Evolv Shaman Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Comfortable, secure fit, high performance, great for steep climbing
Cons: Soft rubber, lacks sensitivity
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|Pros||Comfortable, secure fit, high performance, great for steep climbing||Versatile, stiff, durable, comfortable||Extremely precise toe, extra heel sensitivity, comfortable for an aggressive shoe||Comfortable design, respectable edging, low-profile toe, excellent price||Affordable, flat midsole is comfortable all day, well-balanced performance across many areas|
|Cons||Soft rubber, lacks sensitivity||Expensive, limited sensitivity||Pricey, tall toe box, too narrow for some feet||Mediocre precision, subpar on the steeps, somewhat insensitive||Insensitive, imprecise fit, ineffective design for steep terrain|
|Bottom Line||While this model excels at steep climbing, it isn't our first choice for technical faces since it lacks sensitivity||This stiff shoe is an all-day crack climbing workhorse that also performs well on edges and slabs||An ultra-high-end shoe that could put you on the podium of your climbing competition||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|
|Rating Categories||Evolv Shaman||La Sportiva Katana...||La Sportiva Solutio...||La Sportiva Finale||La Sportiva Tarantu...|
|Steep Terrain (20%)|
|Specs||Evolv Shaman||La Sportiva Katana...||La Sportiva Solutio...||La Sportiva Finale||La Sportiva Tarantu...|
|Upper||Synthetic||Leather/Lorica||Leather / microfiber||Leather / microfiber||Leather/Synthetic|
|Lining||Unlined||Pacific (forefoot and back)||Pacific, lycra||Unlined||None|
|Rubber Type||TRAX||Vibram XS Edge||Vibram XS Grip2||Vibram XS Edge||FriXion RS|
|Rubber Thickness (millimeters)||4.2 mm||4 mm||4 mm||5 mm||5 mm|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Evolv's contender for dominance in the steep world of hard sport climbing and bouldering, the Chris Sharma-designed Shaman comes very close to taking the crown. Though Sharma could probably climb 5.14 wearing the box the shoe came in, he paid attention to the details when creating this incredible, function-specific shoe. These shoes are excellent when it's steep; however, our testers found them lacking on more technical, vertical terrain. Size these shoes in-store, perhaps a half-size up from your street shoe size. They also stretch significantly over their lifespan, and as is typical of all Evolv synthetic shoes, they can get pretty stinky if not cared for properly.
Though certainly no slouch, the Shaman fell behind other high-end climbing shoes in the edging department. The Trax rubber is softer than you'd anticipate for such an aggressively downturned toe and tends to deform around smaller features. Our testers described feeling insecure on tiny nubbins in Tuolumne meadows and the sharp limestone edges at Wild Iris. If your local climbing requires maximum edging, we believe a stiffer shoe will probably provide better performance.
Surprise, surprise! The Shaman isn't too shabby in the cracks. The updated design features three velcro straps smaller than those on the first generation Shaman, making for more comfortable jamming in hand-sized cracks. The low profile, pointy toe also ferreted nicely into thinner cracks. The aggressive downturn of these shoes isn't ideal for sustained cracks, but if your next steep project involves a little jamming, you won't be out of luck in a pair of Shamans.
The Shaman excels in pockets. The sharply down-turned toe grabs and pulls itself into holes. With an incredibly secure fit in the arch and heel, it allows you to exert a lot of force through your toes, pulling hard all day till your hip flexors and hamstrings are ready to give out. And though the rubber is soft and imperfect for edging, it grips steep terrain well. The only downside is that the toe is a little blunt and blocky compared to some pointier shoes, so you can't stuff them into tiny pockets as well.
This shoe puts a lot of rubber between you and the rock, 4.2 mm to be exact. While supportive, our testers struggled to feel small features on low-angle slabs or techy climbs with small holds. For these missions, we preferred more sensitive shoes with softer midsoles and thinner rubber.
The comfort of the Shaman is top-notch. It has a medium-wide fit, and the love bump keeps your toe in the power position without relying on a super tight heel pressing into your tender Achilles. The low-profile Velcro straps went completely unnoticed when we jammed them in cracks or flexed the shoe on slabs and smears. You'll want to size these shoes to your street shoe or maybe even a half size up.
The Shaman lands smack in the middle of the price range for high-end climbing shoes — not a mega bargain, but not a turn-you-upside-down-and-empty-your-pockets affair. After two months of rigorous testing, we haven't noticed any damage or delamination, and Evolv offers competitively priced in-house resoling for all their shoes.
The Shaman has won the heart of many climbers and a fair few awards along the way. However, when comparing these shoes to our other favorites, we couldn't get past the softness of the rubber as a key factor in our assessment. This rubber limits the edging ability compared to other high-end models, and with a lot of rubber underfoot, it doesn't compensate for that by being more sensitive. The toe also feels somewhat blunt, so it's harder to fit into small spaces or to place on thin edges. As with any high-end climbing shoe, the final decision will come down to personal preference and what you're climbing.
— Matt Bento
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