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Arc’teryx Norvan LD 3 road to trail running shoes review: bouncy, lightweight running fun, plus an unusual pocket

A monochrome statement shoe, the Arc’teryx Norvan LD 3 truly delivers in lightness, rebound and fun

Arc’teryx Norvan LD 3
(Image: © Arc’teryx)

Our Verdict

A head-turner in monochrome – light and bouncy enough for long distances on road and trail and with a great durable grip.

For

  • • Very light
  • • Comfy straight from the box
  • • Bouncy
  • • Breathable
  • • Great grip
  • • 100 per cent recycled EVA footbed

Against

  • • Sizing feels large but toe box not overly wide
  • • Lace keeper at top of tongue needs to be larger and stretchier

Arc’teryx Norvan LD 3: first impressions

The Arc’teryx Norvan LD 3 is a lovely light, springy, bouncy-feeling shoe, designed for long distances, and it certainly gives enough rebound to propel you along the trails in comfort. 

Despite the lightweight design, the fit is roomy – great for runners with a larger volume foot – but even if you have smaller feet, we wouldn’t advise going down a half size, as the toe box is not overly wide. 

The fit is similar to the Brooks Cascadia 16 but the Arc’Teryx InFuse midsole feels bouncier, particularly in the heel area, which is good news for heel strikers. This, plus the fact that the 6mm drop is noticeable compared to the 8mm drop of most of the shoes in our best road to trail running shoes buying guide, means that the Norvan LDs will suit runners whose Achilles tendons and calf muscles can cope with less of a heel stack. 

Arc’Teryx Norvan LD 3

White soles aren’t going to stay white long if you use the Arc’Teryx Norvan LD 3s the way they’re intended to be used (Image credit: Claire Maxted)

The traditional lacing allows you to get a good, snug fit, and the tongue is breathable yet padded enough to make the top of the foot feel very comfortable. The gusset attaching it to the shoe is also comfy.

There’s a small pocket at the top of the tongue to pop the laces into, but it would benefit from being larger and stretchier to easily fit the whole lace inside (it’s a great idea for keeping the laces safe from brambles though).

The Vibram MegaGrip with 4mm-deep lugs is superb in both rain and shine, and durable too, but our blue version with white sole is not going to stay white for very long.

Specifications

• RRP: $165 (US) / £150 (UK)
• Weight (pair UK 6.5): 492g / 17.4oz
• Colors: Men’s: Men’s: Black / Red / Dark Teal / Blue Women’s: Blue / Light Blue / Red
• Drop: 6mm
• Compatibility: Long distances on a wide variety of surfaces

Arc’teryx Norvan LD 3: on the trails

Arc’Teryx Norvan LD 3

The Vibram soles handle rough terrain well (Image credit: Claire Maxted)

I found the Norvan LD 3s great fun to run in, as they’re so light and bouncy. The white soles definitely didn’t remain white for long, though – not even on the first run. 

However, I think Vibram is always an excellent choice for grip in all types of shoe and the Norvan didn’t disappoint in this area. The midsole felt gorgeously bouncy on the roads and ate up jagged old bricks in disused quarries and tree stumps round the woods with ease (see also: How to choose trail running shoes: drop, sole, grip, weight and more explained).

The lugs are also widely spaced enough for the mud to shed well after running through Peak District bogs and muddy Lincolnshire puddles. (Yes, those white soles really didn’t stand a chance with our test routes.)

Arc’Teryx Norvan LD 3

The lace pocket at the top of the tongue is a great idea, but in practice the actual pocket could do with being bigger (Image credit: Claire Maxted)

The all-blue upper is also a nice touch and sets the Arc’teryx Norvan LD 3s apart from the majority of the best trail running shoes that all seem to be at least two- or three-tone; the Norvans certainly turned a few heads on the trail.

I can definitely see myself running plenty of long distance events and ultra running races in this durable trail running shoe. But despite Arc’Teryx saying, “the toebox is sized to accommodate splay,” we think there’s definitely a case for even more space at the little toe area for runners with wider feet.

The co-founder and former editor of Trail Running magazine, Claire now runs the YouTube channel Wild Ginger Running, creating films packed with trail- and ultra-running content. An award-winning journalist, writing for outdoor and adventure sports magazines and websites, her first book The Ultimate Guide to Trail Running 5k to 50k is out in January 2021. Claire also speaks and presents at events and races.