Evolv Shaman

The Evolv Shaman 2 is a comfortable performance shoe that gives you the tools necessary to tackle the more vertically inclined routes/problems that you are working on.

Ocun Ozone
  • Performance: 65% 65%
  • Sensitivity: 60% 60%
  • Comfort: 85% 85%
  • Value For Money 80% 80%
  • Total Score 70% 70%

We Like

 Their comfortable
The “Love Bump”
The heel 
 Trax SAS rubber

We Don’t Like

 Bad at edging
The fast wear of the rubber

Built For: Bouldering, Sport Climbing

Summary: Anything Chris Sharma attracts attention and that included his line of signature shoes with Evolv. These shoes are designed to crush those vertically inclined problems their creator is known for and do it in comfort and style.  The unique shape of the Shaman takes some getting used to, even if you are no stranger to aggressive shoes 

Evolv Shaman Review

The Shaman, designed in partnership with one of the biggest names in the climbing shoe world – the legendary Chris Sharma. These Evolv shoes are a regular sight at bouldering gyms across the world. The Shaman isn’t exactly a new shoe though, with the first edition hitting the shelves in 2011. With the shoe’s continued success as one of Evolv’s most popular models, the shoe got an upgrade in 2016. Improvements include; a new color scheme, a better fitting (non-achilles crushing) heel, a bigger toe rand and more space between the velcro straps and the tip to improve your toe hooking game. The new version of the Shaman are also made from vegan-friendly materials.

If the shoe fits, it also provides a surprising amount of comfort compared to other high-performance shoes, in part contributed to their triple velcro closure and cushioned split tongue. 

Typical of Sharma’s climbing style, these shoes feel at home on steep, overhung walls. The shoe sports an aggressive profile, a deep knuckle box and ‘love bump’ that all contribute to this shoe’s ability to take on any monster overhang you throw at them. While they perform great on the steep stuff, you will most likely be disappointed with their ability on your technical and vertical projects, as they lack the smearing and edging ability of other leading performance shoes.

As with most Evolv shoes, these shoes can start to smell pretty bad, so I would recommend either giving them a frequent wash or getting yourself a pair of boot bananas to keep the stench at bay.

In this Evolv Shaman review, I will share with you a few things I have learned using these shoes at both the gym and at the local granite crag over the last year or so.

1) Toe Box

The “Knuckle Box” and “Love Bump” are the standout features of this toe box. These features were specifically designed for the Shaman.

The Knuckle box is essentially a raised area in the upper, which allows your big toe to rest naturally in a curled position, whereas the love bump is a spoon-shaped indent in the sole that fills in any dead space left by the knuckle box. This design makes your toes sit in a crimp position, delivering more power to your toes for edging standing on those micro edges. It’s essentially how your toes would sit if you crammed your foot into a small pair of shoes – minus the pain. 

This design is like marmite; some people love it, others hate it. And I admit, it does take some time to get used to. While it helps the shoe perform reallywell on pockets and edges, I find this feature hinders the shoes ability to smear as it reduces the surface area of the sole.

On the toe rand, you will find plenty of sticky rubber for toe hooking. The Shaman uses a VTR (variable thickness rand) to add extra rubber in high-wear areas to increase the durability of the shoe. In addition, Shaman fans will also notice that the velcro straps are higher up on the shoe than the old model (giving you more space for toe hooking) and are also slightly off centre, which helps keep the velcro out of the way whilst toe scumming. It also helps the shoe perform better in cracks than some of its high performance competitors.

Evolv Shaman Toe
Evolv Shaman Heel

2) Heel

The heel on the original Shaman was one of the shoe’s biggest disappointments. Not only did it relentlessly dig into your Achilles, but it also didn’t provide much in the way of technical heel hooking.

So, when Evolv released the redesigned version in 2016, it was obvious they had gone back to the drawing board on this one. And I am happy to report their hard work has paid off. The new heel cup is softer and provides incredible suction on your foot. This, combined with the new tension rand translates into a better fitting heel that is really secure with minimal movement. It also doesn’t feel like it’s serving your Achilles tendon, which is a nice change. 

The sides of the heel cup are dotted with circular indents to improve friction and aid the shoe’s ability for technical heel hooks. The Trax rubber also extends higher up the back of the new Shaman’s, which not only gives you a little extra rubber to play with, but also helps protect the back of your foot from bumps and bruises.

3) Rubber

The famous Trax SAS rubber is used as the main rubber compound on the Shaman. For those who are already familiar with Evolv shoes, you will know this is one of their most popular rubber compounds and is also one of the stickiest on the market. We at Climbing Shoe Review, are big fans of the SAS, and find it to work well on both plastic and rock, across a range of different temperatures.

Evolv uses 4.2mm of SAS, supported by a 1.6mm midsole. If we compare this to the La Sportiva Solution (the benchmark of performance shoes) which uses 4mm of XS Grip 2 and a 1.1mm midsole, the Shaman sole is whopping 15% thicker than the Solution. Now, that might not sound like much, but that’s a fairly substantial difference. That additional rubber reduces the sensitivity and makes it harder to feel the rock under your feet compared to it’s high performance competitors. 

As the Trax SAS is a very soft rubber, you will probably find the durability of your Shamans won’t be great either. After climbing twice a week for just under a year in these shoes, I have two holes in one shoe and one in the other right at the tip of the toe box.

Evolv Shaman Rubber

4) Comfort and Fit

The Shaman 2 is arguably the most comfortable high-performance climbing shoe. The split tongue doesn’t just make the shoe easy to take on and off, but it also gives you a ridiculous amount of comfort, even when you fasten those velcro straps really tight. The synthetic upper also has a suede texture to it, adding to the overall comfort of the shoe.

In terms of fit, I would recommend this shoe for climbers with normal to wider feet as the toe box is fairly wide. Evolv recommends sizing the Shaman to your street shoe size for performance or half a size up for casual fit. My street shoe size is 9.5 (UK) and I opted to fit them true to my street size. I found this to be the perfect size for me. It’s also worth remembering that like every climbing shoe, after a few sessions these will start to break in, and stretch out, potentially up to a half size.

The Verdict

The Evolv Shaman 2 is a comfortable performance shoe that gives you the tools necessary to tackle the more vertically inclined routes/problems that you are working on. So long as you use these shoes for what they were intended for, you will be a happy camper (or climber) with redesigned Evolv Shaman.  If you are looking for an all-rounder that will give you the ability to edge, smear and give you unshakable confidence on slab, this probably isn’t the shoe for you.

We hope you have enjoyed this Evolv Shaman review. Remember, even if you are ready to take on some tasty overhangs, remember these shoes don’t make Chris Sharma. Maybe hold off on climbing Es Pontas for now.