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Evolv Shaman Review
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By Griffin Nosenzo
From Stanford, CA
May 8, 2011
North Peak between the top of the couloir and the summit.

So yesterday I stopped at Adventure 16 and picked up a pair of the Evolv Shamans, so I figured I'd do a little writeup. I have not used the shoes on a wall yet, but will update with my thoughts when I do. (If all you care about is my thoughts on the shoes rather than my intro/background, skip to "That brings me to yesterday").

For starters, just to tell you a little bit about myself so you understand the perspective of this review a little better. I'm still a pretty new climber. I started in January, but I've been in the gym regularly since then. I haven't been outdoors yet, but I'm dying to go and will spend much of this summer outside. For now, I climb at Mesa Rim (a San Diego gym) 3-4 times per week, and by their ratings I'm comfortable doing about 5.10b's and bouldering V3s, though I'm working on pushing those up.

So, onto why I got these shoes in the first place. My first pair of shoes, which I have used until now were a pair of Evolv Defy's, and I suspect that I will continue using them for a lot of my climbing. However, I had been looking into getting something a bit tighter and more aggressive, primarily for bouldering. A couple weekends ago, I spent the day at Mesa Rim judging for the CCS nationals. Amongst various sponsors with tables and gear at the event were Evolv and 5.10. During my break and after the comp I decided to try on some shoes and see what I liked.


I had tried on some shoes from both brands before and found the Evolv's more comfortable for my feet, but wanted to give both a shot so I tried on the Optimus Prime, Shaman, Geshido SC, Blackwing, and Arrowhead. The Arrowhead was nice, though I found its heel to be a bit bulbous, even downsized by a size and a half from my street shoe. The Blackwing was a much tighter, more secure fit, but I noticed a few spots on my foot that were just painful. The Optimus Prime was more comfortable, didn't feel as tight and precise as the Blackwing. The Shaman was the shoe that stood out to me--they only had one, and it wasn't the final model, but it was my size so I tried it on. It felt almost every bit as tight, precise, and aggressive as the Blackwing, but with MUCH more comfort for my foot. This it the main factor that lead me to my purchase--the less painful, yet still extremely tight and downturned. The Geshido was similar to the Shaman, but it's a lower volume shoe and definitely narrower, so if that appeals to you, it's probably worth a look. For me, the fit felt between the Blackwing and the Shaman. After the comp I decided to demo the Blackwing on some of the competition problems, and decided that they really didn't agree with my feet.

That brings me to yesterday, when I went up to Adventure 16 to look for a new chalk bag. However, as they happened to have the Shaman I decided to try it on in a couple different sizes to verify which one I thought was right, and ended up buying a pair.
Here are the shoe's specs and a picture:

PROFILE: Downturned asymmetric with the “knuckle box”
UPPER: Synthetic
LINING: Leather forefoot and foot bed, cotton heel
CLOSURE: Three opposing Hook and Loop straps
SOLE: Two piece 4.2 mm TRAX® High Friction Rubber
RAND: VTR3D variable thickness toe rand
MIDSOLE: MX-P: 1.5 mm half-length “love bump” midsole
SIZES: 4-13.5 US
SPECIAL: High friction toe patch



As you can tell, it's quite downturned. The "Knuckle Box" is essentially a pre-formed space for your Big toe's knuckle to press up into the top of the shoe, which I think helps contribute to its comfort. The lining is leather, which I've heard is unusual for Evolv, so I'm curious to see if it stretches a little bit more than say my Defy's or if the Synthetic upper keeps it from doing so. I've found the three opposing velcro Really help keep the shoe snug and secure while still being quick to put on or take off. Time will tell how the Trax rubber holds up, but it definitely feels a bit stickier to my fingers than the EcoTrax on my Defy's. The love bump midsole is interesting--It's very concave, and there's a bit of a bump essentially between the big toe and the ball of the foot. It's supposed to help with pulling, but I can't comment on that. I've heard it's similar to the Sportiva Testarossa.

