Nvii running shoes - Forest 2 Overview
Nvii (pronounced N-vee) are a newcomer to the shoe market, though the brains behind the footwear brand have been involved in the running apparel game and compass market for years. The Finnish made footwear is geared towards orienteering with a selection of models having metal studs. They also have a number of rubber studded shoes which are well suited to the rougher terrain in the UK. The Nvii shoes should be of particular interest to fell runners and obstacle course racers.
Brief Overview. (more detail below)
It's light. The first thing you notice is just how light the shoes are! My UK9 weighs 450g for a pair. It's got a very supple feel and is without any significant stiffness through the midsole and forefoot making it nimble and but possibly lacking in protection from sharp stones (You can't have everything in one shoe!). The outsole has a nicely spaced studded pattern with ~7mm deep lugs. In summary the Forest 2 from Nvii would be a great shoe for shorter races on rough terrain and in the mud.
The outsole is made of a 100% butyl rubber, it's a relatively malleable compound. The studs give a little when pressed with your thumb but aren't so soft you can flex them about too much. The studs around the perimeter of the outsole are slightly deeper (7mm), are chamfered on 3 sides and have a greater surface area when compared with the studs in the centre of the outsole. The benefit of the greater surface area being that they will be more wear resistant increasing the longevity of the sole.
The studs in the centre of the outsole are a little shorter, pyramidal in shape and have a smaller contact point with the ground. They'll shed mud very well and will bite better in softer surfaces. The combination of the larger perimeter studs and smaller studs make the Forest 2 better on a variety of surfaces.
On a lot of orienteering and fell shoes which are designed for mud the lugs tend to be very well spaced. However, the studs on the Forest 2 are never more than 1cm apart. Technically this should be sufficiently spaced so the tread doesn't get full of mud but close enough that the tread won't wear down super fast when used on tarmac.
Nvii Forest 2 - Outsole.
Nvii Forest 2 - Forefoot outsole
Nvii Forest 2 - Outsole heel.
The upper fabric is predominantly made from what Nvii call SuperFabric. The SuperFabric feels much softer than it looks, it's obviously not as soft as cotton but has a nice handle to it and it can't be felt across flex point in the forefoot of the shoe. This was something I was a little concentred of when I first saw the shoes. It isn't a completely static fibre as there is a small amount of give making it feel snug and secure on the foot without being too harsh. In terms of its' durability we've only run 20 or so miles in the Forest 2 so can't comment. Fingers crossed it's as durable as Nvii state! The heel counter has some stiffness in its' lower 2/3s and is softer around the collar of the heel. The fabric around the heel and rand on the forefoot appears to be a manmade type of leather meaning it's soft to touch and doesn't feel as though it would puncture or tear easily. In addition to this it won't take on water.
Under the arch of the foot is the Protect OR, this is a rubberised band which wraps the instep giving protection from sharp objects and more importantly gives greater control when running on cambered & uneven surfaces.
Forefoot rand & SuperFabric
The Forest 2 is certainly a flexible shoe. When twisted & flexed over the toes it gives little resistance and doesn't really have huge amounts of structure to it. Underneath the insole it's possible to see the torsion strip which runs down the middle third of the shoe (it would be ridiculously flexible with out this). In addition to this, a softer compound has been inserted under the heel for a little extra softness on the hard surfaces.
Given the minimal amounts of forefoot cushioning I'd expected the Forest 2 to feel firmer than it does, however it actually feels alright on tarmac. I don't believe the shoe has a rock plate built into it as on very rocky ground you can feel stones under foot.
Insole & volume reducer.
The fit of any shoe is hugely specific to each individual.
On the whole the last/shape of the Forest 2 is quite narrow through the mid foot, the toe box visually appears to taper but when worn it feels like there is plenty of space for the toes. Some might find that there is a little extra volume over the top of the forefoot. It's got a slightly curved last/shape to it so anyone with a very broad forefoot arch (the distance from your big toe joint across to your little one) might find it tight at either side. Like many off road racing shoes, the surface area at the heel is reduced to give better traction when deciding and less roll when contouring, this does mean that anyone who suffers with their rear foot rolling in might find it is exaggerated.
A neat little addition to the Forest 2 is a 2mm volume reducer insole. I mentioned above that some might find there is a little extra space over the forefoot so hopefully by using the extra insole you can take some of the volume out of the shoe and get a snugger fit.
Protect OR & SuperFabric
Steve's tuppence worth on the Forest 2 from Nvii.
Is it a good shoe? The answer is yes but what is it good for. I personally wouldn't want to use it for my longer runs (over 2 hours) or as a shoe to run in everyday. For me it's too flexible and not stable enough for this, I have stiff big toes so the flex in the forefoot wouldn't be ideal. However, I would be more than happy using it for racing and training sessions on hard pack trails and the fells. It handles well so would be at home on rough stuff and considering how much it weighs, it is well cushioned. It'll certainly be making it's way into my armoury of shoes.
As I mentioned above, I haven't had chance to run much in the shoes yet so will write a little about this once I've really had chance to put some miles in in them.
Nvii have done a great job with the Forest 2 so it'll be exciting to see what else they come up with!
The Forest 2 is available in store and online here. If you can get in to Front Runner to try them you'll be able to make sure they're the right shape & size as well as trying them out on the treadmill.