Edging - 7.5/10
Smearing - 8/10
Steep Terrain - 10/10
Comfort - 7.5/10
Sensitivity - 8/10
Value For Money - 8/10
- Amazing heel & toe hook
- Very sensitive
- Master of the overhangs
- Secure velcro closure
- Painful to break-in
- Struggles with small edges
- No low variation
Best For: Bouldering – especially on steep problems
Summary: Step aside Solutions, the Agro has fast become my go-to bouldering shoe. While they feel at home on the overhangs, they are also more than capable of handling your vertical problems. I would suggest leaving the Agros at home for your next trad expedition though.
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Evolv Agro Review
After four years of swearing by the Solutions as my go-to bouldering shoe, I decided it was time for a change. While there were a few contenders competing to be next in line – including the Instinct VSR, Five Ten Hiangle, and the Butora Acro – I decided to give the Evolv Agros a shot.
Evolv has been tinkering with the Agro design for over a decade now. The first edition was released in 2010, at a time when aggressive climbing shoes were just starting to hit the market.
The Agro was briefly discounted in 2013, much to the disappointment of its loyal followers (who even started a petition to bring the shoe back.) Thankfully, the Agro made a comeback in 2015 and was destined to replace the Nexxo as Evolv’s most aggressive performance shoe. The Agro came out of the gate swinging, energized with a new design that included that massive toe rand that the Agro is now known for. In 2018, the Agro received another makeover which is now the most recent version of this shoe.
While the Agro doesn’t have the reputation of some of the shoes I mentioned previously, this shoe has some awesome features that are fast making these my new favorite shoes for bouldering and steep sport climbing. Yes, they look a tad bulky and they are plastered in rubber, but this shoe has proven itself with laser precision and remarkably impressive sensitivity.
In this Evolv Agro review, I will go over some of the features that make this model, what Evolv refers to as, the ‘ultimate high-end climbing shoe’.
Firstly, let’s address the big rubber elephant in the room. Yes, the gigantic toe rand might be a tad excessive, but it is also one of the features that drew me to the Agro.
The toe rand is a lattice of micro indents on molded Trax SAS rubber that covers the entire upper of the shoe. This massive toe rand makes the most of Evolv’s VTR (variable thickness rand). This essentially means they put thicker rubber in high-contact areas to increase the longevity of the shoe, and thinner rubber in low-contact areas to reduce pressure spots.
While a lot of the rubber on the toe rand will probably never touch rock, I found the shoe to be brilliant for technical hooking and scumming in both the gym and my local schist boulder field.
As you would expect the moderately asymmetric shape -combined with its pointed toe – is brilliant for pulling pockets on overhung routes. The Agro edging ability is somewhat hindered by its aggressive downturn and soft rubber but I have still managed to find a few delicate crimps and flakes. The toe box is fairly wide, so if you have a fairly narrow foot, this might not be the shoe for you.
At a glance, the heel looks fairly standard, but there’s a lot more going on here than meets the eye.
For starters, the rubber that runs up the back of the heel (dubbed the ‘Dark Spine’) is a brilliant addition that not only helps stick a solid heel hook but also protects your calcaneus bone. This design also helps keep the heel cup rigid and minimizes compression, an issue seen in a lot of soft-soled shoes.
In contrast to the wide-toe box, the heel is very narrow, and I found the tension rand sat pretty high on my heel in comparison to the Solutions 3D molded heel cup. That said, the rand does a great job at securing the heel and once broken in, the high rand didn’t bother me.
Evolv uses 4.2 mm of Trax SAS rubber on the Agro sole. And while 4.2mm is fairly thick for this style of shoe, the SAS rubber is unbelievably soft so this shoe still retains a great amount of sensitivity.
I admit the Trax rubber is also one of the softest (and stickiest) climbing rubbers I have ever tested. But like all soft rubber, the trade-off for this physics-defying friction is the durability of the sole. Even after a few uses, I started to see some pretty heart-breaking wear on the rubber.
On the upside, that soft rubber and split sole do give the Agro some degree of ability for smearing. But remember, this is an aggressive performance shoe, so this probably isn’t the shoe you want to work your slab projects in.
The Agro also makes the most of Evolv’s new Tension Power System. This tensioned midsole helps maintain the downturned profile while retaining a brilliant degree of sensitivity. After 3 months of fairly intense use, the Agro has still maintained its aggressive – slightly mean-looking – downturn.
Comfort and Fit
When doing my research, it seemed the consensus was to upsize BIG with the Agro. In fact, I had even heard people going 2 full sizes up from your street shoe. This seemed pretty crazy to me, so I settled for buying two pairs to test this. One pair was 1 US size up, and the other 1.5 US sizes up from my street shoe size (10 US). While I was certainly happy I followed the advice to upsize, I found that the 1 size up struck a perfect balance between performance and comfort.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t like wearing a fluffy pair of Ugg slippers. They are still very tight, but tight enough that – once broken in – I was really happy with the fit. Comparing the size to the Solutions, I wear a size 8.5 US, and a 10 US in the Agro.
The break-in period of the Evolv is going to depend massively on how you size them. If you are looking for a performance fit, be prepared for a rough break-in period – it will take time to stretch all that rubber. And even then you will be lucky if you see even a half-size in the stretch.
If you are like me and are looking for a delicate balance between performance and comfort, you will probably find that the Agro’s break in fairly quickly. After about two weeks of climbing (6 sessions in total), I found that the shoe has molded really nicely to my foot.
Much like the Solutions, the Agro uses a single velcro strap for the closure system. I was a big fan of the Solutions Fast Lacing System – until I used the Agro’s. At a glance, the velcro straps on both models look very similar. But the winning feature on the Agro is the adjustable strap, which really lets you fine-tune the fit to get rid of any dead spots.
The Agros also use a padded split tongue which adds that little bit of extra comfort, which you really appreciate after a few hours of bouldering.
In honesty, I have been really surprised with the Agro. Before purchasing, I expected this shoe to be similar to a Rolex. Cool to look at, but useless at doing the job it is meant for. But even after my first day of testing, I knew these shoes meant business.
So if you are sick of the Solutions, or are just looking for a specialty shoe that will help you conquer your steep sport and bouldering projects, why not give the Agro a try? I think you might be pleasantly surprised.
Thanks for reading our Evolv Agro review. Feel free to fire us an email if you have any questions. Happy climbing!
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