On to a few more general comments about the fit/feel for now, as I've spent a couple hours wearing them around the house. First off, these shoes are the first I've worn where I've noticed that my left foot is a little bit bigger than my right--not too important, but something I'll keep in mind when trying on climbing shoes in the future. I've said before that these shoes are quite comfortable compared to other aggressive shoes I've tried (Blackwings, Team 5.10, Dragon, Geshido, etc.). However, that's not to say that I'll be keeping them on for the whole time of a 3 hour session in the gym as I can do with my Defy's. I'll be able to tell you better in a day or two, but they definitely seem a pretty focused shoe--one that will be at home on roofs and steep climbs. I can definitely say that I don't expect to be using them on any of the cracks/offwidths/chimneys in the gym or outdoors (Is it a paradox that I really enjoy bouldering and cracks and the like?). The heel could be a bit smaller/tighter for my taste, as there's still some airspace in it, but it is closer than many shoes I've tried. However, the closure around the ankle feels extremely secure, so it feels like the shoe shouldn't move much, if at all when hooking with it.

Anyways, that's about all I have for now--I'll post again after I get some use out of them, since that's what I know everyone really wants to hear about.

Oh, and I did not get this shoe because of Sharma fanboy-ism, or anything like that. I got the shoe because I liked the shoe.

TL;DR: I got the Shaman because to me it seemed like a great balance of a tight, aggressive, downturned shoe and some comfort. I haven't gotten to use it yet, but will update this thread as soon as I do.


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By caughtinside
From Oakland CA
May 8, 2011

Griffin Nosenzo wrote:
I have not used the shoes on a wall yet, but will update with my thoughts when I do.


Thanks for the review. These things sound bitchin!


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By Andrew williams
May 8, 2011
Mental Games Apple Valley

Thanks for the Review :) Has anyone compared these to Sportiva Solutions? (the shape seems pretty similar to me)


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By Griffin Nosenzo
From Stanford, CA
May 8, 2011
North Peak between the top of the couloir and the summit.

This has the only real comparison between the Shaman and the Solution I've seen so far. Look at the comment near the bottom by mattwshere. I'm sure that more comparisons will come in the next several weeks as more people try out the shamans.


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By Ryan Williams
Administrator
From London (sort of)
May 8, 2011
El Chorro

They look pretty cool. I'm going on an all trad and mostly alpine trip this year and I still want some. I'm such a shoe junkie. Now I know how the wife feels...


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By Justin Brown
From Colorado Springs, Co
May 16, 2011
Bouldering shot taken by Tim Banfield

These shoes are absolutely killer. They are awesome for toe and heel hooking. They are the best shoe I have used for using your big toe, it puts it right in place to use like a piton. The edging is phenomenal. I have nothing bad to say about these. These are my new shoe and now have replaced any shoe used. Now a little about my foot and what shoes I have used. I have used the Solutions and Testarossas and find these to be a better shoe to use for my foot. Ive tried to be a Sportiva guy for awhile now and I guess I was kidding myself one I used these. I have a longer Martin toe. The Martin toes is your second toe next to the biggin. So with the shape of the Solutions and Testarossas it was painful but I thought eh performance shoes are painful. Not so much with the Shamans they of ourse hurt a little out of the box but the shape of the toe is made for people with longer seond toes and big forefoots. These fit me like a glove. Out of the box it places your big toe in the exact right spot to use. It made me realize that I have not been using that toe correctly for awhile. No bullshit at least for me I jumped from V6 to V7 the day I used these shoes on a problem I kept trying but could not do. Now who knows feet are very important. Ive used these inside and out and again I am now an Evolve man or at least a Shaman man. They fit my foot. Now also I have a huge foot, I wear a size 48 Us 14 in running and Ice boots. I sized down my Solutions to a 46 and Testarossas to 45 and after months they still hurt and didnt work as well for me out of the box s these. These run small I believe I got a size 13 and they were tiiiight. But within a few climbs they were warmed up and felt better than any previous shoe and my toes were plenty knuckled up. Its just the shape of the toe box puts everything in the right place. If I ever here these are gonna get discontinued I will buy up 12 pairs to last me a long long time. Im excited that I have finally found my perfect shoe, excited about the possibilities now that I 100% trust my feet and I dont want to cry when I put pressure on the big toe. A little bummed that I cant be a Sportiva guy but looking forward to staying in Evolves and seeing what the new shoe this fall the Vegan. Maybe Ill have 2 shoes that I love for technical climbing.


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By D.ho
May 19, 2011

Just got mine in the mail today and Justin brown is right. These are TIGHT!! I wear street shoe size 10 and I ordered the shamans in a 9.5. I truly hope that you're not kidding when you say they get comfortable after climbing in them because at this moment I'm feeling like I bought the wrong size =\.


