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Trail • January 11, 2023

Norda 001 G+ Spike Review: Premium Winter Workhorse

norda 001 g spike cover

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What You Need To Know

Weight

Weighs 8.7 oz. (247 g) for a US M8.5 / 7.4 oz. (211 g) for a US W8

Technology

Dyneema and Vibram and carbide, oh my!

Sustainability

It’s as premium as it is sustainable… and it’s darn sustainable

Technology

Oh, and there’s a graphene-infused membrane for waterproofing

Price

Available now for $355

Intro

TAYLOR: The word boutique sets off a neurological tick in my brain. Maybe it’s the pretentiousness that comes with the stereotypical customers and vendors of the high-end clothing market, or perhaps it’s my childhood memories of following my mom to every store “just to look.” I’ve never loved shopping, but this type of “shopping” especially sucked because we couldn’t afford any of the stuff we looked at.

Unfortunately, some brands have started to throw wrenches into my idea of “boutique.” Norda is one such brand, landing in the segment for its high-quality construction, gorgeous design, limited stock, and– at first glance– insane price tag. It forces me to shed my usual bias, but only because I’ve never felt the same snooty vibes I remember from childhood. Meeting Norda’s founder at The Running Event was a genuine, down-to-earth experience, and the company’s mission is just as wholesome.

They started with a base model, the Norda 001, and have grown from there, collaborating with tastemakers like Ciele and Satisfy Running for one-off editions of the shoe. The G+ Spike model is a direct descendent of their highly-appraised flagshiop shoe, with minor adjustments that can make a world of difference in a true winter setting. Of course, with a home base in Montreal, Norda knows a thing or two about winter. Extreme conditions require extreme solutions, and the Norda 001 G+ Spike doesn’t pull any punches with the addition of carbide spikes, a waterproof, heat-conducting membrane, and an adjustment of the outsole.

However, those upgrades come with a luxury tax– what was a $290 shoe in the 001 is now juiced to the tune of $355. Boutique? For sure, but there can be value to had in small-batch craftsmanship and design. And at the end of the day, runners want to know if it’s worth it. Let’s find out if that’s the case.

norda 001 g spike heel side

The Good

TAYLOR: Norda and Vibram are a dynamic duo throughout the Norda 001 lineup. The midsole is the same across the 001 and the 001 G+ Spike. It’s a unique blend that’s hard to compare to any other shoe. I would compare it to a denser version of the Ego Max found in the Altra Mont Blanc or a firmer EVA in the Speedgoat 5. It would also compare to a slightly airier version of the La Sportiva Cyklon. It has a classic trail shoe feel with a modern tilt. Is that fair?

Durometer-wise, it’s not soft or firm, nor would I call it just medium. At the 26mm/21mm stack height, I feel that the Vibram midsole ticks the boxes of being protective, flexible, cushioned, and comfortable, but not one more than the others necessarily. For someone who doesn’t mind a medium-ish ride, this midsole compound is simply pleasing — especially for a shoe that can go from city street to mountain peak.

A softer beaded insole certainly adds to the pleasantries underfoot. And it’s there for you run after run after run after run. Because of the resilient compound, this shoe will last in terms of material durability and consistent feeling on the run for a very long time.

Vibram also takes care of the outsole. The Norda 001 G+ Spike gets the Vibram Megagrip Litebase treatment with a unique lug configuration (5 mm depth) inspired by a Canadian crown jewel, the Canadian Shield. If you know anything about Vibram, you know how this story goes. The grip is outstanding on a variety of surfaces. The full-coverage outsole is tacky enough for dry surfaces and soft enough to gain traction on wet ones.

Quick story: It was a cold and calm, with fresh snow as the sun rises. I was not wearing this shoe. A friend and I were trotting down the trail. Under the new layer of snow was a sheet of ice that we didn’t know about. One moment I was on my feet, the next I was sliding down the trail on my back. I stumbled back to the trailhead, and the headache began. My bell rang for a solid week. My confidence in winter downhill running has never been the same… until now.

Rubber alone is no match for a frozen trail. Carbide spikes are, though. They’re the same as what you would find in a nice set of hiking poles, industrial mill products, mining drills, etc. It’s tough stuff. Norda gives you 20 spikes (10 in each shoe). Their durability is a nonissue. Neither is grip. These spikes act as cat claws in the dirt, snow, ice… really anything you’d lose your footing on. Even on those scary downhill and glare ice segments, my foot slid, at most, a couple of inches forward– nothing to test my nerves at all. These spikes are a small but mighty addition that sets this pair of winter trail runners apart from most others out there. The carbide spikes are only millimeters longer than the outsole lugs, so they are not very noticeable when crossing the paved road or traversing packed dirt trails.

Dyneema, found in other “boutique” brands like Speedland and Nnormal, is the fabric used for the upper. What is Dyneema? In short, it’s a bio-based and practically indestructible woven material. This upper is a seamless construction with zero stitched overlays and no rubbing from the upper internally. I’ve yet to hear of anyone blowing out this material, and we’ve seen pairs of Norda go into the 900-mile range with zero damage to the upper. It’s more likely that the midsole will fall off the shoe before the upper goes. I like the fact that this material does not have a stretch factor. It won’t lose its hold on your foot. What you feel on the initial step-in will be the fit you get after 300 miles.

