and although the nose is not large, I think that I have enough room for movement and enough room for any foot swellings after the necessary kilometres.
The laces are flat and work great. By tying the shoelaces, you get an excellent lock, and your foot feels comfortably enclosed. The tongue is skinny, and it protects well and feels pleasant. The heel of the shoe is very flexible, but it is relatively stable and very comfortable.
Arc’Teryx wrote this: The Norvan SL EVA midsole uses an 85% compressed EVA and 15% polyolefin blend to provide an optimal underfoot experience that absorbs shocks and vibrations and ensures long-lasting comfort. The midsole also contains a 0.7 mm TPU forefoot rock plate.
But I can tell you that I felt every stone or branch or unevenness under my foot. This is a shoe for people who like to feel the ground. The Norvan SL will especially stand out when it is dry, and you are climbing. For longer distances on harder surfaces and especially long runs, I prefer more damping.
The shoe is equipped with a Vibram Megagrip sole. The 3.5 mm lugs (or studs) offer a reasonable grip. The lugs are not particularly pronounced, but are broad and low, making contact with the ground quickly. You notice the positive effect on a surface of rocks. In the mud and loose gravel, however, the lugs of the Norvan SL do not offer enough support for me.
If you are a minimal shoe runner, then these are the shoes for you. If you are looking for a racer for short trails, you will have a great partner with this lightweight hunter. The shoes are very light and offer sufficient protection.
Personally, I find them a bit too minimal, and I would go for hard surfaces for slightly more cushioned shoes.
The retail advice price is € 150, – and are available at, amongst others the Arc’teryx webshop