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Climbing Shoes

Evolv Kronos

Comfortable, technical all-arounder

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MSRP: $130

Flat. Yup. I like that.

Been there, done that with shoes that hurt. This wearer is into soft, comfortable shoes, and not into having to keep taking them off, say, between problems at the crag or gym. Plus, the reality is that gyms are also community centers, with a lot of impromptu standing and socializing, whether you want to or not. My feet sank into these shoes, which the manufacturer defines as anatomically engineered, and I didn’t have to think about them again.

Originally out in 2016, the Kronos has been updated this year with higher coverage (10 mm worth) up your heel for better heel hooking. It also has a lighter, breathable tongue mesh. The shoe has a split tongue that makes it easy to pull on (everybody’s least favorite moment with shoes), and it has three closures but only two pull straps, one of which closes two of the loops and gloms to a large Velcro patch for adjustability. The shoes snug well around my narrow feet, and would accommodate a wider foot; you just get a smaller Velcro landing zone.

The Kronos is a nice all arounder, for use in the gym or outdoor climbing. It’s a simple, clean design. Asymmetrical, it has a pointed toe, just slightly down cambered, and a variable-thickness rand, meaning it is thinner at pressure points and thicker around the toe areas, which get a lot of traffic. It edges well, and I found the bendy midsole and TRAX high-friction rubber feel to be solid on slick, slabby blobs. Good solid heel cup.

If you want an aggro shoe for pulling in on super-steep stuff, this is not the shoe for you. Me, these are my comfy gym shoes, and well-suited to a long session (including standing around) or long day out. They are often called intermediate shoes, but that gets into the philosophical question of what an intermediate even is these days. Let’s say strong intermediate.

Established in 2003 and based in Buena Park, California, Evolv prides itself on vegan designs, and this is one, with Synthratek VX uppers. It fit me per street-shoe size, but if you like tight shoes, you might go half a size down. Expect little stretching beyond the initial breaking-in. The price seems fair for a shoe that, after several months of use, still looks whole. Broken in but unbroken.

—Alison Osius

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