Evolv has done an excellent job designing the Ashima; as such, it has some of the best performance available. The toe is perfect for precise footwork, and the rubber rand excels when crack climbing or toe hooking, and also adds durability to the shoes. When put up against the La Sportiva Maverink, it's a toss-up on which has better performance. To us, it comes down to whether you like the no edge technology of the Maverink, or the traditional rubber out-soles of the Ashima.
Black Rocks near St. George Ut. had everything from cracks, to pockets and edges making it a prime spot for testing.
This shoe is certainly one of, if not the best, edging shoe tested. The slight downturn and relatively chiseled toe deliver precise footwork and confident edging. The heel rand transfers power through to the toe box.
Testing the Ashima on tiny basalt edges.
The 4.2mm Trax rubber outsole has good friction and still has enough density to hold up to long-term use. The variable thickness rand (VTR) over the toes does a great job of standing up to a beating, even when the climber may not have the best footwork.
Varnished sandstone edging our way up.
The Ashima performs surprisingly well in cracks of most sizes. Like the Evolv Venga, the VTR rand wraps up both sides to help grip the sides of the crack-protecting the foot in hand size cracks.
The rand on the toe wraps up over the top of the foot to help get more protection and traction in smaller size cracks, while also adding durability and structure to the shoe. We wish that more manufacturers would take a tip from Evolv and offer rands that add durability to their shoes, especially shoes designed for beginners since they are the ones with bad footwork - which can wreak havoc on the toe rand of a climbing shoe.
The Ashima performed great in the thin basalt cracks.
Out of all the kids' shoes, the Ashima is the one that is most equipped for climbing steep pocketed routes, due to the downturned platform and a slightly stiff midsole that allows the power to be transferred to the foothold.
It would benefit slightly if it were to have a more tapered/pointy toe box, but then it would make for a less comfortable shoe. As is, this shoe does a great job sticking into most of those steep pockets in both vertical and overhanging terrain. If a trip to the sandstone steeps of the Red is in your future look no further than the Ashima.
Sandstone, basalt and limestone pockets were no match for the Ashima.
This shoe has a 4.2mm TRAX outsole. That may seem like a lot of sole to allow for much sensation through to the rock, but it doesn't have a midsole that would further inhibit sensitivity and does pretty well in this metric.
If this shoe had any more sensitivity, it would suffer on other metrics like edging and pocket performance, but as it is, it makes a great all-around shoe with perfectly acceptable sensitivity. If you are looking for a high performing shoe with slightly more sensitivity, check out the La Sportiva Maverink; it has no edge technology that gets you closer to the rock so you can really feel what you are standing on. This helps fine-tune your foot placements by making micro adjustments when the holds get really small.
Most downturned performance shoes are made to fit on the tighter side and are not known for comfort. Since these are youth performance shoes, Evolv did their best to make them as forgiving as possible by eliminating the midsole and keeping the asymmetry, and aggressiveness to a minimum. A suede upper breathes well enough, but like many colored leather climbing shoes, it does dye the foot red. The dual overlapping padded tongues were comfortable, and the lacing allows for a nice snug fit, though we wish the lacing went down another eyelet or two to help get a perfect adjustment.
However, when you compare it to the other kid's shoes, it has more adjustment than all of them due to the fact it's the only lace up we tested in the category. For a child new to this type of downturned shoe, they may initially find them slightly uncomfortable, but after a little use, the shoes soften up and become more forgiving. Some shoes such as the La Sportiva Gripit are designed with comfort as the selling feature, but they tend to suffer on challenging climbs. The Ashima was made for higher performance and Evolv everything possible to maintain a comfortable platform for young, growing feet.
The Ashima has a good balance of comfort and performance.
The Ashima is a great shoe for steep routes and boulders. They edge well and can even climb cracks comfortably and confidently. Kids who have shown they have what it takes to climb harder than mom and dad will benefit from a shoe that won't hold them back. Those kids on a climbing team will also love the performance of the Ashima.
At $120, this shoe is priced much higher than most of the all-around models, but for the added performance in a platform that works well for growing feet, they are worth the extra money for those pushing their climbing abilities at a young age. The VTR (variable thickness rand) rand does a great job of adding durability (and therefore value) to the shoes by making the rand thicker where they traditionally get more wear, like across the toes. This will keep the Ashima performing longer, which helps with the value of a higher priced kids shoe.
The new Evolv Ashima is a shoe for the specialist - a kid who is pushing his or her limits in the gym, crag, or boulder field. Those who are just out to climb casually might find them overkill and expensive, but to the climber who needs high performance, this shoe should fit the bill. The downturned La Sportiva Maverink slipper, with its no edge technology, is another great choice worth looking into if high performance is an important characteristic.