Slip-on style trail shoe, building on the Norda 001 model in collaboration with Haven
Bio-Dyneema upper, G+ graphene membrane, Vibram Megagrip outsole, dual heel pulls
When we see laceless and trail, our first reaction is to raise a skeptical eyebrow. There’s a reason that shoes built for more than sidewalks require a bit more tension around the foot. Varying terrain means more movement within the shoe. I mean, Speedland has built an entire business model on this premise with its dual BOA fit system. On the other side of the spectrum, the laceless Naked TR is one of the worst shoes we ever reviewed on this site.
That said, Norda has followed its arrow straight to the apple of many a runner’s eye, sticking to its exceptional blend of premium durability and unique design. If anyone can make a laceless trail shoe work, it’s Norda.
Following the ongoing success of the Norda 001 and its many collaborations and colorways, as well as its successor in the 002, the limited-edition Norda 003 brings the successful elements of those offerings into an all-new shoe that is already garnering a ton of buzz both for its fashion and its function.
According to Norda, the purpose of the 003 is a “durable and supportive shoe designed to transition seamlessly between hiking, scrambling, and running.” It’s clear that the mother of this child is the 001 and the key components come from that shoe.
The overall design is a collaboration with Canadian counterpart Haven, and features a muted color palette inspired by both mountain formations and brutalist urban structures, which is the perfect inspiration for a shoe that will likely find a ton of crossover in the urban trailcore movement.
While the upper retains its Dyneema core (quite possibly the most durable upper we’ve ever tested), it now features an elasticized Bio-Dyneema developed exclusively by Norda. The fit itself has to be tried to be understood. While the first step-in is almost impossible (you for sure have to use the reverse heel tab), subsequent wears prove to be perfect as the upper forms to the exact shape of the foot. Which makes this, yes– a runnable shoe, against all odds.
Extra padding in the heel collar provides exceptional lockdown and comfort, something that we always wanted in the 001. We’ve said for some time that the Norda 001 is one of the best fits of any shoe, ever. It seemed to mold to the foot like a broken-in pair of jeans over time. And yet, the 003 may be even… better? Crazy to say, but we think it may be true.
Additional premium elements include a G+ graphene membrane integrated into the upper lining, which is both weather resistant and thermoregulating, providing additional comfort in cold conditions.
Of course, the midsole remains the custom Vibram SLE, which has proven to be comfortable and incredibly resilient in all our experiences with it in the 001. And then there’s the ever-reliable and sticky Vibram Litebase with a Norda-exclusive and proprietary Vibram Megagrip soleplate. It’s really all the best things in one shoe and we can guarantee this shoe will last forever.
The design itself may take some getting used to; for some of us at Believe in the Run the laceless look just isn’t our thing. Depending on what you wear it with, it can maybe even come off as cheap-looking, especially with the minimal branding. But if you’re creative with it, and have more style than us (which is almost assuredly the case), then we feel pretty positive you can rock this all winter long and turns head while doing so.
Norda is doing something unique right now in running. They’re blending beautiful fashion with unparalleled performance and showing it can work. Yes, it’s a premium product at a premium price. That’s what the best products demand. This is a husband and wife team with a handful of dedicated employees who are creating something special in Canada, and doing it the right way.
A laceless approach shoe for $320 is a crazy idea, so crazy that it just might work. And it does.
The Norda 003 is available now at nordarun.com.
Robbe is the senior editor of Believe in the Run. He loves going on weird routes through Baltimore, finding trash on the ground, and running with the Faster Bastards. At home in the city, but country at heart. Loves his two boys more than anything. Has the weakest ankles in the game.More from Robbe