Fall training for ski mountaineering involves many components, but one primary activity is running and speed hiking steep terrain.
Terrain in your area, fit and running style will ultimately determine which training shoe will work best for you. Recently, we have been trying the Arc’teryx Norvan SL (SuperLight) to work well for fall training on the wet, slippery, rocky terrain on the west coast of British Columbia.
The shoe was originally designed as a lightweight running shoe that could pack small and be brought on multi pitch rock climbing, while still functioning well as a true running shoe. This design focus translates well into a light running shoe designed for fast times on technical uphills and for trails needing an agile, light shoe.
The shoe is built around a minimal mid-sole with Vibram Megagrip rubber connecting you to the trail. This rubber is used in many similar shoes and has always served me well. The durability of the sole is impressive considering the significant grip improvement over Salomon’s contagrip outsoles.
The Norvan’s upper is built out of a TPU mesh rather than a fabric, which does not absorb as much water. The heel cup is very minimal, without the characteristic padding and bulk of a conventional running shoe. Instead, the TPU mesh contours around your foot and makes for a comfortable, adjustable fit.
Considering that the shoe only weighs 185 grams, we have found the durability of the upper mesh to be acceptable. We made a hole in one shoe due to jamming the shoe in a granite crack, but that is outside the scope of the shoe’s design focus and understandable considering the almost unbelievable weight of the shoe.
If you are looking for a lightweight trail shoe with grippy rubber and a medium drop (7mm), you might be hard pressed to find a better option than the Arc’teryx Norvan SL.