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Evolv Shaman | Climbing Shoe Review

By: Dave Westlake

Having been in the Evolv line-up for many years now, the Shaman could be viewed alongside other stone cold classics such as the La Sportiva Miura or the Boreal Joker. The Shaman originally entered the range way back when as Chris Sharma’s signature model, and there was a time when nearly everyone had a pair. Over time the design has evolved, but the shoe itself never lost the broad appeal and features that made it popular in the first place.

Nowadays, there is a whole host of Shamans to choose from. You’ve got the lace-up and Velcro options, as well as the same choice in a lower volume (LV) fit, and this year these are joined by the new Shaman ‘Pro’ and ‘Pro LV’. The Pro models, with a wrap-around closure system similar to the Evolv Phantom, are a welcome addition to the growing Shaman family.

As well as the new models, the OG has had a refresh recently with new design features and a new colour (yellow/ grey/ white replacing the orange/ blue of the old version). Evolv say this 3rd generation Shaman released at the end of '22 is “more precise than ever…[with] better heel tension, less bulky tongue flaps” and many of the things that characterised the previous incarnation. I’ve been testing a pair of the Shaman velcros over the winter, using them a lot indoors and a for a bit of bouldering outside.

What type of shoe is the Shaman?

One of the reasons for the Shaman’s enduring popularity is its ability to do most things really well. Depending on how you size them, they can be a go-to workhorse for bouldering, trad or sport, and a reliable indoor training shoe that you won’t mind spending several hours in. The profile is asymmetric and downturned, but only slightly on both counts. You might find yourself reaching for a more specialist shoe if your project is very steep or features small pockets, for example, but the Shaman wears the ‘performance allrounder’ outfit very comfortably.

What are the notable features?

The ‘love bump’ is a plastic molding in the midsole that keeps your toes in a bent position. This helps give some extra support to the area underneath your toes when clawing on overhanging terrain. It's more comfortable than it sounds, and I’ve found it to be effective on both the Shaman and the Oracle, which I tested a few years ago.

At the top of the forefoot is the ‘knuckle box’, which is encased in a good amount of toe rubber and serves to protect your toes from being pushed too hard against the upper. On the sole and rand, there is the clever use of a variable thickness of rubber, meaning greater durability in high wear areas and more comfort in places where you might be prone to discomfort. The rubber itself is Evolv’s proprietary Trax SAS, which is the compound found on most of the Evolv range. Evolv say it gives the best balance of firmness and stickiness, and in practice I thought it was comparable to the softer of the Vibram rubbers - Vibram XS grip.

What size should I aim for?

Evolv say their shoes are sized in line with street shoes – meaning if you wear a UK8 in everyday shoes then you should be the same in the Shaman. This is pretty much accurate in my experience, though I tend to go half a size down (and would go a full size down if I was mainly bouldering or pushing my grade). I’m an 8.5 is most trainers and my test Shamans were an 8, which felt comfortable and fine for most climbs, and definitely don’t need to be any bigger – especially if we factor in a bit of stretch.

How durable are they?

Having climbed in a lot of Evolv shoes over the years, in general I find them to be well made and long lasting. So far the latest incarnation of the Shamans have not changed that opinion. The aforementioned Oracles lasted longer than I remember any other shoe lasting, even though I wore them for nearly everything for ages. The construction has a solid feel to it, even down to the pull tabs which feel like they would take any amount of abuse without breaking (I’ve snapped these on other shoes in the past!). The downside is that they tend to smell worse than some other shoes – possibly because they are 100% Vegan and synthetic.


The Evolv Shaman is a great option if you want a performance allrounder because it is comfortable, durable and well suited to a wide range of climbing. It’s the kind of should I’d use for 80% of my climbing, along with a pair of more specialist downturned shoes for those occasions when you need something more specific.

Purchase the Evolv Shaman HERE