evolv.com | $145 | ★★★★
The Shaman is built on an asymmetric downturned last, with extra room built into the toe box for the big-toe knuckle. Though aggressively crafted for mean, steep toe hooks, the Shaman is surprisingly comfortable. There very little dead space in the arch and heel—which seems to be one of the hardest things for a shoe company to nail, but also the most important. Three opposing Velcro closure straps—my favorite design (and one copied from other company’s shoes)—also help minimize this dead space by creating a secure, snug fit that wraps the shoe around your foot from both sides.
The Shaman is really soft, so having strong toes will help. For such a soft shoe, however, there is too much rubber on the sole. With 4.2mm of Evolve’s proprietary Trax High Friction Rubber underfoot, the sole tends to roll up when dime-edging. I filed down the rubber edge a bit and that helped.
People have mixed opinions about Trax. I found it to be neither the stickiest nor least sticky rubber out there. It’s just average.
Also, beware of the sizing. I had to size up by a full size to get a pair that fit my foot out of the box. However, after a month of testing, the Shaman has stretched, so I wish I had originally only gone up by a half size.
Bottom line: the Shaman offers both comfort and performance, and excels for bouldering and sport.
• Downturned asymmetric profile with “knuckle box.”
• Synthetic upper, leather forefoot and foot bed, cotton heel.
• Opposing Velcro closure straps provide secure fit and eliminate dead space.
• 4.2mm of Trax High Friction Rubber on sole.
• Sizes: 4—13.5.