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Evolv Defy Review

   

Climbing Shoes - Men's

  • Currently 3.1/5
Overall avg rating 3.1 of 5 based on 7 reviews. Most recent review: February 12, 2014
Street Price:   Varies from $65 - $89 | Compare prices at 10 resellers
Pros:  Comfortable all-day-long fit, sensitive, good heel-hooking, great value, nice look
Cons:  Loose fit, toes curl up out-of-the-box, not best for extreme edging
Best Uses:  Beginner to moderate level bouldering, sport climbing and gym climbing
User Rating:     
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  • 5
 (3.2 of 5) based on 6 reviews
Recommendations:  80% of reviewers (4/5) recommend this product
Manufacturer:   Evolv
Review by: Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ February 6, 2010  
Overview
The Evolv Defy is one of the best values in climbing shoes. This new and improved model has a slightly better fitting heel, coated Velcro tabs for increased durability and a splash of color. Other than that not a lot has changed from the previous version. The rubber is the same high friction 4.2mm TRAX with a 1mm half length midsole. The overall design is still nearly identical. The pointy toe and Velcro design is very similar to many of the top rated shoes out there. It is one of the best selling shoes at most Bay Area climbing gyms and according to Evolv.com "the best selling shoe in the country." It climbs good, looks cool and only costs $89. You can almost buy two pair for the price of an upper-end climbing shoe - one tight pair for hard climbs and one pair a half-size bigger for all-day climbing comfort.

The new Defy vs the older Defy VTR:
Click to enlarge
Evolv Defy (NEW left) + Evolv Defy VTR (OLD right)
Credit: Chris Summit

This new model is still very comfortable like the previous model but possibly a bit of a loose fit. Our current tester/reviewer could curl up his toes in the shoe right out-of-the-box, but, that said, everyone's feet are different. So, if ordering and your foot is a bit smaller than average and/or you want a tighter fitting shoe for more extreme levels of difficulty then consider sizing the shoe 1/2 size down (but don't blame us if they are too small and tight). Since they could be a bit of a loose fit maybe consider trying them on at a local retailer first before ordering.

While this climbing shoe is ideal for beginner or budget-conscious climbers, it works in nearly any application, except maybe your hardest micro-edging redpoint where a stiffer-soled shoe would be better. Other shoes will do specific tasks better (like edging) but this shoe does nearly everything adequately and at a great price. For top-roping, bouldering and most sport and gym climbing it works very good. We found the other popular shoes with a similar pointy toe design and Velcro closures to be close contenders. The similar yet slightly more supportive and less expensive Mad Rock Flash 2.0 did a little better on edging and small pockets and we would choose that shoe over the defy for most outdoor use. If you have an unlimited budget or climb at higher levels, get the also similar yet more stiff and precise, but nearly twice as expensive, Five Ten Anasazi VCS.

The Defy is a synthetic and comfortable shoe that appeals to all levels of ability. Evolv describes both the newer and older models as a "plush bedroom slipper, with a soft midsole and sensitivity for feeling the rock and smearing". Check out the older model still for sale here: Evolv Defy VTR

View our complete Climbing Shoe Review to see how this product compared to others.

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  • Photos
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review

Likes


This rock climbing shoe excels at comfort and value. It is soft enough that it climbs comfortably right out of the box. Then over time it gets even more comfortable. This shoe does have a pointy toe design but it is a bit soft so it's not ideal at intense micro-edging. Since we can't remember the last time we wanted a shoe just for micro-edging that may not be a major concern for you either.

Dislikes


The same qualities that make the Evolv Defy shoe comfortable right out of the box also make it a little sloppy over time. After a few months you have to tighten the velcro more and put more effort into standing on little edges. This is to be expected from any shoe that feels soft right away. My solution of buying two pair solves this problem. My big pair gets more comfortable over time. Meanwhile, my tight pair is used less often and keeps its "edge."

Best Application


These shoes excel in the gym where comfort always wins over edging. They also do great outside, especially on sport climbs. I use mine on technical steep granite but find they are not as precise as a stiffer shoe like the Anasazi Velcro.

Value


This is one of the best values of any shoe on the market. For $85 you can't go wrong. If you buy them too big or they stretch way out, save them for long easy free climbs or the gym.

Other Versions


The Evolv Elektra is the women's version of the Defy and is a great budget shoe. The Elektra wins our Best Buy Award.

If you love the Defy, the logical higher end upgrade is the Chris Sharma pro model, the Evolv Pontas 2 $130, or the Evolv Shaman, $150.

