Craft Sportswear, a Swedish company with trail running woven deeply in its DNA, just released a speedy road-focused shoe called the Craft Nordlite Speed. Recently, we reviewed the high-performing Craft Nordlite Ultra road-to-trail shoe. The Nordlite Ultra took Craft’s cushioning to a new level and created what I believe to be the most interesting Craft shoe to date.
Can the Craft Nordlite Speed harness the same energy as the Nordlite Ultra? And is Craft finally targeting road racing with as much passion as the trails? Let’s find out.
Craft Nordlite Speed
Release Date: August 2023
Weight: 9.0 oz.
Sizing: Go up a half size
- Rundown: The Craft Nordlite Speed is a very good shoe but the carbon plate mutes the supercritical midsole foam that made the Nordlite Ultra so great.
The same supercritical foam, named Cr Foam, that made the Nordlite Ultra so fun, is back, but this time there’s an “Ultra Carbon Plate” bisecting that foam. You can even see the carbon plate through a midfoot window on the bottom of the shoe.
While the Cr Foam is still very good, the carbon plate sort of mutes the overall squish. The Craft Nordlite Speed is much stiffer and firmer than the aforementioned Nordlite Ultra. The stiffness is expected due to the addition of the carbon plate but I found the added firmness offputting. It felt too firm for long distance road running. On cinder, gravel, or smooth dirt trails it was soft enough, but overall too firm to be considered a marathon racing shoe (especially for larger runners like myself).
The Craft Nordlite Speed’s upper is light and super breathable. It’s basically see-through up front, which you can tell from the picture above. The airflow is top of the line and makes this upper primed for hot, humid summer running. And as usual with Craft, there’s plenty of room for toe splay up front.
The tongue is ok but doesn’t get in the way or cause issues. The midfoot is neutral, neither good nor bad.
The heel, on the other hand, has pluses and minuses. There’s a nice achilles/heel pad that reminds me of the Nike Vaporfly 3, but the collar itself is basically a wide seam with some synthetic suede extending above it. That’s a bad idea because it wildly increases blister potential. In one pair of socks, I got some intense rubbing on both heels over the course of about 8 miles.
If you buy the Nordlite Speed, make sure you have tallish, thick socks that can battle the seam running around the entire ankle collar.
Craft’s traction is typically top-notch, so I was surprised that the Craft Nordlite Speed’s outsole can be slippy at times. It was great on dry pavement or other varied surfaces but was a source of constant slippage on wet boardwalks, wet pavement, or leaf-strewn asphalt.
This is the very first Craft outsole that was just ok for me. That said, I’m glad they’re really going for it with a road racing model as I think the brand has a ton to offer. My guess is they learn from this and the next road outsole will be a grippy monster.
Is the Craft Nordlite Speed wide foot friendly?
Yes, the Craft Nordlite Speed is wide foot friendly. It’s a similar fit to the majority of Craft models in that it starts narrower at the heel and widens all the way to the forefoot.
However, both wide footers and regular/narrow footers need to buy a half size up from their normal shoe size. The Craft Nordlite Speed runs short.
Is the Craft Nordlite Speed worth $220?
The sum of the technology in the Craft Nordlite Speed merits the $220 price tag, but due to its firmer midsole and vicious heel collar, it’s hard to recommend it over similarly priced models on our list of best marathon running shoes.
Craft Nordlite Speed Summary
The Craft Nordlite Speed shows me that Craft Sportswear, a brand known for off-road footwear and amazing winter clothing, is getting serious about a road racing shoe that competes with the biggest shoe brands.
The Nordlite Speed has several flaws, but if you’re a lover of Craft trail shoes, it provides the same feel but on the roads. If you run in Craft regularly, you’re highly likely to enjoy the Nordlite Speed and be able. to overlook its shortcomings.
If you’re not a Craft regular, I wouldn’t start your Craft journey with this shoe. Either grab the road-to-trail-focused Craft Nordlite Ultra or the trail-centric Craft Endurance Trail.