Arc’teryx Norvan SL GTX Shoe | Review - Outdoors Magic

Outdoors Gear, Equipment, News, Reviews, Forums, Walking Routes and More at


Trail and Scramble Shoes

Arc’teryx Norvan SL GTX Shoe | Review

Arc’teryx have created a versatile waterproof running shoe that comes in at an extremely lightweight package

Why We Chose The Arc’teryx Norvan SL GTX: Featherweight, breathable waterproof upper, versatile shoe.

With the new Norvan SL GTX, Arc’teryx have created one of the lightest waterproof trail running shoes available on the market. As with most ultra-lightweight outdoor gear, weight has been stripped off by trimming down the features and focussing on the things that matter, but they’ve also drawn on some very interesting new tech.

Firstly, Arc’teryx have used a lightweight mesh upper which not only shaves a lot of weight but that’s extremely breathable to boot. Once held up to the light, you’re almost able to see through the upper, that’s how thin it is. Therefore, you’ll probably be surprised to hear that this hydrophobic upper has been given the full waterproof treatment with Gore-Tex’s Invisible Fit technology.

“LiteBase allows for a reduction of around 40 – 50% in sole thickness, giving you a 25 – 30% reduction in tread weight.”

This technology is designed to remove the need to choose between either picking up a traditional bulky and sweaty waterproof hiking shoe, or going for a lighter weight but non-waterproof minimalist option. They’ve aimed to get rid of that trade-off, that Catch 22, and the result is impressive.

Not only has weight been cut down from the upper materials and waterproof membrane, but Arc’teryx have also worked with Vibram to shave some weight off the sole unit, using their thin ‘LiteBase’ technology in the outsole.

LiteBase sees a reduction of around 40 – 50% in rubber thickness on the base of the outsole in comparison to standard Vibram soles. This, Vibram say, gives you a 25 – 30% decrease in the overall weight. It’s worth noting here that despite this reduction, the lugs, which use the common Megagrip compound, are completely unaffected by this technology, and therefore there’s no loss of traction and durability. Smart stuff.

Arc’teryx have cut out a collar on the heel to clip your the shoes to your harness when not in use. Photo: Chris Johnson
A lightweight, breathable upper surrounds the shoe, with a small rubber rand protects both the toe and heel. Photo: Chris Johnson
The extremely sticky rubber compound works well on rock, whilst also shedding mud well. Photo: Chris Johnson

Tester’s Verdict

Jordan Tiernan, Outdoors Magic Staff Writer

“I’ve been using these shoes for a few weeks and of course the first thing that I’d note about them is the total lack of weight. But there are other useful aspects…

“I’ve always found trail running shoes to be ideal climbing approach shoes, particularly for UK mountain crags, where walking up grassy or muddy slopes is all too common. They have lugs that are designed to give you traction up and down this exact terrain so they’re the perfect fit in my books. With that in mind, I was therefore extremely happy to see that Arc’teryx had cunningly added in a special collar to the ankle cuff on these so that you can clip them onto your climbing harness. On top of this, the use of the Vibram MegaGrip compound and some reasonably deep (3.5mm) lugs gave me instant confidence when hiking on and around boulders and rocky steps – it’s an extremely sticky compound for this sort of terrain.

Gore-Tex invisible fit technology lines the upper, giving the shoe a watertight seal.

“Shoe brands overlook the use of this connection point to your harness in order to be seen as out-and-out trail running specialists, but trail shoes are perfect for the UK climbing market, so kudos to those companies that embrace this.

“The combination of the Gore-Tex membrane, a featherlight weight of 235g per shoe and 3.5mm lugs means that this is going to be the first pair of shoes I reach to for British trad climbing approaches that don’t require any overly-technical scrambling to reach.

“Not only are these shoes great to clip onto the back of my harness whilst climbing, they’re also extremely packable, with a specific lightweight and breathable upper being used that can be folded down flat to enable you to squash them together for a streamlined package that’ll slide into your pack with ease.

“I can’t review a running shoe and only talk about its approach shoe performance though. This is a great trail-running shoe.

“Although the Norvan SL has a fairly neutral (7mm) drop, I could distinctly feel that roll that you get with higher drop shoes – this could be because I was coming from very minimal drop trainers, but it was something that I’d noticed (and appreciated) nonetheless.

“The EVA midsole cushioning on these shoes isn’t as little as you’d expect from a shoe that comes in at this weight either. There’s enough cushioning (20mm at the heel, 13mm at the forefoot) in there for when the terrain gets a little firmer – another feature of the shoe that I certainly appreciated, particularly in this weight category.”

“All-in-all, I’ve love the innovation shown here. Arc’teryx have done something different in the trail running category, niche as it might be, and they’ve pulled it off well.”

Arc’teryx Norvan SL GTX

Newsletter Terms & Conditions

Please enter your email so we can keep you updated with news, features and the latest offers. If you are not interested you can unsubscribe at any time. We will never sell your data and you'll only get messages from us and our partners whose products and services we think you'll enjoy.

Read our full Privacy Policy as well as Terms & Conditions.