It’s expensive, but the Arc’teryx Norvan LD 3 GTX is one of the best trail-running shoes for those seeking a comfortable waterproof shoe to use on a mix of terrains.
- Waterproof upper
- Comfortable midsole foam
- Outsole grips well on most trails
- Cheaper options available
- Heavy for faster runs
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The Arc’teryx Norvan LD 3 GTX is an excellent waterproof trail-running shoe that I found comfortable over long distances in particular. The outsole provides reliable traction on a range of terrains, and the waterproof upper can be a godsend in cold and wet weather.
It is expensive, however, and some of the best trail-running shoes with waterproof uppers are cheaper, like the Saucony Peregrine 13 GTX and Puma Voyage Nitro 3 GTX. Unless you’re tackling a lot of extremely long runs, those other shoes will probably prove better value than the Arc’teryx.
Arc’teryx Norvan LD 3 GTX: Price And Availability
The Arc’teryx Norvan LD 3 GTX launched in summer 2023 and costs $200 in the US and £180 in the UK. This is a big step up on the price of the standard version of the shoe without a waterproof upper, which is $165/£150. It’s also considerably more than other great Gore-Tex trail shoes, such as the Saucony Peregrine 13 GTX which is $160/£140.
How I Tested This Shoe
I’ve run 33 miles in the Norvan LD 3 GTX, including a couple of two-hour long runs in the Pentland Hills in Scotland in freezing temperatures. I’ve run on a mix of terrain, such as deep mud, rocks and grass, with some steep climbs and descents on waterlogged trails. I’ve also tested a range of the best trail-running shoes from other brands, including waterproof options.
Design And Fit
The Norvan LD 3 has a mesh upper with added protection from a toe cap and other reinforced sections to protect your feet and provide abrasion resistance. There is a Gore-Tex liner under the upper to make the shoe waterproof.
Even with the waterproof liner, the upper is comfortable and flexible, and I found it was a good fit in my usual running shoe size. The padded heel holds your foot securely on uneven ground, and there’s enough room in the toe box for it to be comfortable on long runs and when pounding down hills. The midsole is made from a blend of EVA and Polyolefin foams, and it’s well balanced—comfortable over long distances but not squishy or unstable on rocky ground. The stack height is 29mm at the heel and 23mm at the forefoot for a 6mm drop.
Arc’teryx has used a Vibram Megagrip outsole on the shoe, with 4mm lugs that grip well and create a smooth ride on flatter, harder ground. There is bite to the lugs too, so you can stray onto softer ground without problems, though I slipped around in deep mud when wearing the shoe. At 10.5oz/297g in my UK size 9, the Norvan LD 3 is light considering the lugged outsole and waterproof liner, and it felt nimble to me when running/hiking up hills.
My testing of the Norvan LD 3 GTX coincided with a winter trip to Scotland, which was fortunate because the waterproof upper was invaluable on trail runs in freezing conditions. I did two long runs in hills, running on asphalt, grass and rocky ground, with large frozen puddles to contend with. The upper kept my feet warm and dry right up until the last mile of the second run, when I tried my luck with a puddle deep enough for water to come in over the collar of the shoe. That’s one point against waterproof uppers, of course, and if you’re crossing rivers on your runs then water will get stuck inside the shoe.
Before then I had happily splashed through a lot of water, including running down a rocky path that had essentially become a shallow river. My runs would have been significantly less enjoyable in a non-waterproof shoe because my feet would have been cold and wet almost from the first mile.
The shoe gripped well on icy trails, and I was comfortable coming down fast descents on grass—if it wasn’t too muddy. When I hit muddy stretches, the lugs weren’t deep enough to provide reliable traction and I had to slow right down. The trade-off is that the lugs were comfortable on the long road stretches I had on one run. Admittedly, they slipped on hard, icy patches, but that’s a problem for basically any trail shoe without specialist studs.
On both long runs the midsole was comfortable and I didn’t have any stability problems with the shoe, even on jagged ground. On a shorter run when I picked up the pace it felt a bit big and heavy; this isn’t a shoe I’d pick for short distance races up to 10K, but the comfort is there for longer runs.
Is The Arc’teryx Norvan LD 3 GTX Worth It?
If you want a waterproof trail-running shoe the Norvan LD 3 GTX is up there with the best, and would be my pick if you wanted a waterproof shoe for very long runs. Mind you, it’s a great long-distance trail shoe, period. So, if you’re not convinced by the need for a waterproof upper, the standard version is a cheaper option.
The Saucony Peregrine 13 GTX costs less and is also a great shoe with a Gore-Tex upper. I found that the Peregrine offered better grip than the Arc’teryx on soft ground, though it’s not as comfortable when moving from road to trail. The Norvan LD 3 GTX has a more cushioned feel for long runs.
Another contender is the Puma Voyage Nitro 3. I’ve tested only the standard version of the shoe, but you can get it with a Gore-Tex upper for less than this Arc’teryx. The Puma is a good all-round trail shoe with excellent grip, though it’s less comfortable than the Norvan LD 3 for long runs on harder ground.
Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.