Evolv-Shaman-Climbing-Shoe-LargeThe Evolv Shaman is a high-performance climbing shoe, designed by Chris Sharma, for vertical to overhanging sport climbs and bouldering. The shape and design of this shoe provide a lot of performance features for a climbing shoe that is wickedly comfortable. The Shaman is not only a great way to break into the category of down-turned, asymmetrical, high-performance climbing shoes, but it will also work on the hardest climbs in the world, though the extra less rubber on the sole reduces sensitivity.

Full Review

If the sight of a down-turned shoe intimidates you and instills you with visions of soaking painful bunions after a day of cragging, you may want to give the Evolv Shaman a try. The shape and design of this shoe provide a lot of performance features for a climbing shoe that is wickedly comfortable. The Shaman is not only a great way to break into the category of down-turned, asymmetrical, high-performance climbing shoes, but it will also work on the hardest climbs in the world, as evinced by the fact that shoe designer Chris Sharma sent his long-term project First Round, First Minute (5.15c?) mere days after he received the final production model of the Shaman. I tested the shoe both indoors and outdoors on routes as hard as 5.13d, and was excited to get so much toe power out of a shoe that didn’t hurt my feet to wear. That said, I wish that there was less rubber on the sole because it reduces the shoe’s sensitivity.

The Shaman was designed from start to finish by Sharma, right down to the flashy blue and orange colors, where were inspired by a basketball that Sharma’s labrador, Chaxi, loves to play with. There was a lot of hype and expectations that came with the first shoe designed by climbing’s leading athlete, and so far the Shaman hasn’t disappointed.

The Shaman boasts the classic asymmetrical down-turned last of many high-performance shoes in this category. Where it differentiates itself from other models in this category is with two features above and below your big toe that ergonomically curl your toe forward into a powerful position. The distinctive lump-shaped big-toe “knuckle box” allows the room needed for your toes to curl down; meanwhile, the “love bump” midsole underfoot presses your foot up into the knuckle box, ensuring that there is no deadspace.

Three main materials are used to further enhance the comfort and fit: a synthetic leather upper (outside) for durability, a leather lining at the forefoot for comfort, and cotton in the heel.

The Shaman are really soft, so having strong toes helps (though wearing soft shoes is one good way to build up toe strength). Still, for such a soft shoe, I thought there was way too much rubber on the sole. There is 4.2mm of Evolv’s proprietary Trax High Friction Rubber under toe, and when I would stand on dime edges, the rubber sole tended to roll up over my toes.

In terms of stickiness, I found Trax to be just average; it neither hindered my climbing, nor did it seem particularly helpful. For what it lacked in stickiness, however, it made up for in durability and the shoe has maintained much of its edge despite months of wear (though this is perhaps also owing to how much rubber was there in the first place).

One of my favorite aspects of the Shaman are the three opposing Velcro straps that, when cinched down, really helped eliminate all dead space in the shoe’s heel and arch. The straps make the shoe feel like it is being wrapped around your foot from both sides. The shoe’s overeall volume seems to be designed for medium to wide feet, so if you have a narrow foot, this might not be the shoe for you.

The Shaman’s stretch, maybe by a half size, over the course of their life. I recommend trying on the shoe’s first to figure out which size to get. They are sized small, and I had to go up a half size from normal.

Specifications:

•    $150
•    Downturned asymmetric profile with “knuckle box” and “love bump”
•    Synthetic upper, leather forefoot and foot bed, cotton heel.
•    Opposing Velcro closure straps.
•    4.2mm of Trax High Friction Rubber on sole.
•    Sizes: 4-13.5

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