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Arc'teryx's Norvan SL is a super lightweight technical trail running shoe that made a big impression on test.
arcteryx norvan sl shoe
Best for...
Experienced, injury-free runners looking for a fast and light shoe for summer trails
Overall Score
Unbelievably light and comfortable out of the box
May be a little too low profile for some

The latest edition to Arc'teryx's Norvan trail running collection is the Norvan SL - a feathery and fast shoe that will appeal to gram-counting runners who like to feel connected to the trail.

The bright yellow Norvan SL is a 7mm drop shoe that made a huge impact immediately out of the box. It's just so, so light!

Weighing in at just 160g, the Norvan SL's intentions are immediately clear. This is a minimalist, mega lightweight vertical contender designed to appeal to experienced runners looking to travel at speed in technical terrain. Think sub-50k or short, fast Vertical KM-type races on dry, dusty Alpine trails rather than boggy UK mountain marathons or body-pounding ultra distance events and you'll be in the right domain.

The fast and light DNA of the Norvan SL is reflected in the technical construction. As you'd expect from Arc'teryx, this is an innovative, design-led shoe dominated by quality and detail.

The mega breathable TPU mesh keeps feet cool and dry on balmy summer days and whilst the upper is hydrophobic, you might want to upgrade to the £160 GTX version if you find yourself travelling in saturated conditions more frequently.

Traction is super impressive in alpine-style mountain terrain as the Vibram outsole with Megagrip rubber compound really sticks to sloping slabs. Grip on the occasional wet slippery root and muddy section is more than good enough thanks to the 3.5mm lugs but remember this is a very specific shoe so be sure you're travelling in it's intended environment to truly experience its full potential.

One of the most impressive features of the Norvan SL is its uber-packability. With no plastic heel counter and heel cup, you can fold it flat which makes it a great travel shoe that can be shoved into a backpack - ideal for climbers looking to make rapid approaches into remote objectives. It also comes with a notch in the ankle collar so you can clip it to your pack on the move.

The flip side of such a technical, minimalist shoe is that it doesn't offer masses of protection from the trail so if you're prone to impact-induced niggles and injury then you might want to look elsewhere. Another bone of contention is the thin upper that does tend to bag a little around thinner ankles and may lead to grit getting inside the shoe.

Finally, the low-profile nature of the Norvan SL does raise questions about long term durability but we'll need to report back on that score. In the meantime, we're looking forward to finding out more about this super impressive shoe over what we hope will be a long sunny summer packed full of trail adventures and gear testing opportunities!

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