One of Evolv's most popular and well known shoes, the original Shaman (designed by Chris Sharma) has been a regular feature at many walls and crags of the UK over the last few years and for 2016 the Shaman has been redesigned and updated.
I've given these new 2016 Shamans a spin on sunny limestone, grippy gritstone and golden granite as well as plenty of indoor bouldering and occasional indoor routes.
How are they different from the old Shamans?
New features include an updated fit at the heel - rubber has been removed from the arch of the shoe, meaning the Shaman 2016 can curve to your foot more easily.
There has been a tweak to the Velcro straps, moving them up slightly from the side of the shoe, giving more room to 'scum' the side of the shoe without catching the strap, and there is a new slightly larger toe patch for toe hooking.
Overall though, with a very similar 'love bump' under the toes and a deep knuckle box, these Shaman 2016s are very similar to their old counterparts.
The 2016 Shamans combine comfort and technicality pretty well, with a heel that didn’t feel like it was trying to tear the achilles off and a toe/edge that felt accurate, a little bit stiff and quite stable - courtesy of the ‘love bump’. If you haven't worn them before, and are not familiar with the older Shamans, then this love bump can be a bit odd, but it essentially forces the underneath of the toes to bend, 'knuckling up' your toes in to a crimp like position, which is a strong position in the shoe. It's essentially what happens when you buy tight rock shoes anyway, but this kind of 'helps' the process.
The heel was comfortable and sat snugly on my foot, and didn't shift at all when heel-hooking. It also, as I said above, didn't dig in to my achilles. At first it felt quite low on the achilles, like it could slip off, and I am sure this added to the comfort, but I did pull as hard as I could with my heels and felt no slippage, so - excellent job there Evolv.
The tongue is super-well padded, maybe even slightly too much. I found it very comfortable, and as I have very low volume feet the padding filled up a bit of psace above the foot nicely, but if you have fat feet, it might be wortha double check.
The triple Velcro strap closure worked very well, the more straps the better in my opinion for fine-tuning fit. The lowest strap was just low enough down the foot to cinch up and remove any baggyness thay spools above the tow box area, and although I am sure it can affect some people, having the strap moved up away from the side of the shoe (whilst seeming a good idea for sure) didn't hugely improve the shoe to me, but it could mak a difference on a crucial foot scum for someone I guess.
The weight of the shoes was 560g (size UK 10) which is actually a bit heavier than many rival shoes - and this can be felt on the foot. However for that bit of extra beefiness, you feel like the shoe is built well, and has a good thickness of rubber on - 4.2mm of Trax rubber to be exact, and with a thick sole like that, they do take a bit of getting used to, but have been wearing really well.
The shoes performed well on steep ground, toe hooking and on moderate edges. I did a bit of smearing in them, which was more tricky due to the down-turn and the love bump style.
They are really well suited to continental limestone and tufa routes, and also work brilliantly in the climbing wall, and importantly, they seem to be lasting pretty well too.
I have low volume feet and they work pretty well for me, however they don't seem all that skinny either, so much like the original Shaman, I'd bet that they can accomodate a range of foot shapes reasonably well.
Again as with the old Shaman's, a possible downside is that the synthetic lining can get somewhat smelly after mid/long-term use. If you’re going to get a pair it is definitely worth getting a set of Boot Bananas or similar to go with them so to please the noses of friends/family.
The Trax Rubber:
It has been around a while now, and Evolv's own rubber 'Trax XT' is pretty good we think. The 4.2mm sole on the 2016 Shamans in a tiny bit thinner (the old ones were 4.5mm), and you can actually feel a slight increase in sensitivity. I'm not sure if the midsole is also thinner/softer, but the shoes do soften up a tiny bit more easily than the old ones. But back to the rubber, and a fe of us at UKC have used loads of different Evolv shoes over the last few years, and we like the Trax rubber. It gives a good balance between edging and smearing, as well as working in a range of temperatures (yes temperatures affect your rubber!).
A good all-rounder for those wishing to perform to a high standard both indoors and out, sport climbing and bouldering. Not suited for easy long trad routes and out-and-out smearing. A recomendation for sure and a price tag of £115 which is mid range for performance shoes these days.
What Evolv Say:
Building off the legacy of the original, the newly redesigned Shaman is the anchor of the Chris Sharma Signature Series. The new Shaman has an improved fit in terms of engineered comfort and performance with more toe rubber for toe hooking and an inset front strap for better medial side toe scumming. The upgrade promises to make current customers appreciate the enhancements while getting new customers to enjoy the legendary performance with comfort.
Due to the increased sensitivity of the new Shamans, many are sizing these down a half size from the previous version of the Shaman.
Weight: 560g (Size UK 10)
MORE INFO: Evolv Website