Tuesday, June 13, 2023

norda 002 Multi Tester Review: 11 Comparisons

Article by Sam Winebaum, Jeff Valliere, Mike Postaski, Dom Layfield and John Tribbia

norda 002 ($295)


Sam: The norda 002 is the second model from the Quebec, Canada brand. Sharing a Dyneema upper and Vibram sourced and integrated Vibram SLE midsole and MegaGrip Lightbase outsole, the 002 is a lower stack (5mm less by my measurements), more flexible and agile, somewhat lighter trail runner that complements the more ultra focused 001 (RTR Review).

As we found with the 001, norda makes no compromises in its choice of materials and execution. Here, as before, we see a Dyneema upper (a material 15x stronger than steel by weight) with more conventional padded and robust rear collars with a somewhat smoother outer surface and fewer front overlays. 

The riding portion by Vibram is complemented by the same high rebounding and resilient eTPU insole as in the 001. The 002 has, comparatively to current trends. a lowish full stack height of 24mm/20mm and decent weight of  9.4oz  / 266g (US9). 

I took them for a East Coast single track 7 mile race, a rugged rocky hike/run, and several door to trail runs while Jeff took them to his usual technical and others trails above Boulder. Let’s find out how they performed!


Smooth any surface speedy cruising ride than can dance the technical Sam/Jeff V/Dom/Mike P/John

Superb consistently fitting from to back, comfortable and secure upper with great expected durability: Sam/Jeff V/Dom/Mike P/John

Broad, well cushioned, protective, flexible, and agile platform lots of ground feel Sam/Jeff V/Dom/Mike P

All Vibram midsole and outsole (plus eTPU insole) are very well integrated with consistent feel through the platform from ground to foot. No slapping or disconnects with plenty of terrain conforming ground well protected ground feel  Sam/Jeff V

Expected very long durability Sam/Jeff//Dom/Mike P

Reasonable weight of 9.4oz  / 266g (US9): Sam/Jeff V/Dom/Mike P/John

All mountain/all conditions grip/wet grip: Jeff V /Sam/John

90% of the upper is from bio-based and previously recycled materials


Price at $295…but you get what you pay for: fantastic fit and upper durability, smooth running foam, long lasting durable outsole: Sam/Jeff V/Dom/Mike P/John

Could use more snap & front response, a touch more protection, smoother trail propulsion. A thin flexible rockplate or a bit more stack height? Sam/Jeff V/Dom/Mike P/John


Weight: men's 9.4oz  / 266g (US9)

 Samples: men’s  9.4 oz  / 266g US9

9.75 oz  / 276g US10

Full Official Stack Height: 24mm/20mm, including 5mm eTPU insole 

Midsole/Outsole Stack Height: 19mm in the heel and 15mm in the toe 

$295.  Available now

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Sam: The norda™ 002's visual design is a tribute to the mountains around their home city. The medial and lateral sides of the upper feature reflective linework that represent the silhouettes of St. Bruno, St. Hilaire, and Rougemont—three mountains east of Montreal. The soleplate pattern is inspired by the rock formation of the Canadian Shield.

From Norda: 

The upper is seamlessly constructed with Dyneema®. Bio-based Dyneema Fibre® is the world’s strongest and lightest fibre™️. It uses a mass balance approach, is sustainably sourced, and is a BlueSign® approved material and ISCC certified. Of all the high-performance fibers, Dyneema® delivers the lowest carbon footprint per unit strength. 75% of the energy used to manufacture Dyneema Fibre® comes from renewable energy sources.

Enough with the tech and marketing details. This is one heck of a fine fitting and secure upper going a long way to making the shoe’s pricing understandable.

Enough with the visual design and tech details This is one heck of a fine fitting and secure upper going a long way to making the shoe’s pricing understandable.

The Dyneema material is very dense, very thin and pliable with non stretch. The upper truly conforms to the foot and seamlessly. No exaggerating, a “glove” like fit.  

The heel area, in contrast to the 001 inner padding pillows, now has padded collars and a more robust semi rigid heel counter with overlays extending forward. 

The hold is super secure and also not overly heel constraining and rigid. Front to back, upper to midsole and outsole  this shoe is all about contouring to terrain.

The tongue is gusseted and un-padded made of the same Dyneema material as the rest of the upper but for the top edge and inside being lined with a tapering layer of soft leatherette material which ends at the bottom of the big reflective logo.

The 100% recycled diamond-designed norda™ The 100% recycled laces made with Dyneema® in the mix and are said to provide 4x the strength of a standard lace and have higher abrasion resistance. And they have a wonderful combination of being easy to pull through the eyelets with a secure, rarely needing to re-tie grip from the texture of the (white) Dyneema fibers. 

The toe box is generous in width and volume with the end of the lace up area unstructured to allow (in part) the easy flexibility of the shoe.  

The toe bumper is a double layer construction and is highly protective and, in something I like, is more vertical so is not over the top of the toes. I do wish for somewhat more substantial overlays than the two reflective linework ones and the associated side ones for a touch more front lockdown but that might spoil the look!

My pair, at norda’s suggestion, is half size up from my normal US 8.5 and fit perfectly. I also tried a US8.5 and found the top of my toes a bit too close to the bumper.

Lastly, it is a “white” shoe and although I have not had them in much mud they have pretty much stayed that way. The Dyneema is so dense in weave that dirt has a hard time attaching to it. And the mesh is also decently splash water resistant and doesn’t absorb moisture much if at all so they dry quickly.  Although I have not run in any big heat as of yet my sense is that this super thin and translucent (seen with light shining through on the inside) mesh is plenty breathable as well.  

Jeff V:  The Dyneema upper of the 002 is amazingly thin, flexible and light, yet simultaneously protective and secure.  Overall, the upper is very streamlined and minimal, with an exceptionally good fit, with a “just right” feel and secure fit in the heel, a nice one and done secure lacing over the midfoot and just the right amount of wiggle room in the toe box.  

