Reviews

Review: Evolv Shaman 2 (Kai limited edition)

My old pair of Shaman 2’s finally gave up the ghost this week.  I’ve loved these shoes and was keen to just get the same again.  Everywhere seems to be sold out of them, with the exception of a couple of shops that are stocking the Kai Lightener limited edition in my size.

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It’s the same shoe with the exception of the black, red and blue colour-way.  The colours aren’t as bold as they seem in some photos – in truth its a fairly subtle looking shoe.  But I’m not too fussed about how these look.  For me, these shoes are everything I look for from a climbing shoe in terms of performance and comfort.

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The shoe has an aggressive downturn, and several design features that will keep you on the wall on even the steepest of overhangs.  The heel design eliminates dead space to ensure you can maximise power through your legs.  Similarly, the ‘love bump’  in the midsole fills deadspace around the ball of your foot to better support your toes and keep them in place.  The three velcro straps, which run in opposing directions, offer a tailored fit for your foot that is snug but never restrictive.  I’ve worn one-strap shoes in the past, and for me the more straps the better.  In fact, these offer the kind of fit usually only found from a laced shoe.  The ‘knuckle box’ for the toes directs power through your folded toes without compromising on comfort.  A large toe patch is great for toe-hooking.

IMG_4350 My experience with the original Shaman shoe was that they carried much of the benefits as the 2s with regards to performance, but were brutal to wear.  The main gripe from me was that the stitching around the toes would dig into my feet.  With the Shaman 2, Evolv maintained all the key design features (whilst improving on them) that now delivers a remarkable level of comfort, even straight out of the box.

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If there is a downside, its on slabs.  The rubber is grippy and holds up great over time, but a shoe like this is always going to perform better on anything overhanging.

For sizing, I would recommend going down a half-size (UK in my case) from your regular shoe size.  You needn’t go painfully small with these – the design features will deliver on performance, and you can’t expect the snythetic uppers to stretch much over time.  But as always, best to try these on first or buy from a company with a flexible returns policy.  Some of the shoes design features – particularly the ‘love bump’ – might not be everyone, so see what you think.  For me, these innovations felt a little funny at first, but all that disappears once you start climbing in them.

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All in all, this is a perfect shoe for any steep sport climbing or bouldering, and is certainly the best Evolv shoe I have tried.

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