One of the best-selling climbing shoes ever made. Designed for beginners the Defy is an all-arounder capable of holding its own on a wide range of terrain.
Indoor - 7/10
Outdoor - 6/10
Sensitivity - 6/10
Comfort - 9/10
Durability - 7/10
Value For Money - 8/10
- Affordably priced for beginners
- Comfortable Neutral shape
- Sticky and durable Trax SAS rubber
- Vegan friendly
- Entry-level performance
The Defy is a beginner classic brought to you by everyone’s favorite American climbing brand. This is a popular choice for brand-new beginners looking for a budget-friendly shoe. While You will reach the limitations of the Defy pretty fast, it has everything you need to build confidence and hone your skills as you start your journey into the vertical world of climbing.
Last updated on May 6th, 2023 at 03:00 am
The Evolv Defy is undoubtedly one of the most popular entry-level climbing shoes ever. The shoe is built for beginner climbers, especially those who are looking to hone their skills in the gym. Evolv claims they are one of the best-selling climbing shoes in the world, which isn’t hard to believe considering the shoe’s all-around ability and very attractive price tag.
Like any good entry-level model, the Defy is a neutral shoe, which allows it to adapt to a variety of terrain. They will adapt to climbs of most styles, provided they are not too technical. They have good sensitivity and work surprisingly well on overhangs. They have plenty of padding, so crack climbs are also an option if the shoe is not too tight on your toes. If you opted for a tight fit or if you have wide feet, prepare to suffer a little on cracks, or make sure your foot placement is spot on.
The Defy does not perform that well outdoors, unfortunately. Their durability on rock is not as good as some of the other outdoor climbing shoes. Mine barely lasted a few months of moderate climbing before a strap blew out. That should not deter those who also climb indoors, however. They are still excellent for cruising routes in the gym, whether you are a beginner, or even a more experienced climber looking for something a little more comfortable for training days.
You can’t ask for everything from a generalist shoe. The Defy offers a lot of good features in a variety of areas, but it never gets excellent. The toe box is perhaps the weakest link. While it is not horrible, it leaves a little to be desired.
As mentioned previously, the Defy is a flat-lasted shoe that makes intricate edging a little tricky. The shape of the toe box is likely designed for comfort and the shoe is not as stiff as others in the same category. This makes staying on smaller holds more difficult. Edging is definitely not their strong point. This can be good if it forces you to build impeccable footwork. If you don’t get there, or if you are just starting, you will find some foot holds a bit difficult.
The Defy does offer good sensibility, which is good for face climbs, slabs, and almost all gym routes. The toe box is more on the pointy side. You will need to try the shoe on to see how this fits. Climbers with wider feet may not like this feature.
If I felt a bit disappointed with these shoes, it certainly wasn’t because of the way the heel fit. They were one of the most comfortable shoes I owned, even though I bought them a bit short for increased aggressiveness. They were easy to put in and the foot slid nicely into place. With the two straps, the heel felt great. The rubber felt quite average, but the Defy heel hooks surprisingly well for an entry-level shoe.
Overall, the heel felt like a strong point of this shoe. The issues are more with the toe box and durability. The Defy is a good option for bouldering, which usually requires more heelwork than rope climbing. That is why this shoe is a particularly good option for indoor climbing. If I get them again one day, they will be my dedicated gym shoe.
The Defy uses 4.2mm of Trax rubber with a 1mm half-length midsole. The thin rubber makes them fairly soft and sensitive for a shoe of this category. Edging is not optimal due to the shape of the toe box, but the good sensitivity makes these a good option for slabby routes.
I mostly used this shoe for outdoor climbing and while it performed reasonably well, a strap ripped out after 6 months. I feel this shoe is more suited for the gym. It will last longer and be able to tackle most routes well. The rubber will also last longer. The rubber is not really an issue with these shoes, unless you use them heavily outside. The problem is more with the toe box.
Comfort and Fit
Like most entry-level climbing shoes from reputable brands, the Defy is comfortable and easy to break in. They have two Velcro straps that fit nicely and offer a secure fit. They can also be bought one size too small to make them more aggressive. That’s what I did. They still fit nicely, but they have to be taken off between climbs. One friend who has these is able to keep them on for full sessions at the gym.
While I typically always go for shoes with laces, I will admit the Velcro straps were great with these shoes. They made a good snug fit. It’s a shame one strap ripped out on a crack route. I would still be using these shoes now if they had not ripped. I see the Defy as an excellent gym shoe. At their price, they’re a good deal.
The Defy is breathable, and if you take them off between climbs, you should not have issues with odors. That’s always a good thing. Who knows who you will meet at the gym? For climbers who prefer shoes with laces, you’re in luck. While the shoe was originally released as a velcro-only model, the line has now been expanded to include a laced version.
I mostly used my Evolv Defy shoes on outdoor routes and they didn’t last me long enough for my liking. One of the straps ripped on a crack climb. The rubber also showed early signs of wear. Even though I didn’t get to enjoy these shoes for as long as I wanted to, they might still be the right shoe for some climbers.
The Defy are good shoes for beginners. They are affordable, easy to break in, and easy to put on and off with the Velcro straps. That’s usually a hit with new climbers. If you’re a new climber looking to try climbing in a gym and don’t want your feet to hurt too much, these might be the shoes for you.
More experienced climbers might still enjoy the Defy because of their affordability. While I don’t recommend them for outdoor climbing, they make a good pair for gym climbing if you want to preserve your more aggressive – and expensive – shoes for your outdoor outings.
Overall, I would recommend the Defy for climbers of all grades looking for a cheap gym shoe, or as a first shoe for beginners. We hope you have enjoyed our Evolv Defy review. Happy climbing!