NVii Forest 2 review

3rd December 2020

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Review of the NVii Forest 2 by local runner, orinenteer and physio Kim Baxter (of Kim Baxter Physiotherapy https://www.kimbaxterphysiotherapy.co.uk/ )


I ran my first orienteering course solo at the age of six. I can’t quite remember at what I age I started to become fussy about off-road shoes but it was sometime after that. 


But is it me or is it the shoes?


After a spring and summer of cancelled races the chance to support local GP Carl Edgell on his Bob Graham was something to look forward to. But yet again I had no shoes. Well I had plenty of shoes but none were comfortable.


Our planned summer holiday to the World Masters orienteering in Slovakia had been replaced by the joys of the Lake District and Scottish hills. Sadly my feet were painful every run. Every single shoe had issues despite being relatively new. 


After only 70 miles a blister inducing ridge had appeared in my Innov8 mudclaws. It just appeared during a run one day and shortly after they were unusable. And yes, I’m a physio. I’m a ninja master with Zinc Oxide tape.

My X-Talon’s weren’t much better. After less than 100 miles the left shoe was perfect but the right midsole had thinned so I could feel every small pebble or tree root making runs in them very unpleasant. Princess and the pea syndrome? I suppose so. Maybe. 


I spent over fifteen consecutive years of my life racing orienteering for Britain as a junior and a senior. For most of that time I raced in VJs. Innov8’s didn’t exist and no-one would seriously consider tackling championship courses in

a shoe that wasn’t seriously tough - so it was pretty much VJs all the way. However my latest VJ Bold, whilst undoubtedly tough, was causing significant blisters on top of my toes after only 50 miles, meaning after a reccy up Dollywagon and Helvellyn, I ended up limping.


Enter SYO clubmate and itinerant Aussie international Mary Fleming who has just become the UK dealer for a new shoe brand - Nvii (“envy”). Nvii are the brainchild of ex Australian international Warren Key, dad of 2019 Junior World Orienteering Champion Aston. All very well but why should I trust an Australian you might reasonably ask? Well Warren had a bit of help designing and testing his new shoes, from no less than Petter Thoreson and Thierry Geuorgiou. Who? With a total of 19 senior World titles indisputably two of the greatest male orienteers that have ever lived.


So, good pedigree then. 


They have set out to produce the optimal lightweight off-road running shoe, using quality materials and aiming for comfort, durability and protection. Like taking the best bits of a VJ and an Inov8 and putting them together in the same shoe. If you’re sceptical about fell-racing in a shoe designed by orienteers, maybe google where VJs come from: “Our story begins in 1981 when a shoemaker and orienteering enthusiast could not find the right shoe for his sport.”


Unfortunately COVID supply-chain problems led to me hobbling down Seat Sandall in my old VJ integrators which had done 300 miles so were feeling a bit worn. 


I now own two pairs of Nviis. The Forest 1 has dobs (metal studs) and the Forest 2 is the same shoe but without the studs. The first outing for the Forest 2 was a fifty minute urban orienteering race round Lodge Moor. This was a perfect test for an all-round shoe as there were roads, grass, muddy forest and steep slopes. No problem. 


Next day off to Burbage. Again, no problem - they felt light and comfortable but plenty grippy on the rock and mud. The snug fit kept my foot tightly gripped in the often challenging terrain. 


But then I wouldn’t expect any problems in a new pair of Inov8’s either. Question is, would they last?


So far I’ve done over 130 miles in the Forest 2s on a variety of terrain and they still feel lovely - just perfect for a princess. 


I’ve just got back from running 10km round an urban orienteering course in Walkey. It’s rainy, Walkley’s got some steep bits and although predominantly road there were plenty of grassy sections so I ran in my Forest 2s rather than road flats. No problems at all. Ok, so it’s not exactly testing them on Hall’s Fell but I’m so relieved to have found something I can train in pain-free.

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