It’s very rare, but as soon as we opened this box, these Arc’Teryx Norvan SL triggered passions, comments and questions.
The first remark that arose concerns its comparison with Salomon products, especially the S / LAB series. Because yes, there is Solomon DNA (both brands belong to the Amer Sports group) in this Arc’Teryx we even feel like we have one of Kilian’s prototypes, a shoe that Solomon would not have dared to put out on the market. The technical choices are daring, original and ultimately very efficient for those who want performance and lightness at all costs.
Until recently, we had not been very convinced of the relevance of Arc’Teyx products in trail running, but here, with the Norvan SL, we are forced to radically change our minds.
There is the weight first, incredibly … light! They announce 180g for size 42, we weighed 220g for size 42 2/3: a great performance! Any brand is able to trim the weight of materials, but who is able to keep efficiency, foot support, grip and comfort? Arc’Teryx did just that.
The developers racked their brains to bring new solutions while slimming down the entire concept. The Arc’Teryx Norvan SL is a racing shoe in all senses of the word. They are like driving a sports car: refined to the very maximum, 100% performant, responsive and very beautiful lines. The design includes a beautiful asymmetrical heel, a soft ankle top, tiling materials. We searched high and low and we didn’t find any trace of any stitching. Arc’Teryx proved with this Norvan SL that we can build an efficient trail shoe without the traditional assemblies (seams, multiple layers of materials and reinforcements …).
The Arc’Teryx Norvan SL don’t have any comfort foam padding and yet you do not end up inside an aggressive carbon shell. This is due to very precise foot envelopment and two discreet pads positioned on both sides of the malleolus. The tongue itself has some damping zones to distribute pressure.
On the first kilometers, some testers noted the presence of the heel structure, it is necessary to run the Norvan SL before embarking in a long distance, and to get used to them beforehand.
The other popular point with these is the lacing that is considered more effective than a Salomon Quick Lace. The traditional flat and thin laces pass through six eyelets and offer tight and very powerful adjustment. It should be noted however that it maybe necessary to adjust a little at the front of the foot. The laces don’t need a double knot. The designers decided not to give the Norvan SL a surplus lace storage pouch.
These are lightweight racing shoes and putting them on is in line with the design, snug yet Arc’Teryx have provided a little place where you can slip your finger in and help put the shoes on. A change from having a little loop.
Out running you do have the impression of flying, because they are so light you forget you are wearing them. The foot strike is firm at the forefoot, like an SLAB Sense. In other words – cushioning is absent. Light runners with a forefoot strike won’t have a problem and will really be able to exploit them at full speed and accelerate. Others may find them lacking in comfort.
The heel is a little more comfortable.
The heel is firmly held, as well as the entire foot, like sitting in a racing car chassis. The 7mm drop is a good alternative to light shoes on the market that often show a 4mm drop.
The torsional rigidity is surprisingly enough despite their lightness. Idem, surprisingly limited shocks from pebbles under the foot.
The Vibram Megagrip sole is almost perfect, good grip in all conditions but the lugs are a bit too pronounced. They reach their limits quickly in wet ground, especially in the mud … But the sole never collects mud (widely spaced lugs).
The stone guard is excellent, nothing more to say there.
Arc’Teryx hides nothing, these Norvan SL are geared towards performance rather than durability.
Arc’Teryx Norvan SL fueled conversations and conquered the trail runners capable of forefoot running. Very light, minimalist design, and excellent foothold. Their design and performance enabled them to win the CORE Award. A superb product for accomplished runners who wonder if they should choose Salomon or these.
We used this equipment over a long period of time
These are our thoughts after intensive use:
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