Nnormal Kjerag First Impressions

After some time on the official waiting list for stock, I recently managed to secure a pair of Nnormal Kjerag (that’s pronounced sche-rak) trail running shoes. For my first trail run I took them for 6 miles on the Wales Coast Path, here in Pembrokeshire. This stretch of trail would include gravel, dirt, loose rock, as well as a section of beach with a various sized and shaped wet rocks to test the shoes on.

Update: I ran Ultra-Trail Snowdonia (UTS 50) in these shoes, and they performed very well. I still need to get used to the reduced cushion (compared to my Hoka Speedgoats) but they handled the extremely rough and rugged alpine terrain. They were grippy and felt very connected, including descents where water was running over rock.

Another bit of later-on-gained insight, is that the lugs on the Kjerag while working well for drier, technical/rocky type terrain, don’t do well in wet, muddy or grassy terrain (typical fell running or muddy trails in the UK for example). They’re good on wet rock or slate, as long as the rock isn’t all large, very smooth surface area.

Barrelling down a descent after the summit of Yr Wyddfa in the Nnormal Kjerag trail shoes on Ultra-Trail Snowdonia (UTS 50)

Packaging and Unboxing

I nnormally (😬) wouldn’t comment on this, but I feel like Nnormal have done a great job here. There wasn’t a single bit of plastic or chemical printed card in the box that arrived.

A simple cardboard box, with minimal design and print on the outside. This means very little impact in terms of the process involved in constructing and printing on the packaging.

Then the shoes themselves were wrapped in lightweight paper, with the same type used to stuff and fill the shoes out.

I was happy to see that there wasn’t a single bit of extra marketing or advertising included that you often find in other brand’s product.

Nnormal Kjerag out of the box

Taking them out of the box, the first thing I noticed was they’re light. Very light.

This is after the initial run. The white midsole has been cleaned, but the white has taken on some stain from the mud now.

Next, the Vibram outsole has 3.5 mm lugs that don’t look too aggressive, but the rubber feels like they will be very sticky on those usually very slippery, hard surfaces such as rocks and roots.

The offset of this shoe is 6mm from heel to toe. It’s close enough to my usual 4mm preference that I decided to give these a go.

The upper looks pretty durable, and very breathable. My first impression is that the Nnormal Kjerag should breathe and drain well.

Lastly, the tongue has a gussetted construction. Putting the shoes on I notice this right away. The shoe fits snuggly on my foot and doesn’t easily slip or move around. The shoe feels a little bit tight for the width of my foot, but loosening up the laces to allow the upper to widen sorts that out.

My foot is in direct contact with the midsole. There is no strobel to sit on top of the midsole. This is actually a great feature. There is nothing to potentially slip around on top of the midsole. A problem that can happen especially when shoes get wet, increasing the potential for blisters.

Nnormal Kjerag on the coastal trail

Keen to see how they would do for shorter, more technical terrain, and intrigued by their construction I took the shoes out for 6 miles on the coast path near where I live.

The shoes are nice and light. I immediately feel more connected to the ground than I do in my softer, cushion-rich Hokas. However they’re also a lot firmer and harder riding. Something to keep in mind.

I’m already thinking this will be a great shoe choice for the upcoming UTMB UTS 50 (or 100). Alpine terrain, mountain, lots of potentially slippy wet rock, hard packed technical terrain – the Nnormal Kjerag definitely feels like it was made for this scenario.

Initially I’m following the coastal path’s initial hard packed trail and it feels great here. There are sporadic puddles of mud which I intentionally aim for to see how they feel – the 3.5mm lugs are not great for thicker, deeper mud, but these shallow sections of mud are not a problem at all.

I run down a very steep dirt and grass covered ridge leading down to the bottom of the coastline. The shoes grip well.

Next up I head down a stoney trail onto a section of beach covered in wet shingle and rock. This is loose stuff, but the shoe handles it well. No slipping at all. Next is the sandy part with sections of large smooth rock that are being washed over by the waves.

