Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Craft 2023 Run Previews: Nordlite Ultra, Nordlite Speed, & Pure Trail

 Article by Sam Winebaum

Craft has emerged the last few years as a very strong player in performance running with up until now a focus on “hybrid” shoes that can be run on road, dirt roads , and light trails. Previously this Swedish company was known for high end Nordic ski apparel, equipping many national teams and more recently all seasons run apparel. 

Starting with the CTM series including the carbon plated CTM Ultra 2 (RTR Review) with a PEBA core surrounded by firmer Ud EVA foam then moving to the truly excellent mostly road Pro Endur (RTR Review) with a TPE expanded beads foam (my favorite foam of the moment for trainers) for 2023, Craft will be upping their game with 3 all new injected, supercritical nitrogen infused EVA Cr foam shoes with the foam said to be among the softest relevant foams on the market:

Craft elite David Laney gave us a brief video introduction to the Nordlite Ultra and Pure Trail at The Running Event which can be found at the end of this article. He ran UTMB in an early version of Nordlite Ultra.

Nordlite Ultra ($190, Feb/March release )

The Nordlite Ultra has a 40mm heel, 34mm forefoot stack, so a 6mm drop.  We weighed the sample at 304g / 10.74 oz so respectable for the stack height and the burly outsole. 

It features yet another new foam from Craft called Cr which is an EVA supercritical nitrogen infused foam and unusually is injected, and in a single step, and not bead or “baby” form expanded as many supercritical foams are. I am thinking the feel will be similar to Brooks DNA Flash (also nitrogen infused), New Balance FuelCell, adidas Lightstrike Pro, ASICS FF Turbo, and maybe even Nike Zoom X. The midsole is also said to be “non toxic and reusable”.

Unlike the Speed below, it does not have a carbon plate and with that stack and with that outsole I am betting that a plate would “get in the way”on trails reducing agility and flex with such a big stack. It remains to be seen how stable it will be but the intent here is light trails but as said above David Laney ran UTMB IN HIS.

The upper is a single layer engineered mesh. Craft uppers tend to be on the light side so will have to see how good support is for more rugged terrain.

Initial Take: If your trails are smoother (say Western US type) and you also hit the pavement and dirt roads the Ultra should be a fine new option with the supercritical foam a key feature delivering lots of rebound and cushion. As David Laney said: “the gravel bike of run shoes” and his choice for Western States with the Pure Trail for more technical trails.

Nordlite Speed  ($235, Feb/March release )

Take the Ultra, add a carbon plate and a more road focused outsole and you get the Speed. 

Same stack height, same broad platform, same Cr foam but with carbon propulsion in the mix. We are confirming its weight.   

Pure Trail  ($179, July release)

The Pure Trail is a lower stack (28mm heel / 22 mm forefoot)  Cr critical supercritical foam shorter distance more technical trails cousin to the Ultra. It has no front plate (confirming) but does have what we think is a midfoot plastic shank which will assist with stabilizing. It has an aggressive full coverage outsole. 

We weighed the sample at 293g / 10.34 oz.

Watch as David Laney Presents Nordlite Ultra and Pure Trail at The Running Event

Check out all our 2023 Run Previews 


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1 comment:

70's Teen said...

I'm hoping the Nordlite Ultra will provide all the benefits of the Superblast but with better traction and more flexibility at the forefoot.