When one of the GOATs leaves a brand he has been with for years to start his own company, you immediately put that brand on the top of your “must try” list. For many of us Kilian Jornet is that GOAT having won some of the most prominent trail races and ultras, while collecting course records like they are playing cards. After years of dominating, all while rocking one brand, last year Kilian released NNormal to the trail scene – dropping their “do it all” shoe, the Kjerag. His brand focuses on delivering top notch gear, while also working to be environmentally responsible – an impressive combination in the “need more gear” now industry. But does Kilian’s pedigree make him the right person to start a shoe brand? And did the Kjerag perform just as well for those of us not on the GOAT level of running?
Total Miles: 40
- Upper – The NNormal Kjerag might be one of the most comfortable uppers I have worn in a trail shoe. The tongue uses fantastic soft materials that conforms nicely to your foot, while not being too plush.
- Foam – While there is not a ton of it, the EExpure foam in the Kjerag delivers a comfortable and responsive ride on the trails. With a stack height of 25mm in the heel, I was very nervous there would not be enough cushion for me. But after only a few runs, the EExpure foam put my worries to bed. I was especially stoked after hitting some gnarly, muddy, rocky terrain and my feet still felt great during and after.
- Vibram – If you have read other reviews in the past, you will understand I have a true crush on Vibram. When I see the Vibram logo on an outsole I know I am in good hands. The Kjerag is no exception. The grip on this shoe is fantastic, and the combination of the EEpxure foam and the Vibram outsole is a match made in heaven.
- Versality – The Kjerag is a wonderful trail shoe not only for technical terrain but also for roads, gravel, and to my surprise even sandy trails. Run after run I waited to be disappointed, but it performed through whatever I threw at it. While on a family vacation in the mountains the Kjerag was the only shoe I brought – again it performed well on everything from hikes to road runs. The Kjerag, unlike many shoes these days, is not a one trick pony.
- Distance – While Kilian has used this shoe during various 100-mile races, I think the average runner might need a little extra cushion to go the distance. While there was enough cushion for the runs I’ve gone on, I will continue to mention there is not a ton of it (6mm drop, 25mm in the heel and 19mm in the forefoot). If you are a newer runner or do not run regularly run in shoes that are more on the minimalist side, then be careful going into the longer ultra distances with this shoe.
- Looks – While I can respect the reason NNormal does not have wild color pallets and decided to keep it simple for environmental reasoning (ie low and no color dyes), the shoe is a little bit of a snooze fest when it comes to looks. I usually love a white shoe, but this one was just ok. The looks will not affect the performance of the shoe, but who doesn’t like looking good for those mid race photos?
- Cost – Even with the cost of all trail shoes on the rise, in my opinion $200 is still lot for a shoe. While it is not the most expensive trail shoe on the market, $200 is still not cheap. The Kjerag delivers in a lot of departments, but it comes with a price tag. [*Editor’s note – runners are getting 500-700 miles in these shoes and the company offers a resoling program to extend their life as well.]
“The Kjerag has the perfect combination of being close to the ground and feeling the surface, while still protecting my feet while running hard. It’s super lightweight and fits my foot very well, and I’m able to run on nearly all surfaces, wet or dry, without issue. I’ve raced in it from the marathon to 100 miles, and I’m able to use the same pair for multiple races and the training between them each year.” – Nnormal Trail Pro Dakota Jones
“I use the kjerag for both training and racing on trails because the tread gives me great traction on dirt and rocks. I’ve put up to 1000 miles on a single pair, and the tread doesn’t wear out like other trail shoes.” – Nnormal Trail Pro Allie Ostrander
The Kjerag may not make you the GOAT of trail running, but it will provide one heck of a ride. If you are looking for a more minimalist race day ready shoe that has fantastic traction, then this shoe is for you!
*** Disclaimer – The Nnormal Kjerag was provided by Nnormal for review. Nnormal did not pay for this review, all opinions are our own.***