Breaking in/stretching climbing shoes

The excitement of unboxing a new pair climbing shoes often nosedives as soon as you put them on.  In some cases, all that is required is a bit of breaking in, so that the shoe gets a little more flexible.  In others, you might have just gone a bit too small, and you need them to stretch to make keeping them on for more than five minutes even bearable.  My Shaman mk.1s were a case of the latter, and I wore them for six weeks without them easing up at all.  I would wear them whilst watching TV to try to hurry up the process.  No joy.  Naturally, I turned to the internet for solutions.

I tried the ‘stuffing them with wet newspaper’ trick.  No budge.  I tried the ‘take a hot shower with them on’ trick.  Nothing.  Then, a friend recommended shoe shapers.


Shoe shapers, if you’re unfamiliar, are those things your Dad used to put in his favourite pair of brogues to keep them on point.  They are, as it goes, also the perfect solution to ill-fitting climbing shoes.  Just pop them in and leave them in overnight.  Try them the next day, see how they feel.  I left them in my Shaman mk.1s for the best part of a week (longer for the left foot, given that it was tighter) to get the perfect fit.  Predominantly-synthetic shoes, like the Shamans, will still have enough stretch in them for this to work.  Give it a go!




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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Repairing holes in climbing shoes

I love my Shaman mk.2s.  I don’t love that I’m on my third pair in 15 months.  I’m a toe dragger, so I’m to blame really.  I tend to get a bit more life out of each pair by patching them once the rubber is worn.  Here’s my personal recipe!


  • Superglue
  • Rubber glue
  • Wooden stick/skewer
  • Sandpaper

Step 1: Make sure the area to be patched is relatively clean.


Step 2: Mix 4 parts of rubber glue to 1 part of superglue.  Stir well to combine.  I find that the superglue gives it some rigidity, and without it the patched area has too much give.


Step 3: Apply to worn area, making sure to get a smooth layer.  Leave to dry for 12 hrs.


Step 4: Lightly sand with a fine grit sand paper.  You don’t want a glossy, slick surface on your shoes when you’re next pushing off that tiny foothold!