The length of the shoe is just right in my normal size 10.  Security is very good no matter how fast I am running, how steep, how technical or sidehilling. My feet never waver, but also never feel confined during longer runs.  While the weather has not gotten out of the 70s during my testing period, I do not find them to be overly warm despite not seeming particularly meshy or airy.  I have beaten them up pretty well bashing through the rocks and off trail and the upper seems so far  to be impervious to wear and tear.

Dom: I came into this review with almost no knowledge of Norda at all. I was vaguely aware that they were a Canadian company making niche super-premium running shoes, and that was about it.  The shoes arrived in a stout cardboard box that begs to be re-used for storage: an immediate counterpoint to most new shoeboxes that are designed to minimize cardboard and for easy breakdown.  Which approach is better?  It depends on whether people will actually re-use the box.  The shoes also come with a matching Dyneema storage bag, complete with internal partition.  All very nice stuff.  

Dom: I noticed that Norda had shipped me shoes in nominal size US M10.5.  I usually wear a US M10, so it seems that standard sizing guidance is to move up a half size.  And indeed, in the FAQ on Norda’s website, it states “As a general rule most people add a half size to their usual running shoe.”  This guidance seems right on the money.  The 10.5 fitted my foot perfectly, with a ‘just right’ roominess.  Sticking to my regular size would have resulted in a very snug fit, and likely uncomfortable pressure on my big toe.  I will say, though, that I found Norda’s size chart a little confusing.

Dom: My pair of US M10.5 weighed 288 g (10.2 oz) per shoe.  That puts them pretty much in the middle of the pack for trail shoes.  Not heavy, but not super light, either.  

Dom: First impression on the foot was excellent.  These feel shaped like a real foot, not lasted around a mannequin.  Not quite the perfect match I feel with most Topo shoes (which happen to fit my foot perfectly), but what is likely a really nice mainstream shape.  Inside the shoe, there’s a noticeable sensation of sitting in a ‘bathtub’ of foam, with midsole material extending up higher all around the periphery.  Not only does this provide a feeling of protection, but it also makes foot retention excellent: cradling of the foot in a well of foam keeps it nicely centered in the shoe without depending on cinching down hard on the laces.

Dom:  This is a nice, flexible shoe, with no (apparent) stiffening elements in the sole.  Combined with the modest ~25 mm forefoot stack height, stability and ground feel is excellent.  Right out the box, the Norda 002 feels comfortable, secure, and rock-solid in all terrain.

Dom:  Unlike Sam, I didn’t feel the need for more overlays up front.  I generally find forefoot overlays counterproductive, generally introducing pressure points and unwanted discontinuities in the natural flexion of the shoe.  With my (I assume) slightly wider feet, I had no extra room up front.  Additionally, the Dynama fabric used is already strikingly lacking in stretchiness, so I’m not clear whether further reinforcement would accomplish anything useful mechanically.

Mike P: “The shoe is all about contouring to terrain” - Sam nails it with that sentence alone. Fit is superb, although I find it a bit short up front (more detail below). Forefoot, midfoot, and heel hold are all very good and the feel of the upper is consistent front-to-back. Unlike some other shoes, there’s no feeling of one section or another feeling more secure or locked in than another area of the shoe. Really just a quick tug on each row of laces, tie them up, and you’re good to go. 

Unlike the other testers, I still find the 002’s to run a bit short up front, even at the recommended half size up. I typically wear either a 9.5 or 10.0 depending on the brand, and also whether I’m sizing up for distance or not. Typically in a trail shoe I like to have a minimum ¾ thumb’s width in front of the toes, and usually closer to a full thumb’s width.

I received a 10.0, and I have only ½ thumb’s width up front - even when wearing my thinnest socks. I cannot wear a normal sock such as Drymax RunLite mesh without feeling squeezed. I have no issues running them with thin socks though as the fit is so superb, but the only thing I’d be reluctant about is steep descents due to the lack of space in front of the toes.

[Norda 002, US 10.0 insole on top of Saucony (Xodus Ultra 2) US 9.5 - hard to see due to the angle, but the Saucony insole is about ⅛” longer, even with the smaller size]

As others mention - the shoe is very broad across the toebox - almost Topo-like, with a bit more of a standard rounding of the toebox up front. But that nice broad forefoot really enhances the ground feel and works well with the flexible midsole (more below).

John: I really feel I lucked out to get the opportunity to try out the Norda 002 trail shoe. I was immediately impressed with the shoe's lightweight and responsive feel. Like the others say, the Dyneema material is very strong and lightweight. The shoe also has a very secure fit, even on technical terrain. I usually wear a size US 9, but I received a 9.5 in the Norda 002. 

I found that the 9.5 fit me perfectly. The shoe has a wider toe box, which I appreciate. I also like that the shoe has a gusseted tongue, which helps to keep debris out of the shoe. I've only had the Norda 002 for a few weeks, but I've already put them through their paces on a few trail runs. I've been very impressed with the shoe's performance. The shoe is very comfortable and provides good traction on a variety of surfaces. I'm looking forward to putting the shoe to the test on more challenging trails in the future.

The Dyneema upper of the Norda 002 provides excellent protection and seems durable. The material is also very breathable, which helps to keep your feet cool and dry. The upper material is also very flexible, which allows for a natural range of motion. Overall, I'm very impressed with the upper material of the Norda 002. It's strong, durable, breathable, and flexible. I think it's one of the best upper materials I've ever experienced in a trail running shoe.


Sam: The Vibram midsole foam is exactly the same compound as in the 001. It is a high compression molded EVA from Vibram that is extremely lightweight  with a 0.15 SpG/cc gravity, 50 hardness. It is combined with 5mm eTPU insole with high cushion and rebound properties.  

