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We’re kicking off a new feature here at The SEND. We’re sure you all know the type – the consummate gear hoarder, the climber who just HAS to have the newest gadget, the next high tech piece of equipment. We know about 500, but one in particular stands out. His insatiable desire to climb in every shoe ever conceived has left his closets full and his wallet empty. This man has vast knowledge (or at least opinion) and we aim to share that knowledge with you!
We introduce to you – The Shoe JORge.
This past month I was given the chance to test drive the latest performer in the Evolv Sharma shoe series, the “Shaman,” and might I say that they trumped my expectations. Contrary to initial perception, the Shamans don’t rely on the indelible climbing record of their creator to win you over, but rather on their innovative climbing shoe technology and their seemingly paradoxical fit that blends comfort and performance to make them your go-to sending shoe in your climbing arsenal.
The Shamans, designed by Chris Sharma, were constructed off an entirely new last –the last is the foot shape around which a shoe is built- with a closure system of three opposing Velcro straps that allow the shoes to accommodate a large range of foot sizes. I have witnessed both wide and narrow footed climbers wearing the Shamans with no dead space in the shoes due to the Velcro closure’s ability to cinch the shoe tight in the right spots. I was most psyched about the fit which, with my wide feet, led me to size the Shaman the same as my street shoes. All my toes were snug inside the toe box –as opposed to nightmarishly thin shoes which have my foot rotated and my pinky toe pointed out to the side of the shoe. I have to admit that the first time I wore them, my feet were screaming in pain, but when I tried them on the second time, I found that the material had loosened from the heat of climbing to allow for an easy slip on feel and hugged fit. I’d recommend for the thin footed to start at their street shoe size and work down to whittle away at the dead space. Make sure that your heel fills the heel cup. When wearing the Shamans, the first thing you’ll notice is the curved midsole under the forefoot known as the “love bump.” This feature arches the toes into a downturned position of power, while filling in the empty space behind the toes to achieve both performance and comfort. The area above the big toe is shaped in such a way that accommodates the “hammer toe” position of the big toe thus saving overzealous boulderers from cramming into undersized shoes to achieve the same effect. This feature, known as the “knuckle box”, combined with the love bump makes these shoes great for steep bouldering and sport climbing.
The Shamans utilize synthetic materials that prevent stretching but also allowed my feet to breathe. Most noticeable was the über-soft tongue material which hugs the top of your foot allowing you to cinch down the Velcro for serious sends. The Variable Thickness Rand (VTR) technology equips the Shamans with extra rubber in the toe areas, which is especially vulnerable to wearing, ultimately adding to the shoes durability. A month of hard gym climbing has left the sharp edges intact but elsewhere showed signs of wear as the orange Evolv lettering had began to peel off and the toe hook rubber on the right shoe had started to delaminate, a weak point in the shoe that I have seen before, possibly due to the adhesives used by Evolv but is nothing crazy glue can’t fix. The rubber on the Shamans was initially slick, just like a set of new tires, but developed grip as they saw more use becoming as sticky as you need them to be. However, I have definitely experienced stickier. The stiffness of the rubber made the shoes prone to skating when climbing on plastic, but reviews from climbers that have used the Shamans on the outdoor stage attest to their reliability to stick where it counts. The heels and toe rubber allowed the shoes to hook great, contrary to my initial inspection, which felt the heel rubber to be in excess. It was ultimately the right amount to allow for sensitive heel placement
The culmination of comfortable performance and innovative technology is what makes the Shamans a great candidate as your high end shoe for the hardest climbs. The sharp edges turn dime-edge dances on faces into effortless walks through the park and the downturn is just enough to excel at both steep and technical terrain. If you’re longing for a shoe that can handle your unorthodox hand-foot drop-knee beta, be sure to equip yourself with the Shamans to silence the nay sayers as you top out your project.