I am going to start by confessing a small, hidden truth. I have a weakness for a good pair of shoes.
Over 20 years of climbing I have found shoes fascinating and have spent far to long day dreaming my way through magazines looking at next years models, wondering if these could be the ones that magically take my climbing up a notch. When I was younger La Sportiva Kendos were the shoe of choice because it appeared all the French superstars wore them. Then Boreal took over with Fawcet, Moon & Moffat crushing in the Vectors, Lasers and Ninjas. After that came the period in climbing that will simply be remembered by one shoe the famous ‘pink’ shoe from 5.10. For years this shoe dominated the market and was worn on more hard first ascents than any other, so obviously I had to have them. Then bouldering became fashionable and the mighty V10 took over! It was one of the most aggressive shoes I have ever worn it was essentially a steroid injected piece of performance footwear. Slowly though, all of these shoes became discontinued or fashions changed.
After all of this what have I learnt? Well, a climbing shoe does not make you climb any better, but a good climbing shoe will allow you to get more out of your skills and techniques than a bad shoe. I still feel the fit is by far the most important part of my decision on which shoes to wear, not fashion, brand or style.
Time for my second confession: I am very fortunate in being sponsored by Beyond Hope and as such I get a quota of Evolv shoes for free! So you may be thinking this isn’t going to be very impartial advice, but having worn hundreds of different shoes I can honestly say that the Evolv Shaman is one of my favourite of all time! Why? Well it fits me like a glove, there is no dead space in the heel or under the arch of my foot and they have even eliminated the dead space under my toes via their ‘Love Bump’, (don’t ask me about the name!). Add to this a level of comfort that allows me to wear them all session with no performance loss, something I’ve not found previously. Before I started wearing the Evolv Shaman I wore my climbing shoes tight! I needed to do this to eliminate dead space, but fortunately new construction techniques used by most shoe brands are eliminating the need to squeeze your foot into a super tight shoe. In the Shamans, I can wear them all session in comfort yet still feel confident standing on a dime edge when committing to a crux sequence.
Due to the fabrics used to construct the shoe there is little stretch over time so a good fit out the box remains a good fit after months of abuse. Add this to some great rubber that is thick enough to last and offers brilliant support standing on tiny foot holds, and I really have found my favourite climbing shoe. The Shamans feels at home on everything from slabs through to super steep walls, I have used them for everything from DWS in Mallorca to New routing in Lebanon and they have never let me down.
The Shaman is my go to shoe for just about any situation, bouldering comps or Dinas Rock Slabs. I feel confident in the shoe, which I guess is the crux of our decision making. There is nothing worse than not trusting your feet, so be sure to take some time trying on shoes and test them out before buying (wherever possible), and you will find your favourite shoe!
If you’re keen to try out the Shaman, Boulders have a Evolv Demo day coming up were you can test them out for your self on the wall. Come along on the 9th November for a free trial and see for yourself.