The geometry has a pyramid shape for stability and it is effective and noticed with a well aligned landing then some give further down to contour to terrain while providing stability. 

The full stack height is listed at 24mm / 20mm including the 5mm eTPU insole with the midsole/outsole at 19mm in the heel and 15mm at the forefoot. 

This is a remarkably low stack height for the amount of comfortable, energetic cushion provided. I think the softness of the Vibram outsole and its careful integration to the midsole clearly contributes to the cushion. More on that in Outsole but I can say the recently reviewed Hoka Zinal 2 with a  greater 30//25 stack height is considerably firmer if also considerably lighter. The only shoe I can think of with a similar low stack height and deep friendly cushion is the NNormal Kjerag (RTR Review) with a yet lower 23mm heel / 17mm forefoot stack height and lighter weight.  

The 002, if pressed with two thumbs at the forefoot, is surprisingly soft and flexible in all directions which had me worried about both stability and rock protection, given there is no rock plate and the lowish stack height. I did the same press test with a Saucony Xodus Ultra 2 with its woven rock plate and Endorphin Rift and the Norda 002 has far more give. 


As Vibram also supplies and integrates the outsole, there is a great match between the two in terms of overall feel on any surface but maybe as less glue used in this precise assembly less stiffness upfront and I think it could use a bit more? Yet, there is plenty of forefoot cushion and protection but maybe not ultra distance deep and protective. What you do get from the combination of midsole and outsole is lots of well cushioned ground contouring feel of any terrain. 

What you don’t get, although the midsole and insole provides plenty of rebound, is the smoother terrain response and quick sense of propulsion of trail shoes with a dual purpose (protection and propulsion) rock plate, the Xodus Ultra, Catamount 2, and some of the Salomon with their ProFeel and Energy Blades coming to mind. On such terrain there is more of a sensation of smooth flexible rebound and plenty of it than quick fast response. I do think a very thin woven fabric type plate or maybe 2-3mm more stack height would be an improvement as long as it did not make the shoe overly stiff. 

Jeff V:  Sam sums up the midsole quite well and I agree with him on all points.  For such a relatively low stack by today’s standards, the 002 feels surprisingly well cushioned and substantial underfoot, and especially so given there is no plate in the mix.  I find them to be forgiving with great ground feel and flexibility, but not overly so and have adequate cushion for mid distances (for me maybe 4-6 hours of running).

As Sam mentions, there is an exceptionally good integration here between the midsole and the outsole, allowing for a very flexible feel and great contouring over rocks and roots without feeling too thin or unprotected.  

The overall feel of the midsole is moderately soft and well cushioned underfoot, but firm enough to not feel mushy and allows for excellent control and stability in technical terrain.  While not really snappy and propulsive for fast running on flatter, smooth terrain, I find that the 002 has plenty of get up and go on technical terrain and are great on the steep ups and downs.

As Sam also mentions, I do agree that the 002 would benefit from a light flexible plate just to add that little bit of propulsion and protection.  That said, even in rocky, technical terrain, I find them to be sufficient enough that I never find myself being overly cautious with my foot placements.

Dom:  From my perspective, the most notable aspect of the midsole is how little there is.  Around the periphery there is excess midsole foam, so that the foot sits in a cradle of foam.  But underfoot, particularly in the forefoot, there’s not a lot of midsole.  Instead Norda have taken a leaf out of the Inov-8 playbook, and paired a thin midsole with a fairly substantial insole made of expanded TPU beads.  (Just like the Inov-8 ‘boomerang’ insole, and several recent Saucony shoes. Craft, too, have jumped on this trend.)  I’m a big fan of these footbeds, as they provide extra bouncy cushioning, do not absorb water, and maintain their resilience across many hundreds (even thousands) of miles.   

Dom:  I have zero issues with the back end of the shoe.  Heel retention, cushioning and stability are all excellent .  Up front, however, I wanted just a hair more protection.  Landing on a sharp rock can cause discomfort.  Arguably, this is  personal preference. Maybe I’ve got overly used to super-cushioned shoes with which one can thunder blindly through rock fields.  

Dom:  On the subject of the eTPU insole, Norda made some interesting choices.  Up front there are a series of grooves under the forefoot (see Mike's picture below).  Presumably these are to improve flexibility and ground feel.  I’m unclear at this point whether this is the right choice: I plan to do some experimenting switching in alternative insoles.  I’m also dubious about the pinholes: are these for drainage?  Improved breathability?  Certainly in gritty terrain, I’ve noticed that they pick up little pebbles.  Another slightly surprising choice is that the insole is noticeably thicker in the heel than the forefoot. 

Mike P: The guys have summed up the midsole well. The midsole has a light feel for the amount of cushion underfoot. It’s very soft to the touch and when articulating the shoe in hand as Sam mentions. It definitely seems to be designed in conjunction with the flexible outsole as the midsole/outsole combo seems to flex easily in any direction. Throw in the nice, broad forefoot fit as described above and you get great ground feel on the run.

As Sam alludes to, there is some bit of “snap” or responsiveness that is missing in comparison to other shoes. The Catamount 2 comes to mind as a shoe that is less flexible overall than the 002, but with its flexible plate - it has a much quicker feel on the run. Without any plate, and with only 20mm of “light” foam under the forefoot, the 002 is somewhat light on protection. I do notice regular sized gravel and rocks underfoot a bit more than I’d like at times. I’d say you have to be a bit light on your feet and ready to dance at times to avoid zingers. 

Norda also uses a TPU insole which I love and is a great choice. It should only make the shoe more durable, and also make the “feel” of the shoe last longer and feel more consistent over time. The insole also has some flex grooves on the underside which I haven’t seen before in a TPU insole. The TPU material itself also seems quite light.  I actually put them on the scale to compare with other TPU insoles and they were the lightest (Inov-8: 32g, Craft: 34g, Saucony: 34g, Norda: 28g).