Dyneema is even woven through the laces. I’ve never completely shredded laces on a shoe, but I’m not complaining about never having to worry about it.

Dyneema isn’t the Norda 001 G+ Spike’s only trick, however. It also wraps a layer of Graphene as the inner membrane to keep you warm and dry. To this point, we’d only seen the highly conductive material used for Inov-8’s outsoles and midsoles, so it’s nice to see some evolution. The membrane is waterproof, too, which is always welcome on shoes meant for ankle-deep (or deeper) snow.

The overall fit is neither roomy nor tight. It shoots the middle with just enough wiggle room (recommended for US customers to size up at least a half shoe size) to go the long haul and is slim enough throughout the foot to feel confident on more technical terrain. The footbed is slightly wider, and the heel is cupped to give more foot security.

Shop Norda – Men Shop Norda – Women norda 001 g spike toe

The Bad

TAYLOR: For a first go, there are very few adjustments I’d make to this shoe.

First, as a note, size up at least a half size if you’re a US customer. They recommend it on their website, a lot. Listen to their advice. I have a pair of Norda that is my standard size, and the G+Spike version is a half size up. I much prefer the fit of the larger one to get a touch more room out of the toe box. If you’re hoping to go long ultra distances in this shoe (our badass women’s lead trail reviewer Alex did Arrowhead 135), I’d lean toward sizing up a full size.

The most common complaint throughout Norda’s 001 series is the heel collar. There’s zero padding. Even though the heel cup is stout, I felt a little bit of slippage when not laced up tight enough around the collar. When I was laced up tight enough, I could feel some hot spots forming around the heel-side of the stiff collar and some in the front of the ankle at the top lacing eyelets. It turned out not to be a dramatic rubbing, even over a few hour long run, but it was noticeable.

That heel collar has another foe. Debris. More so than most shoes, this heel collar lets in quite a bit of debris. Oddly enough, rocks would hop in most when hiking and sometimes running. Snow would easily fall in if it was deeper than the heel collar, which got me thinking more seriously about the addition of gaiter attachments. All winter-specific shoes I have tested have had them. It would be easy enough to grab an adaptable pair to go with them. At this price tag, specific gaiter attachments, perhaps with a complementary addition of Dyneema/Graphene lined gaiters, would make a lot of sense to me in the case of the 001 G+Spike.

I feel pressured to add the price here. Personally, the price tag automatically disqualifies me from purchasing. For most, this would be a very thoughtful purchase. Which is fine, really. Not every person needs to be able to afford every shoe, and there are a ton of upfront costs in research, development, and production for small start-ups. And though the price tag seems absurd (I believe this would put it only second to Speedland SL:HSV in the trail category), I would counter with the fact that this might be the most durable trail shoe available, made of top-of-the-line materials, and is thoughtfully crafted through and through. That kind of craftsmanship always comes with a price tag. It would be the difference between going to Ikea for a table or to an artisan’s shop.

For you sneaker junkies, be aware. Once the Dyneema gets dirty, it stays dirty. I think of it as a canvas, but not everybody may.

Shop Norda – Men Shop Norda – Women norda 001 g spike outsole

Norda 001 G+ Spike Conclusion

TAYLOR: Overall, the quality really sticks out with the Norda 001 G+ Spike. It’s boutique in the best of ways. Even for the higher price tag, this shoe could be a very worthy purchase depending on how often you run in wintery conditions. It’s the most durable shoe I’ve tested to date. Typically that comes as a death sentence for comfort but not in this case. If you’re particular about your heel counters and collars, be wary. There are a few issues that may cause irritation or let in irritants on your journeys. Hoping they fix that in the Norda 002, or whatever is coming next.

Some runners have taken the Norda 001 to 1,000 miles and say they still feel good to run — I believe it. The Norda 001 G+Spike will easily last most runners multiple winters, even if it is your everyday shoe for snow and ice. This gorgeous steed is ready to hammer in the nastiest winter conditions — just purchase some gaiters.

You can pick up the Norda 001 G+ Spike for $355 by using the shop link below.

Shop Norda – Men Shop Norda – Women

 

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Comments

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  1. Anthony says:

    I do a lot of winter running and I just ticked over 1000 km on my first pair of these spikes that I bought last winter. They are still going strong and basically look brand new, one of the advantages of snow/ice compared to rocks and dirt. I feel like the cost was worth it.

    I also recommend a full size up. Nordas run really small.

    I much prefer the non-padded heel but that probably comes down to my feet. I wear dirty girl gaiters in the winter to keep snow out.

    1. Robbe Reddinger says:

      Thanks for the feedback! Glad they’re working out for you.

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Authors

taylor
Taylor Bodin
Lead Trail Reviewer
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Taylor Bodin is a trail and ultra runner living in Estes Park, Colo., with his wife and daughters. Trail running is pretty much the only hobby he can manage right now and loves it. Every so often, he will pop off a race or FKT attempt because competition is pure and the original motivator for him getting into running anyways. When not running, Taylor is a 1st grade teacher, running coach (track & field, Cross Country, and Trail/Ultra athletes), and volunteers at his church.

All-time favorite shoes: Hoka Tecton X, Speedland SL:PDX, Merrell MTL Long Sky 2.

More from Taylor
Shoe Size

10.5

Fav. Distance

100K

PRs
  • 27:03

    100M
  • 13:40

    100K
  • 7:42

    50M
  • 4:34

    50K
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