Shoe Review – Evolv Shaman

shamans

I bought these shoes right before our trip to Puerto Rico in February.  It was the day before the trip and my La Sportiva Miuras weren’t back in time from being resoled, so I was in desperate need of a reliable pair of shoes.  I was looking for a tight, but comfortable, all-day shoe for sport climbing.  A friend recommended these, and I was able to demo them at my gym, so pretty soon these guys were in my suitcase and headed for some rainforest climbing adventures.

Besides being voted Editor’s Choice by Climbing and Urban Climber magazines, you know this shoe has gotta be good because every aspect, right down to the, ahem…”Love Bump” was designed by Chris Sharma himself.  So, wanna know more about Sharma’s “Love Bump”? Then do read on:

Fit: I think by virtue of it being a men’s shoe, it was a little tough to get the fit quite right.   I’m a women’s street shoe size 7, and my first pair of Evolvs, the Elektra, was a size 7, so I went with that, but clearly that was a noob move, because the sizing charts for men and women are different. I could definitely go down a half size (maybe a whole, but I’m not that cool yet, so probably not).   Also, the toe box of the shoe is very wide (and I even have kinda wide feet) which made it feel comfortable when I was trying it on, and I thought was a good thing at the time, but since I’ve broken them in more I’m finding the toe box a little too roomy.  I spoke to some male friends who own this shoe and none of them had issue with width of the toe box, so again, I think it comes down to them being designed for male feet. On the bright side, the arch fits so beautifully, like perfectly cradled, and the heel is also just the right amount of snug.

So, all of that said, here’s the amazing news.  Fairly recently Evolv launched the women’s version of this shoe with input from hugely knowledgeable female climbers Daila Ojeda, Emily Harrington, Steph Davis, Lisa Rands and Ashima Shiraishi! I have an intuition that some of the issues I had with the fit would be resolved with this model, so I can’t wait to test them out and see if that’s the case!

Form: First, I’m a sucker for a shoe with triple velcro, it adds an nice element of customization in the fit. Second, I love the look of the shoe. The colors and design from an aesthetic viewpoint are really pleasing, and maybe it’s the aggressive downturned toe, but they are just kind of…badass-looking. That’s the only way I can think to describe them!

Now on to Sharma’s “Love Bump” (just admit it, that’s why you clicked the “read more” link, I’ve got your number, ladies). There is this cool bump in the mid sole, that is designed to take up any dead space behind your toes, and that works in conjunction with the other special feature of this shoe, the “Knuckle Box”, which is basically space for your big toe knuckle, so that the whole front of your foot is really locked in, and as it claims on the Evolv website, “in a position of power”.

Function: This is where we get to my main gripe with this shoe, which is around the rubber in the toe.  For me, I find it to be quite thick and lacking in sensitivity.  That being said, everyone’s preference is different and maybe someone more experienced might not mind this, but being a newer climber who is still learning to trust her feet, I like a little more sensitivity in that area.

I think for both bouldering and sport climbing this is an awesome all-around shoe, because it is strong and secure for aggressive climbing so you can really get after it, without sacrificing comfort (or as comfortable as climbing shoes can be anyway).  Said “Knuckle Box” is great for toe hooks, and the heel has a nice stiffness around the back and bottom for heel hooks, while remaining a little more pliable at the sides of the heel, to contribute to comfort. It also has a nice stiff edge, stiffer than the other shoes I have, which I have come to appreciate.  For smearing, it’s pretty good, though I think my other pairs are made more for that than these guys, but it certainly does the job.

Finances: This shoe retails at $150 (and I generally haven’t seen it sold too much cheaper anywhere online), making it a mid-range shoe. I would say it’s definitely worth the money, and at the same time, I think this is not a shoe for a beginner.  Due to the low-sensitivity in the toe, the aggression of the shape, and all the bells and whistles it has, it’s really more of a shoe than someone like me needs at this point in her climbing career.  I will definitely hang on to it and bust it out again when I’m climbing 5.11/V4 and beyond.

Crush Status:  We’ll continue to be really good friends for now, maybe we’ll date at some point, but most likely I’m going to leave him for his sister…the Shaman LV women’s.

Do you have a pair of Shamans, either the male or female version? Let us know what you think!

-Climb On!

Missy

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4 thoughts on “Shoe Review – Evolv Shaman

  1. It’s hard to take this review properly, you bought 140$ negative wall shoes that were comfortable? I’ve never heard of any serious climber buying shoes that are comfortable. These shoes don’t really break in. They break your feet in. Don’t buy shoes that feel comfortable, buy shoes that you have to take off after 5mins. Then when it breaks in slightly, they will be perfect. Most of these evolv shoes will break in 1/4 to 1/2 size. Mine are around 1/4 but I recently bought the five ten team shoes.

    Shaman will last for a long time, very durable, but now i have new shoes and only use these to project problems…. the five ten shoes feel much lighter, great feel on bad holds, but looks like they are going to shred fast on hard problems. Sad too, they feel great.

    • missy says:

      Climbers often seem to bristle when you mention anything to do with comfort and climbing shoes. I was wondering how this would be taken when I wrote the review, and thought about specifying what I meant, but decided not to. When I say comfort, I don’t mean to suggest they wear like a pair of house slippers, and of course I still have to take them off between efforts. Climbing shoes do need to be tight, and they need to fit in the right places. At the same time, there is no need to injure your feet, and your feet will naturally change shape over time, the more you climb, and you will grow more and more tolerant of snugger shoes. Comfort in climbing shoes, to me, means that there aren’t any spots, for example around the ankle or heel that are digging into you, there’s no empty spaces that are going to cause unnecessary friction or blistering, the material is not too stiff so that it contours well to the shape of the foot, and your foot feels like it is held in a good position to perform at it’s best. Everyone probably has a different idea of what comfort means. In the official write up for this shoe from the Evolv store, they mention comfort as a distinguishing feature of the design of this shoe. http://www.evolvsports.com/shop/climbing-shoes/shaman/ And maybe they mean something different than what I mean. But, I think there is a place in the world of climbing shoes to use the word comfort, and we can all just understand that this is a relative term. I appreciate the feedback, and thanks for reading.

      -Missy

  2. Chelsea says:

    Hi! I recently wore out my old evolv elektras, as in there is a toe sized hole where my big toe scrapes the wall. Not good. But I love these shoes. I’m tryin to decide between the Shaman an the LV. I’m currently working the 5.9 range and steadily gettin more comfortable on 10s. I do mostly gym climbing, because it’s completely flat where I live, and a lot of smearing because I’m fairly short. I do a fair amount of bouldering as well but still working my way up. What would you recommend?

    • Missy says:

      Hey Chelsea-So my next pair of shoes after the Elektras were actually the Sportiva Miuras VS. I absolutely loved this shoe. They are a nice step between the Elektra and a more aggressive high performance shoe like the Shaman. They are sensitive and excellent for smearing. If you are primarily climbing ropes, I think these shoes are great! Check out our review of this shoe here on the site (all three of us love them). Let me know if you have other questions! Climb on! Missy

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