[TPU insoles, left to right: Inov-8, Craft, Norda, Saucony]

Everyone summarizes the midsole really well. It is a lightweight and responsive midsole that provides a good balance of cushioning and support. It is soft enough to provide comfort on long runs, but firm enough to provide support on technical terrain. One of the positive experiences I have had with the Norda 002 midsole is that it provides good cushioning on long runs. I have found that the midsole is soft enough to absorb the impact of running, but not so soft that it feels mushy. This has helped reduce fatigue on long runs. It also provides good support on technical terrain. I have found that the midsole is firm enough to provide support on uneven surfaces, but not so firm that it feels stiff. In fact, I have yet to have any negative experiences with the Norda 002 midsole. I have found that it is very versatile and performs well on a variety of terrain. I personally like the natural feel without a plate.


Sam: The outsole is Vibram® Litebase® Megagrip®  with 5mm lugs. The base plate pattern calls out Norda’s home Canadian Shield. The grip is superb as is the integration to the midsole. It’s an all of a piece sensation over terrain, very smooth and flowing if a bit broad feeling up front.  

I noted the black outsole felt softer than the colored MegaGrip on the Zinal 2 and NNormal Kjerag as well as PWRTRAC on the Peregrine 13 so I tried to measure and compare the hardness of the rubber by pressing and with a gauge. I found by pressing and by measuring that indeed the Norda 002 rubber is somewhat softer and this not only adds to the cushion of the low stack but conforms to terrain obstacles better but also leads to a bit less response. I also sense the 002 black rubber is ever so slightly softer than the gum rubber color 001’s outsole of the same pattern.

I am not at all worried about durability. After about 30 miles including the trail race, the hike on abrasive granite, and a mix of road and gravel roads I see very little wear. 

In fact the raised nubs (not sure what they are for) but for one are mostly intact. Pretty amazing, making me think this rubber resists shear forces very well indeed.

Unlike the higher lugged more angular outsole of say the Saucony Endorphin Rift or even the Hoka Zinal 2,  the Norda 002  caught less abruptly on roots and rocks, a good thing, the softer rubber and shoe flexibility gripping plenty but with a more contouring to the obstacles feel. On hard surfaces, with again credit to the outsole design, the shoe’s flexibility and the integration to the midsole they are quite quiet and in no way harsh.

Jeff V:  Sam sums up the outsole well.  I have run a wide variety of terrain, steep loose technical trails and off trail, rocky slabs and rock gardens, buffed out singletrack, roads and in the wet.  Grip is exceptionally good in all of these conditions and among the best outsoles out there.  Durability is very good as well, as I have seen very little wear after 30 mostly very rough miles on them.

Mike P: I too wondered what those raised nubs are for. Given the fact that the rubber itself feels soft and flexible, those nubs don’t really offer any type of bite. In any case, Vibram® Litebase® Megagrip® definitely comes in different bespoke varieties. I’ve been concurrently testing the NNormal Tomir, which has a firmer and definitely less flexible variety of Vibram® Litebase® Megagrip®. The Norda 002 outsole integrates seamlessly with its midsole, both visually and in feel. Again, this is a highly flexible, highly contouring shoe, and the outsole plays a big part in that.

Dom:  I’m starting to feel like a cracked record, since nearly all the shoes I’ve tested recently have outsoles made of Vibram Megagrip using Vibram’s Litebase construction.  To reiterate, though these outsoles may appear flimsy, they perform exceptionally well while retaining excellent durability.  The Norda tread pattern is a little unusual, and it’s worth observing that the outsole coverage is complete (many shoes only cover parts of the bottom of the sole in order to save weight).  On every surface I’ve tested, including pavement, the 002 felt great.  Like other reviewers, I was baffled by the pointy nubs, which are tearing off anyway.  I concluded that this is mostly an artifact of Norda using the same outsole mold for the 002 as they do for their Spike winter running shoes.  Or perhaps these are intended to indicate suggested 
DIY locations to insert screws for winter running

John: Overall, I am very impressed with the Norda 002 outsole. It provides excellent grip on a variety of surfaces, and appears to be very durable. I appreciate the single piece of Vibram Litebase with Megagrip rubber on the outsole as it provides a seamless and consistent grip on a variety of surfaces.While those have commented on the lug pattern, I think it has a good amount of coverage that provides good traction on loose surfaces. Their lugs are also spaced evenly, which in our wet Colorado spring has been helpful to prevent the outsole from picking up mud and debris. Speaking of this spring's wet conditions, the Megagrip rubber compound provides excellent traction on wet surfaces. 

Ride, Conclusions and Recommendations

Sam: I took them out for a 7 mile trail race on a moderately technical single track course with plenty of roots and rocks with no big issues. I did note that the big flexibility occasionally “bit” if the foot was inadvertently flexed hard on a steep rock angle. On smoother short sections of flat gravel roads during the race they had a lot of friendly bounce and were surprisingly fast. 

I took them at slower, mostly hike/run paces on a very steep rocky trail in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and they were plenty of shoe for that use with adequate protection and incredible grip on wet and dry granite slabs. 

I also ran them on paved roads, dirt roads and smoother forest paths where they were just as capable. I took them on the road as well as for easy recovery type runs and fine there too due to the flexibility and upper support and more than adequate cushion. 

The ride is versatile, that is for sure. Everywhere I have taken them they have proved fun and pleasingly cushioned even with the low stack height. And they also make for a wonderful everyday wear, walking and travel shoe.

The “pyramid” geometry has the heel well aligned on landing with supportive give from the wider lower part of the pyramid at the ground as you transition.  The front is very flexible for a trail shoe, agile even if aa bit too broad for my tastes for technical trails. I do wish for a bit more stiffness and propulsion which a very thin flexible rock plate or a few millimeters of stack height might provide along with of course providing more rock protection. 

