Rock climbing is an extreme sport that many onlookers gaze upon with amazement. How is it even possible to scale a flat 90 degree cliff hundreds of feet above the ground? How on earth can someone create enough leverage with just their fingertips and toes to climb upside down? The truth is that rock climbing is as much a feat of the body as it is of the mind. Every climbing route one sets out to tackle is a kinetic puzzle that must be solved through trial and error. Those of us who don’t climb look at a boulder and see only a large rock that more or less looks the same all over. We miss all the discoverable points of leverage; all those deep cracks and hidden holds. In a word, we miss the immense complexity of nature and the potential our bodies have for adaptation. If you have ever skateboarded or biked as a kid, you’ll remember the thrill of discovering some new obstacle to conquer--some difficult path on which to traverse and mark as your own. Rock climbers share a very similar experience as the mark a new route more challenging than the last.
Climbers not only develop a capacity for outward discovery but create within themselves new physical abilities. Climbing is an art that requires years of commitment to flexibility and subtle strength to master. The good news, however, is that you can start anywhere no matter your location or how much dexterity you currently possess. There are plenty of indoor climbing gyms designed with routes for every level of experience and infinite level of skill to be achieved.
This review is on the 2016 upgraded Shaman by Evolv Sports. They’re an aggressive build designed for advanced climbing terrain. We recommend these for experienced climbers ready to experiment with overhangs, boulder problems, and other tough sport climbs.
- Very comfortable for an aggressive build
- Great lockdown technology for a more snug fit
- Flexible outsole for increased sensitivity
- Great for boulding and overhangs
- Not great for smearing on slab surfaces
- May fit narrowly for some users
Lastly, we have the aggressive build that the Shaman’s were made for. Aggressive styles are for experienced climbers because they work best during the most difficult climbs. Their prominent curvature is hooked into a narrow crescent shape, giving the climber several benefits all at once. Their narrow toe-hooks dig into the crack of a hold, affording you enough leverage to tackle overhanging routes. Additionally, the deep curvature lets you hang yourself close to the wall. During steep overhanging climbs, a close position is invaluable for taking strain off of your upper body and placing it on your more resilient lower half. The Shaman’s toe design is not only aggressive but also pointed. A pointed toe gives you the ability to insert your foot into places along a wall that have holes rather than humps.
An arch tensioning strap runs down the middle of the shoe splitting the rubber outsole in two. While the remainder of the outsole is made of rubber, the band serves as a more flexible substitute where you need it most. As a result, you can bend the shoe down the middle quite easily. Users report that the overall flexibility gives the shoe a sensitive feel. In other words, the sole is pliable enough to let you distinguish between different points of pressure that your foot comes in contact with.
A downside to the outsole is that the shoe is not very good at smearing. Smearing is when you push your shoe against a vertical surface using friction to help support you in place. Because of the “love bump”, there is less surface area on the wall to create friction. It is important to keep in mind that this disadvantage is not unique to the Shaman’s but is common to all aggressive styles.
Knuckle Box & Love Bump
Fit & Sizing
The upper is made of a synthetic material that is capable of stretching into the unique shapes of feet. However, some buyers with wide feet felt that the shoe was still too narrow. Many buyers did recommend going down half a size from your casual shoe but it really will depend on the individual wearer. For technical performance wear, we always recommend trying on the shoe before you buy it or, at least, making sure they can be returned for a different size. The Evolv Sport website offers this shoe in a split size for an extra 30 dollar charge if needed. The shoes come available in mens sizes (including half sizes) 4 through 14 US.
The shoe also features a split tongue that folds over onto itself, doubling up on padding. This unique tongue makes these feel very comfortable on feet despite their powerful lock down. Also, don’t worry about wearing these without socks as the plush suede material makes them feel silky smooth.
Love Bump / Knuckle Box - To maintain an aggressive design that is also comfortable
Split Tongue - Enfolds onto itself to mitigate unwanted pressure
Molded VTR - For a sensitive but durable experience
Arch Tensioning Strap - For superior flexibility and heel tension
Triple strap closure - To reduce any excess room within the shoe
This new version of the Shaman is far superior to their predecessor in terms of comfort and flexibility. Evolv advances beyond their prior success. With the 2011 Shaman Evolv creates a fresh aggressive build for anyone searching for a new challenge. The knuckle box is now angled for superior push-off power, while the love bump compensates nestling your toes comfortably. In a word, Evolv has totally redesigned the heel and forefoot of the Shaman to create an aggressive climber that strikes an excellent balance between performance and comfort. The only real downside to this shoe is the difficulty you might experience when smearing along vertical accents. For a downturned build, that is their main weak point.
If you are still hesitant to tackle some more strenuous routes, these are still a great purchase if caught on sale. Picking these up for 30 to 50 dollars cheaper will give you the opportunity to bump up your skill in the future without having to invest a couple hundred dollars into something you not put to much use.