While Colin Duffy made history with the Shaman Velcro at Innsbruck, Paul Robinson returns to strength in the latest lace-up from the California climbing brand. The redesign of Evolv’s most famous climbing shoe led to the release of four brand new Shamans. Today, we’re talking about the brand new Shaman Lace.
The Shaman Lace is possibly the most aggressively downturned shoe in the Evolv line. The highly arched mid-foot pulls with asymmetric design of the shoe to provide more control in the overhang. The power platform excels on the sloping or subtle in-cuts of a MoonBoard, and edges well off even the most worn out kickboard foot holds.
The stiff forefoot struggle on wooden holds, but the precise nature of the toe replaces smearing with toeing in. The toe cuts to the back of the climbing hold allowing for control, while the pointed edge provides consistent performance between attempts across the session.
The severe arch of the shoe weakens it on slab, but the consistency with which it operates makes it adaptable to most environments. It is proficient slab shoe, but it will struggle on crystal-based slab where a softer shoe might excel. Indoors, it will complete volume based slabs, but it is not the shoe’s specialty. Instead. The Velcro would better approach that problem.
Although the front of the shoe is hooked, the structure of front sole is consistent with the rest of the evolve range. As such, this a premium edging shoe that excels on high-pressure foot placements. Outdoors, the rubber grips, propelling the climber higher. On limestone, the rubber does not grip so much as dig into the back of the greasy in-cuts of the rock type.
It differs from the Oracle in three notable manners. First, the narrower heel feels better. It is more powerful and more precise. The shape of the new Shamans’ heels is one of the best on the market and is particularly attuned to powerful edge-based heel hooks. The general flexibility of the shoe, laterally, helps on more smeary heels when compared the more rigid Phantom.
The lacing system also differs from the older model. The laces thread low on the forefoot for a tighter fit around the toes. This increases the precision of the shoe but reduces its ability to toe-hook. If you are buying a lace up climbing shoe, perhaps toe-hooking is not your number one priority, but the smaller toe-patch remains.
Despite the lower reach of the laces, the shoe is not bad at toe-hooking. While better hooking shoes exist, the gnarling formed at the end of the toe patch catches well. Although you may not be able to easily toe-hook in Hueco in the same way you might with a more covered shoe, the Shaman Lace can still perform.
Finally, the toe box is a little narrower, making the shoe more potent on foot placements. This appears most obviously in the overhang. The power of the Shaman Lace allows for edging in a steep overhang. This ability is unique to only highest performing shoes.
Out of the box, the Shaman feels like a performance climbing shoe. It takes a couple sessions to break in, but you can climb at your limit upon purchase. The direct nature of the shoe is easy to understand and use. The sticky sole provides purchase in the overhang.
For sizing, it is always best to try it on, but Evolv sizes close to street shoe. For a performance fit the editor went with a US men’s size 10, as compared to the 41/41.5 EU size he uses with La Sportiva, or 41.5/42 sizing he uses with Scarpa.
High Volume Versus Low Volume
This high-volume lace-up also comes in a lower volume model, but the narrow toe box and tight-lacing design makes even this wide model ideal for most every foot size. In many low-volume shoes, the mid-sole is softer, but with the Shaman Lace, the same MX-P 1.6mm Half-length Love Bump midsole and 1mm half-length rubber midsole and dark spine heel midsole are used across volume sizes. This makes this shoe the edging weapon of choice for climbers of all foot shapes.
It’s a good climbing shoe. The powerful design inspires confidence when edging or pressing in an overhang, while the comfortable fit allows for all-day use out of the box. It is recommended that you look at both this model and the low volume model to find the relative sizing that best suits your climbing. Otherwise, it is a fantastic solution to steeply overhanging sandstone and limestone rope climbing and bouldering.
It is the most severely downturned shoe our editor has tried since the Testarossa and it should be used it that capacity. It is a shoe designed to make your life easier. Whether you’re climbing in the steep southeast, or simply working in the gym, the Shaman will not disappoint.
Purchase the Evolv Shaman Lace here for $185 USD or $238.11 CAD.