Wednesday, June 01, 2022

Craft ADV Nordic Speed 2 Multi Tester Review

Article by Dominique Winebaum and Jeff Valliere

Craft ADV Nordic Speed 2 ($140)

Dominique: Well and long known for its Nordic ski apparel, Craft Sportswear of Sweden offers a wide range of high performance gear and apparel for activities such as running, cycling, cross-country skiing, alpine & backcountry skiing, and mountain biking.  Craft Sportswear US is different from its European counterpart adding sportswear categories such as paddle tennis, trekking, yoga, and triathlon.  

Perhaps it is not surprising that Craft’s new line of products, running shoes, took only a few years to make great strides.   I recently tested and reviewed my first pair of Craft running shoes, the CTM Ultra 2 (RTR Review), a hybrid road/trail shoe coined by Craft pro David Laney as “the gravel bike of running shoes .”  I primarily ran on road and I would be still running in them if not for a new pair of Craft, the ADV Nordic Speed 2, a trail shoe that is also adequate for the road.  Presently in Park City, Utah, I have had access to plenty of trails (and roads) to test my ADV Nordic Speed 2 - mostly smoother surface trails with some gravel and with moderate inclines.  



Well designed upper with plenty of attention to details, including shoelace system 

Attractive and fun design

Comfortable trail shoe with a supple feel and a smooth ride

TPU beads insole enhances comfort when running road

Great fit and true to size

Jeff V:  Stable, versatile, protective, secure (with new laces), stylish



Shoelaces are a bit dainty for a trail shoe

Not an all terrain type of trail shoe

Jeff V:  laces, wet traction, a touch heavy


Samples: men’s  11.25oz  / 321 g US10 ::  women’s 9.14 oz / 259g US9

Full Stack Height: men’s 33 mm heel / 23.5 mm forefoot :: women’s  31 mm heel / 21.5 forefoot, 9.5mm drop 

Available now. $140

Tester Profiles

Dominique has run for over 40 years, consistently about 25 miles per week at paces between 10 and 11 minute miles. She races rarely, but always surprises more hard core runners in her age group when she does. She has a 1985 marathon PR of 3:16 in her second marathon which at the time put her on the top 10 Swiss women’s lists. She is the mother of two grown children, both runners post college, and enjoys nordic and alpine skiing, hiking and trekking, and gardening. 

Jeff V.  runs mostly on very steep technical terrain above Boulder often challenging well known local FKT's. 

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Dominique: The ADV Nordic Speed 2 is a very stylish looking shoe with plenty of innovative design features that I find extremely attractive.  I was excited as this Craft model is true to size unlike the CTM Ultra 2 which was a bit tight around the toes.  

Very comfortable with a good hold even though the shoelaces are a bit dainty for a trail shoe.  In fact, I like the shoelace system, more so than the shoelaces themselves, for its innovative design in helping secure the upper in place.  

In lieu of eyelets, the bottom part of the sholecase system has loops (2 on each side and one in the front) secured by lines of stitched thread embroidered into the upper.  

Notably, there is plenty of color contrast just in the shoelace system: red shoelaces, yellow shiny thread lines holding blue loops, and reinforced material along the eyelets in light blue with some brownish purple in the mix. 

 Let’s not forget the gusseted tongue which is well padded and protective.  

The upper is made of a dense nylon mesh that is soft to the touch yet very protective as well as breathable.  

Reinforced with a soft TPU toe guard, the toebox offers good protection with the benefits of added ventilation.  

The heel is well reinforced with an overlay of material, including rubber, that extends on the outside of the shoe and a vertical strap in the back of the shoe with a reflective line that is looped into the side of the shoe to help slip your foot.  

Overall, this is a well designed upper for running trails offering plenty of protection, a secure and comfortable hold as well as adequate breathability.  After a run in wet and muddy conditions, they cleaned up really well.  

Jeff V:  I have little experience with Craft shoes, having only run in the CTM Ultra last summer, which, while not to my liking for technical trails , or even for trails at all really, is an overall fantastic shoe.  I was excited to see a shoe from Craft that is more dedicated to the trails, with more substantial lugs and a more protective/secure upper.  

