We’ve found minimalist bliss: Wearing the 12-ounce Norvan SL 2 is almost like going barefoot, if your foot had a sticky, tough outsole. With a mesh upper that one tester says felt like he was wearing sandals, an integrated mesh insole, and a 12-millimeter stack height (with a 7-millimeter drop), this shoe is as pared down as anything else we tested this year. The fit does take some getting used to: One tester said he could feel the trail under his feet more than in other trail runners (there’s no rock plate), and the low arch support may not work for everyone. (We weren’t keen on carrying more than a daypack while wearing the Norvan SL 2.) But we found the Vibram Megagrip outsole secure in everything from sand and mud to wet leaves while running around Christmas Rocks State Nature Preserve in Ohio, and the light weight kept our feet nimble. A TPU film around the exterior makes the shoe surprisingly durable considering its weight, and the EVA midsole held up to pounding without compressing after a full summer of use.
m’s 7-13, w’s 4-9