Following on from Greg’s review of the popular Evolv Bandit Lace I’ve also been testing out the Bandit in its more recent guise – the Bandit SC. As Velcro is a trade name, and isn’t actually used on these shoes Evolv can’t call it the Bandit Velcro, so SC stands for Strap Closure. For the same reason we end up with VC, VCR, VS, VRC models from the other brands. That little bit of trivia aside, how do the Bandit SCs perform on the rock?
Now I’m sure it won’t be a great surprise to anybody that the Bandit SC feels very similar to the lace up out of the box. The toe box is again quite narrow and pointed, although as Greg found any initial pinching soon disappeared as the fabric stretched out very slightly within a couple of sessions. As with all of the new Evolv line up of performance Velcro shoes the Bandit SC has benefited from the addition of a third strap. This really seems to help pull the shoe up under the arch of your foot to create an almost lace-like level of fit, and yet with the convenience of Velcro.
I’ve had the chance to put these shoes through their paces for a few months now, and I’m glad to say that I’ve enjoyed using them in a wide variety of situations. Although they are an all-rounder, they definitely suit some types of climbing better than others. Due to getting these in the winter months, the first few uses were at the shiny new Kendal bouldering wall. Even when new I was really impressed with how well the Bandits performed on plastic. They edge really well and the rubber seems just as sticky as any I’ve tried. The toe is slightly down turned making them surprisingly good even on steep routes and problems. As the days have got longer I’ve now been able to test out the Bandits on Sandstone, Limestone, Granite, Grit, and of course Lakes Volcanics. It’s been on the edgier Limestone and Volcanic rocks that the Bandits have been at their best, particularly on longer problems and routes when they provide a good level of support. The pointed toe profile also makes them great for standing in small pockets. I must admit that their has been the odd time when using marginal footholds that I’ve felt the limits of the Bandit as an all-rounder, but I’ve been happy to sacrifice this marginal technical edge in the name of support, comfort and durability, whilst maintaining 95% of the ability of the top end shoes.
I think my favourite feature of all of the new Evolv line up of shoes is the heels – they seem to fit a lot of people really well. We’ve had quite a few customers coming to us who’ve originally wanted Five Ten Anasazis for instance, but have ended up taking Bandits due to the really good fit in the heel. It also seems to offer just the right balance – enough rubber to be comfortable, and yet sensitive enough to be able to position your foot accurately on more marginal heel hooks.
I’ve now been using the Bandits for the last 3 months and I’ve been really impressed with how well they’ve worn. The uppers seem very well constructed and there’s no sign of any wear there. They’ve also barely stretched at all, even by the standards of a synthetic shoe. I’d definitely recommend against getting these too tight from new – if they’re crippling from the box they’ll probably still be crippling in 3 months time!
If you’re after a capable all-rounder, particularly for indoors, trad and sport then the Bandit SC is certainly worthy of consideration. Apart from absolute beginners, and hardcore cave dwelling boulderers I can imagine the Bandit SCs finding a place on the feet of just about anybody, which is just the way it should be with a shoe in this category. Nice one Evolv!