A soles on the ground report.
A trusty pair of shoes provide reassurance when travelling. As the environment around you shapeshifts, looking down at your feet and seeing kicks that are stylish and sturdy helps to ground you. In light of this, ahead of embarking on a trip to Costa Rica to find some adventure I procured a pair of Norda 1s.
I’ve been enamoured with love for trail runners for a few years now. They provide everything I want from a lifestyle shoe – comfort, durability and versatility. The slick, futurist, ready-for-anything visual language of Gorprcore via the medium of footwear speaks to me, I always have a pair in rotation. Fortunately, on this trip I was given the opportunity to road test the baddest of them all 😈.
Norda first caught my attention as a brand that strives for the morals that should define the future of design. They make extremely comfortable, hard-wearing, long-lasting shoes in an environmentally responsible manner. In their words ‘innovation matters’ and unlike with many other brands in the market, this is not meaningless marketing jargon.
The Norda 1 upper is constructed using the world’s strongest and lightest bio-fibre called Dyneema®. 75% of the energy used to create the material is renewable which gives it the lowest carbon footprint per unit strength of any fibre. This is matched with a sole designed in collaboration with Vibram which utilises their best technologies for speed and support.
The aesthetics of the shoe are understated. The 1 eschews overt branding, instead opting for a style that is sleek and smart. Its shape is easy on the eye from all angles, appeasing the anality of even the most pernickety sneakerhead. They look and feel like they were designed by a german sportscar manufacturer rather than a couple from Canada.
The site of testing was equally as impressive. Costa Rica is a spectacular place, I consider myself extremely lucky to have a strong contingent of family there. It’s relatively small in size and population but it does not lack interesting things to do. Its wonder is supplied by its natural landscape which is dense and varied. They have a motto out there ‘Pura Vida’ which translates to ‘pure life’, summating the laid-back vibes of a life lived coexisting with nature.
To say I put the shoes through their paces is a bit disingenuous considering the sort of use they’re designed for. I’m not running currently – my habit broken after sustaining an injury about a year ago. Therefore during the trip the shoes experienced an ample blend of hiking and chilling hard. In a little tour across the country they faced a variety of weather and terrains all of which they took in their stride.
The strength of the tropical rain in Costa Rica makes the Manchester rain seem like a leaky tap in comparison but thankfully it doesn’t tend to last too long. It does however leave a residue on the ground which made having a waterproof shoe extremely utile. Dyneema indeed made for a lightweight, breathable upper too and was ideal in the humid climate. I wore them on some all-day escapades and it saved me the displeasure of my feet feeling stale. The harmony of technologies in the shoe is perfect for heavy adventures and extreme hammocks.
In my time in Costa Rica I hiked upon the blissful beaches of Punta Uva, in the misty cloud forests of Monteverde and on the rocky residue of the Arenal volcano. I was immersed in nature. The beauty of the landscape and the animals such as monkeys, lizards, and tropical birds really struck me. Each time I experience the healing powers of the natural world, I feel a deeper responsibility to consider the impact of the decisions I make. Supporting brands that take responsibility for trying to improve their impact on the planet is the best way to action your power as a consumer, which goes for food, cars or even a pair of shoes.