gear review – evolv shaman

This past spring, Evolv released the much-anticipated Shaman, a high-performance, steep bouldering and sport-climbing shoe, designed from scratch by Chris Sharma.  The basics include: three Velcro straps to secure the shoe, a fairly severe down-turned toe, leather upper in the front of the shoe, cotton around the heel, the “knuckle box” above the big toe, and the “love bump” midsole.  Retail price is $145, and they can be ordered/purchased through ROCK’n & JAM’n (see counter staff for more details), from Evolv directly, or from Bent Gate Mountaineering.

First things first, these are not “beginners” shoes.  These are meant for climbers looking for a very high-performance shoe.  That being said, after climbing in these shoes for the past two months, I have to say that they perform brilliantly on the terrain they are geared toward.  The middle Velcro strap helps keep the middle of the shoe and the heel “suctioned” to your foot, making foot placements, heel hooks, and heel scums feel extremely secure.  And with the non-stretching cotton heel, there is no sliding around on the inside, either.  The “knuckle box” gives your big toe extra room, and in conjunction with the “love bump”, allows your toes to curl without sacrificing comfort.  In other words, you don’t have to downsize these shoes to make them perform at the highest of levels.  I personally wear a size 9 street shoe and sized my Shaman’s at an 8½.  I feel like they can “grab” any foothold they need to, and I’m not doubled over in pain at the thought of slipping the shoes on.  The rubber is extremely sticky yet durable, and will give you the necessary confidence even on the most marginal smears.  I would say, pound for pound, these shoes compete with any of the top rated shoes for steep bouldering and sport-climbing.  They have become my shoe of choice for absolutely everything past vertical.  So if you’re drawn to the overhung rock, from 5.9 to 5.14 or v0 to v14, give ‘em a shot; you won’t be disappointed.

(Note: as with any shoe, you should try it on beforehand, if possible.  But if you have had a pair of Evolv shoes before, they should be sized the same as the Optimus Prime or Talon, or ½ a size larger than the Defy or Pontas)

Comparable shoes: La Sportiva Solution, Five Ten Team 5.10

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