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.
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.
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?