Arc'teryx made their first foray into the trail running shoe market last summer with the launch of the vertical specific Norvan VT. This year sees the Canadian mountain specialists expanding their trail running offering with the addition of a long distance mountain player - the Norvan LD.
Built to meet the demands of distance off road running, the Norvan LD is all about comfort, support and performance. Out of the box it is immediately obvious that this is a seriously supportive shoe. We struggle with low arches and were instantly impressed by the functional support of the Norvan LD just walking around the house.
The key to this supportive feel is the durable EVA/Polyolefin midsole that has been specifically designed to deliver comfort over long distances. With the Norvan LD the ride feels supportive and stable yet crucially not stiff or rigid - a fine balance indeed.
The 9mm drop further reveals the Norvan LD's intent as the level of cushioning helps to mitigate the harsh impact and pressure that long distance trail running can have on the body.
Yet despite the obvious emphasis on comfort and support, the Norvan LDs are still a light and responsive shoe. Weighing in at 520g per pair, they're surprisingly feathery for such a robust-looking shoe that's obviously been built to last.
Whilst we wouldn't go so far as to describe them as an all-out super nimble shoe, they do respond quickly out on the trail, allowing you to fire through switchbacks and over rocky terrain safe in the knowledge that you've got that all-important functional support to keep you on the straight and narrow. The impressive Vibram MegaGrip sole also provides extra reassurance when it comes to on-trail traction with the squared lugs offering decent grip on slippery rocks, roots and scree.
In terms of fit, the Norvan LD's are best suited towards runners with average/wider feet. On our first test our low volume feet were swimming a bit at the front of the shoe, likewise our narrow heels meant there was also noticeable movement at the rear. A thicker sock improved the situation considerably but it's worth noting that you may need to come down half a size to find the perfect fit.
At £135, the Norvan LDs are pricey but if you want to last the pace you'll need a shoe that's built to go the distance.