Out of the box, I am impressed by the look and style of the shoe, with a very attractive red/orange upper with two tone light/dark blue midsole and accents.  

The TPU toe bumper is flexible and adequate, cleanly integrating into a wrap around rand to keep out water and protect from banging around in the rocks.  Step in comfort is superb, with perfect true to size fit.  

Right away however I am skeptical of the exceptionally thin and ridged laces.  They are so thin that they do not provide any resistance within the eyelets and no matter how hard you pull to snug them up, tension relieves as you work your way up to the next set of eyelets or try to tie your knot.  Additionally, because they are so thin, you find yourself fighting them, which is unpleasant on the back of your fingers.  

Because of this, I simply could not achieve a proper midfoot lockdown.  On my first run on my frequent Green Mountain, they felt acceptable on the ascent, but then on the descent, my foot was sliding around a bit, mostly forward in the shoe and after just 2.5 miles of descending, my heels were getting hot (not far from blistering) and my toes were jammed against the front of the shoe.  

Not to be deterred, I went home and robbed a pair of thicker “normal” laces out of my VJ Ice Hero shoes and laced them into the Nordic Speed 2, which completely transformed this shoe for me.  Now, with the new thicker laces, I can easily snug and secure the midfoot without a fight.

Now, with new laces and a more secure fit, the heel is very secure and stable and I now can run downhill on steep and technical terrain with more confidence and no sliding forward or risk of blisters.

The breathable mesh upper is a material that at first glance does not look all that breathable, as it is more of a closed mesh that is not all that porous.  It is great for keeping dust and debris out of the shoe and is while not breezy and airy, I never once felt hot even when running in temps into the 80’s. 

The tongue is moderately padded and gusseted, making for a very easy, comfortable step in.


Dominique: Made with a “highly cushioned CMEVA foam” (which stands for compression molded EVA), the midsole is very protective but relatively firm. 

The TPU beads insole helps offset the stiffness of the midsole adding some energy return and bounce when landing.  Designed for a soft landing when heel striking, the midsole has a series of  grooves along the sides of the shoe to add flexibility and to reduce the weight of the shoe.  

It has more grooves on the lateral side (top)  than medial side for landing softness and to ease transitions with fewer medial grooves to help with stability.  

This is a comfortable and protective midsole without a plush feel that lends  itself to a stable, comfortable, and smooth ride.  The full stack height (women’s) is moderate - 31 heel and 21.5 forefoot - with a 9.5 mm drop.  Craft running shoes tend to have high drops 9 to 10 mm which works well for me as opposed to zero drop shoes, though I am fine running in a shoe with a 5 mm drop.  I do prefer running in them on the trails than the road as I am used to more cushioning when road running. 

Jeff V:  Dominique describes the midsole perfect and I agree on all points.  I have been able to test the Nordic Speed 2 on a wide variety of trails and conditions and find they perform quite well on just about every surface in regards to cushioning, with adequately firm cushioning for technical terrain, without feeling thin or abusive. I would say the midsole here is ideal for middle distances on moderate to less technical terrain.  Protection underfoot is substantial enough for rocky technical trails too, but in smaller doses.

When running fast on roads and hard rocky downhills, I would prefer a bit softer cushion underfoot, but for the majority of my running I find the cushioning to be adequate.


Dominique: The outsole is made of 100% rubber with a triangular tread pattern of 4mm lugs but for the heel pad which is designed to absorb shock and provides a smooth transition when landing at the heel.  With its high flexibility factor and long high surface area lugs, the outsole helps deliver a comfortable, smooth, and enjoyable ride.  The thread pattern is dense with little space in-between lugs, a design for a door-to-trail experience as opposed to full-on trails.  

In light muddy conditions, the outsole is not very stable especially at the forefoot when clogged with mud but I did find the mud cleared fast.  

Jeff V:  The outsole of the Nordic Speed 2 is generally good on most dry surfaces, good in snow and light mud, but I found wet traction, especially on wet rock to be below average and found I had to slow down and be careful on wet days after a few unexpected slips.  

