At first wear, we did not like the Evolv Shaman LV and found the toes to be too bulky. However, this shoe surprisingly grew on us, and eventually it became our go-to shoe for a sport climbing and bouldering season. Surpassing all of our expectations, we became quite attached to the combination of comfort and performance provided by this aggressive shoe. A close competitor to the Top Pick winning La Sportiva Solution - Women's, it is slightly less downturned and less sensitive, but can handle equally steep and tricky pitches.
Evolv Shaman LV - Women's Review
Cons: Unique shape takes some getting used to, gets smelly over time
Our Analysis and Test Results
This is Evolv's aggressive shoe for steep climbing that was designed by Chris Sharma, but also reportedly had design input from female superstars such as Daila Ojeda, Steph Davis, Emily Harrington, Lisa Rands, and Ashima Shiraishi. This shoe took a bit of getting used to, but once we broke it in and accommodated to the feel, we fell in love with the Shaman LV.
This women's model is a low volume version of the men's Evolv Shaman, and is designed with a different last to better fit people with narrow feet. For an aggressive shoe, the Shaman is pretty comfortable, especially after it breaks-in a bit and molds to the shape of your foot. The "Love Bump", which we discuss more below, actually does comfortably position your toes into the best stance for climbing, but it doesn't make them feel crammed in there.
Similar to the Evolv Elektra, the arch of this shoe is very flat, and on our main tester the shoe does not contact her arch at all. This gives it a slightly less secure feeling, but the heel cup on the Shaman is higher, so it feels more secure than the Elektra.
Right out of the box, the toe on the Shaman feels too thick and bulky. Used to climbing in sensitive shoes like the Five Ten Anasazi LV - Women's and the La Sportiva Miura - Women's, at first our testers complained that they could not feel the rock in this shoe at all. After breaking in the shoes a bit and getting used to the shape, the sensitivity increased and resulting in a fairly responsive shoe. We do not think they are as sensitive as the La Sportiva Solution.
The Shaman uses two design features that Evolv has named with cutesy names: the "Love Bump" and the "Knuckle Box". When you look at the toe of the shoe, rather than being in a continuous curve like most other downturned shoes, it looks as if there is a slight wave in the toe box. We assume this is the combination of the Love Bump and Knuckle Box, which help position your toes for the ultimate edging power. We do feel that once you are used to this unique shape, it lets your toes maximize their edging power, and you can push off of small features, even on overhanging terrain.
The downturned nature of this shoe makes it less than desirable for foot jamming, though it works well for thin or difficult cracks that also require a lot of smearing and edging. There is ample rubber on the toe which helps these shoes grip inside cracks, and also makes them great for heel hooking.
Steep climbing is where the Shaman was made to live. It lets you toe into pockets well and pull yourself into the wall, even on very steep terrain. The aggressive downturn keeps your toes pulling in and bearing down, even on technical faces. They are not as aggressive as the similar Solution, but are a step up in aggression from the Miura.
Ease of Use
With three opposing direction Velcro straps, you can tighten these shoes quick and easily. The shoes are easy to get into and fairly easy to adjust the tension of the fit.
A big downside is that synthetic uppers stink. All leather shoes are much more forgiving. We don't normally have smelly feet, but we had to retire these Evolvs before their first resole. The stench factor doesn't have to be a deal breaker, but is something to consider before you buy, and definitely a downside to Evolv's synthetic materials.
This downturned, aggressive shoe does best when it get steep and hard, whether on a rope or a crash pad.
$150 is quite a lot to spend on a pair of climbing shoes. However, these shoes are well designed and have the performance to back up the price. The Shaman LV is the closest competitor to the Women's Solution, but it costs $25 less, so if you are saving your pennies try the less expensive Shaman LV instead.
After an initial adjustment period, we fell in love with these shoes, and that surprised us. The Shaman LV surpassed our expectations in many ways. We think they are comfortable, adequately aggressive, and keep you on your toes for difficult climbs. However, we had to give our Top Pick award for sport climbing and bouldering to the even more aggressive and more sensitive La Sportiva Solution, which is insanely comfortable for such a downturned shoe. We think you can't go wrong with either model.
— McKenzie Long