The world needs more products like the Arc’teryx Norvan SL 3 trail-running shoes. I’ll explain why in a moment, but this product is unique and made me try some new outdoor activities, which is a big win for someone like me who gets stuck in routines easily.
For starters, I have never even done trail-running before. I’ve hiked plenty, but one reason I haven’t ventured that much onto trails for running is that I’ve always felt like my shoes were too heavy, too easily soaked in the rain and mud, and without enough traction. I get stuck in routines doing the things I love to do best, like cycling and hiking.
I knew when I asked Arc’teryx for the most ideal test scenario for this product and they told me it was trail running that I had to try them out for that purpose.
An old boss of mine (former boss, not by age!) is quite the expert in trail running and has done many miles on trails that are constantly going up and down in the woods. It requires a certain level of stamina and grit. I won’t say these shoes instantly turned me into a trail runner, but I did experience a glint of what it would be like to actually run an entire race like this.
The Norvan SL 3 are incredibly light, so that’s helpful right off the bat. They reminded me of when I first started cycling in a serious way about 10-15 years ago. I had discovered how carbon fiber bikes make biking so much more enjoyable, because it’s almost like you forget the bike is there. It barely is there. With the Norvan SL 3 shoes, you almost feel like you are running on the trail barefoot, even though you have plenty of traction and protection.
The shoes are also completely waterproof. I mean completely. I stepped in multiple puddles, plus wet and soggy grass, to know they keep your feet perfectly dry. I need all the help I can get, since I could only run maybe a mile on the trails. I knew that, all of the up and down over hills and down to a lake would mean, if the shoes were heavy, running would be even harder. Each shoe weighs only six ounces, and Arc’teryx says that it is one of the lightest ever made.
For newbies like me, the Arc’teryx Norvan SL 3 provided another benefit: traction. Trails are unique in that they don’t require intense traction like you do for rocks or gravel on a more serious hiking path. What you need is grip, and the sole of this shoe is ideal for making sure you stay stable. The outsole is made of Vibram Megagrip Litebase tech so it is incredibly light and yet provides a confident feel.
I liked how the waterproofing is so tightly sealed as well, and the entire shoes just feels comfortable once you are running and out on the trail, pounding the dirt and grass.
Interestingly, while I never felt wet or cold in these shoes, they are light enough to be breathable on hotter days, which is also important. Trail running, as I learned, is full of surprises. One moment you are in the sun on dry ground, the next you are in a valley that’s still wet. I’m guessing that’s why people love trail running — there’s always a surprise waiting around every bend. For me, it meant I started to love the sport, one dry, sure-footed step at a time.