Home > Indoor Climbing

Evolv’s Best Gets Better – The Evolv Phantom LV

New for 2022, the Phantom LV improves upon the Daniel Woods classic in this latest release from Evolv Climbing

Let’s begin with the colour. While the all-black scheme of the original has its appeal, the high-contrast design of the LV makes new Phantom an eye-catching addition the Evolv range. Though purchasing on appearance alone is a mistake, a nice-looking climbing shoe is a place start. They are yours. You want them to look nice.

Evolv Phantom LV

The Redesign

Aesthetics aside, the Phantom LV has undergone a substantial redesign to make it better for the lighter climber. The original Phantom was a masterpiece, but its stiff design refused lighter climbers all access to pliability. By contrast, the new LV’s thinner, split midsole bends in a way even heavier climbers will enjoy.

If the original Phantom were a razor blade, then the LV is a paring knife. It offers all the sharpness of the razor, while providing the flexibility require to move precisely through less rigid terrain. The midsole gives the climber the opportunity to drop their heel and press through the forefoot to better excel on sloping holds in an overhang.

Still, the LV is not an indoor slab shoe. It is too downturned and rigid for the discipline. However, it can push and pull on the sloping volumes and holds found commonly in indoor climbing. Outside, the LV can still be accessed in the same way as the original. It hunkers down on small footholds as the tension band pushes the toe through the Variable Thickness Rand found at the front of the shoe.

The rand wraps the front of the toes and is thicker by the point of the shoe and thinner at prospective hotspots. Hotspots are parts of the climbing shoe where extra pressure is exerted. For example, the knuckling locations around the outside edge, the location where the toes crimp within the shoe, is thinner than that the front of the shoe. This protects the toes when pressure is exerted.

Evolv Phantom LV

This is a good thing as the Phantom carries a lot of tension from the heel through the toe. As such the LV along with the original each push hard into tiny foot holds in an overhang. While a flatter shoe may better suit the slab climber, the phantom will excel outdoors on most any low angle climb. It is only when things become crystally, as in Squamish, that the Phantom struggles on low angle climbing. Limestone, despite its slickness, is rarely a true friction slab and so the Phantom excels.

Additionally, the low-volume shape gives climbers limited lateral slip while retaining comfort. Even as a wide-footed climber, I prefer the low-volume for the precision in provides. The fast-lacing Velcro system is durable and adds to the tight fit of the shoe. Although this lacing system is shared with the original, it pairs more tightly with the narrow forefoot of the LV.

While the original does provide a tight fit regardless, performance boulderers will always desire snugness for greater response on the wall.

Performance

As such, this shoe certainly can be recommended for the heavier climber. It is still stiffer than most performance bouldering shoes on the market. Furthermore, the flexibility of the shoe allows the climber to pull against the shape of the shoe for better tension on a foot hold in an overhang.

By pushing against the shape of the shoe, that shoe passively increases the pressure on the foot hold. This occurs with the higher volume model as well, but greater pressure is required for the same effect. This is a challenging ask on steeply overhung boulder problems where the abdomen is already engaged. As such, the LV is the obvious choice for the lighter climber and a tactical choice for a heavier climber as less pressure is required for the same effect.

Evolv Phantom LV

With these differences described, it becomes easier to look at the LV as a climbing shoe all its own.

The 4.2 mm of TRAX SAS rubber is sticky, only lacking in true soft-shoe sensitivity due to its thickness. The heel is reliable but not sticky. With that said, the shoe moves consistently in all its placements. That means that you can learn how to use the shoe for it will respond the same way each time you use it.

While the heel lacks the friction of truly soft bouldering shoes, it is precise and very easy to use. It is much better at positional heel hooks than pure friction heel hooks but will do either. Its greatest strength comes from the toe. The Phantom LV will dominate anything with an in cut, regardless of size.

As such, the LV is one of the best board climbing shoes available, surpassing its peers from other companies in this area. Only the Theory and the Drago feature the same strength as the Phantom on a training wall. (With that said, the Katana Lace and the Drone also come close).

Furthermore, the shoe is durable and robust enough for a resole. The heel tabs will not snap nor will the lacing system. Overall, the shoe is a monster, built for projecting boulder problems on a board and outdoors.