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Evolv Cruzer Psyche Review

Price:   $75 List | $74.95 at MooseJaw
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Pros:  Ultralight-weight, pack down small, canvas upper breathes well
Cons:  Not very supportive, not durable
Bottom line:  This is a good shoe for long multi pitch climbs with short approaches and descents.
Editors' Rating:   
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Weight per pair (size 9.5):  17.4oz
Upper Material:  Cotton canvas
Lining Material:  Canvas
Manufacturer:   Evolv

Our Verdict

The Evolv Cruzer Psyche is one of the best climbers due to its balance of support and snug-fitting sensitivity, while still looking slick enough that we'd wear straight from the crag to the bar without thinking twice about it. The main difference between the Psyche and the classic Cruzer model is trail runner last that offers slightly more support for longer approaches with a heavy pack. The beefed-up Cruzer Psyche gets our Top Pick for its light weight, though our testers still prefer the original ultralight Cruzers with the fold-down heel and the flat construction. The Cruzer Psyche compromises the lightweight flat construction of the original with what our testers feel is only a marginal amount of support.

RELATED REVIEW: The 8 Best Climbing Approach Shoes for Men

Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Matt Bento

Last Updated:
November 25, 2017

The Editors' Choice Award-winning La Sportiva TX4 easily out hikes the Cruzer Psyche and climbs nearly as well, making it a better choice for those looking for on shoe to rule them all, but no model feels as light on our harnesses as a pair of Evolv Cruzers.

These lightweight canvas uppers breathe well but aren't very durable.
These lightweight canvas uppers breathe well but aren't very durable.

Performance Comparison

Climbing Ability

The thin-soled Cruzer Psyche climbs well if it fits snug. Not being a very stiff shoe, a looser fitting hiking sized Cruzer left our testers with a disconcerting floppy feeling, but when snugged up this shoe edges well and provides an awesome degree of sensitivity not usually found in an approach shoe.

These shoes are thin soled and extremely sensitive  so they're great for climbing.
These shoes are thin soled and extremely sensitive, so they're great for climbing.


The Cruzer Psyche is a stiffer shoe than its little brother, the Cruzer classic, and while it retains the much of the Cruzer Classic's sensitivity, it edges better than the original. Our testers could feel edges better in these shoes than any other contender in this year's line up. This made for more enjoyable scrambling over the feldspar knobs and edges found on Cathedral Peak and the Matthes Crest.


Armed with a thin outsole of TRAX High Friction rubber, these shoes smear almost as well as the champion of smearing, the Five Ten Guide Tennie and its stealth rubber. Our testers enjoyed warming on up easy granite slabs in Pine Creek Canyon while their feet remained fresh and comfy.

A low profile allows these shoes to fit into narrower cracks  but the canvas uppers wear out more quickly than leather shoes.
A low profile allows these shoes to fit into narrower cracks, but the canvas uppers wear out more quickly than leather shoes.


The Cruzer Psyche has one of the lowest profiles of all the approach shoes we reviewed; only the Arc'teryx Acrux SL fits in narrower cracks. The comfortable and breathable canvas upper is not as durable as leather shoes like the La Sportiva Boulder X or the La Sportiva TX4, so repeated use in cracks will significantly decrease the lifespan of this shoe.

Hiking Comfort

These shoes are not ideal for long approaches or carrying heavy loads. The soft EVA midsole is a welcome addition to the Cruzer Classic (which has no midsole), but it still wasn't enough to keep our testers comfortable for the long haul. The pronators among us in particular, as their heels slid around and slightly off the heel. If you don't mind carrying an extra five ounces, the Arc'teryx Acrux SL is still very packable, and more comfortable on long approaches.

Trax rubber and a super thin midsole are all that stand between you and the rock.
Trax rubber and a super thin midsole are all that stand between you and the rock.


These shoes offer the least supportive of all the shoes tested. While slightly more supportive than the Cruzer Classic, they still aren't what we would choose to hike around with heavy packs or stand in aiders all day, but that isn't what they were designed for. If you're cruising around the boulder field, roadside cragging, or walking around town, the Cruzer Psyche is more than adequate.

Weight and Packability

If you're going to be climbing long free routes and you need to have shoes clipped to your harness for the walk-off, these are the shoes you want to have, hands down. At 17.4oz for a men's 9.5, they are the lightest shoes we reviewed by 5oz. The floppy canvas upper compacts and compresses, and one of our testers managed to squeeze through the notoriously narrow Harding Slot with these shoes still on his harness. Laced up tight, we found we could store a few bars and a headlamp inside without worrying about them falling out.

Best Applications

The Evolv Cruzer Psyche is a great descent shoe. They are perfect for long free climbs with walk-offs like Astroman or anything on the Chief in Squamish. They climb well enough for easy scrambling and warming up, and the flip down heel is awesome for easy on and off during bouldering sessions.


At $74.95, these shoes are the least expensive pair of kicks in our review. For those who like to have a quiver of shoes, having a dedicated descent shoe is a no-brainer, but there low durability score and specialization costs it our Best Buy Award, which goes to the durable but more expensive La Sportiva Boulder X


Our like the Evolv Cruzer Psyche for its improved durability and support from the Ultralight original Cruzer Classic and are psyched (pun intended) to wear them out to the boulder crag, or riding around town. We universally agreed that they are the most stylish shoes in the line-up, available in Black, Camo Gray, and Slate.
Matt Bento

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Most recent review: November 27, 2017
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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100% of 1 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
2 Total Ratings
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3 star: 50%  (1)
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   Nov 27, 2017 - 08:40am
Choss · Climber · Rosendale, NY
Climbing performance? Long disposed of the need for foot-binding masquerading as precision, and purchased a half-size large to accommodate socks, since taking the Psyches out of the box three months ago, I haven't worn my rock shoes in the Gunks for leading, top-roping, bouldering, or for climbing in the gym.

Too thin? I climb, scramble, talus/trail-run - work out in them - virtually every day; they handle the Catskill's notoriously boney trails without compromise. No abrasion or durability concerns to date. My first Evolv purchase, the TRAX rubber is every bit Stealth's equal.

Not built for long approaches? Humped my climbing pack/rope bag out to Millbrook - a long East Coast approach - and back just fine.

My only quibble is that the EVA under heel is a wee squishy…when standing: I don't notice it climbing, hiking, running or scrambling.

I tried on the, uh-hum, $110 Best Buy Boulder X: stiff as coffins (maybe great for aiding, but how many climbers really need that feature?). There's a minimalist shoe movement afoot covered (woefully dated) right here on your website, shoes that resemble many of those used by the industry's native trekking/mountaineering porters: wide, flat, flexible and low-heeled, like the Cruzer Psyche.

I bought 5.10's Five-Tennie approach shoe (the industry's launch) in the mid-80s, before 5.10 built rock shoes. Feather-light, tactile, bullet-proof for cragging and dirtbag cheap ($49 at Evolv right now), the Psyche is the best all-purpose crag-shoe I've ever owned.

How the Men's model doesn't share Best Buy honors with the Women's Cruzer Psyche sure is curious.

Addendum: Just took a trailrun/scramble in a foot of packed March N'oreaster. The Trax rubber stuck to everything, up and down steep grades, over boulders and across slabs, except sections of iced runoff. The Cruzer Psyche's did all this wet, and finished with a bouldering session. My last pair of approach shoes, the 5.10 Camp 4s, acted like sleds in the snow, and sucked in mixed conditions that the Psyche cruised through.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.

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