The Evolv Cruzer is unique among our group of tested approach shoes in that it is specialized to be an ultra-lightweight option for climbing days when you have a fairly short approach and you want to go as light as possible, but you need shoes that are more comfortable than your climbing shoes and more supportive than flip flops. This is sort of like the barefoot shoe of the climbing world. The Cruzer is also a good option as a descent shoe — where the approach is fairly quick or well-maintained, but the descent is gnarly and you want an approach shoe that you won't notice stuffed in your pack or clipped to your harness but one which will still be tacky for a steep descent. These shoes can also transition easily to a cute and comfy option to wear around camp or out for an apres-climb happy hour with your climbing buddies. They stand out in our group of test shoes for being ultra-lightweight while still providing excellent performance on the rock, and because of this we gave them a Top Pick award for a lightweight approach shoe. Two other versions of this are the Psyche which comes with a trail running last and the Cruzer Slip-On which has a more stylish "Tom's Look" but is not as high performing on the rock or trail.
Evolv Cruzer - Women's Review
Cons: No support, not durable
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Evolv Cruzer is our Top Pick winner for an ultra lightweight approach shoe that bridges the casual scene while still being serious about climbing performance. This is not the shoe to choose for long slogs to alpine routes, but if you're looking for a shoe to wear while kicking around from town to your local post-work crag, this is a great option.
The Evolv Cruzer is rated the second best for climbing ability of our test group of approach shoes, just behind our Editors' Choice award winner, the Five Ten Guide Tennie - Women's. They have a snug fit overall and the midsoles provide a good balance of flexibility and stiffness. This balance helps to transfer some support when you need to edge but also gives you great perceptivity when on the rock. For edging, what the midsole lacks in stiffness seems to be made up for by its flexibility. This lets you smear the shoe over smaller footholds, putting more of the sticky Trax® rubber in contact with the rock. By far, the Cruzer is the best of the shoes we tested for crack climbing. This is due to the toe box, which has the lowest height of all the shoes we tested, and also is the most supple. These things combined make it the easiest of our approach shoes to cram into smaller sized cracks so you can get a good foot or toe jam. The flexibility of the midsole and the flat dot tread design makes it easy to get more of the sticky rubber surface area in contact with the rock when you need to smear. The tread design is very similar to the 5.10 Guide Tennie's, with flat dots, which received our highest rating for climbing ability and was the only other shoe to out-perform the Cruzer for this metric.
The Evolv Cruzer doesn't have inches of cushy foam to float around on, but it is still very comfortable - it's just more of the barefoot-feeling type of comfort. It has a layer of memory foam as part of the midsole, which gives plenty comfort for less arduous activities. To allow for maximum sensitivity to the rock while climbing, we recommend that you size (and subsequently wear) these shoes so that they fit snugly without socks. To accommodate this, the uppers and insoles are lined with a layer of microfiber and a thin layer of cushioning so that they wrap your bare feet in softness. Also keep in mind when trying on for size, we did find that the canvas stretched a bit after some break-in and wear time.
The Cruzers have a very basic design and one aspect that comes along with this simplicity is that there is not a whole lot of adjustability. The laces have the shortest length running down the top of your foot, going only to a little ways above the base of your toes. However, since the intention is to be less of a hiker so it can excel at climbing and hanging out, we think this is ok because the main reason to have the laces run all the way down to the toes is to give your toes more room and comfort while hiking and cinch it up for climbing.
One unique attribute of the Cruzer is that it has a split tongue. This tongue design keeps the weight down by allowing less overlapping (and unnecessary) material but it also allows the shoes to accommodate feet of different shapes and sizes — particularly high arches.
Since it doesn't have a thick leather upper, it is one of the most breathable of all the shoes we tested. The last awesome feature unique to the Cruzer is the slip-on mode. They were designed so that you can fold the heel of the shoes down so that you can just slip them on and off.
For this metric, the Cruzer came in last…by a lot. All the other shoes in our test group provide good to excellent support for your feet on longer hikes or with heavy loads. The Cruzer has been called by some "Tom's with sticky rubber" and that's a statement that is not all too far-fetched. These are not the shoes you would want to wear to carry any serious loads or for moderate or long hikes…and that would even be when on easy or mellow terrain. They are not designed for that purpose, so it is just a concession you have to accept in replacement for their compact size and almost imperceptible weight. All that being said, the secure fit and low-volume of the canvas for the uppers does give your foot minimum protection and some support, keeping them from slipping around on your feet, so they still provide significantly better support than sandals or other shoes that might have comparable weight and compactness as sandals.
These shoes win the weight metric hands down. As noted previously, this is a trade-off for a lack of support, as well as durability. But for the specific purposes we discuss throughout this review, such as for descents only or for short and easy approaches, these are a great alternative to your classic heavy approach shoes, such as the bulky La Sportiva Boulder X - Women's, which might be overkill on some climbing days. The Cruzer is by far the most compact shoe and the best shoe to hang on your harness - taking up the least amount of space in between gear.
The Cruzer also came in dead last for durability. The uppers are made of a tough duck-canvas material and double stitched to withstand as much rough-handling and gritty rock chafing as a shoe of this weight can. But it cannot compete with most of other shoes we tested, since most of those shoes have uppers made of tough, thick leather.
These are great shoes for casual days at crags that have mellow approaches. They are also the best option out of our test group for descent shoes that spend most of the day clipped to your harness.
The Cruzer is by far the cheapest shoe of our test group. They have an MSRP of $75, and the next cheapest shoe is the La Sportiva Boulder X at $120, while the most expensive is the Five Ten Camp 4 topping out at $150. This means that you could buy another all-around pair like the Guide Tennie for everyday use and then get the inexpensive Cruzer for your short day or descent shoe as well. The Cruzer has added value with the hip and trendy appeal, and they are the best shoe of our group for the transition from climbing to town. So if you are not in need of an all-around approach shoe, or one that can give maximum support to your feet on longer hikes, then the Evolv Cruzer could be a great option at a lower price point.
While the Evolv Cruzer comes in last for durability and support - it is meant for other purposes. We give them our Top Pick award for a casual, lightweight approach shoe because we found that they excel at what they were designed to do — be a lightweight option for when you only have a teeny corner to squish in a descent shoe, or when you're just headed to the local crag and don't want to look like an over-achiever wearing shoes that are made for big walls or long and gnarly approaches.
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Most recent review: June 29, 2015
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