There is a surprising amount of forgiving cushion for the stack with the lower stack and pyramid geometry definitely assisting in agility and stability. 

The Dyneema upper support and comfort is truly outstanding and the clear big overall highlight of the Norda 002. Plenty of well held room with a light feel on the foot, remarkable mesh debris resistance and decent breathability. And the Dyneema fiber reinforced laces are easy to pull through with the fibers providing great lock and minimal on the run stretch.  

Norda went all out to deliver the tech and execute it here. It all comes together beautifully to deliver a superb all around trail runner. Durability of the upper, midsole, and outsole should be excellent and part of a tradeoff for the decent but not outstanding weight at the stack height. This shoe was designed and built to last way beyond the usual.

Of course, this excellence and wonderful experience comes at a price of $295. As a small brand with limited volume production and the state of the art tech and execution here, such pricing is sort of to be expected but I do wish pricing was lower so more could experience this special shoe.

Sam’s Score: 9.52/10

Ride: 9.4 Fit: 10 Value: 8.5  Style: 9.5 Traction: 9.5  Rock Protection: 9


Jeff V:  I agree with Sam on all points. The 002 is a blast to run, quite versatile, capable and competent on a wide variety of terrain, surfaces and conditions.  They are surprisingly well protected and cushioned for such a relatively low stack, yet the ride is very well connected with the terrain under your feet without feeling too thin.

The upper is exceptionally comfortable, well held and secure, yet not confining and allows for just enough room for splay and swell.  

The superior outsole grips so well on any terrain, and adds to their versatility. I feel as comfortable running steep mountain terrain as I do going door to trail or cruising buffed singletrack or dirt roads.  They are quick, agile, competent and confidence inspiring, just a fun shoe that makes for  a great daily trainer or a short to mid distance race shoe for just about any terrain.

Jeff V’s Score: 9.5/10

Ride: 9.5, Fit: 9.5, Value: 9, Style: 10, Traction: 10, Rock Protection: 9


Mike P: The 002 has a very smooth ride. The entire shoe is well integrated and coherent - upper, insole, midsole, outsole. You can tell from the feel of the shoe and the craftsmanship involved that this is no accident. The $295 price point is obviously very high, and some of that is due to the smaller size of the company and the scale at which they operate. But a lot of the cost clearly goes into the best materials on the market, and likely top design, testing, and manufacturing protocols. 

On the run, the ride feels quick and agile - due to its overall great flexibility, the shoe feels like an extension of the foot. The shoe does maintain somewhat of a wide platform from under the midfoot through the heel. Sometimes this causes me issues as overly wide platforms can hinder ankle mobility. But in the 002, this issue is mitigated by the lateral flexibility of the shoe underfoot. I can notice the wider platform through the mid/rear, but it causes no issue in terms of discomfort or maneuverability.

One thing to be aware of is that there is no type of plate at all, and the stack is just 20mm under the forefoot. This can lead to a zinger here or there if you do take a direct hit on something pointy. That’s the certain price you have to pay for such enhanced flexibility and ground feel. I’m overall very impressed with my first trail shoe from Norda. As I usually say with concept/small brand shoes - the price is the price. But in this case you can be sure that you are getting a top quality shoe in many regards.

Mike P’s Score:  9.08 / 10

Ride: 9.5 - Great ground feel, smooth, and fun

Fit: 9.5 - Excellent all around, just a bit stubby up front for me

Value: 8 - Very high price for no compromise design, but I think you can get something close to this shoe for less

Style: 9 - I like a white trail shoe, but so much black at the bottom makes them “look” heavy

Traction: 9.5 - The flexibility of the shoe + traction gives confidence on the run

Rock Protection: 7 - Not the specialty of this shoe, by design

Smiles 😊😊😊😊

Dom:  There’s no doubt about it: the Norda 002 is a really nice shoe.  It is beautifully designed and constructed, and made with fabulous materials.  On the foot, it is both comfortable and rock solid on a wide range of terrain and surfaces.  Ground feel and stability is outstanding.  Personally, I felt the shoe lacked a bit of protection up front, but that’s about my only criticism of the shoe itself.  This is a shoe I find myself reaching for as a daily trainer.  It is also an excellent travel shoe, as I know it can handle any surface I might find myself running on. 

Dom:  Where I struggle with the Norda 002 is pricing. $295 is more than double what most people expect to pay for a pair of shoes, and it’s not clear to me how this price can be justified.  Don’t get me wrong: I’m passionate about sustainability, and I love the idea of shoes that will last thousands of miles.  But while Norda have generally chosen bulletproof materials, I don’t see the (excellent) outsole lasting into thousands of miles. Norda doesn’t advertise an exceptional warranty; they don’t offer a repair or resole service yet, as for example NNormal does while also helping you find a Vibram-certified cobbler (Europe only for now), or a recycling service. And nor does Norda have as much transparency about CO2 emissions, sourcing, factory locations etc. as NNomral does.

Dom:  Look, I’m thrilled that companies like Norda exist: I love that boutique brands are trying new things and headed in a different direction to the major players.  And I always root for the little guy.  I also think the Norda 002 is a lovely shoe.  It’s just hard to swallow the exorbitant cost, and Norda’s environmental credentials feel meager.

Category Scores: 

Ride: 9.5  –  Lovely.  Stable, flexible, comfortable, great ground feel.

Fit: 9  –  Excellent: just make sure you size up.

Traction: 9.5  –  Excellent.

Rock protection:  7  –  I wanted more up front.

Style: 9  – Very nice looking shoe.

Durability: 9  –  Looks promising.  Time will tell.

Weight: 8  –  Pretty good, but nothing exceptional.

Environmental commitment:  Unclear

Value:  3  –  Ugh.  Maybe I’m a cheapskate, but the price feels about $100 too high to me.

