By Dave Westlake
The Geshido is one of two new models from Evolv released this spring. They come in lace-up and Velcro variants, and in male and female versions. I’ve been testing a pair of the men’s Velcro for the last few months, initially confined to my garage board, and more recently on the crags and boulders of South Wales.
What kind of shoe is the Geshido?
The Geshido is modern in the sense that it is well designed and robustly constructed, and - in short - it doesn’t have any obvious weaknesses. Unlike shoes of old, where the toe might be magic but the heel seemed to be designed for a different creature, the Geshido feels like it wouldn’t really let you down in any department. Yet, in a different way, the Geshido is more of a traditional beast. I say this because it bucks the trend of increasingly specialist (and in most cases increasingly soft) rock shoes that are designed with more than one eye on the indoor and competition scene. It’s true that skin like softness can work wonders when you are pasting your instep on a volume or flat smearing, but shoes that excel at this game tend not to fare so well on many rock types you find outdoors.
Don’t get me wrong, I do a lot of indoor climbing and a soft shoe is often just the ticket on big volumes, and equally good on sandstone. And of course the ‘out of the box’ feel these shoes have is surely part of their growing popularity. A shoe like the Geshido needs more of a breaking in period, but for me they started to feel good after 3-4 sessions. The walls have only recently opened again here in Wales, but on reacquainting myself with the more comp style blocs in recent visits, I was surprised at how well my (now well-seasoned) Geshido’s held up on volume smears. I’m left feeling they are a good choice for people who do a mix of different types of climbing – a staple shoe that you can grab 75% of the time.
What innovative features should I know about?
Like any of the big shoe manufacturers, Evolv have their own selection of innovative design features that appear across their range. For example, the well-reviewed ‘love bump’ is a sort of knuckle in the sole that pushes the downturn of the sole into the space under your toes, increasing the remit of shoes like the Shaman on steeper ground. The VTR ‘variable thickness rand’ on the Geshido and other recent Evolv models is a neat way of making sure the high wear areas are equipped with more rubber to weather the bombardment, while keeping the rest of the shoe supple and sensitive. (This also doesn’t affect resoling, and the Geshido is the kind of unit that I expect would take a resole pretty well.)
The other talking point of the Geshido is at the rear end – the ‘dark spine’ heel. The dark spine is featured on several top tier Evolv models, including the Oracle which I reviewed a couple of years ago. This is a cool sounding moniker for a simple but effective detail – it’s the strip of rubber that extends up the back of the heel, and it helps keep the shoe secure when heel-hooking. I noticed that it seems to help prevent the heel from compressing and losing grip when rotating outwards while putting large forces through your heel (often necessary on bunched moves or close heels). Added to that, Evolv say that it helps protect the Calcaneus bone, which (yes, I Googled it) is another name for the heel bone.
On a more prosaic level, I liked the black lining because I know it won’t turn a horrible shade of grubby when I’ve had then on and off my feet for a while (the light grey lining of my old Oracles were a nightmare for this). Daniel Woods may be more likely to credit Evolv’s technical innovation for his recent ascent of possibly the world’s hardest boulder, but a lining that hides the dirt has equal billing in my book!
How is the sizing?
The Geshido has a leather upper, which has some advantages and disadvantages over the synthetic alternatives. Leather will adapt to the shape of your foot to give a perfect fit if you size them fairly tight to start with. I would probably go down another half size from the UK8 that I tested for a performance fit, but I’d keep the 8s for all day route climbing or for warm summer days at the boulders. For reference, my street shoe size is about UK8.5, so I’d go a full size down for a redpoint fit and half for more general use. I find leather uppers can give you a great fit after the wear in phase, but they are less predictable than synthetic and this makes it harder to get the sizing right to begin with.
After so much of the last year spent in lockdown, many of us will be feeling like kids in a sweet shop now the restrictions are lifting and the weather is improving. Now we can travel more than a few miles, will we get back down the wall, go bouldering, sport or trad climb? Quite possibly, your answer will be ‘all of the above’. The Geshido is the kind of shoe you can chuck in your bag for a weekend, whether you are planning to train, go out bouldering, sport or trad climbing. Like any rock shoe, how it fits you is the crucial factor, but if you size the Geshido right then you can’t really go far wrong.