Evolv climbing shoes Review
We’ve talked before on TrainingBeta about just how important it is to find the right climbing shoe for yourself. While it’s important for this shoe need to be well built and appropriate for whatever type of climbing you are doing, it is even more important that this shoe fits your foot correctly. When shopping for a new climbing shoe, take the time to try on a bunch of pairs from a variety of brands. Then, once you have found one that works stick with it.
Well, stick with it at least until whatever brand makes it redesigns it. For a climber with a go to shoe, a redesign can feel devastating. Unless, of course, the new model actually works even better for you.
With this in mind, here’s a review of the new 2016 Evolv Shaman written for us by loyal first generation Shaman user Dave Sheldon. In his review, Dave breaks down what has changed with the new edition and how it stacks up to the original.
Enter Dave Sheldon…
When word leaked out that Evolv was engineering a major overhaul for their popular Shaman, I considered scooping up a first generation pair before they disappeared from the sales table. After all, the orange and blue kicks had been my go-to red-point shoe for years and I dreaded the idea of searching for a replacement. But, before I could heat up the charge card, auspicious words from an old retail junky derailed my stockpiling tendencies. Once the decision had been made all I could do was wait and dye a thousand deaths every time the release date for the 2016 Shamans got pushed back. When I finally got my impatient mitts on a set, I immediately went climbing, hopping that I had in fact chosen wisely.
After wearing the 2016 Shaman’s for a few months, I’m happy to report that the new model benefits from a number of significant improvements and full on changes that will most likely give even diehard Shaman fans a higher performance climbing experience.
Improvements in the 2016 Evolv Shaman:
First off is an adjustment to sizing; most people will need to fit the new Shamans a half size smaller than the originals. Second, the new shoe has a stronger tendency to hold its downturned shape as the midsole is stiffer and much slower to soften. Third, comfort is vastly improved thanks to a totally redesigned heal cup and the very skin friendly unlined Synthratek VX upper.
Another comfort plus, and a design holdover from the originals, are the new shoe’s generous “Knuckle Box” toe-box shape that gives the top of your piggies extra space. For some reason I found this feature to work much better this time around as it offered noticeable pain relief during hard edging without a loss in security or sensitively. All this cush also translates into almost zero break in time. I pulled the 2016 models out of the box, walked around the house in them for twenty minutes, and was good to go. I guess it’s true, modern climbing shoes don’t have to be painful.
Features Unchanged in the 2016 Evolv Shaman:
Thankfully, the updated Shamans also share many of its predecessors attributes, and along with the aforementioned “Knuckle Box”, Evolv carries their “Love Bump” into 2016 as well. Simply put, this is a noticeable depression located about an inch back from the tip of the shoe’s sole. With the shoes strapped on, I could feel the bump rising comfortably between the base of my toes and the forward edge of the ball of my foot. It proved useful any time I needed to yard my body in on a hold. Shaman fans will also recognize the three opposing Velcro straps, a comfy split tongue, two heal pull tabs and the generous 4.2mm slab of Trax sole rubber. And while the 2016 shoe toe profile is a little different, it will still accommodate the same sort of foot, think medium to medium/wide with squared off toes.
Overall, I found the new Shaman’s firm mid-sole and downturned toe to offer excellent security anytime I had to be precise with my feet on slightly slabby, vertical, or moderately overhanging terrain. Think Rifle’s small square edges and Shelf Road’s pockets and sharp nubbins. I also did a fair amount of climbing in Eldorado Canyon with the new kicks, and although I kept them away from true slabs routes, the shoes saved my butt a few times by letting me stand securely in bizarre off balance positons and fiddle in gear. Finally, I am continually amazed at how much comfort Evolv was able to build into the 2016 boots without a sacrifice to performance.
If you are looking for durable, comfy, high performance do-it-all sport climbing and steep face climbing shoe, make sure to check out the new Evolv Shamans. Your piggies will thank you and you might just find yourself standing on a foothold you previously thought would never hold your weight.
About The Author – Dave Sheldon
Dave has been climbing for sixteen years and has climbed sport routes up to 5.13b. He enjoys writing about what makes top climbers tick and how the 99% can more efficiently achieve their climbing goals in a creative, safe, and injury free manner.
When he’s not burning valuable resources commuting to Rifle Mountain Park, he works as an Advanced Rolfer and SourcePoint Therapist in Boulder, CO. Neely is one of his highly satisfied clients, actually! Visit his website for more information about his private practice. www.davesheldon.com
(cover photo: Savannah Cummings; Climber: Alex Johnson)