Chris McNamara and Chris Summit

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: February 12, 2014
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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 (3.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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 (3.2)

80% of 5 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
6 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 33%  (2)
3 star: 50%  (3)
2 star: 17%  (1)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Sort 6 member reviews by: Most Recent | Most Helpful
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   Feb 12, 2014 - 11:22am
jhndlntylr · Climber · Florida
Good shoe for beginner to intermediate climbers who are getting use to good footwork.

Rubber wears down pretty quickly.

The Defy gets softer and softer with each use but I've found that the softness/comfort is pretty decent for gym and trad climbing.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Mar 29, 2011 - 01:36pm
PHotY · Climber · Columbia, Mo
i bought this shoe because a friend gave me a code to get 60% off on all evolv shoes. at the time, the deal was too good, and being my first shoe, i was happy not spending much. i did not know what i wanted in a climbing shoe, so cheap seemed like the best way to find out.

at first the shoe was great, but i didn't know better because i could only compare it the overused shoes the gym provided. it held the rock better, i liked the velcro more than the lace, and had a smaller toe that helped on small edges.

as i got a little better, i realized the downsides to the shoe. its super soft and losses its edge within a few wears, making small ledges really hard to stand on. the straps sit a little too far away from the top of the shoe, so no matter how hard i strapped the shoes, my heal popped out every time. as i got better, it made it impossible to heal-hook anything without exposing some or all of my bare heal. also, these shoes smell to the high heavens. nothing gets the stink out. everyone i know has the same problem, so its not just me. talking with older climbers, i found that evolv, and especially defy, are infamous for stink. the synthetic fabric just reeks. one last caution, the shoe does not stretch, even after 5 months of wear.

i would not recommend this shoe at full price to anyone. if you can find a super deal and its your first shoe, i guess you can get it, but it wont keep you happy for long. i hate the shoe so much its not worth resoling and it smells so bad i will have to throw them away.

Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.
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   Sep 9, 2010 - 04:40pm
thetennisguy · Climber · Yuba City, CA
i use these shoes in the gym mainly; I found that the toe wears out (on the rand) before the bottom rubber wears through; this seems to be the case with both left and right feet.

my friend also had this happen. I'm sending mine it to get resoled right now.

this shoe is very comfortable and i enjoy having the velcro especially since we climb at lunchtime and need to get in and out of them quickly

i bought my son a pair of them because they are so comfortable; he's happy with them and seems to enjoy climbing more now that he has a more comfortable pair of shoes

evolve may have changed the design or added more rubber to weak spots in the shoe I have; now I see they have a vtr or variable thickness rand model out; so hopefully they beefed up the rand on the big toe enough to add some more durability to it.

one note … if you buy this shoe also buy a couple of cans of lysol because you'll need it … they stink much more possibilty due to the synthetic material used around the velco … hey it goes with the territory so don't worry too much about it … just an fyi

overall a very popular shoe and a very comfortable with very good performance … good reason why it's so popular

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Sep 9, 2010 - 05:47am
bearbreeder · Climber
comfortable gym shoes …

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Jul 21, 2010 - 01:18pm
MAbuse · Climber · Kuala Lumpur
The Defy "Eco-Trax" were my second pair of climbing shoes. I bought these looking for a more comfortable shoe after returning a pair of Evolv Kaos 2s that were tighter than I was willing to tolerate.

After stretching out after a few sessions the Defy proved to be a comfortable shoe with decent all-round performance for everything I tried. The rand began showing small holes at around the 3 month mark after a 3 session a week schedule. I've climbed them for another couple of months before my big toe began scraping the wall and finally retiring them.

The shoes could have been a little stiffer at the midsole. They are so soft that standing on anything remotely sharp (limestone flakes) causes profound discomfort. The edge rounded out in the first few weeks of climbing and combined with the overall softness made standing on tiny edges difficult to impossible. The anti microbial treatment on the shoe didn't work for long. Evolv shoes stay fresh for a few session then smell weird for a bit before adopting a horrendous pong.

Overall a good shoe that I was very satisfied with. I'm keeping the Defy VTR earmarked as a possible future shoe purchase if a good deal presents itself at the time.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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Feb 3, 2010 - 11:41pm
 
Jay Wood · Climber · Land of God-less fools
I got another pair of these recently, as they have performed well.

They didn't stay on the holds for #@%&.

Instead of "trax" rubber, they said "eco-trax".

Took them back.
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Click to enlarge
Evolv Defy
Credit: Evolv
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