Nnormals Are Beyond Normal

TrailRunMag 18.06.2024

TRAIL SHOES // NNORMAL KJERAG

WORDS & IMAGES: ALEXIS OOSTERHOFF

The Kjerag is advertised as a max performance, extreme grip trail running shoe, so firstly, let’s get onto the tech specs of this new brand by athlete extraordinaire Kilian Jornet. 

Designed with versatility in mind, the Kjerag was also created for durability in a bid for runners to get more than 1000km out them. However one of most notable features is the shoe being designed with minimalist appearance to ensure an increased chance of recycling pieces – or repairing them. 

Tech Specs

The Kjerag features a 6mm heel to toe drop, stack height of 23.5mm at the heel and Vibram Litebase MegaGrip outsole with extended heel to toe protection. The upper is made from MATRYX® Jacquard, a new performance-sports fabric weaved from individually coated polyamide and Kevlar yarns designed to be breathable, flexible and extremely comfortable. 

Because of the symmetry of the sole and the shape of the midsole, not much more enforcement is needed because the Kevlar keeps protection at a premium. 

In line with keeping things simple, the tongue is thin and wraps around the upper foot comfortably, and the mid sole is made from low-density foam, providing extra protection and shock absorption.

The 3.5mm lugs on the tread are deep, and come highly recommended to go from wet or snow to rocks, but as trail runners love to go every surface they can find, the Kjerags are also great on singletrack, dirt or soil and gravel. Each lug’s design has been well thought out, shaped for grip and stability to ensure a confident fast run. 

Testing

My initial observations on unboxing were that the shoes are lightweight (235g each, for Men’s 10.5), quite narrow in the mid-section with a thin upper fabric and tongue, a decent amount of foam cushioning, but lacking a second upper-eyelet to support heel lock lacing. 

Despite this, they slipped onto my feet easily, and upon lacing them up my feet felt very snug. There was a nice gap between my front toe and the top of the shoe for me, though these shoes would not suit those needing a wide toe box.

I gave the Kjerag shoes their first tryout at Mundy parkrun, Western Australia’s gnarliest with over 200m of rolling gravel and rocky trails. I was only a week out from completing a 100 mile trail race, with my legs and feet not necessarily in the best shape for a tough run. 

At the start, I felt like I was wearing racing shoes, and was quickly off and climbing the first hill, toeing my way up the gravel slope.  There was certainly plenty of grip on offer from the Vibram outsoles (which feature those insane 3.5mm lugs) yet I could feel each lump and bump. Despite the outsoles being stiff, they provided a lot of feedback. 

Compared to my usual go-to shoes (which feature 5mm Vibram Megagrip lugs), I felt just as secure in the Kjerag’s on the slippery and rocky downhill sections. I finished parkrun thinking these would make excellent short-distance racing shoes, but was unsure how they’d feel over the longer efforts.

A few weekends later, I wore them for a full day, hiking a couple of mountains in WA’s Stirling Ranges and driving around the countryside for many hours. At no point did the shoes feel uncomfortable, which is a real positive, and I didn’t need to adjust (or re-tie) the laces at any stage during the day.   

Their grip going up and down Bluff Knoll and Mt Hassell was excellent – the latter climb requiring a fair bit of rock hopping, and I felt extremely confident in the Vibram lugs on the smooth rock surfaces. While I can be more of a heel-runner, the slight rocker on these shoes encouraged me more towards toe running, which I think is always a positive!

In terms of colours, the Kjerag is available in green, grey, black, grey/green and beige for both men and women. 

These will be my go-to shoes for short, fast, trail runs, probably up to 50km in length, and it’ll be interesting to see how my feet respond over time. 

THE LOW DOWN

GREAT FOR: All technicality, all terrain

NOT SO GREAT FOR: Flat pavement, cement

TEST CONDITIONS: Single track, crushed gravel, pea gravel, rocky mountains

TESTER: Alexis Oosterhoff

TESTER MECHANICS: Slight overpronator

VITALS

RRP: $320.00 AUD 

WEBSITE: nnormal.com