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By Justin Brown
From Colorado Springs, Co
May 19, 2011
Bouldering shot taken by Tim Banfield

D.ho
Give them a few climbs. They do loosen up but stay tight. Again I wear a street shoe size 14 and got these in 13. There is no way I would go smaller. But they feel great now after 7 full days of climbing in them. They are awesome and feel great. Best advice is if you can climb in them in the morning and early afternoon, before your feet swell. That way you can get them to stretch around you foot while your feet arent as swollen then after a few early climbs start wearing them in the evening. Will hurt at first then get alot better. Hope it helps, but I have to say I absolutely am in love with this shoe. I know many will disagree but this is my new favorite shoe.


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By Justin Brown
From Colorado Springs, Co
May 19, 2011
Bouldering shot taken by Tim Banfield

The few reviews I read before I got these say they are probably a full size smaller in size in the same sizes, if that makes any sense how I wrote it. But the Defys are a toe flat shoe so in theory getting the same size would be a size smaller which you would usually want in an aggressive type of shoe. These shoes though use a little leather and alot of synthetic so their not gonna stretch a to I believe but where your toes knuckle up is where the leather is so that part will stretch to make that area more comfortable. If this gives you any help at all I wear a street 48 in aggressive shoes I wear a 45 in Testarossas 46 in Solutions and 13 (47) in Shamans they run small so would be comparable to 46 I believe. I dont think I would try to put a piece of plastic on to get these on I would go up a minimum 1/2 size from what you were trying to put on, possibly a full size due to these not going to stretch much. Depends on how much pain you want and an take I guess. The shoe is designed for your toes to be knuckled up so no matter what they are not gonna be comfy Defy types. I hope this helps and I apologize for the long ass answer to your question.


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By brookew014
Jun 28, 2011

I just tried the Shamans today at the demo. I LOVE these shoes! It seemed as though everyone who tried them liked them. I have the Evolv Defys and Elektras, and found that the Shamans were much better than my other 2 pairs. I suggest not downsizing these more than a half size. I wear a size 7(women's) street shoe, and found the 7.5s to be perfect. They were pretty tight, but they were good for more technical climbs. I will be ordering these tomorrow.


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By alleyehave
From San Diego, CA
Jun 29, 2011
Start of Pitch 3

Demoing shoes in a climbing gym is like test-driving a car in a video game.


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By Helldorado
From Boulder, CO
Jun 30, 2011

alleyehave wrote:
Demoing shoes in a climbing gym is like test-driving a car in a video game.


So, so true.


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By ckbente
Jul 30, 2011

So i didn't use the evolv sizing guide. I used instinct when ordering these shoes. They finally arrived ( i went cheap on shipping, which i regret cause i saved 3bucks and wasted three days). anyways i ripped open the box and couldn't get em on. I wear a street 9.5 if you avg every brand of shoe on the market. So i went with a 8.5 in the shaman. I finally managed to squeeze my smaller right foot into them. surprisingly they didn't hurt like other shoes wouldn't have if i had to cram like that (mira) (vapor) (feroce) so i kept it on and tried the bigger left foot, finally after using plastic it got it on. now that foot was unbearable. and its only like maybe 1 cm longer or 1.5. So i ordered a 9.5 cause i figured the 9 might work for my right foot but not my left, so i suspect monday when the arrive my left will fit perfectly and my right wont. so far i have $175 locked up into these shoes after return shipping and all the other fees. oh yea and the evolv online sizing chart is completely different from the sizing chart on the bottom of there boxes. whats that about. so my question is for the people who are wearing them. should i go with a simicomfy 9.5 or am i better off once again just dealing with pain and go with a 9. im not against pain when it comes to sending my v hards, but i don't prefer pain you know. so i guess ill just have to check out the 9.5 i guess and ill check back.


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By brookew014
Jul 30, 2011

ckbente wrote:
So i didn't use the evolv sizing guide. I used instinct when ordering these shoes. They finally arrived ( i went cheap on shipping, which i regret cause i saved 3bucks and wasted three days). anyways i ripped open the box and couldn't get em on. I wear a street 9.5 if you avg every brand of shoe on the market. So i went with a 8.5 in the shaman. I finally managed to squeeze my smaller right foot into them. surprisingly they didn't hurt like other shoes wouldn't have if i had to cram like that (mira) (vapor) (feroce) so i kept it on and tried the bigger left foot, finally after using plastic it got it on. now that foot was unbearable. and its only like maybe 1 cm longer or 1.5. So i ordered a 9.5 cause i figured the 9 might work for my right foot but not my left, so i suspect monday when the arrive my left will fit perfectly and my right wont. so far i have $175 locked up into these shoes after return shipping and all the other fees. oh yea and the evolv online sizing chart is completely different from the sizing chart on the bottom of there boxes. whats that about. so my question is for the people who are wearing them. should i go with a simicomfy 9.5 or am i better off once again just dealing with pain and go with a 9. im not against pain when it comes to sending my v hards, but i don't prefer pain you know. so i guess ill just have to check out the 9.5 i guess and ill check back.


