With my COVID lockdown underway, it was time to up my exercise game. I’ve been dying to start running again but, having not done any proper running since tearing my meniscus on the Larapinta in 2015, I needed to be super careful. My 20-year-old runners definitely weren’t going to cut it, so I was super happy when a pair of Arc’teryx Norvan LD2 trail runners arrived at my door. Living in suburbia would obviously make it hard to test them on any proper trails, so running around the lake at my local park would have to do. Considering my aforementioned injury, I had to start small, but I’ve easily put somewhere between 150 kilometres (or more) of running and walking on them so far.
The LD in the name stands for ‘Long Distance’, so I’m unlikely to ever be the target market for these shoes. Considering nobody is doing much long-distance trail running at the moment, I guess that puts me in more equal footing with any other potential reviewers.
Design & Durability (Rating: 98%)
Superficially, the Norvan LD2s look slick. The design is clean and simple, and their welded construction seriously helps.
The men’s version comes in two colours – Pulse/Paradigm (a sort of fluro yellow) and Exosphere/Yukon (black with a gold highlight). Due to the gold highlight on the black ones I much prefer the fluro yellow version (which is good since that’s the colour I was sent). The women’s version comes in Dragon Fruit/Poseidon (a reddish pink) and Night Shadow/Titanite (grey with a yellow highlight). I actually prefer the Night Shadow/Titanite to either of the men’s colours but that’s just me being picky.
Their look gives the immediate impression of quality and durability, from the closed polyester mesh upper to the synthetic toe cap. They look virtually bombproof and so far, mine still look almost brand new.
The gusseted design of the tongue immediately appealed to me for keeping dirt and stones out of the shoes, not to mention it just looks damned comfy. Even better, there’s a bottom-loaded lace garage to keep your laces out of the way and help prevent them coming untied.
With the midsole, Arc’teryx has focused on balancing comfort and underfoot protection with keeping the shoe light and low profile. The 85% EVA and 15% polyolefin cushioning does lead to quite a firm feel at first but doesn’t seem to compromise shock absorption and comfort too much, even when running on pavement or hard-packed dirt.
The Vibram Megagrip outsole with 3.5mm lugs makes the LD2s extremely sticky, even when cornering through mud and on wet grass. The lugs are well spaced out which, for me, has meant no need to remove any mud after my runs. Generally, by the time I run the couple of kilometres home from the park on pavement, there’s little sign I ever saw any mud at all.
Those running through snow or really heavy mud may prefer bigger lugs, but the goal of the Norvan LD2 is to cover a wide range of terrains. I think they achieve this diversity of applications quite well, not only with the outsole but with their overall design as a slight and lightweight trail shoe.
Comfort & Fit (Rating: 95%)
Choosing any kind of technical footwear is always difficult when ordering online, so I do usually try to at least try something on in a store before purchasing. Obviously, under the current circumstances, I couldn’t have done that so I turned to the sizing chart on the Arc’teryx website. Despite meticulously measuring my foot, this led to me having to return the shoes and re-order one full size bigger. Cramped toes are no fun, especially in any kind of trail shoe.
If you do have to order online, just keep this in mind. I’d simply advise adding a centimetre to your foot length after you measure since if I’d done this, I would have had the perfect fit with my first order. With the correct size obtained, I was super happy with the LD2’s fit across the toe box.
The first handful of times I wore my Norvan LD2s, I found that I needed a couple of goes to get the fit nice and snug. They’d feel okay until I started to run and then I’d feel them slipping. There’s nothing to break your flow quite like having to stop running and re-fit your shoes. Now that I’m used to them, I don’t find that they slip around at all. It’s just a matter of getting used to fitting from the heel and manoeuvring the gusseted tongue into place so that it hugs your ankle nicely. The bonus of their design is they come with a nice big loop on the tongue to help with this. Unlike other shoes, it doesn’t feel like there’s any chance of the loop tearing off when using it. The padding on the tongue is quite thin compared to most shoes but this doesn’t negatively impact their comfort in my opinion. Quite the opposite.
My foot is on the slimmer side of average width, so with all kinds of other shoes, I have trouble with pressure on the top of my foot. I’ve had no issue with this whatsoever on the Norvan LD2s.
I’ve noticed other reviewers mentioning that they’ve found the fit of these shoes very stiff in use, and I did agree with them for about the first 30 kilometres or so. However, at some point there they really softened up and now that they’re well worn in, I don’t see any issue with stiffness at all.
As someone who suffers from hyperhidrosis, my other main issue with many trail shoes is breathability. Again, this has not been the case with my Norvan LD2s, probably thanks to their well-designed mesh upper. I will try and remember to come back and update this in 6 months when the weather starts to warm up.
What I Like
- Slick looking design in (for the most part) great colours
- Breathability seems great (although I haven’t tested in the warmer months yet)
- Great traction
- Super comfortable fit (once you get used to putting them on)
What I Don’t Like
- Sizing is tricky if buying online
- Achieving a comfortable and firm fit takes a bit of getting used to