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Evolv X1 | Climbing Shoe Review

[Updated July 2022] The Evolv X1 is no longer available.

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Evolv X1 Climbing Shoe Review, by Morgan Cvetkovic-Jones.

Crafted for the all-round performance climber, the Evolv X1 is an aggressive, downturned, yet delicate and sensitive beast of a shoe that cruises as comfortably around your local crag as it does down the favourite gym.

Header: The author climbing Not Bad Dave SDS (7C), Woodwell.
Photo © Ben James Cannon

X-Rated Features

With sensitivity being the name of the X1’s game, Evolv have made this shoe the softest in their range. The EX-P 0.6mm midsole is the fulcrum of this shoe’s construction, allowing ample flex for my feet to really feel and put a lot of power down through heel and toe hooks. This sensation is thoroughly enhanced by the superb rubber toe patch and wonderfully stiff, moulded heel cup; both make hooking feel super secure whilst helping the shoe maintain its downturned, asymmetrical shape. Thanks to this they’ve become a vital part of my limestone sending arsenal, proving to be the key on my latest, heel-toe jamming roof project.

The soft midsole and super sticky TRAX SAS rubber (the stickiest in Evolv’s range) combine to ensure the X1 feels as at-home on new-age, volume smearing gym problems as they do a good old-fashioned woody. The decision to make this shoe with 4.2mm of rubber (slightly thicker than the usual 3.5mm found on similar styles of shoe) gives the X1 some rigidity in the toe box opening up a world of small edged, slab climbing opportunity. Sure, it won’t rival an old school Blanco anytime soon but the X1 offers edging capabilities not often catered for in similar soft shoe.

The X1 is a perfect training and route setting companion, performing superbly as an all-rounder whilst competently standing up to tonnes of abuse with its slightly thicker outsole and whacking great toe patch. The combination of a soft and precise midsole and toe box which holds its shape gives the X1 a nicely balanced blend of sensitivity and support – great for indoor training and real rock projects alike. 

Fit and Feel

Synthetic and unlined, the X1 isn’t a shoe that’ll go floppy on you. The lack of a lining reduces the amount of material between your foot and the outside of the shoe, promoting yet more sensitivity. This is especially great for being able to manoeuvre your foot into different positions, the perfect complement to the soft midsole and fantastic hooking abilities of the shoe. The ‘Variable Thickness Rand’ ensures the distribution of rubber is thicker or thinner depending on whether it’s situated in a specific climbing zone; this has been superb in eliminating any pressure points whilst increasing the longevity and comfort of the boot.

Fitting like a slipper, with a versatile single strap closure, the X1 is a relatively slim boot with a medium to low volume fit through the middle of the shoe; efficiently ensuring a lack of dead space and minimising roll – especially when heel hooking. The toe box offers a slightly higher volume fit to accommodate for those downturned, curled toes. I fit this shoe at my street shoe size, this was the smallest I could wrestle my foot into and I have a narrow, low volume foot profile; this has been the perfect performance fit, sticking to my foot like a glove. If your shape is towards the wider, higher volume end then fear not, these shoes will relax and stretch to your profile, especially in this warmer weather. If you manage to downsize the X1, then I salute you! With a synthetic upper and a large proportion of the shoe covered in rubber, stretch is kept to a minimum – stretching half a size at most. 

Neat Feature

With a ‘Synthratrek VX’ synthetic upper, the X1 is entirely vegan – Ace!


A terrifically well-rounded climbing shoe, the Evolv X1 is durable, comfortable and performs well on a range of angles. On the rock, the X1 excels on overhanging terrain with the stiff heel cup proving to be a revelation. Whilst this probably won’t be your go-to multi pitch shoe, it’s a cracking option for bouldering and sport climbing. Where the X1 really triumphs, however, is training. The perfect shoe for the gym, the X1 has all the features necessary to cruise around your local, taking wear and tear in its stride and not breaking the bank in the process!


View other detailed product reviews from Rock+Run

Check out our Climbing Shoe Collections