Evolv Defy Black Review
Cons: Loose fit, toes curl up out-of-the-box wears out fast, not best for extreme edging
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Evolv Defy Black
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|Pros||Comfortable all-day-long fit, breaks in fast, sensitive, good heel-hooking, great value, nice look||Versatile, stiff, durable, comfortable||Comfortable design, respectable edging, low-profile toe, excellent price||Affordable, flat midsole is comfortable all day, well-balanced performance across many areas||Durable, inexpensive, easy on/off|
|Cons||Loose fit, toes curl up out-of-the-box wears out fast, not best for extreme edging||Expensive, limited sensitivity||Mediocre precision, subpar on the steeps, somewhat insensitive||Insensitive, imprecise fit, ineffective design for steep terrain||Not great at edging, uncomfortable for wider feet|
|Bottom Line||A great shoe for beginners or those looking for a dedicated gym climbing shoe||This stiff shoe is an all-day crack climbing workhorse that also performs well on edges and slabs||Decent overall climbing performance at an affordable price make these a sold choice||An entry-level shoe ideal for beginners that comes at an awesomely low price||If the shoe fits, the Momentum is a fine choice for a new climber looking to save some money|
|Rating Categories||Evolv Defy Black||La Sportiva Katana...||La Sportiva Finale||La Sportiva Tarantu...||Black Diamond Momentum|
|Steep Terrain (20%)|
|Specs||Evolv Defy Black||La Sportiva Katana...||La Sportiva Finale||La Sportiva Tarantu...||Black Diamond Momentum|
|Upper||Elastic Synthratek synthetic upper||Leather/Lorica||Eco Leather / microfiber||Leather/Synthetic||Synthetic knit|
|Lining||Nylon||Pacific (forefoot and back)||Unlined||None||Hemp|
|Rubber Type||TRAX XT-5||Vibram XS Edge||Vibram XS Edge||FriXion RS||Neo Friction|
|Rubber Thickness (millimeters)||4.2 mm||4 mm||5 mm||5 mm||4.3 mm|
Our Analysis and Test Results
If you're looking to get into climbing, the Evolv Defy is a great intro shoe, offering enough performance features to get you off the ground, comfort to keep you in the game, and a nice price. Veterans of the sport will find a solid shoe for training and gym climbing. These shoes aren't the best edgers out there, but they're sensitive on slabs and comfortable in cracks.
If you don't have the best footwork, these shoes aren't going to make up for it, and you may find yourself skating off small footholds. The soft, imprecise Defy does not edge well compared to many stiffer shoes. If you're mostly using this shoe to train in the gym, this likely won't be a huge problem because they will demand better, more precise footwork. Also, training with these can help you appreciate more expensive, performance shoes when it comes time to send at the real crag.
These shoes perform adequately in hand-sized cracks, and if your foot is on the narrow side, they may even feel comfortable due to the padded tongue. Our wide-footed lead tester, however, felt a lot of pain while jamming in these shoes. For optimal comfort in cracks, consider wider shoes and possibly a lace or slipper closure to avoid the Velcro buckles acting as irritating pressure points.
A shoe's performance on pocketed climbs is a function of edging ability and the shape of the toe. The toe box of the Defy is pointy compared to some other shoes so that it can fit into smaller pockets, but sloppy edging makes it a poor choice for your next pocket pulling project. In the gym, footholds are usually jugs and jibs, so any pocket deficiencies shouldn't be a big problem. When it was time for a heel hook, we did notice a little extra space and less precision in the heel cup.
Soft shoes are usually very sensitive, and the Defy is no exception. Our testers could feel the holds under their feet, but this means that you also need strong toes and good footwork to make them stick. The tradeoff with these seems to be enhanced sensitivity in exchange for faster foot fatigue.
When sized in the neutral position with their toes just touching the end of the shoe, our testers felt blissful, near-walking-shoe-like comfort. And that is the point of the Defy. If you're new to climbing and you pop these shoes on, you'll be able to keep climbing with terrible discomfort. If you're looking for a cheap shoe exclusively for training, size them a little tighter. They won't be quite as comfortable, but the performance will be better.
The Defy is one of the best deals out there. If you're new to climbing or the airline lost your luggage, and you need new shoes right now, don't hesitate to grab yourself a pair and have fun.
These shoes are super popular among new climbers. Once they're hooked, they'll probably start sinking all their riches into better performing shoes, a rack of ultralight cams, and a new Sprinter van. With the Defy, you can save a little money upfront and prepare yourself for the financial destruction of a full-blown rock climbing addiction.
— Matt Bento
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