The world of climbing shoes has changed. Canvas sacks have been usurped by microfibers and price tags seem to climb quicker than speed climbers. Fighting this surge in prices, the Evolv X1 shows that a good shoe doesn’t have to cost over $200.
The X1’s vegan construction is built from TRAX SAS rubber and a synthetic SYNTHRATEK VX upper. Shaped by a molded rand, this synthetic design limits stretch to around half a size. The molded heel and toe-box force your foot into a moderately asymmetrical shape. Generally, asymmetrical shoes are fairly uncomfortable out-of-the-box, but due to the wide for-foot platform of the shoe, this is not the case. What is most irritating about asymmetrical shoes, is their tendency to wear compared to symmetrical designs. Normally the foot forces asymmetrical shoes to deform. The laterally rigid construction of the X1 prevents this, allowing the shoe to retain its asymmetry.
The X1 is a good all rounder. It is the best shoe in Evolv’s range, excluding their newly released Phantom and including their popular Oracle. It features a durable toe-patch and a well structured toe-box that makes it one of the best toe-hooking shoes on the market. The asymmetrical design of the X1 allows the climber to pull hard with their toes, ideal for overhung boulders or routes.
That said, it does not offer the same natural stickiness found in shoes like Scarpa’s Furia S. This is done on purpose. The 4.2 millimetres of rubber allow the X1 to edge better than most other soft shoes. Due to the heel’s molding, the heel-cup does not deform. The climber can pull as hard as they would like, and maintain consistent performance. In terms of durability, the X1 is unbeatable.
Ontario youth climber and Evolv sponsored athlete Ethan Salvo loves the X1. He says, “The X1 has become my go to shoe for comps and hard bouldering. The shoe’s softer rubber and midsole make it great for standing on volumes, coordination moves and steep boulders.”
The Evolv X1 features a 0.6 millimetre EX – P, half-length midsole that is designed to pair with the 4.2 millimetres of TRAX SAS rubber. The exceptionally soft midsole allows for a lot of flex in the shoe, giving it that aforementioned sensitivity even with 4.2 millimetres of rubber between the foot and the rock. This creates a platform that allows the climber to stand when they need to, without sacrificing the flexibility required for technical toe-hooks and heels.
The X1 has an excellent asymmetric shape, that allows the climber to pull hard with their feet. It is also a slim design, entirely unlined, allowing the foot to reach closer to the edge of the shoe. Where some shoes in Evolv’s range are clunky, the Agro can feel a bit like a ski boot, Salvo describes the X1 to be quite a bit different. Salvo compares the two shoes saying, “Although there is less toe-rubber on the X1 then the Agro, the X1 is still great with toe-hooks. With less toe-rubber, I find I have a higher range of motion in the forefoot. The X1 also uses a single strap closure system and feels more like a slipper, which makes it great for long days of climbing.”
Strengths and Weaknesses:
Ultimately, this is a great shoe. It excels at toe-hooks, and is perhaps one of the best toe-hooking shoes for indoor climbing. As a training shoe, it is nearly impossible to beat as it withstands punishment like no other performance shoe. The TRAX SAS rubber is good, and the rubber from Evolv has improved greatly from what it was four years ago. The best aspect of this shoe is that it works on anything. It does not care whether the climber is on slab, face, or lost in a cave. It will perform well.
The weakness of this shoe is probably found in its materials. Though it climbs well and looks good, it doesn’t feel like the performance shoe you know it is. The heel is insensitive, and the randing is bulky. This makes the climber feel less like a ninja and more of an operator of equipment. Fortunately, such an issue is easily outweighed by its performance. The X1 is perfect for the climber that can only buy one pair of shoes at a time.