• Leon Pantenburg | Survival Common Sense


Video and review: 511 Norris sneaker – a casual, nondescript tactical and survival shoe

468 400 Survival Common Sense Blog | Emergency Preparedness

Maybe you don’t want your apparel to attract attention. These Norris sneakers may  provide urban camouflage, while still protecting your feet.  

by Leon Pantenburg

Let’s say you are working on the “grey man” look in the event of a disaster. You want to blend in with the crowd and meld with the masses in the event of some calamity. It could be a natural disaster, terrorist attack, shooting incident or whatever. It isn’t a good idea, IMHO, to dress in complete tactical garb – you might as well wear a sign saying “I’ve got a lot of nice stuff – come rob me!”

The 511 Norris is a non-descript, attractive sneaker that is really tactical footwear.

No, you want to look like the average city commuter, or man on the street, so dress the part. Wear what the locals wear – this includes, your pants, shirt and hat.

This is where the 511™ Norris Sneaker may fit in. The shoe looks like a casual, high-top sneaker – and it is –  but there are other hidden aspects that put this shoe squarely in the tactical category.

Here are the specs:

  • Vibram® Marbrani outsole with XS Trek
  • Full length Ortholite® footbed
  • Climbing grade rubber toe protection
  • Ortholite® upper cuff for comfort, heel hold and protection
  • ASTM certified for puncture resistance
  • Uppers made of leather and nylon mesh
  • Imported

Here is how the shoe worked out.

To start with, this shoe doesn’t look like anything special. Sure, the shoe is attractive, but not to point where it draws undue attention. It resembles a mid-level, reasonably-priced sneaker, the kind you see everywhere. Footwear fads come and go, but a long-standing wardrobe stalwart is high-topped sneakers, generally Converse brand. I wore them decades ago. My grownup son and daughter wear them now.

Break-in time: I got my Norrises, put them on over some good socks, and went on a two-mile dog walk on an asphalt/concrete track. The shoes were comfortable from the get-go. There were no hot spots or places where the shoes rubbed my feet wrong. The soles felt a little stiff, not like you expect from sneakers. That is explained next.

Puncture resistance: This is a big deal on a shoe that might end up being worn after a disaster. Tornadoes, hurricanes, terrorist attacks etc. all have sharp debris in common. If a window shatters, broken glass may litter the sidewalk. A collapsed building may scatter nails and sharp pieces of metal. Stepping on one of these things can make a situation worse. Or it could cause its own survival situation.

The 5.11 Norris is ASTM certified for puncture resistance, according to 511, and built with a super-strong Welmax board that guards your feet against up to 1,200 newtons of force.

The puncture-resistant, non-slip soles offer protection from nails, broken glass and other sharp objects that might be encountered after a disaster.

ASTM puncture resistance standards require the footwear must withstand 270 pounds of force through the sole and heel area. Since I weigh about 188 pounds, I should be OK carrying a 40-50 pound backpack through a disaster area.

Sole: The Vibram® Marbrani outsole with XS Trek provides the optimal balance of traction and durability, 511 claims, particularly on wet surfaces. I tried this out on a rain-slicked wooden step, and on a wet, wooden dock. As far as I can tell so far, these soles hold like they are supposed to.

Climbing grade rubber toe protection rand:  A rand is a  layer of rubber, leather or some such material wrapping around the front of the toes and the side of the foot. It provides protection in those areas, and keeps those areas from wearing out so quickly. The Norris is not a rock climbing shoe, but this feature means it will work fine for moderate climbing.

The toe protection rand (white stripe around the shoe) protects the user’s feet and the shoe toes.

Ortholite® footbed: All OrthoLite® foams contain 5% recycled rubber, according to the OrthoLite website, helping keep hundreds of tons of waste out of landfills each year.

Weight: The sneakers weigh 1 pound three ounces per pair.


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Then there is this:

Width:  My Norrises didn’t come in a wide width. I have wide feet, and my normal boot size is 11 wide. The shoes are right on the verge of being too narrow for me. I can’t wear them comfortably with my standard thick Buffalo Wool socks. Even though I didn’t have any problems with rubbing, or my toes being crammed together, a wider toe box would suit me better. While the size appears to be right on for normal, day-to-day wear, I would go up a half to full size if I anticipated wearing them for long hikes with a pack.

So should you include Norris sneakers in your Grey man (or woman) wardrobe?

This depends on where you may end up wearing them. In an inner city area, the Norris sneakers should fit right in. In a rural area, where work shoes or cowboy boots are standard apparel, you could go with sturdy hiking boots. I’m guessing the Norrises might be too stiff and heavy for dedicated basketball shoes, but they would fit right in at the mall, on a school campus, at a sporting event or for just hanging out.

I like my Norrises. They fit my feet well and they fit in my lifestyle.

There are many factors that determine how comfortable your hiking footwear will be.  Consider these things when you are shopping:

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