Norda 002
'When I know that technical single tracks are the call of the day I’m reaching right for them.'
Unique approach leads to awesome groundfeel
Super tough materials
Pretty sexy
High price doesn't seem entirely justified
Specific usage, best for technical trails

After a few months of hooning techy singletrack around Sydney, Tim’s put together some thoughts on the Norda 002 bio-based Dyneema trail runner.


To some people, a shoe is just a shoe. When it comes to trail runners, a term used for both the people and the trail running shoes they wear, I’ve heard the same sentiment. How different can they be, really?

Those who’ve had the luxury of trialling a variety of trail runners know that they can vary widely, but it’s fair to say that from a ‘trail feel’ perspective it’s usually a pretty simple equation. More cushion = less feel and a softer ride while less cushion = more feel and a firmer ride. Simple right?

Well the Norda 002 trail runner kind of chucks that out the window. It also features an upper made of famously-tough-and-lightweight Dyneema, and looks pretty damn sexy; though I reckon that’s very much a matter of taste.


Norda002 trail runner review, tim ashelford, shoe, trail running

Before I got them too muddy

Hold up, who are Norda?

If you haven’t heard of Norda before you’re not alone. The brand hails from Montréal, Canada and as you might have guessed from the shoe’s name, ‘002’, they’re just getting started.

There’s a big focus on durability and making gear that lasts to curb its impact, a sentiment shared by another little Canadian brand you might have heard of called Arc’teryx.

According to their ‘Mission’ page, the athletes behind it felt that ‘none of the global brands had nailed the perfect combination of fit, cushion, grip, weight, breathability, and material innovation. So we got to work.’

All sounds good, and their ‘Performance and Sustainability’ page doubles down on the promise. But as you might have guessed by now, this doesn’t come cheap. The Norda 002 comes in at an eye-watering $420, Snoop Dogg would approve. My job is to tell you if they’re worth it.


Norda002 trail runner review, tim ashelford, shoe, trail running

Norda’s logo is a fractured shield


Matt Wiseman has criticised me before for putting ‘performance’ above ‘comfort’ in my shoe reviews but, to quote Ricky Bobby’s dad, ‘If you ain’t first, you’re last’.

Norda claims that their shoe is the ‘world’s most responsive trail running shoe for technical terrain made with bio-based Dyneema®.’ – a claim I found pretty hard to verify until I realised that they were including the ‘bio-based Dyneema’ bit. Not hard, as these are the first shoes I’ve encountered that are made with the stuff.

The Norda 002 is a more aggressive shoe than the 001 so the stack height (distance to the ground) is fairly low: 26mm at the back and 21mm up front. That 5mm ‘drop’ from front to back is fairly middle of the range and feels nice and natural.


Norda002 trail runner review, tim ashelford, shoe, trail running

26mm high at the heel and 21mm at the toe, but it looks like more


What’s interesting is that 5mm of the stack height is the custom TPU inner sole. It’s chunky! It leads to quite a unique feeling of sinking into the shoe and feeling every part of the ground below the sole without feeling like you’re standing on a wooden board like some other brands.

Combined with the Norda x Vibram midsole cushioning (you can tell these guys have running industry connections) which uses something called ‘pyramidal midsole geometry’ you essentially get a shoe that feels cushioned and flexible, yet firm enough to spring off without feeling sluggish.

How’s it feel in the real world? Wicked. On technical trails there’s a real sense that the shoes are wrapping around the terrain like your feet might if running barefoot on trails was possible. The forgiving design has helped me avoid rolling my ankle thanks to the instantaneous feedback and flex.

There are times, on rocky terrain, where a little more stack height, or perhaps a slightly firmer sole, wouldn’t go astray. Mostly it’s awesome, but when you’re hammering downhills full of sharp rocks it can get tiring, especially if you were running beyond a half marathon distance.

Weightwise the Norda 002s are pretty average compared to my other trail runners at 285g but this is despite a wider, flared style that helps stability. They feel very light, which is the main thing.

The grip features a custom design inspired by the Canadian Shield geological formation (cool!), and has a pattern made of lots of little 5mm deep boomerang-like shapes. It works damn well. The Vibram Litebase sole is springy and light while the Vibram Mega Grip rubber grips like you’d expect, Vibram are the best in the business. I reckon it grips better than other shoes with the same materials, mostly because the shoe’s design allows it to flex around the terrain and give the rubber maximum purchase. 

There are also ten little rubber spikes that are filled in with carbide-tipped steel spikes on the snow running version of the shoe. Apparently they need to leave room in the mould, so we get rubber ones. 50km in, they’re already half gone.


Norda002 trail runner review, tim ashelford, shoe, trail running

The grip is pretty aggressive and works wonders


The Norda 002 generally excels here. You sit in a tub of progressively cushioned foams and the materials feel premium. Especially the inner sole, I think it’s the nicest one I’ve stood upon.

First up, the width in the forefoot is nice. I have a fairly narrow foot yet still regularly notice brands squishing my toes together for no reason. The splay in the Nordas feels very natural, but it locks the foot in so you don’t slide forward in the shoe, even on long downhills. This is partly due to the ‘Norda Lock System’ which has a sock-like construction to hold your foot in place.

