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.’
This is the second Evolv Velcro model I’ve test driven this winter/spring after the Shaman. I wore the Evolv Luchador SC in the same size as the Shaman, US mens 10. I wear a size 10 ½ or Euro 44 street shoe and have a medium to slight low-volume foot.
First impressions: It has a decidedly less aggressive heel rand than the Shaman which contributes to a more relaxed fit in the same size. This, in combination with the cozy, padded, foam tongue gave the Luchador a very comfy feel right of out the box.
A half-size down from street shoe was snug but not painful. About halfway between what I call project-tight and all-day-comfortable. The triple Velcro strap closure was also a bit trimmer and less bulky than the Shaman, although I wonder if it is as durable. I had a couple of trips indoors in these initially to break them in a bit and they certainly worked well for the quick bouldering sessions. Good enough to make the cut for the upcoming Europe trip so into the duffel they went.
The majority of the mileage I put on these shoes was during a month-long trip to Spain. This mostly was composed of limestone sport climbing days although there were a few pitches on cobbled conglomerate of Riglos and the super pockety conglomerate in Margalef. The venues offered up footholds that would have provided a range of challenges for any shoes: sometimes covered in a sharp and spiny texture, many two-finger pockets to toe into, and a wealth of extremely polished slopey feet that would give the smoothest marble counter top a run for its money. The Luchadors performed well on all these surfaces to be sure. I was particularly impressed with its performance on pocket climbs. Most of the other shoes I’ve owned that excelled at toeing into pockets were very aggressively heel-randed and much less comfy. The Evolv had just enough point to the toebox to laser into the 2 and 3 finger pockets. After returning stateside I got the Luchadors out for few quick sessions of bouldering and a couple of days of sport climbing and trad climbing on granite. Again they did great, especially for such a comfortable shoe. Smearing and technical footwork on pin-scarred crack climbs were well within their job description.
– Comfortable even when sized snug
– Pointy toe profile good for pockets
– Easy on/off with triple Velcro closure
– Good value for $
– Foam tongue wants to bunch/roll
– Non-tensioned heel rand not as good for heel hooking
Conclusion: I thought this was a great shoe. Probably best for someone who is looking for a bit of an all-around piece of footwear that performs at a high level — particularly for climbers looking for a Velcro closure shoe that doesn’t break the bank.