John: Based on what others have said and my own experiences, the Norda 002 is a highly regarded trail shoe for runners of all skill levels, but not necessarily all pay grade levels. It is comfortable, lightweight, and responsive, with good traction on a variety of surfaces. The shoe is soft enough to provide comfort on long runs, but firm enough to provide support on technical terrain. It also has a good amount of cushioning to protect your feet from the impact of running on rough surfaces and I don’t think a plate insert is an absolute must-have. The downside of the 002? It is expensive. The Norda 002 performed admirably during a recent 10-mile run on a technical trail with a lot of up and down. The shoe was comfortable and efficient, and I finished the loop in a personal best time. Overall, I am very impressed with the Norda 002 trail shoe. It is an excellent choice for runners seeking a comfortable, lightweight, and responsive shoe that can handle a variety of trail conditions.

John's Score: 9.3/10

Ride: 9.5, Fit: 9.5, Value: 8, Style: 10, Traction: 10, Rock Protection: 9


11 Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

norda 001 (RTR Review)

The 001 and 002 share Dyneema uppers and the same Vibram midsole outsole platform yet are very different riding and fitting shoes.  The 002 upper is a thinner more pliable Dyneema with a slightly wider fitting toe box as in addition to the thinner mesh there are fewer front overlays. 

The 002 has a more conventional padded heel and ankle wrap, a more substantial heel counter and rear overlay array. 

Underfoot, the differences are yet more substantial as the 001 has about 5mm more stack height, a considerably less pronounced rocker and a shorter stiffer front flex. 

Its gum color Megagrip outsole has the same lug pattern but feels firmer to pressing and underfoot. While 001 is a  fantastic shoe and more ultra distance focused due to its increased (+5mm) cushion, the 002 is faster, more versatile, more pleasant feeling and fitting and slightly lighter at  9.4 oz / 266g. 

Jeff V: I was able to test the 001 in the spiked version, so not a direct compare, but the 001 is much more substantial and cushioned underfoot, with more protection and in the non spiked version, better for longer distances at slower speeds and slightly less technical terrain.

Saucony Peregrine 13 (RTR Review)

Sam: A bit heavier at 9.62 oz  /  271g US9 with 4 mm more stack height and a woven rock plate, the Peregrine is stiffer and more protective. A closer comparison is the more flexible slightly lower stack Peregrine 12. All shoes have comfortable secure uppers. At $140, if your needs are for technical trails the Peregrine is a better value while the Norda 001 while somewhat less protectively cushion holds it own on tech trails and pulls away every else in speed and smiles.

Jeff V: Sam sums well and I agree on all points.  Peregrine more protective, but no longer as nimble and stable (the 12 is a more appropriate comparison).  Norda is for sure more premium and higher build quality, with superior outsole, but is twice the price.

John: I agree as well. Both shoes are fun to run in, but I prefer the more natural underfoot feel of the Norda compared to the Peregrine.

Inov-8 Trailfly G 270 V2 (RTR Review)

Dom: This feels like a very relevant comparison, and the G 270 has a similar amount of cushion as the Norda 002, and is a shoe lauded for its durability.  At $170, it is also on the pricey side, but nowhere near the Norda’s astronomical $295 pricepoint. Both shoes employ an eTPU insole.  Norda is a little roomier in the forefoot, and a better match to my footshape, but this may not apply to everyone. Stack height is about the same in the forefoot, but G 270 is flat (same height in the heel) whereas Norda is nominally 4 mm drop.  Personally, I have no issues with zero-drop shoes, but I know some runners struggle with them, so the modest drop of the Norda may be preferable..  Despite similar forefoot stack height, G 270 provides a little better rock protection, perhaps due to stiffer outsole, but there’s not a huge difference.  G 270 is a little lighter (9.7 oz vs 10.2 in US M10), but not much in it.

NNormal Kjerag (RTR Comparison Review to S/Lab Pulsar SG, Multi Tester Review soon)

Sam: A very close comparison in upper fit and cushion yet the Kjerag is considerably (2 oz) lighter at 7.55 oz /231g in my US8.5 sample. Its stack height is yet lower at 23.5 / 17.5 as is its price at the $195. 

It too features a Vibram Megagrip outsole but with lower higher surface lugs so it has a more responsive smoother hard surfaces ride. Its midsole feet is similar and in combination with the outsole has a more energetic response with a shorter more pronounced front flex point than the norda. It is equally as stable and secure (Jacquard Matryx upper) with a broad toe box.  Outside of soft ground it is a yet more versatile shoe than the Norda. I have trail run, road run, and even trekked with a heavy pack in them.  Everywhere light, fast and fun with no compromises but for softer ground grip, maybe. They are the lightest do it all shoe as I have experienced.   

Saucony Endorphin Rift (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  The Endorphin Rift is much softer and more plush with a higher stack, very comfortable with great fit and overall performance, but is not as versatile given its instability in technical terrain.

Sam: Faster on the smooth, more cushioned and energetic but the Rift outsole is overdone and its upper can’t keep up as well as the Norda’s when terrain gets tricky. Dyneema makes the difference here.

Dom:  The Rift was a near-miss for me.  It’s a fun, bouncy ride, but the shape of the shoe doesn’t work for me.  Norda is less heavily cushioned, but has better ground feel and is way more stable.

John: I agree with Dom. The running experience in all terrain, especially technical terrain heavily favors the Norda.

Salomon Sense Ride 5 (RTR Review)

Jeff V: The SR5 has more substance underfoot, though it would be hard to tell in a blind test.  The Norda is lighter, quicker, more agile and given its all mountain chops is more versatile, with a superior outsole and is much more race ready.

Sam: In the same category, the Ride has more substance underfoot but can’t really compare in versatility and fun factor to the norda.