The laces (also Dyneema) are pretty standard and they work just fine, but I’d love to have a little lace pocket to store them in. It’s a great way to ensure they don’t come undone or catch on anything, and it just looks clean. Do it Norda. Doooo it.

Around the heel and ankle there’s heaps of memory foam. It’s actually super plush and I’ve experienced no issues at all in this department. The tongue of the shoe is super minimal, which had me worried at first, but the reinforcement around the laces mean that none of the potential pinch points (fun to say) get through to the top of the foot.


Norda002 trail runner review, tim ashelford, shoe, trail running, rear

Norda didn’t skimp on the foam around your ankles


These shoes aren’t that good for road running. Some trail shoes are, like the Salomon Sense Ride 3, but the things that make the Norda 002s comfortable AND high performance are detrimental on the road and you really feel the ground. You can almost feel the lugs of the shoe. If you do a lot of transitional running it could be worth checking out the more ultra-focused Norda 001, or taking my approach which has been to plan routes with minimal road running anyway (did somebody say win win?).


Dyneema is 15 times stronger by weight than steel, gnarly right? It’s a pretty tough fabric to make a trail runner out of and as far as I can see, none of the rocks and sticks I’ve scraped have even made a scratch.

I was concerned by the lack of vent holes as Dyneema isn’t known for being breathable but so far I haven’t noticed any issues in Sydney’s winter and spring, they definitely don’t feel as warm or sweaty as my Gore-Tex shoes so the sweat must be making its way out of there. Can confirm my brow has been dripping during testing.

I was really pleased to see that the upper has stitching the entire way around. Some shoes like the Arc’teryx Norvan LD3 have been committing to just glueing parts of the upper together and it never lasts like stitching. There’s a fairly minimal toecap that wraps the entire way around the shoe and up the back of the heel, providing 360° protection to the upper. The marks on it show that it’s working, but the polyurethane material has resisted scratching so far.


Norda002 trail runner review, tim ashelford, shoe, trail running

Protection extends the entire way around the upper of the shoe


Finally, the rest of the grip looks pretty fresh, it’s only just starting to lose its factory sheen.

Norda is hanging its hat on the durability of these shoes and although it’s difficult to test entirely without a very large amount of running, everything indicates that they’ll last for many hundreds of tough off road kilometres.


I was pretty unsure about the look when Mac from Mac’s Outdoor Co hit me up about testing the Norda 002s. What’s this grid look? Why are trail runners only available in black and white these days? (The Norda 002 also comes in a white colourway that’s basically the inverse of this one.) 


Norda002 trail runner review, tim ashelford, shoe, trail running

If you wear this grip out you’re doing well


The white material on this model has actually resisted the dirt quite well. I don’t mind getting trail shoes a bit trashed and muddy, but it’s a bit sad when the white immediately becomes an off brown.

The design grew on me, a lot, and a bunch of unprompted compliments from mates didn’t hurt things either. I do love how the grip comes halfway up the heel for no reason and  the reflective accents that pop in the right light. The only weird thing is the blacked-out ‘norda’ logo on the side. Surely that would have looked awesome in white or silver. 

The grid pattern, however, is actually a pretty standard look for Dyneema in ultralight outdoor kit, so maybe it’s just there to show off? You may as well though given what you spent on them.


I mentioned the $420 RRP of the Norda 002s early on because it’s a pretty important factor. Shoes wear out, it’s harder to justify big expenditures than you might for a tent or a sleeping bag that’ll last for many years. The only other shoe I’ve seen at this price point is the top of the line Vectiv shoe from The North Face, and that’s a carbon-plated racing shoe.

Will you get many kilometres from the Norda 002s? God yes, and I reckon they’ll be damn good ones. Durability-wise I’d say they’re at least as tough as the Salomon S/LAB Ultra 3s, but they do so without feeling quite as harsh and intense while you’re moving.

Dyneema’s also an expensive material, hence why a lot of ultralight gear has such a messed-up dollars-to-gram ratio. But a pretty normal, albeit nice, jumper on Norda’s website translated to $220 AUD, so I reckon there’s a bit of fashion pricing in the mix. Hopefully outdoor gear will stop being cool again soon.

Read more: Salomon, a Super Bowl and Built-In Gaiters

Final Thoughts

The Norda 002s are the first fresh take on trail running shoes that I’ve seen for a while. There’s a performance and durability at-any-cost mentality to the company that I love and it’s genuinely produced a trail runner unlike anything I’ve ever run in. They’re also considered pretty sexy, for at least the next few months while gorpcore is cool.

If you’ve been dissatisfied by the trail runners on the market, I definitely reckon they’re worth trying on. I use a bunch of shoes in rotation and when I know that technical single tracks are the call of the day I’m reaching right for them.

If you’re just getting into trail running or you’re looking for an all purpose running shoe I don’t reckon the Norda 002s are for you, you could probably swing two pairs of a more well-known brand for the price.

But would you be able to rock your trail runners in the club like me? Probably not (please don’t).

Our reviewer was given this product for testing and was allowed to keep it afterwards – they could say whatever the heck they wanted in the review. Check out our Editorial Standards for more info on our approach to gear reviews.