ProView: The Evolv Shaman

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By Mark Postle,  a professional climbing guide and itinerant climber based out of Bishop, CA. Through the typical calendar year he will log work days on the glaciated slopes of Denali, in the craggy alpine rock of the Tetons, and in the thin air of Aconcagua in the Andes. The off-seasons are spent trail running and ski touring but always rock climbing in an effort to get ‘back in shape’.

I’ve been testing a pair of the highly-touted Evolv Shaman for most of the autumn and winter. This has been my first pair of Evolvs after having been primarily a La Sportiva wearer for the last decade. The first thing that struck me with the Shamans was the sizing. For most folks their straight street shoe size in the Shaman will be pretty snug. I wear this kind of shoe pretty tight so I downsized one full size but I recommend demo-ing these if you’re not used to Evolve sizing. The synthetic leather did stretch slowly over the first 20-30 pitches then settled in for a nice snug fit.

Shaman

The shoes were test-driven on a variety of rock types and climbing styles. An autumn tour of the southeast provided a chance for slopey southern bouldering and steep sport cragging. Back in Bishop warm, dry, winter conditions provided good climbing conditions on the granite orbs of the Buttermilks and slick volcanic rock in the Owens River Gorge. Once broken in, which didn’t take long, the Shamans were tight-fitting but surprisingly comfortable. The bump meant to fill the dead space under the toes felt slightly foreign at first then went largely unnoticed. The heel was well-shaped and there was almost no dead space.

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I used the shoe in the beginning mostly for steeper climbing and bouldering. As an aggressively downturned shoe with an aggressively tensioned heel rand, it excelled at this type of climbing (no surprise). The heel in combination with the triple Velcro closure was snug for technical heel hooking. As I grew accustomed to the shoe, I also began wearing it on more vertical and lower angle technical outings. Although on the softer side for this style of climbing if you have strong feet, I found them quite effective. From then on I wore them for almost everything, only multipitch outings and crack climbs had me reaching for anything else.

The Trax rubber was a nice middle-of-the-road density. While probably a bit soft for extreme edging, that isn’t really the mission statement for this shoe. The friction was more than adequate on all the different rock types I tested it on. After over 200 pitches and 8 days of bouldering it is wearing well and has lots of life in it. This is probably aided by the fact it is a fairly thick slab of rubber for a technical shoe. The overall construction of the upper seems to be fairly high quality and would last for a resoling or two. The midsole has a soft feel once broken in which gives the shoe a good bit of sensitivity.

Pros:

*Good fit, well-built

*Effective Velcro closure system

*Nice snug heel cup

Cons:

*Thick sole, a bit clunky for high end shoe

*Beware of downsizing and getting them too tight

Conclusion:

A solid well-made climbing shoe that is great for intermediate to experienced climbers. Excels at steeper sport climbing and bouldering but makes a more than serviceable all around cragging shoe if sized properly.

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