April 27, 2021

Evolv Agro Review

by Brad

Thanks to its design makeover, the new version of the Evolv Agro is a perfect shoe for any overhang excursion. It is Evolv's flagship performance shoe and will quickly be your favorite option for bouldering and climbing steeps. It does have a couple of setbacks, though, including the bulky feel and the tendency to wear out quickly.

It will also not be the shoe of choice if you are planning any trad expedition, but beyond this, it is surprisingly fresh and effective in its functions. If you are looking around for a specialist bouldering shoe, it will serve you well to take a look at the Evolv Agro.

It may not be the first pair that comes to mind, but this Evolv Agro climbing shoes review will show you there is plenty of reason to do check them out. Any serious steep sports enthusiast knows the big names of performance, especially the offerings from the Solutions brand. You also have the Instinct SR, Butora Acro, and the Five Ten Hiangle and Blanco as favorites.

What we like:

  • It has an excellent heel design and toe hook.
  • It comes with a Velcro closure with an adjustable strap.
  • Very sensitive and responsive. 

What we don't like:

  • The soft rubber sole wears out fast.
  • It can be painful to break in.

Yet, thanks to the various tinkering by Evolv of a shoe series that debuted in 2010, the Agro is in a position to be a favorite for many rappelling and sport climbers. This Evolve Agro review is not a direct comparison to these brands but a look at how this 2018 version of the shoe performs in crucial aspects. The 2018 edition is indeed the latest version, but some of its features emerged in 2015, including its defining colossal toe rand.

The shoe may not be well known as its competitors from other brands, but it has always had a loyal following. Its fans even played a part in getting the shoe back to the market after the company discontinued it briefly in 2013. In this Evolv Agro climbing shoes review, we look at four significant aspects of the shoe. These four attributes influence its performance and structure and are also excellent comparison points to use when assessing it against your other options.

Evolv Agro Feature Highlights

Climbing shoes built for rappelling activities and especially for steep climbing and bouldering.

Evolv Agro Climbing Shoes Toe Box

Feature Toe Box

The toe box comes with a toe rand so massive and, in your face, it may even feel a bit of an overkill. It takes up most of Evolv's variable thickness rand. Trax SAS rubber covers the whole shoe, but many micro-independent lattices are on top of the rubber for the toe rand.

This approach then gives you plenty of rubber in high contact areas that help extend the shoes’ lifespan. You also get less rubber in the low contact areas, which reduces the pressure spots. The design also gives the shoe enough technical hooking and scumming ability, whether at the gym or on a boulder ground.

The toe rand creates a slightly asymmetric shape on the show, which comes in handy when pulling pockets in overhung paths. However, the aggressive downturn structure combined with the soft rubber takes away part of the shoe's edging ability. Another point of concern is the fairly wide size of the toe box, making the shoe a poor fit for individuals with narrow feet

Evolv Agro Climbing Shoes Heel

Feature Heel

Unlike the apparent differences of the toe box, the heel has a more subtle approach. The most significant design aspect is the Dark Spine. It refers to the rubber running up at the back of the heel. 

This addition provides a solid heel hook and, at the same time, offers protection to your calcaneus bone. The Dark Spine further firms up the heel's cap and alleviates the compression, which is an issue that tends to afflict soft-soled shoes. 

The heel also contrasts the to box in size since it is much narrower, which leaves the tension relatively high on your heel. This aspect may cause a few issues initially, but the rand secures your heel well, and you get better comfort once you break the shoes in.

Evolv Agro Climbing Shoes Rubber

Feature Rubber

In making the soles for the Agro, Evolv uses Trax SAS rubber which is 4.2mm thick. The thickness does feel heavy for this type of shoe, but it is necessary given the kind of rubber in place. Trax SAS rubber is one of the softest and stickiest rubber types for soles of this type of shoe. Even at 4.2mm thickness, it still retains a high level of sensitivity.

These characteristics give you excellent friction, which you need when battling against gravity. Unfortunately, you lose out on the sole's durability. That's because the soft nature drives up wear action even with a few uses. As a consolation, combining soft rubber and split sole lend the shoes added smearing ability. However, you will want to keep this shoe off any slab climbing activities. 

An interesting addition to the sole is the use of the Tension Power System, one of Evolv's innovations. This system adds tension to the midsole, which allows the shoe to retain excellent sensitivity while maintaining an aggressive downturn profile. Even after regular use for a couple of months, the shoe does not lose these two aspects.

Feature Comfort and Fit

Comfort is integral when choosing a shoe for bouldering, but then you also want a snug fit. Surprisingly, when buying an Evolv Agro shoe, you should not go for your size but instead upsize. By how much you should do, this varies. However, most sources from online research suggest a bigger margin, some even suggesting two whole sizes up. The best boulderer in the world - Daniel Woods uses Evolv Agro.

A good range would be 1 to 1.5 US sizes up, but one size up is perfect from our experience. The shoes will still feel tight on your feet, but they will be the right balance between comfort and fitness after breaking them in. For example, if you usually use 8.5 US size with your other climbing shoes, you should ideally get a size 10 US for your Evolv Agro. 

The break-in duration for the Agro primarily depends on what you intend to use the shoe for. If your focus is purely performance, then you will need more time to stretch it out perfectly. On the other hand, you need less than ten climbing sessions to break in the shoes if you want to have both comfort and performance. 

Another excellent addition for your comfort and fit is the provision of a single Velcro strap in the closure system. Unlike other competing brands, Agro's strap features a unique adjustable capability that allows you to customize the right fit ridding all dead spots. We also liked the inclusion of a padded split tongue that gives you extra comfort, which is handy when bouldering for long durations.

Built to be More Sensitive and More Locked onto Your Foot Than any Other Shoe

The Agro is the all new Ultra Performance Climbing Shoe, designed with Paul Robinson and Dai Koyomada. It's built to be more sensitive and more locked onto your foot than any other shoe giving you the perfect balance of feel and support to send any project.

The Verdict

At first glance, the Evolv Agro looks more style than function, especially for the bouldering trips. Yet, once you get past the breaking-in phase, they are extremely comfortable and surprisingly adept as aggressive performance shoes. The sensitivity is higher than most of the favorite shoe models from competing brands, and it does bear some ingenious solutions.

The heel design, for instance, ensures a comfortable and secure heel fit while minimizing compression. For the proper purpose, it is a shoe that performs as best as any in the market, and it will be a pleasant surprise for bouldering enthusiasts anywhere.

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About the author 


Brad is a professional climber in the discipline of traditional climbing. He often jokes that he can get a book to read during the long climbs. Of course, it always goes well with a good cup of coffee. Drinking coffee is his safer hobby.

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