Thursday, October 6, 2011

Gear Review - Evolv Shaman Climbing Shoes

New climbing shoes are always a blast.  Fresh sticky rubber, suction cup heel, new Velcro...it all comes together as a means to psych you up to climb.  Getting a new pair of climbing shoes sends me back to the time when my new pair was my first pair.  Enthusiasm takes hold and you want to climb hard for hours.  My new Evolv Shamans have been psyching me up for the past month and I must say, they are quite nice.  The new triple Velcro closure allows you to customize the fit from toe box to heel and the fit is extremely nice (for my foot).  One of my favorite pairs of climbing shoes were the original Evolv Predators and the Shamans come close to replicating that shoe.  Chris Sharma designed this specifically for extremely overhanging rock and difficult lines.  The shoe itself went through multiple redesigns and over time it evolved into what you see now.  I've put it through the paces over the last month and wanted to share my findings.  Overall the shoe is pretty comfortable and performs extremely well.  There is a good heel cup that varies in design from other Evolv climbing shoes and the toe box is a good bit different as well.  More on that later.
Bouldering with the Shamans in Chaos Canyon
Evolv's rubber has always been great.  As far as climbing shoe rubber goes they are all a derivative of each other.  They are composed differently and vary on durability and stickiness, but they all started at the beginning and morphed from Five Ten to Scarpa to La Sportiva to Mad Rock to Evolv...it goes on.  Specifically though I think Evolv's rubber is some of the stickiest out there.  Not to mention if it is good enough for Chris Sharma and Lisa Rands, I think it is good enough for me.  Based on materials and construction it is a great shoe.  The build is very nice and the fit is improved with a larger toe box that has a "condo" for the big toe.  What I mean by this is that the shoe dips and the sole has a voided space for your big toe.  This makes the initial fit more comfortable and the overall feel of the shoe a little more friendly.  However this does offer the opportunity for climbers to size down maybe another 1/2 size more than they would usually.  I did not so this shoe is my "comfort performance" shoe.  That extra room for your big toe in the toe box really helps move power to the toe for when you are balancing on small edges and toeing in on overhung roofs.  Bouldering on moderate terrain, sport climbing, they all lend to a more comfortable shoe that doesn't sacrifice performance.  I highly recommend the Evolv Shaman for anyone who doesn't want a super tight and aggressive shoe from some other brands that makes you size down dramatically.  You can come into the Shamans in pretty much your street shoe size and be pretty happy with the fit.
I have been in these for a little over a month and I have bouldered up in Chaos and the 420's, sport climbed in Boulder and Clear Creek canyons and did some moderate routes up at North Table.  The Shaman performed extremely well in every condition.  Small crystals in Boulder Canyon were no match for the sticky Evolv rubber and the slippery Granite/Gneiss of Clear Creek was a joke.  Up at 11,000 feet in Chaos Canyon the shoes performed brilliantly on problems like Revenge, Potato Chip and Autobot.  It heel hooks well and the toe rand has extra rubber to aid with toe hooks.  The only draw back of this shoe, for me, is the breathability.  My feet sweat and for days where it was over 85 degrees the shoe trapped that heat and my feet cooked.  Of course the shoes come off easily, but if there is one flaw it would be the breathability for someone with sweaty feet.  This shoe has also done a great job inside on plastic that was overhanging and edgy.  I am looking forward to some indoor competitions this winter to see how they perform.


Final Say: The Evolv Shaman really has it all.  Three Velcro straps for a custom fit, aggressive but comfortable profile for pushing double digits, suction cup heel for heel hookin' madness and some of the stickiest rubber out there!

22 comments:

Thanks for the review. I am considering the Shamans as my first "aggressive" shoe. I wear a size 9 in the Evolv Demorto. Would you recommend I stay with a 9 for the Shamans? Cheers!

Did you buy the Demorto because of a toe problem? That is what that shoe is meant for. I would size the Shaman to your street shoe size. You could size down a 1/2 size if you have a low volume foot. Hope this helps.

Evolv rubber is certainly not as good as you claim. It's alright, not bad, but 5.10 and La Sportiva have always had a stickier rubber. The ergonomics of this shoe make up for the rubber, but the rubber is hardly a service. Awesome review, thanks.

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