Mike P (10.0): The Sense Ride 5 was a miss for me. It feels flat underfoot, with only a very noticeable flex at the very front near the toes. Perhaps it is more protective with a flexible plate, but in a much firmer way. The Norda is way more flexible and contours so much better around terrain underfoot. It’s much more fun to run in.

John: Tough call for me. I love the SR5 and use it for daily running, even on roads. I do agree that the superior weight and agility of the Norda. Given the price difference, I would view the SR5 as an everyday shoe for me and the Norda is like a nice champagne that I would savor and spare selectively.

Speedland GS:TAM (RTR Review)

Dom:  Another shoe with a prodigious price tag ($275, not including $35 carbon insert), the GS:TAM is much less conventional than the Norda.  The Norda feels like an exceptionally refined shoe that uses high-end materials but doesn’t break much ground in terms of innovation. The GS:TAM, on the other hand, feels like a bold new direction (or mad-scientist experiment, depending on your perspective).   But outside of their sky-high pricing, the shoes have little in common.  The GS:TAM is a bouncy, high-stack monster cushion shoe that’s pretty stiff even without the carbon plate insert.  The Norda is low, flexible, and consequently much more stable and with better ground feel.  Speedland feels ready to go 200 miles on another planet;  Norda like a smooth daily driver.

Salomon Ultra Glide 2 (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  With even more cushion underfoot than the SR5 that is more forgivingly soft for longer distances, the UG2 would be my pick for longer days, but for shorter distances, faster running and on technical terrain, the 002 is the way to go.

Salomon S/Lab Genesis (RTR Review)

Jeff V: With more cushion and protection for longer days, the Genesis is similarly versatile and competent over a very wide range of terrain and conditions.  The Norda though, while actually a bit heavier, feels more agile and nimble in technical terrain, with a lower more planted feel and slightly better traction.

Brooks Catamount 2 (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  Catamount is lighter and faster, with a very propulsive feel, but is more limited to less technical rolling terrain, where the Norda is more adept in technical terrain and has superior grip.

Mike P (10.0): The Cat 2 feels much faster on the run - its plate gives it some snap that is missing from the Norda. I find them highly versatile and I think they do well enough up to somewhat technical terrain. The material of the Norda upper feels a bit lighter and may be better, but I wish they were just a touch longer. This is clearly a comp where I’d say save the extra $ and go with the Brooks.

John: The Catamount 2 is awesome as a road to trail and rolling terrain shoe. I don’t prefer it as much for technical and slower power hiking situations. Therefore, if I’m going to more aggressive trails I would choose the Norda.

Craft Endurance Trail (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  The Craft has amazingly fast feeling and responsive energetic foam, however I really struggled with the fit and stability, so was unable to wring much performance out of them.  The Norda dominates in every way.

Sam: The Craft has incredible foam but suffers from a sloppy upper that, while as roomy as the norda has far less secure hold. Dyneema is special!

Mike P (9.5): Same as Jeff V. and Sam - Craft has something to work with in terms of the foam, but the upper is poor fitting and does not seem well designed.

VJ Ultra 2 (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  The VJ is lighter, more responsive, softer, but not quite as protective overall and this despite the rock plate in the Ultra v2.  Traction is comparable.  The Norda is much more durable and perhaps better in the long run, especially if you run primarily and more rough terrain.

Mike P (10.5): Interesting in comparison to Jeff V - I find the VJ more protective with its rock plate. But it can make it tippy if you’re not careful. The forefoot of the VJ does not really conform over terrain at all, whereas that is the strong point of the Norda. The Norda upper is much more refined and really wraps and holds the foot well. VJ does have some work to do in the upper department - both in terms of fit as well as materials. It just feels a bit rough in comparison to the better uppers out there, and especially the Norda.

norda 002 is also available in Summit Black

The norda 002 is available for men and women at Norda and at our partners


Tester Profiles

Jeff Valliere loves to run and explore the mountains of Colorado, the steeper and more technical the better. He has summited all of the 14ers in the state and can be found on mountain trails daily, no matter the weather, season, conditions or whether there is daylight or not.  On the side he loves to ski (all forms) bike and hike, often with his family, as he introduces his 12 year old daughters to the outdoors. Jeff was born and raised in New Hampshire, but has called Colorado home for over 25 years. He is 5’9” and 145 lbs.

Mike Postaski currently focuses on long mountainous ultras - anywhere from 50K up to his favorite - 100M. 5'10", 138 lbs, midfoot/forefoot striker - he typically averages 70 mpw (mostly on trails), ramping up to nearly 100 mpw during race buildups. A recent 2:39 road marathoner, his easy running pace ranges from 7:30 - 9:00/mi. In 2022 Mike won both the Standhope 100M and IMTUF 100M trail ultras within a 7 week period - both extremely rugged Idaho mountain races. Mike's shoe preferences lean towards firmer, dense cushioning, and shoes with narrower profiles. He prefers extra forefoot space, especially for long ultras, and he strongly dislikes pointy toe boxes.

Dom 51, trains and competes mainly on trails in Southern California.  In 2017 he was 14th at Western States 100 and in 2018 finished 50th at UTMB and 32nd at the 2018 Los Angeles marathon in a time of 2:46.  In 2019, his only notable finish was at the multi-day Dragon’s Back race in the UK.  In 2022 Dom finished 4th in the Angeles Crest 100 and was 10th in his age group at UTMB.

John Tribbia (5' 6", 130lbs) is a former sponsored mountain/trail runner who has run with La Sportiva, Brooks/Fleet Feet, Pearl Izumi, and Salomon. Even though he competes less frequently these days, you can still find John enjoying the daily grind of running on any surface, though his favorite terrain is 30-40% grade climbs. He has won races such as America's Uphill, Imogene Pass Run, and the US Skyrunner Vertical Kilometer Series; and he's held several FKTs on several iconic mountains in Boulder, Colorado and Salt Lake City, Utah. If you follow him on Strava, you'll notice he runs at varying paces between 5 minutes/mile to 12 minutes/mile before the break of dawn almost every day.

Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 66 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. 2022 was Sam’s 50th year of running. He has a decades old 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the just sub 1:40 range if he gets lucky.. training 30-40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah be it on the run or nordic skis. He is 5’9” tall and weighs about 164 lbs, if he is not enjoying too many fine New England IPA’s.

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

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Anonymous said...

Nnormal Kjerag should be included in the comparison.

Sam Winebaum said...

You are absolutely right. Thanks for the suggestion. I have included the Kjerag in the comparisons and also below:
Sam: A very close comparison in upper fit and cushion yet the Kjerag is considerably (2 oz) lighter at 7.55 oz /231g in my US8.5 sample. Its stack height is yet lower at 23.5 / 17.5 as is its price at the $195.

It too features a Vibram Megagrip outsole but with lower higher surface lugs so it has a more responsive smoother hard surfaces ride. Its midsole feet is similar and in combination with the outsole has a more energetic response with a shorter more pronounced front flex point than the norda. It is equally as stable and secure (Jacquard Matryx upper) with a broad toe box. Outside of soft ground it is a yet more versatile shoe than the Norda. I have trail run, road run, and even trekked with a heavy pack in them. Everywhere light, fast and fun with no compromises but for softer ground grip, maybe. They are the lightest do it all shoe as I have experienced.
Sam , Editor

Anonymous said...

Thank you Sam, much appreciated!

Mike P said...

I'll just add a few points to Sam's Kjerag comp-

Big difference in sizing between the shoes. My Kjerag's are US 9.5, with plenty of space in front of the toes - about a full thumb's width which is perfect for me. Also, a nice broad toebox as Sam mentions. My 002's are US 10.0 and I only have 1/2 thumb's width even with my thinnest socks. Ideally I'd go a full size up to 10.5 in those from my TTS (US 9.5)

The norda's have a wider platform under the midfoot through the heel, which many runners find more stable. The Kjerags - like most Kilian-designed shoes - are very narrow under the midfoot and heel. It allows more maneuverability in the ankle and some may prefer that feel in technical terrain.

I received my test pair a bit later than Sam and Jeff V, so I'll be adding my full review soon.

Anonymous said...

I have wide feet (mid- and forefoot). I could get along with the Brooks divide 3 and the hoka speedgoat 4 wide. Speedgoat 5 was too narrow in the toebox. Topos are often too narrow in the midfoot (ultra venture 3 has too much stack). The zero drop of Altras flares up my Achilles. How ist the with of the 002 in comparison to the Brooks divide 3?

Mike P said...


I'd say the width is comparable between the Divide 3 and 002 - both being on the wider side compared to most shoes. But the norda upper definitely holds the foot better and more securely. Can't complain too much about the Divide 3 though at that price - I've even heard of them recently being on sale for $69!

Unknown said...

A more apt comparison for the 002 is the Speedland SL:HSV(or PDX) than the TAM. Lockdowns are completely different, but they have similar use cases: fast and technical. Curious if y'all have any thoughts.

Anonymous said...

What's holding me back from trying these shoes is the dyneema upper as it relates to breathability. I have many dyneema products, and none of them are even remotely breathable.

Has anyone gotten a chance to run them in even a little bit of heat? I'm in the northern rockies - it gets hot and dry, so I'm concerned about dropping $300 on a shoe that its stuffy and doesn't circulate air. I'm not aware of any pros running in these either - is that a sign? Thanks!

Mike P said...

I'd say that they do run moderately warm. Not crazy warm as in GTX or something with multiple thick layers, but it was a little bit noticeable for me. The white upper does help a bit, but if it's something you're sensitive to, you might be have to be wary.

Anonymous said...

Norda has a solid pro lineup with their 665 team managed by Jason Schlarb (co-won Hardrock in 2016; CR at Run Rabbit Run)

Anonymous said...

The 002’s are almost a dream mixed use alpine and trail shoe for my purposes.
Pro’s, reasons i gave ‘em a try, & reasons they’re now my most used trail shoe: Moderate stack height, 4mm drop, flexible, no rock plate, minimal rocker, responsive midsole & insert, Vibram megagrip, toe box room = ample for splay, midfoot hold, ankle lockdown, sockless friendly (mostly), and all day comfort while maintaining decent ground feel, weight, and…clean aesthetic with subtle colourways.
Con’s: The outsole design (although it’s aesthetically pleasing with the topo design & integrated ‘mtn peaks,’ it actually limits or decreases the effective tread depth so that the 5mm lugs feel & perform more like 3.5-4 on comparable shoes w/ megagrip), hot spot on my right heel - breaks the skin (wish these had the same level of heel collar padding as the 003).
Indifferent items: The wide platform is generally stable and i have no complaints; however, my personal pref would be for a slightly narrower heel/midfoot (e.g. kjerag or scarpa spin infinity), and the upper fabric holds up well in the alpine but it does run on the warm side.
Appreciate the thorough RTR review and comparisons. Strongly disagree with the suggestions for a plate and/or more stack height. Both of those items would change the intended design parameters of the shoe and place it another category (at least for me both are non-starters in the high country). Reviewers seem to frequently suggest plates and more stack heights for many shoes without recognizing either would alter/change the intended design parameters, category, and, in some cases, buyer profiles (pls review shoes on the merits as designed, built, & delivered to mkt - not based on parameters outside the design). If y’all don’t feel it’s enough protection for your personal tastes then it’d be constructive to just state that without suggesting complete design changes. For me the stack, midsole, and drop are perfect. The responsive midsole/stack/drop offer a sweet spot of ground feel, protection, performance, mixed-use capabilities in the alpine, and all day comfort.
Kudos to the Norda team on an excellent all-around trail & alpine sophomore release. One of my all-time favs.