Honestly, If you can try the 9 or 9.5 before you order them again, that would be your best bet. However, if that's not the case, then I say go with a 9.5. I wear a 7.5 street shoe, and I wear a 7.5 in the Shaman.


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By ckbente
Aug 1, 2011

So I ordered my new size last Friday, paid for two day shipping and haven't heard from evolve. Last time I got a shipping detail 8 hours after purchase


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By James Arnold
From Chattanooga
Aug 1, 2011
Chew toyed

Andrew williams wrote:
Thanks for the Review :) Has anyone compared these to Sportiva Solutions? (the shape seems pretty similar to me)



i much prefer the solutions; solus seem to edge a lot better and friction about equally. I've been wearing the shams for about 3 months, they are a pretty good workaday shoe for steep stuff but don't have the precision feel of the solution on smaller holds...jmo, P3 hype ??? the toe hooking seems better in solutions if you are in deep

I sized smaller and used a wooden shoe stretcher for a pretty custom fit---there's no slop and these stretched about 1/4 size for me.

odd, it looks like the retail price for these has bumped up 15ish bucks...to lazy to dig receipts but it was 130 for the pair I got


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By ckbente
Aug 4, 2011

so like i've said these are not the perfect shoe, but there not bad. I think they compliment my abilities just fine. I am still getting use to the feel. These shoes definitely are not holding me back, just finger strength as always. I didn't send my project the moment I put these on, but i didn't expect to. I would like to use this space to comment on the customer service aspect of these shoes ( the people behind the shoes, the people who answer the phone when you call evolve). I really started to question the intelligence of evolve once i ran into my first problem with my order. A regular answer to my questions and concerns was, " I don't know what your talking about", which was funny because I sent emails about my shipping, return, exchange changes in detail almost everyday, or at least overtime I didn't hear back from them after I just sent them 150 bucks. I would email and ask if they received my money, or if the shipment has started and wouldn't hear from them. Then i would call. This is the best part... The girl who would answer the phone in the morning times pacific time, would sound so clueless as to what was going on. I would wonder if I had the right number. Then I would get a... I don't deal with the ordering shipping side of thing. "Can you get me someone who does"? yea call back in an hour. so an hour later I would call and hear. Uuuhhhhh I don't know what im doing.... uuhhhhh let me check around hold on. ten minutes later... uuuhhh they sent em. Can i get some proof, I.E. an email. uuuuhhhh maybe let me check.... by this time my break at work was over. and im on pins and needles. ok shaun will send you an email. the next day id receive a very vague email. To make a long story short, I am not a jerk. I don't make loads of money, but when i spend 150 bucks on shoes and more on shipping and receiving and returning too (scarpa pays for return shipping) i like to know whats going on. I guess im just use to how scarpa la sportive handles business. After two weeks i finally exchanged an 8.5 for a 9.5 and I just returned the first pair and paid the same day to just order a new pair so i wouldn't have to wait for a long exchange. but it still took a long time. oh yea evolvs sizing guide on their web site is completely different from there sizing template on their shoe boxes. N- Cory


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By Price
From SLC, UT
Aug 9, 2011

Buy the Shamans in your street size. you don't need to size down or make them uncomfortable. In fact, they'll climb better if they are sized appropriately. I wear size 12 street and 12 shaman. they are amazing.

the "love bump" wraps your toes around the sole of the shoe and provides aggressiveness not achieved by down sizing, or down turning.