Overall aside from the wet, I found the outsole to be versatile for door to trail, less technical to moderately technical trails.  I do find the rubber compound to be somewhat hard, perhaps contributing to a bit of a more firm landing as well as the lack of traction in the wet.  The decoupled heel pad helps with flexibility and trail feel.


Dominique: To be noted the shape of the shoe is on the curved, carved out on the medial side which I find to be surprisingly stable, especially for a trail shoe.   As per the label on the tongue “CRAFT TRAIL” the ADV Nordic Speed 2 is a trail shoe, however, specs describe it as an “all Terrain running shoe” for “rough off-road surfaces” and “when on the road.”  I do agree that the comfort level is good when running on road for a “trail shoe,” which is probably due to the TPU beads insole.  As a rule I run smooth trails so it is unlikely that I will test them on “rough off-road surfaces” – I will leave that to Jeff!  

Jeff V:  The ride is versatile and smooth for a wide variety of running, good for door to trail, light trials and moderate trails ideally, yet firm and protective enough for shorter durations of technical trails.  Response is moderate, not particularly inspiring to go fast, but can rise to the occasion if you are feeling good.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Dominique: This is my second pair of Craft running shoes and in both instances it has been a very positive experience.  The hybrid factor in both models is a definite plus and a novelty for me.  The ADV Nordic Speed 2 at $140 is a reasonably priced shoe and I would characterize it as a middle of the road trail shoe because of its “door-to-trail” platform.  Fairly compact with a supple feel, they are protective and stable, and fitting for Park City trails. They also look great!

Dominique’s Score: 9.4 /10

Jeff V:  Overall, I am very impressed with the Nordic Speed 2. They are a very stylish, high quality, high performing door to trail shoe that can handle just about anything you can put it through, with good protection, stability and traction (when dry).  They are ideal for moderate to less technical terrain and mid distances, but for longer distances, I would prefer a deeper, softer cushion.  Wet traction is suspect and I would tread cautiously and if you often run in wet conditions primarily, would likely look elsewhere.  As mentioned previously, I would highly recommend swapping out the laces in favor of thicker, more normal laces for improved midfoot hold and performance.

Jeff V’s Score:  9.1/10

Ride: 9 - can feel a bit firm, but very good for intended purpose

Fit: 9.5

Value: 9.5

Style: 9.5 - exceptionally sharp looking

Traction: 8 - points off for wet traction, but overall really good in dry conditions

Rock Protection: 9 - very protective underfoot for a door to trail shoe.


Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

Craft CTM Ultra (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  I did not get to test the Ultra 2, but the Ultra is lighter, with deeper, more responsive cushioning with a more rockered outsole, but is more designed for road and very light trails, where the Nordic Speed 2 is firmer, more flat in design, more secure, protective, stable with superior traction, so leans more towards trails,

Salomon Sense Ride 4 (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  SR4 is also a good all around, versatile door to trail shoe. Both have great protection, good road manners, and secure uppers (though I find the SR4 to be slightly better).  SR4, has better wet traction and the cushioning is a little more plush (just barely), but protection underfoot is slightly less than in the Nordic Speed 2

Brooks Divide 3 (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  The Divide has a softer, deeper cushion feel, wider toe box, comparable versatile dry traction and better wet traction and is actually surprisingly lively and more responsive than the Nordic Speed 2.  The Divide is also $40 cheaper.

Topo MT-4 (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  The MT-4 is very close in weight and intended door to trail/lighter/moderate trail use.  The MT-4 has a wider toe box, much less drop (3mm vs. 9.5), so it has  more cushioning in the forefoot while remaining very flexible.  While both shoes are flexible, I find the Nordic Speed 2 to offer better protection underfoot which is more advantageous in this comparison for rocky trails.  The Vibram outsole of the MT-4 has better overall traction, especially in wet.

The ADV Nordic Speed 2 is available now including from our partners below.

Tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased through affiliate links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'

Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
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