[Updated July 2021] The Evolv Prime SC is no longer available.
Evolv Prime SC Climbing Shoe Review, by Dave Westlake.
FitThe shape of the Prime is a bit different from a lot of high end shoes, being symmetric at the toe rather than the more common asymmetric profile. This was slightly strange when I first wore the shoes as they feel different to other models. I quickly realised that this is far from a bad thing - as I describe below, and for some climbers (specifically those with Morton’s toe) the Prime may be one of the few shoes that fits properly. For me, the heels are probably as good as a shoe can get – they fit very well and are encased in rubber. Although the fit of a shoe’s heel (and the rest of it for that matter) is very personal and they may not suit everyone, the Prime heel isn’t overly narrow or wide so I expect it will fit the majority of climbers well. Due to the rubber on the toe these shoes take a bit of breaking in before they feel optimal, but they do soften up very well after a few sessions – giving that great feeling that they are moulding to your foot shape. One major advantage of the new Prime model is the addition of a third Velcro strap. This allows for a much better fit across the arch of the foot and means you are able to crank the shoe tight and customise the fit very easily. I found this to be a great advantage when jamming my feet in heel toe cams as this type of abuse really twists the shoe. Unless the fit is good you usually find that some part of the shoe slips on your foot and the foothold feels sloppy. I had no such problems with the Evolv Primes when I tensioned the straps properly.
Construction and durabilityFootwork asisde, the softness of the rubber does not mean a compromise on durability, as my old pair of Optimus Primes have been going strong for some time. As with all Evolv shoes, the construction is excellent and I’ve never had a problem with the shoes wearing out quickly or falling apart (which is more than I can say for some shoes!). The VTR innovation featured in the new Prime model is another excellent feature and means that the high wear areas are reinforced with thicker rubber. This ‘Variable Thickness Rand’ means that the shoe should last longer and feel more sensitive - which can only be a good thing. Below: Old and new versions of the Evolv Prime/Optimus Prime side by side.
LooksAn all important category – are they going to turn heads at the local crag/wall?! Well, the striking black and yellow with the addition of some silver in the new version certainly strikes an unmistakable pose. The small logo on the front strap finish off what look like a mean pair of foot tools that have certainly had a welcome face lift this time around.
To sum up, I would recommend the Prime's for anyone looking for an all round performance shoe. They are excellent for bouldering and trad climbing, particularly where steep edging capacity is required. I would probably look elsewhere if I wanted to do a lot of climbing involving pockets, but for steep climbs with lots of toe hooking, scumming and heel action I cannot think of a better shoe. When they get a bit more worn they become an excellent all round smearing shoe that performs well on sandstone and gritstone. The new Prime version is an improvement on the previous model, thanks primarily to the addition of a third Velcro strap which improves the fit of the shoe and allows the user a more customised fit.