April 29, 2021

Evolv Shaman Review

by Bernice

The Evolv Shaman shoes carry the pedigree of the man who inspired their design, famous pro climber Chris Sharma. They are popular, and several versions later, they have managed to offer the most comfortable fit in the market. Evolv Shaman climbing shoes fall into our ranking of the ten best sport climbing shoes.

Ultimately, following Sharma’s line, the shoes are a tad too specialized for vertical overhang obstacles. This aspect takes away some of their technical attributes for those in other sport climbing interests. They have a unique shape even for an aggressive shoe, but fortunately, it enhances rather than hinders their capability.

The Evolv Shaman is not a new shoe in the climbing scene. It has been around since 2011, when it first debuted to much acclaim. This was in no small measure thanks to the name behind them legendary climber Chris Sharma. This Evolv Sharman climbing shoe review looks at the latest version of the shoe that is the Shaman 2.

What we like:

  • Probably the most comfortable performance climbing shoe.
  • Excellent handling vertical overhung steeps.
  • Uses Trax SAS rubber.

What we don't like:

  • Poor edging ability.
  • Wears out fast. 

Evolv and among the well-known shoes in the market. If you are looking to get a new climbing shoe, this Evolv Shaman review will help you know what to expect from the Shaman 2. We look at the essential aspects trying to compare how it performs compared to industry standards and a climber's needs. There is no doubt there are clear improvements and differences in the current version than the earlier one. 

First, the shoe comes with a better fitting heel that is kind to your Achilles heel. There is also a new color scheme, and vegan-friendly materials are used for its construction. The Shaman 2 goes heavy on comfort aspects introducing a bigger toe rand. There is more space between the tip and Velcro straps, improving your toeing ability to find and place secure hooks.

It still keeps to the Shaman tradition of excelling at any overhand thanks to its unique design and additions we will discuss below. These same design and construction aspects take from it the ability to excel in other areas. You should also keep in mind the tendency of Evolv shoes to develop a stench, so frequent washing is necessary if you get one of these shoes. Boot bananas can also help with the smell. 

Comfort, as we have pointed out, is a main point of attraction, and it is where it outclasses the other leading brands. At the center of such smooth fits are a cushioned split tongue and triple Velcro closure. Here is how the shoe performs in both indoor and outdoor sport climbing settings.

Evolv Shaman Feature Highlights

The Shaman is designed for the versatile climber that needs just as much performance out of their shoes as comfort.

Evolv Shaman Shoe Toe

Feature Toe Box

The toe box has two standout features, the Love Bump and the Knuckle Box, and they are exclusive to the Shaman. The Knuckle Box allows your big toe to rest while curled, its natural position. It is the raised area in the upper section of the toe box. The Love Bump, on the other hand, is an indent in the sole in the shape of a spoon.

It serves to fill up any space the Knuckle Box leaves. This toe box design leaves your toes resting in a crimp position - the position they'd be in if you force your foot in a small shoe- without any pain. As a result, you are able to generate more power in your toes which is crucial when edging as you stand on micro edges. 

While the design is indisputably functional, there is a divide over its aesthetic appeal, with some loving it and other people hating it. The consensus, though, is that it takes some time for it to grow on you. The trade-off with the design is your smearing ability because the design reduces the sole's surface area.

Evolv Shaman Heel

Feature Heel

The heel design in the first Shaman version had two main problems. First, it hurt your Achilles heel due to its constant digging in it. Secondly, it did not offer sufficient technical heel hooking ability. The new version addresses all these weaknesses and then some. 

The Shaman 2 new heel cup is far much softer and offers immense suction on your foot. When you add the effect of the new tension rand, you get a better heel fit which is also secure and has minimal movement. More importantly, it is kinder to your Achilles tissue. 

On the heel cup's side, there are circular indents. This further boosts your technical heel hooking and enhances friction. The rubber also runs up at the back of the Shaman 2. Thus, you get more rubber to aid your climbing and added protection to your back foot against bumps and bruises.

Evolv Shaman Rubber

Feature Rubber

Evolv uses the Trax SAS rubber on the Shaman 2. It is a popular rubber compound with the reputation of being the stickiest in the market. Trax SAS is a staple on Evolv climbing shoes.

Trax SAS rubber is an excellent choice since it is versatile, delivering high performance on plastic and rocks. It also works well in different temperatures. The only downside to Trax SAS rubber is that it is a very soft kind of rubber.

Because of this attribute, it is susceptible to wear at a faster rate. These shoes are therefore not for intense bouldering schedules, or you may end up with holes. Evolv fits the Shaman 2 with 4.2mm of SAS and 1.6mm of the midsole. 

This is quite a lot, especially when you compare it against the La Sportiva Solution, which is the yardstick of performance climbing shoes. La Sportiva solution uses 4mm of rubber and has a 1.1mm midsole which is 205 less than what you get from the Shaman.

While the thickness provides more comfort, it takes away a huge chunk of sensitivity. You will struggle to feel the rock under your feet, unlike in other competing performance shoes. 

Feature Comfort and Fit

This is the one area where Shaman 2 excels. The split tongue design makes it easy for you to put on and take off the shoes. It also gives you way more comfort even if you tighten the Velcro straps.

The synthetic upper comes with a suede texture that further adds to your feet' overall comfort. The Shaman has a wide toe box making it an excellent fit for people with normal to wide feet. 

Evolv Shaman Rock Climbing Shoes Explained (1)

Source: evolvsports.com

The brand recommends using the same size as your street shoe if you want an aggressive fit. If you want a casual fit, then you can go half a size up. Ideally, opt for the aggressive fit since, after a couple of climbing sessions, the shoe breaks in and stretches almost half a size.

Enjoy the Legendary Performance with Next-level Comfort

The newly redesigned Shaman has an improved fit in terms of engineered comfort and performance with more toe rubber for toe hooking and an inset front strap for better medial side toe scumming. The "Love Bump" and "Knuckle Box" Technology creates the perfect downturned toe fit for powerful edging, pulling and toe hooking.

The Verdict

We find the Evolv Shaman 2 climbing shoe to be highly specialized. It seems to be specifically designed to conquer steep walls and all kinds of vertical overhangs. In achieving this, (which it does excellently), it loses out on aspects most other leading shoes do with minimum fuss especially edging and smearing.

This quality in itself is not a bad thing; it just means it restricts its utility and is not the right shoe for someone looking for a more versatile climbing shoe. 

However, if you find your interests mostly aligned to the pursuits of Chris Sharman, you will hardly go wrong with the Shaman 2. Keep an eye on the intensity of your adventure, though, because the lush comfort can easily make you forget how fast it can wear out.

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About the author 


Bernice often jokes that she is better at climbing than walking. With avid parents of climbing, her first encounter with the high vertical rock walls was at the age of one. Her favorite style of climbing is bouldering.

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