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By DirtyBagB
Aug 9, 2011

I recently pick up a pair of the shamans. I was looking for a more aggressive, over hung-speciality shoe.. And I've found it, after minor adjustment. My street shoe is an 11 and have worn Pontas velcro since the get go in a size 10. Shawn recommended a half size up from that but when trying the 10.5 it didn't feel as snug as I wanted. I opted out for the 10. Best choose I could have made. They have "broken in" within 2 days of quality climbing. Evolv has ALWAYS been good to me when it comes to stretching and customer service period, which is why I initially was thinking of stretching up a quarter of a size because the simplicity of getting them stretched and returned within 20 minute(I go straight to the factory).. That won't be happening. These have lived up to my expectations and more. Yeah they don't smear like others do but this isn't your mirra or big wall shoe. I've seen a lot of people comparing it to a shoe that's not in the same league/use as the shaman. You want a good all around shoe? Try a Pontas lace up, you want a good roof/over-hung shoe, get some shamans. No, I don't work for Evolv, I've selected them as my go-to brand because of quality and their will to work with me personally. I think the largest misconception with sizing is your climbing vs. Street size. In a street shoe you leave room for swelling, sock, and decline motion (i hope), not true when it comes to an aggressive down turned shoe where your toes sit up front. Kind of like those gimmicky 5 fingers. Only thing I had a problem with was working on my footwork transferring from a flat, straight shoe to a pointed, down turned shoe. Most definitely not the shoes fault. I recommend them to everybody, with a simi narrow foot, looking for the next steep up.


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By Steve Ramirez
Aug 15, 2011
Shootin a throw on Dope Lounge V5

my busted shamans
my busted shamans

Great over all shoe but i had my pair for a month and a half and the buckle tore off


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By jaypeery
Aug 22, 2011

Great feedback on the Shaman! Great to hear they are working out well for most of you. For sure they are fitting best a bit larger than our other shoes. 1/2 to a full size from the Primes, Talons, Preds, etc. seems to be best for most people. No need to cram the foot in to these - the Love Bump and Knuckle Box were designed to give you performance and comfort. Chris designed the shoe so that it would provide the same performance that he was used to without having to cram his feet in to them. As for the blown strap in two months - sounds like a warranty issue. Please contact evolv and they will give you and RA # for warranty consideration!


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By Rock Warrior Films
Aug 27, 2011

These shoes edge really well and have a great heal. Definitely a really good bouldering shoe.


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By ckbente
Sep 4, 2011

So i've been climbing these shoes for one month now and the customer service nightmare with evolve has finally dissipated from memory. So heres the less bias review. I have no complaints on practically all overhung climbs. I've actually started using them on my 5.hard vertical climbs to give me that extra edge. I find that I can snag edges that are normally out of reach with that extra bit of rubber on the toe tip. Pushing off on the toe on vertical rock is very painful, but thats expected with any shoe. on the overhung climbs my heel is sloppy. My current boulder problem requires an aggressive left heel hook on a tiny edge to a big throw right then bump the heel to another tiny edge. by the time I bump my left to the second heel the shoe is starting to slip. Im not sure why, but if you look at the heel cup on the shoes you'll notice the cup is shaped like a ball. i think the bottom half of the heel should be ballish, but then it should suck in right below the ankle bone like one inch down. the mirras are the only shoe that fit my heel perfect, but were supper hot on my knuckles. so theres the constructive criticism. These are an all around great climbing shoe. Since wearing them I have jumped up a whole climbing grade. im not saying the shoes did it for me, but they aren't holding me back. and I apologize to evolve for my harsh words last month about my opinion with your customer service, but something made me say it obviously, i would never bash someone for no reason. Thanks for the great shoes, oh yea... orange and blue? really?


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By mrchomponthis
From Garden Grove, Ca
Oct 21, 2011

just bought these in an 8 i wear a 9.5 street shoe. I can't slip on the left foot. looks like i will be freezing these with a bag of water in them. lets hope that works.


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By ckbente
Oct 21, 2011

I never thought of that idea. But just so you know Mine just ripped at the pull tab. after just two months of climbing. Other then that I like the shoes. I am about to ship these off to evolv and give there customer service another shot. lets see how they handle this and i will report back.


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By Price
From SLC, UT
Oct 21, 2011

mrchomponthis wrote:
just bought these in an 8 i wear a 9.5 street shoe. I can't slip on the left foot. looks like i will be freezing these with a bag of water in them. lets hope that works.



I hope that works - or you could go exchange them for the correct size.

As has been stated many times above by myself, and the director of sales and marketing at evolv: YOU DON'T NEED TO DOWNSIZE THE SHAMAN.

(especially not 1.5 sizes)

Mr. Chompy, I hope you can go exchange the shoes. You'll be much happier in a size 9.5.


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