Last year we had the chance to cover a new upstart in the trail running world, Montreal-based Norda, for our spring print magazine. Born in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, the brand took some time to catch on, but it preferred a quiet release. There were no major-scale marketing campaigns, no paid writeups, just a few pairs of kicks doled out to some elite professional trail runners and the brand's close friends (among them Satisfy and Ciele, two of the brands Norda collaborated with in 2022).
Since the 001 was launched, it has been worn by elite athletes like Serbian ultrarunner Jovica Spajić, who wore the Norda 001s at the Moab 240 and Britain's Spine Race Challenger North. You can also find the shoes on multi-hyphenate athletes like Patrick Stangbye, who routinely rocks his Nordas on frigid Scandinavian winter runs, up to his knees in snow. It's safe to say the shoe is trusted in all environments by all types of runners. Today, Norda has expanded its lineup, launching its second trail runner, the appropriately-named 002.
Why Norda matters
From the beginning, the real hook for the brand was its ability to harness the strength of bio-based Dyneema, a superlight fiber that by weight is 15 times stronger than steel. Initially used for fishing nets and tackle, Dyneema made its way into the outdoor world thanks to brands like Hyperlite Mountain Gear. Norda put a spin on that, using some chemical wizardry to develop a woven Dyneema the brand's designers used for the upper of its flagship shoe, the 001. We absolutely loved that shoe — it was this writer's favorite shoe for both road and trail running throughout 2022 (I ran a half marathon on the road in Central Park in my Nordas, very much by choice).
Building on the original
The 002 retains the familiar bio-based Dyneema upper and Vibram midsole of its predecessor, but there are some key changes that further the brand's mission, which, according to co-founder Nick Martire, is to make the "Lamborghini of trail footwear." When compared to the 001, the 002 has a reduced stack height for better ground feel and adds padding around the heel collar, resulting in improved protection and comfort on the trail. The Dyneema has also gotten a revamp, utilizing a seamless construction and top layer that resembles ripstop, making it even more durable than before.
A fan of the 001? Don't fret
The team over at Norda has designed the 002 to complement the 001, rather than replace it. The shoe will feel different in certain ways, but the DNA remains. The 002 is designed to be hyper-responsive, evolving the 001s elements to make a shoe that builds on what the OG did so well. In a world where super shoes are the norm, Norda pushes back, opting to evolve from the ground up, rather than simply slide in a carbon plate.
Another thing universally loved about the Norda 001 was its looks. Where most trail running shoes are quite ugly (Salomon XT-6 notwithstanding), the Norda is, simply put, beautiful. It quickly took up space in the fashion world, resulting in calls for wholesale purchases from Mr Porter, the brand's fellow Canadians at Ssense and even Huckberry. Not only were retailers clamoring for the shoe, but capital F fashion brands like Zegna came calling, resulting in a tantalizing collaboration that firmly entrenched the brand in the fashion space. The 002 is just as beautiful, adding the topography of Montreal's three local peaks onto the upper, resulting in an oblong racing stripe of sorts, reminding us that trail running is a practice of ups and down.
After having a positive experience with the 001, we're glad to see that the best parts of the original haven't been completely tossed out the window; they've simply been improved. Beginning today, May 25, you can pick up the Norda 002 in Alpine White or Summit Black, priced at $295 CAD ($216 USD).