As the sport of climbing grows, both responsive technologies and thinner rubbers have influenced the technical design of the modern climbing shoe. As these technologies evolve, shoes are becoming much more refined, moving from the traditional full foot last to multiple connected lasts that work together to create a symmetry of precision. With the re-design of the Evolv Shaman, the designers at Evolv have taken a big step forward in the ever changing climate of the modern climbing shoe. The Evolv Shaman is a technical, downturned climbing shoe that really shines on overhanging terrain and technical heel hooking. It’s natural downturned shape combined with its padded tongue makes it one of the most comfortable climbing shoes we have ever reviewed.
Evolv Shaman Climbing Shoe (2016)
As a part of the Chris Sharma Signature Series, the Evolv Shaman is designed for both performance and comfort, with improved fit, added toe rubber on the top of the shoe, and streamlined rubber in the heel. Made of Synthratek VX upper and downturned asymmetry, the Shaman puts it’s rubber technologies to the test, using a two-piece 4.2 mm TRAX® high friction rubber outsole and a 1.0 mm half-length midsole. Based on our three month field test, the Evolv Shaman is the most comfortable downturned climbing shoe we have reviewed.
To guide our review, we have broken the shoe down into its specific components to give you a full summary of its features.
The toe box of the Shaman is a wider fit that cambers the knuckles of the toes at the perfect angle for pulling down on steep terrain. The bottom of the shoe, the designers have added a dimple in the middle that holds your toes in a more in a more aggressive position, allowing you to pull in with your toes. During our field test, we found that the dimple in the middle of the sole really allowed us to hold the position of our foot and take advantage of the downturned nature of the shoe. The toe box felt comfortable and powerful when pulling on small foot holds on overhanging terrain.
The Shaman did a great job of pulling and sticking to overhanging rock. Unlike a number of the technical shoes out on the market, the Shaman uses a thicker rubber (4.2mm) that puts in that category between your all around shoe and your technical rock climbing shoe. During our initial use, the rubber around the toe felt a bit thick compared to other downturned shoes, but after a breaking in period, the shoe provided the same sensitivity we expect from other shoes in the Evolv line. During our review, we found that the Shaman really shines on walls that are 15 to 40 degrees overhanging.
However, it should be noted that when wearing the Shaman on vertical or off-vertical terrain, we were somewhat disappointed with the performance of the Shaman. The rubber on the toe edge seemed to too thick for its design and would often roll under the pressure of small foot holds when climbing vertical terrain. We also found that the Shaman was unable hold its tension on the joint of the big toe when standing on small holds and would often break form, requiring a lot more strength and focus to push down on small foot holds.
The heel on the Shaman is a great improvement across the whole line of Evolv shoes and has set a strong standard for all technical climbing shoes. The team at Evolv did a fantastic job with the heel of the Shaman, getting rid of the bulk that was associated with the previous model. The heel cup was a tight fit with no air pockets and allowed a lot of precision when climbing on granite or sandstone that required technical heel hooking. The tension on the rand behind the heel feels comfortable yet strong enough to keep your heel in position. During our testing period, the Shaman heel gave us no discomfort in the hot spot above the heel that can often be associated with a tight rand.
Out of all the downturned shoes that we have reviewed over the past year, the Evolv Shaman is hands down the most comfortable shoe we have tested. During our review period, the Shaman was easy to break in and immediately became a shoe that we could use during any situation, especially on day two when we needed a little more comfort to get that extra pitch into the day. Out of the box, these shoes were ready to use and are highly recommended for anyone who has difficulties with the aggressiveness of other downturned shoes. Often with an aggressive shoe, there is some discomfort associated with the outer edge of the foot as it is formed into a more aggressive shape. However, none of this discomfort occurred when testing the Shaman. It should also be noted that the Shaman tongue has a lot of padding that provided an extra bit of comfort when wearing it for long periods of time. Overall, we would give the comfort of this shoe a 10 out of 10.
Overall, the Shaman is a great step forward for the Evolve team towards creating a more technical rock climbing shoe. The Shaman excels when climbing on overhanging terrain and the aggressive shape of the Shaman feels much more comfortable than its counterpart. At the forefront of its strength is its comfort. Out of the box, the Shaman feels comfortable and that comfort last all the way to that long day out, whether your multi-pitch climbing or just trying to fit a 100 pitches into the day. Finally, the heel of the Shaman is top class and rivals any other heel on the market. On the downside of its design, the Shaman falls short when it comes to climbing on vertical terrain, with the toe rubber not holding its form when pushing on small holds. Nonetheless, The Evolv Shaman is a welcome addition to the climbing shoe market and for those looking for a comfortable yet aggressive shoe, the Evolv Shaman will certainly not dissappoint.
The Evolv Shaman can be found at MEC for $175.00 CAD and Valhalla Pure (Squamish) for $175.00