I’ll be honest, I had no idea Arcteryx made trail shoes, but I’m glad these are in the test – they are making my editor’s choice much harder! The one word that comes to mind here is ‘balance’ – the Norvan doesn’t shine in any particular area, but performs highly everywhere. The sole unit is Vibram Megagrip, with deep widely spaced and fairly soft lugs that stick to everything with the possible exception of wet roots – even there they perform well enough. There’s a reassuring amount of cushioning in the sole, and a fair-sized rocker unit which makes for a really comfortable run, but not so much that I feel out of touch with what the terrain is doing. The non-lined upper drains quickly, breathes well and has a good toe rand, lacing is simple but effective and the tongue has a gaiter built in, which keeps debris to a minimum. The forefoot is wide enough even for my hobbit feet and the heel cup is deep and very secure. I’m less convinced by the shouty blue colour but otherwise this is a quietly exceptional and comfortable shoe. Weight around 630g per pair.
▶ Verdict: Versatile, simple, fix and forget. Grip factor 4.5/5
▶ Best for: Medium and long-distance trails, walking or running.
Review by David Lintern @davidjlintern