Arc’teryx Norvan LD 2 Performance Review
ROBBE: This is my first time reviewing Arc’teryx so I’d like to start out by thanking them for leaving the rest of that garbage dinosaur name out (Archaeopteryx) and replacing it with an apostrophe. For real, there’s more vowels in Archaeopteryx than in a bowl of Cheerios. You’d literally go broke trying to guess it on Wheel of Fortune.
Right, I’m reviewing a shoe, not roasting outdoor apparel brands. (FWIW, I actually love the name Arc’teryx).
Anyway, because of sizing issues with reviewer seeding (Arc’teryx is unisex sizing, I should probably know this before assigning shoes to reviewers), this shoe trickled down to me. I’m glad it did, even though it was still a half-size too big for me. Spoiler: it still performed great.
The Arc’teryx Norvan LD 2 is the follow-up to last year’s debut of this moderate trail shoe that offers speed, comfort, and agility on varying terrain. It falls into the lightweight range for trail shoes, coming in at 9.1 oz. for a US M9.0. It features a 0.7 mm rock plate as well as a Vibram Litebase outsole. The 3.5 mm lugs are just deep enough to grip well, but are still able to transition over to shorter stretches of road without feeling cumbersome.
ROBBE: I am always down for reviewing a status symbol shoe, so even if it’s junk I can at least show up to a trail race flexing my top-shelf REI drip before changing into a Speedgoat. Luckily with the Norvan LD 2 I can authentically flex, cause I’d actually wear this shoe for most any trail endeavor.
Let’s start with the upper. It’s a single-layer polyester mesh with just some slight TPU film overlays to add a bit of structure. It’s a smooth upper, no BS (which I always appreciate), and while it’s somewhat rigid, it’s not as stiff as say, the aforementioned Speedgoat 4. That said, it provides more durability for the shoe, and while the overlays cover a decent amount of the upper’s surface area, the shoe still drains very well.
I took this on a 5-mile city run to break it in and I gotta say, it performed pretty well as a road shoe, albeit a little firm on sidewalks. It was also pouring rain during that entire run but the Norvan LD 2 provides decent protection (refer to previous overlay observation) from the rain, barely taking on any water. When I did traipse through puddles, it took a real submersion to get the thing wet inside, and even then, I felt it drained well. It’s almost like having a GoreTex shoe without paying an extra $50 just to say you have a GoreTex shoe, because let’s be for real– no one really needs a GoreTex shoe.
On my trail runs, I found the shoe to be exceptional. The fit throughout is fairly narrow and provides a fast and rocket-like feel on rolling dirt. It’s a nimble shoe, no doubt. You can feel the trail exceptionally well, but not to the point where it’s pounding your feet. The rock plate helps in that situation if you do encounter more technical terrain. For me, the experience was reminiscent of the Nike Terra Kiger 5, but with more room in the toe box and better grip.
The midsole cushioning hasn’t changed from last year, which is fine because we thought it was just about perfect then. In any case, it remains 80% EVA and 20% polyolefin (I’ll pretend I know what that is), and it hit that sweet spot for what this shoe is. Which is, a shoe that likes to go fast on moderately technical or muddy/wet terrain.
The outsole combination of the lugs and Vibram does the job perfectly in terms of traction and cornering turns. I took it through some thick mud sections and truly appreciated the spacing between the lugs, as it shed mud easily. I was really happy to see this outsole design because this was one of the only complaints we had for last year’s model– too many lugs at weird places. They fully corrected this issue, and the current design strikes a perfect balance.
I also loved this tongue. Like seriously, more than any other tongue I’ve experienced (sorry I lied to you in 8th grade, Jess Holtz). It’s thin but doesn’t slip around, and it apparently it has a lace garage which I just found out while doing this review because I’m an idiot. Anyway, slip me some more of this tongue, please.Shop Norvan LD 2
ROBBE: I know that it offers more from a durability perspective, but I’m just not a huge fan of stiff uppers, even though I’m a fan of AC/DC’s “Stiff Upper Lip.” Let me say– this isn’t the worst case of that, and honestly, you probably won’t mind it. I just needed to find something I didn’t love. I wouldn’t be surprised if this broke in a lot more over 50 miles, so this isn’t much of a ding on the shoe.
Again, not a bad thing, but I probably wouldn’t wear this for more than a 50K (maybe 50-miler depending on the person) unless you’re a pretty seasoned ultrarunner.
I’m really finding it hard to find other bad things about the shoe. It helps that they’re owned by Salomon, so they clearly have some trail experience in their corner. It shows.Shop Norvan LD 2
ROBBE: If you’re looking for a trimmed-down trail shoe that feels light and fast on the trails, you can’t go wrong with the Arc’teryx Norvan LD 2. At $150, it’s almost a steal when factoring in the traditionally high sticker price on anything with that prehistoric bird skeleton logo on it. It’s right in the range with pretty much every trail shoe (or even road shoe) these days.
If you also enjoyed the original version of this shoe, you’ll probably like this version even more.
You can pick up the Arc’teryx Norvan LD 2 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.Shop Norvan LD 2
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Hoping you can check out the Arcteryx LD3, or at least give some insight about the new midsole! Cheers.