One of the best selling climbing shoes in the world. Designed for beginners, but hold its own on hard-core climbs too. Take a look at our full review!
Evolv Defy Review
The Evolv Defy are competing in the category of best entry-level shoe. They target beginner climbers, especially those looking to hone their skills in the gym. Evolv claims they are one of the best-selling shoes in the world. This isn’t hard to belive considering the shoe’s all-round ability very attractive price.
The Defy do not perform that well outdoors unfortunately. Their durability on rock is not as good as other competitors out there. Mine barely lasted a few months of moderate climbing before a strap ripped out. That should not deter buyers who also climb indoors however. They are still excellent for crushing routes in the gym, whether you are a beginner or looking to extend the life of your rock shoes.
Like any good entry-level shoe, the Defy are not aggressive and are not designed for any one type of climbing. That is not necessarily an issue as they will adapt to climbs of most styles, provided they are not too technical. They have good sensitivity and work 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!
1) Toe Box
You can’t ask for everything from a generalist shoe. The Defy offer 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 are not aggressive and make toe work rather hard. 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 do 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 are a good option for bouldering, which usually requires more heel work 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 use 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.
4) Comfort and Fit
Like most entry-level climbing shoes from reputable brands, the Defy are comfortable and easy to break in. They have two Velcro straps and fit nice and tight. 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 it had not ripped. I see the Defy as an excellent gym shoe. At their price, they’re a good deal.
The Defy are breathable, and if you take them off between climbs, you should not have issues with odours. That’s always a good thing. Who knows who you will meet at the gym?!
For climbers who prefer shoes with laces, the Defy unfortunately only comes with Velcro straps.
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.