ProView – Evolv X1
As a full-time Rock Wall Coordinator and Head climbing Coach at Liberty University, I’m climbing. A lot. I have worked in the industry for the last 8 years, and during that time have been pursuing my personal goals in climbing as well. I’ve had the chance to climb all around the country and a bit internationally. When I am not working, coaching or training you can find me working my 5.14 projects at the New River Gorge, West Virginia.
I had never had much experience with Evolv climbing shoes, in fact, the pairs I’ve tried in the past, I haven’t particularly liked very much, so I was eager to check out the Evolv X1s. To my surprise, they were immediately the best fitting shoes out of the box, that I’ve ever tried on. Now that I had the perfect fit, I couldn’t wait to put them to the test.
For the duration of the testing period I was able to use them in the gym multiple days a week for training, and outdoors at the New River Gorge, Red River Gorge and even bouldering on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia. My recent projects reside in the New River Gorge, and I weekend warrior it most weekends to pull on the world-class sandstone. Most routes are tall, thin faces, however, I prefer more overhanging powerful routes like in the coliseum of Summersville Lake and the Cirque, Endless Wall, NRG proper. For the past 8 years, this climbing area has become home, and I was able to spend multiple days on wet and dry projects, testing the X1s.
When I first saw the X1 I knew they would fit my style very well. The simple slipper and single velcro strap closure are great for easily putting the shoe on off in the gym and secure enough that you don’t have to strap them down for every attempt. Also, the toe box is medium sized and fits my thicker feet very well. The fit is very snug and secure with the elastic across the top of the foot, and the velcro closure strap really helps for a snug heel tension system. I actually can easily climb in them without the velcro closure strap very tight. The strap was really solid and showed no sign of breaking. I loved being able to either tighten the strap for an aggressive tension around the foot or keep it a bit looser for warm-ups and lighter climbs. I did notice the elastic slipper started to show stretching during my use and now has a zigzag pattern from the elongation and wearing out of the elastic.
The great thing about these shoes is there was virtually no break in period. They feel just as snug now as they did the first day. They are equipped with a softer rubber compound and minimal sole support that performs very well in the gym as well as on the rock. However, because of its softer midsole, it’s not a super solid edging shoe, it performs best on bigger footholds or smears.
Although, the design of the shoe allows greater heal tension, and in my opinion, helps you get a lot of power out of the big toe. One downside about the lack of support is that it created a pocket of air under the ball of my foot, and this made it a bit harder to trust my toes when pulling on super steep terrain. The sticky rubber that runs along the top of the shoe, works really well for toe hooks while bouldering, and it was cool to see this feature on the shoe.
With the softer rubber, the shoe feels pretty light. I believe this contributes to the comfortable fit of the shoe because there isn’t an overload of material. Therefore it can conform to your foot shape very well. The heel of the shoe fits me perfectly, and I have a rounded and thicker heel that fits in the heel cup perfectly, making my heel hooks secure and easy. The color and styling they picked is really sharp, the yellow heel tension system has a really nice pop to it and I really like the teal, blue/green color.
The Final Word
Overall I really like the shoes and was impressed by my first pair of Evolvs. They really performed well on the edges at the New River Gorge, pockets of the Red River Gorge and the foot jibs at the gym. The sticky rubber would also be a great shoe for competition climbing, as you have a lot of power out of the big toe.
Room for Improvement
My biggest suggestion would be to somehow change/ remove the air pocket that was created under the ball of my foot. If the shoe had a bit more support it would be my new go-to shoe for my most difficult projects. For now, the fit, feel and overall comfort is perfect for the all-around aggressive shoe. I would also suggest, reinforcing the elastic edge to the slipper to avoid the stretching so quickly.
Elliot Gaunt is a full-time Rock Wall Coordinator and Head Climbing Coach for Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. Aside from all the administrative and staffing work his position comes with, he gets to teach the student classes on all the facets rock climbing has to offer, general facility management and setting. When he is not in the office or working at the rock wall, he is out climbing at the New River Gorge, West Virginia every chance he gets.