“Unearthed” reads the cracking, thunderous video that finally brings the much awaited norda 002 into our lives. First impressions: it looks like the norda 001. Which is (and you may know this if you’re a regular reader) great news; the first iteration of this trail shoe ticked pretty much all the boxes for us. Fully vegan? Tick. Recycled materials? Tick. Fresh design? Tick.
So, what makes the norda 002 different? Well, it takes a step forward by getting a little closer to the action. It delivers maximum response and ground feel, so you can really know the trail you’re running on.
But before we get into the details, let’s take a step back. norda is a Canadian-based brand, founded on a simple core belief that trail running shoes just haven’t been good enough. Up until now, that is. After years of prototyping and testing in the harshest conditions with the toughest endurance athletes, norda released the 001. It was, for many in the running community, a breath of fresh air. Its Earth-friendly credentials had a big part to play in that, but so did its durable design and distinct aesthetics.
Over the last year, norda has kept things fresh by releasing collabs with the like-minded runners at Satisfy and creating a collection with luxury fashion house Zegna. But, secretly, we were all waiting to see what would come next; what the 002 would bring to the table.
Just like its predecessor, the 002 has been put through its paces. norda says that “every athlete from the norda™ 665 elite athlete team who has raced in the 002 has podiumed.” If that’s not proof of this shoe’s abilities, we don’t know what is.
The big change with this update is the reduced weight and stack height (19mm in the heel, 15mm in the toe). The 002 is designed to make you feel closer to the ground, more in tune with your surroundings, and, thanks to the super secure heel, safe on technical and rocky trails. This focus on ground feel, norda notes, marks a point of difference when compared with other elite running shoes. The stacked and cushioned design of the Nike Alphafly, for example, takes the runner away from the earth. The 002 brings them closer.
norda has relied on the same materials to bring the 002 to life, the main one being the seamless bio-based Dyneema® upper, updated with a ripstop-like weave. Dyneema® has a lot going for it: it’s sustainably sourced, BlueSign® approved and ISCC certified. Plus, 75 percent of the energy used to manufacture it comes from renewable energy. The super strong, 100 percent recycled diamond-designed laces are also made by Dyneema®.
Once again, Vibram has supplied the SLE midsole and the Litebase soleplate, which works in tandem with a Megagrip tread for extra traction.
Gracing the sides of the 002 are reflective lines which follow the landscape of St. Bruno, St. Hilaire and Rougemont, three mountains east of Montreal. The rest of the shoe is kept fairly minimal, and comes in two colorways: Alpine White and Summit Black. If the 001 is anything to go by, we’re sure there’ll be a plethora of new colorways and collaborations over the coming months.
The norda 001 made us sit up and listen. The norda 002 is keeping our attention. With this in mind, we spoke to brand founders Nick and Willa Martire about the products and philosophy which keep this holding true.
As a brand, norda doesn’t rush things out for no reason – everything is considered, everything precise. What makes the 002 the right shoe to be making right now?
Our goal is to create a full system of trail shoes for running through the natural world. The 001 was first because every spec of that shoe was meticulously considered to meet a widearray of demands of the trail runner. The 002 is a much more specific tool. Meant to complement the 001, the 002 is engineered for the demands of running fast (and) through technical terrain.
The highest performance in technical environments doesn’t require plates or aggressive cushion, quite the contrary: it requires a deep connection to the earth. The 002 is designed to heighten that connection. Compared to the 001, the 002 has a reduced stack height, padded heel collar, and pyramidal midsole geometry.
While using the same innovative materials (our tried and true bio-based Dyneema® upper, Vibram SLE® midsole and Megagrip soleplate), these spec changes create a very different experience. It’s like the ground beneath your feet is communicating directly to you—you can feel the contours of the earth in a way that promotes super confident footing and a snappy, responsive ride.
The 002 is the shoe to be making right now because the mountains are always calling and this shoe is made to answer.
Speaking of the “Right Now” and the urgency that implies, why use bio-based materials? What makes them right for the job and right for norda?
We believe the greatest impact we can make as a footwear manufacturer today is to use the least amount of CO2 at the start of the supply chain while creating durable trail running shoes that will last two to three times longer than any other on the market—all while performing at the highest level. This is only possible by using the most innovative and finest materials, which we obsess over.
We’re currently the only running footwear brand using bio-based Dyneema®, which is bio-based in the sense that the energy utilized to produce it is renewable and natural. Bio-based Dyneema® has the lowest carbon footprint per unit strength compared to other synthetic fibers, all while maintaining the same performance, strength and longevity as conventional Dyneema®.
You talk a lot about ground feel and response with this shoe – as opposed to kind of cushioning that lifts the runner away from the ground. Of course, you’re speaking mostly in a technical sense here, but is that connection – between foot and ground, person and planet – an important part of norda?
You captured this well. All our decision-making comes from years of experience and is always deliberate. Our product decisions are founded through science, technology and physical testing with dedicated athletes on all trail terrain and conditions.
We are dedicated to the trails because we are dedicated to the natural world. The connection between foot and ground can only endure if we are mindful of the connection between person and planet, and the balance between these connections is not just an important part, but the foundation of norda.