Alyssa Young recently transplanted from California to Arizona, where she busy getting acquainted with the deserts, mountains, rivers and canyons of the Southwest. Whether skiing, climbing, backpacking, ranching, or just generally wandering, Alyssa seeks to find and define sense of place where ever she goes. She is currently embarking on a season of exploration in and around the Grand Canyon.
When Evolv Cruzers first premiered in the climbing world, they gained attention as an innovative development in climbing footwear. Everyone had been waiting for a streamlined, casual, lightweight approach shoe, but the lack of durability and support left much to be desired. Enter the Cruzer Psyche, the overachieving older sibling of the original Cruzer. It’s sure to become a favorite.
In a nutshell, the Cruzer Psyche is a simple, low-profile, no frills shoe that works just as hard as it plays and looks good throughout. The Cruzer Psyche is a true multi-use approach shoe that is bound to become a staple. Built on Evolv’s new trail running last, Cruzers are exceptionally comfortable for all-day use. They climb well, are impressively durable, and look good from the crag to the brewery and everywhere in between.
To test the Cruzer Psyche I made them my primary shoe for a month and put them to the test everywhere I went. They held up to multi-day technical canyoneering trips along the Mogollon Rim, climbing in Yosemite Valley, bouldering on the abrasive granite of Northern Arizona, miles of hiking, and daily wear and tear. [Please note that the Cruzer Pysche is intended as an approach shoe only].
I was truly won over when I realized that the low profile of the shoe fits into clip pedals on my bike, making for a more comfortable ride to the crag, and that the sticky rubber is also very effective for dancing on slippery hardwood floors. They are the first shoes I have had that transition effortlessly from work to play and they have become my go-to shoe.
The Cruzer Psyche is soled with TRAX high friction rubber, which functions well on a variety of rock types and in a wide range of temperatures. Whether on wet sandstone, smooth granite, or polished basalt, the TRAX rubber flat-dot tread performed consistently and well. Initially, I was hesitant to trust the Cruzer Psyche to stick while boulder hopping and descending on steep slabs, but it only took a few minutes of off-trail travel to become confident in their ability to stick.
The thin sole and snug, simple fit of the Cruzer Psyche allows for closer contact with the rock and makes the Cruzer climb more like a rock shoe than a standard approach shoe. The thin and flexible midsole is especially helpful on steep slabs and sections of face climbing and allows for a more perceptivity while working with small features. It does compromise the shoes ability to edge aggressively, but this the only area where the Cruzer Psyche does not excel. The low toe box and slim fit makes the Cruzer Psyche comfortable and effective for crack climbing, and outperforms many other approach shoes in this area. The shoe feels secure in the heel and toe without requiring over tightening of the laces, and the slight padding on the sides increases comfort while crack climbing without compromising performance.
The Cruzer Psyche is a great descent shoe, and is a must have on climbs with maintained approaches and slabby descents. They’re incredibly light, weighing in at about 6 oz. per shoes, and have clip loops for easily attaching to your harness. I’ve actually brought the Cruzers on multipitch climbs with the intention of using them on the descent, only to end up climbing in them all day and carrying my climbing shoes instead.
Performance of the slip-on model is comparable to that of the laced model. The cushy insole and well shaped heel cup kept my foot in the shoe and feeling secure, even when travelling over unstable rocks. If properly fitted, the slip-on is easy to get into and out of but still has a comfortably tight fit. The main differences between the slip-on and laced model is that they feel less secure while edging and crack climbing but they are still a good choice for moving over slabs. The slip-ons are an ideal choice for anytime you’re going to be transitioning in and out of shoes frequently, and are perfect for bouldering, cragging, and around town.
Comfort and Support
The Cruzer Psyche excels as an approach shoe that is comfortable, climbs well, and functions well as a daily go-to shoes. They require no break-in period, have a well-formed insole, and quickly forms to fit your foot. In a month of constant use the insole showed no significant break down and continued to provide support. The sides of the shoe are slightly padded, which is especially nice when travelling on scree, and the split tongue design prevents bunching or pinching.
The Cruzer Psyche has a very minimalist design and does not provide the same level of support underfoot as other approach shoes. For long days with heavy packs or travel over especially rough terrain they are not ideal, but this is also not the intended purpose of the shoe. Compared to the original Cruzer, the Cruzer Psyche has more substantial rubber toecap and more padding underfoot. If you’re looking for an even more barefoot fit, the insole can be removed for a super minimalist, lightweight shoe.
Jeff Deikis of Bishop, CA, and the manager for national programs of the American Alpine Club, says that the Cruzer Psyche is the ideal Bishop shoe. He says, “they’re not ideal for long rough approaches with lots of rocks or roots in the trail,” but swears by them for walking to the boulders and for wearing on long, moderate Sierra climbs.
Adding to the shoes list of positive attributes is the collapsible heel, allowing for even easier transitions and maximizing comfort when you’re not climbing. Evolv designed this feature intentionally, so stepping on the heel does not cause rapid deterioration. The Cruzer is surprisingly supportive, even with the heel folded down, and for short walks to the crag or around town I often wear them this way.
Sizing and Fit
The Cruzer Psyche is true to size. This is a truly unisex shoe but is sized on the US Men’s scale, which women need to take into consideration when ordering. For a snug but not uncomfortable fit, it’s recommended that women order one size down from their street shoe size. For example, I normally wear a US Women’s 7.5, but ordered a US Men’s 6.5. If you’re purchasing these in a store, there are both US Men’s and US Women’s sizes on the box and shoe.
In addition to being a truly unisex shoe—not just a men’s shoe marketed towards women—and the Cruzer Psyche accommodates a variety of foot shapes. People with very narrow feet might find the slip-on model to the too loose for serious climbing missions, but the laced version is highly versatile.
Value, Durability, and Material
The Cruzer Psyche has a 100% cotton canvas vegan-friendly exterior, moisture wicking microfiber interior, memory foam insole, and microporous EVA midsole. The microfiber lining makes these shoes barefoot friendly and impressively impermeable to stench. The canvas is burlier than that of the original Cruzer, and withstands abrasion really well.
The main complaint most users had about the original Cruzer was their complete lack of durability. This second generation model has made up for any initial shortcomings, and then some. After a month of constant use my Cruzers take no more than a quick rinse to look like new.
The Cruzer Psyche is the best value approach shoe on the market. For a durable, multi-use shoe that’s equal parts functional and stylish, I would look no further.
From Evolv: Please note that the Psyche is intended as an approach shoe only and is not meant to hold up to the wear and tear of technical climbing.