I selected the Evolv Rockstar Women's Climbing Shoe as they were described by Evolv as “an all-around climbing shoe that performs well on cracks, sport climbs, and all-day multi-pitch climbs without sacrificing performance for comfort”. This sounded perfect to me so these shoes became my main climbing shoes for the Winter/Spring season. They have been used in every conceivable situation since their purchase (they even caught a bit of deep water soloing action) and, on the whole, they have stood up to whatever I have thrown at them.
The rubber on the Rockstar sole is TRAX-XT5 and reportedly utilises high-friction technology. In the real world, I failed to see the difference between the TRAX-XT5 stickiness compared to any other climbing shoes I have ever worn. On the positive side, the sole and rand have ample amounts of rubber and would certainly take a good amount of wear, making this shoe good value for money. My pair eventually started to wear through on the toe rand so perhaps Evolv might consider a little more re-enforcement in this area. This would also help when it comes to steeper or over-hanging climbs and toe-hooks.
Considering the shoe's description as “a pleasure to wear on longer routes”, I was surprised to find that these shoes were extremely stiff in the mid-sole and heel area. This makes the Rockstar the perfect shoe for edging, heel-hooking, steep ground and crack climbing but I would not describe them as a 'pleasure to wear'. They have a 'corset-fit' rather than the 'comfort fit' that the Evolv marketing department would have you believe. This is not a shoe to wear for comfort on long multi-pitch climbs or for gritstone smearing.
An unexpected draw-back I discovered whilst trialling the Rockstar is that after 3 months of wear they began to smell. I have never had particularly smelly feet issues so I asked around my climbing friends and found that all the fellow Evolv-wearers had experienced the same problem. I suspect this is down to the Synthratek synthetic upper lining.
Rick Legge from Beyond Hope explains:
"Most manufacturers using synthetic upper materials will use anti-bacterial coatings in the form of heavy metals to prevent smell. Over time, these heavy metals will leach out - straight on to the foot/skin of the wearer. These heavy metals are not exactly great from an environmental and health point of view. Because of this, Evolv took the stance of not using the coatings."
In summary, if you can cope with cheesy-smelling climbing shoes, the Evolv Rockstars are great for those climbers with narrow or petite feet. Their stiff heel and midsole make them a good edging shoe and the rubber is thick and durable (but some sensitivity is lost through this). The Rockstar is a very affordable climbing shoe with great all-round performance. Due to the tight fitting design and stiff sole, I would recommend them to those looking for a fairly rigid fit or for the beginner who doesn't mind a bit of foot-squeezing action.
Alternative women's rock shoes include the 5.10 Siren, the Boreal Luna, the Red Chili Lady Spirit (See UKC Review) and the Scarpa Thunder.
“Helen loves the outdoors and enjoys anything to do with climbing, road cycling and mountain biking (even in the good old British rain). Originally from the North West, Helen moved to Newcastle upon Tyne in early 2007 where her passion for climbing really took off. Since then, she has climbed in 4 different countries and can be seen regularly at crags in Northumberland, Yorkshire and the Lake District. She is pretty much up for anything and turns her hand to bouldering, trad climbing, sport climbing, deep water soloing and occasionally training at the indoor wall. Her enthusiasm for all things sporty has led her to a career in sports massage and she is set to start training as a Physiotherapist at Northumbria University this year. She is also accomplished at yoga and more recently has become involved in functional training. Her aim is to get fit, get strong and eventually lead E5.”
Helen is also a sports performance coach and NLP Practitioner which helps with her climbing 'psyche' - see uniclarity.co.uk