Rocky Mountain Approved
I had the opportunity to put Arc’teryx’ new Norvan VT 2 trail shoe to the test in a couple of different Canadian playgrounds. I first tried the Norvan VT 2 shoes during a 3-day helicopter assisted trail running trip in the Purcell Range of British Columbia. I then wore them on the rugged terrain of the Opal Range in Alberta a week later.
Initial thoughts: The Norvan VT 2 can definitely take a beating while allowing you to feel agile and supported.
When I first learned that the shoe is designed for both trail running and scrambling, I almost didn’t believe it. Holding the shoes for the first time, they felt too light to be durable enough for a solid Rocky Mountain scramble. Weighing in at 10.1 oz per shoe, these trail runners are super lightweight, however, I was pleasantly surprised by how robust they are.
Purcell Range, BC
During our heli-trail running excursion, I was seriously gliding in the Norvan VT 2 shoes. I was transitioning from the new Salomon Speed Cross 5’s and my feet instantly felt at ease when I first started running. There was something that felt so right about the shoes, perhaps it was the grip or how breathable they are. It was important for me to be able to keep up with my trail running group (I’m generally a slow poke) so I could photograph them as well. We were there to do a job that required being on our feet all day, so I found that the shoes provided outstanding comfort. I was able to continue running for hours on end.
I could not stop raving about the shoes throughout the trip. I felt like a lightning bolt as I ran the narrow ridges of the Purcell Range. I loved how agile I could be while I was both running and filming.
I continuously thought to myself that these were the best shoes I had ever worn.
Opal Range, AB
A 6 hour jaunt up and down Gap Mountain in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park helped me truly determine my stance on the shoe.
Our ascent was an incredibly steep 713 m elevation gain with sheer exposure and gullies to be mindful of. There were a few sections that required conscious footing in order to pass safely. I was always confident in my foot placement and appreciated just how grippy the VT 2’s were against the loose scree.
When we were up, the narrow ridgeline made for a super fun traverse to the summit and I again felt sturdy as I glided across the rocks. When I was ridge running on Gap, there was never a moment where my feet couldn’t keep up with the ground beneath me. This is something I have found to be common in other runners that have made me feel completely defeated by the terrain.
Though the shoe is thoughtfully designed with scramblers in mind, there are a few issues that I discovered during this second adventure. For scrambling specifically, the shale and loose rock do pose a problem with such a low ankle cut. I found that there were numerous times I was taking the shoe off and dumping out handfuls of sharp pebbles. Gators could be a fix, but I also found that my ankles were getting completely bruised and badly cut up this time around by the sharp rocks. On both the ascent and descent, we had to bushwhack some of the way and in these instances my exposed ankles did not stand a chance against fallen trees and shrubs.
I have decided that the Norvan VT 2 shoes are a ‘time and a place’ kind of shoe. If you are looking for a higher ankle cut with the same capabilities, I highly recommend checking out the Aerios FL Mid GTX instead. The Aerios has similarities to the Norvan VT 2 shoes but instead is built with a collar above the ankle to seal out debris. Additionally, I felt great using the Norvan VT 2 shoes for ridge running and well mapped out trails. On the contrary, I would be wary using them for tougher alpine running objectives.
Why I Love the Norvan VT 2 Shoe
- You can’t feel sharp rocks/roots/ or other ground objects below you thanks to the mid-forefoot TPU film which provides underfoot protection
- The shoe has an 8 mm heel drop
- The shoe is breathable and keeps your feet cool
- It’s grippy as hell
- Low ankle cut
- Abrasion resistance could improve
To put a bow on it: for general trail running, the Norvan VT 2 Shoe is hands down the best trail shoe I’ve ever worn. For scrambling, I personally will go with a shoe that has that higher cut next time.
I’m stoked to continue using the Norvan VT 2 shoe for some smaller mountain objectives coming up in August!