I’m gliding along this section running and skipping over the large wet rocks. The Vibram outsoles are gripping very well indeed. They give me a fair bit more confidence than I would otherwise have in any of my other trail shoes. Very nice.

After enjoying the amazing views of Druidstone Haven beach, I head back up the trail, onto the path, and head back home.


I’m initially very happy with the Nnormal Kjerag trail shoes. They’re light, feel durable, grip very nicely, and don’t slip or slide around on my feet. They’re firmer and harder under foot than what I’m used to. But the benefit of this is that they give you a great connection with the terrain you’re running.

For this reason I think they’ll be great shoes for anything up to 50 miles or so on technical terrain. As I get more used to the firmer feeling I’m sure I’ll be able to happily run the longer distances in them too.

They’re expensive, but I believe they’ll last a good number of miles because of their excellent construction and hard wearing outsole. This means that they’re proportionally priced against other trusted brands that wouldn’t otherwise last as long.

Have you thought of picking up any of the recently released Nnormal shoes? Have you got any other suggestions for grippy shoes that perform well on technical, rocky trail?

5 thoughts on “Nnormal Kjerag First Impressions”

  1. Ha, you should get paid for this review, Sean! So carefully tested and researched, quite amazing!

    I have never heard of the NNormal and I checked out their website. I see that Kilian Jornet is a co-founder and partner of the company. I love their commitment to being sustainable. And judging by their packaging, they seem to be sticking to it, too.
    (I also had to google “Strobel”. The things I’m learning today! 🙂

    I’m glad that the shoe works well for you! In a race longer than 50 miles, would consider using them for the first few legs and then switching to more cushioned shoes?

    Oh, and maybe you should consider becoming an ambassador for Nnormal? You would fit the team!

    • I probably spend far too much time researching shoes Catrina! But I do consider them a huge deal on my running as they are of course the primary interface between myself and the ground. I’m usually thinking about how they perform over distance and hopefully minimise the amount of work my legs need to do, as well as any risk of injury too.

      I’m happy you learned something new! I actually had to look up the word for the layer inside the shoe on top of the midsole. I have a pair of Rincon 3 shoes where this strobel keeps slipping out now after about 400 miles of running in them and it’s a concern now for blisters. It happened after the shoes had a good soaking on a long run the in rain.

      Funnily enough, I used to work for a shoe design company in South Africa as a graphic designer. I learned a lot of shoe terminology there, but it was a long time ago and much of it has been forgotten, so I still find myself searching names for different parts.

      Yes that could be an option – I will bring my Nnormal Kjerag’s with me to Wild Horse 200 and consider switching into them for the Black Mountain and possibly Carmarthen Fan sections.

      Totally up for ambassadorship. I’ll keep an eye on that. I’m passionate about trail running so anything that fits with my (serious) hobby like that would be great, and of course the company itself seems committed to sustainability so that totally aligns with my values.

      Congrats on yet another peak in your 13 Peaks challenge by the way! I bet you can’t wait to get Klassenkop and Devil’s Peak done! I’m still totally envious of your position in the Southern Hemisphere right now, but there is light on the horizon for us here – days are getting longer and the weather is improving.

  2. Appreciate this review – Thank you.
    Pretty sure I’m not the only one. big question is fit/sizing. Can you compare to Hokas or any other brands you run in?
    My thought is, I know I fit 10.5UK / 45 1/3 in hokas… how might NNormals compare.

    • Hey Paddy,

      For me personally, I usually fit a UK size 11.5 Hoka Speedgoat. I tried to get a feel for sizing on the Kjerag before buying, and settled on a UK size 10.5 based on what I was reading. I find the fit is OK, but could be a little bit bigger, so my guess is that a half-size down from my Hoka’s would be good – so a UK size 11 Nnormal Kjerag for me, based on me usually fitting a UK size 11.5 Hoka speedgoat.

      I hope that helps!


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