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Evolv Zenist Pro | Climbing Shoe Review

By: Morgan Cvetkovic-Jones

Bigger, bolder, better. The new Evolv Zenist Pro truly earns its name as one of the most cutting edge climbing shoes Evolv has ever made. Locked and loaded with a lot of the same new tech as its more outdoor focussed cousin, the Shaman Pro, the pair spearhead a revitalised Evolv and thrust it firmly in a modern direction. But, is this new look bang or bust for Evolv?


If the original Zenist was a child in the playground, then the upgraded Pro model is the menacing older brother they probably threatened you with. A powerful upgrade over the original, the Pro redefines what the Zenist shoe actually identifies as, taking the original’s sensitive sock-like design and giving it real substance, ticking more boxes than a simple training slipper. What’s to thank for this bulk up? Look no further than the new EvoWrap midsole, Evolv’s new, innovative full length tension system that features on both the Zenist and the Shaman Pro. A cohesive, 1mm layer of rubber, this new ‘midsole’ technology cradles the underside of the foot and connects the toe and heel in a way that boosts longitudinal tension, improving both the fit of the shoe and its support on smaller footholds. The result is a gargantuan leap in edging performance, pumping tonnes of power through the LoveBump reinforced toe box to demolish even the most technical footholds. Crucially for me, this has made the Pro a more viable option for climbing outside and on a steep training board where this additional power through tiny footholds and the ability to toe in on overhanging terrain has been a real game changer. Is it trad climbing level stiff? No, of course not, but the Pro now feels like a sophisticated all-rounder thanks to the most impressive technology Evolv have produced in some time.

But, the Zenist Pro has been billed as the pinnacle of Evolv’s competition climbing powers, so how does it stack up on the funky stuff? Buffed up with new tech and an eclectic performance feel, power has come at the cost of some sensitivity when getting down to business on scary smears. This isn’t to say the Zenist Pro can’t get its hands dirty, it’s still an incredibly proficient smearing machine thanks to a flexible split sole - it just took me a bit of time to loosen up and get to grips with this new Evolv feel.

Although it doesn’t run and jump as naturally on volumes as the standard version, the Pro model now ticks more of the modern competition climbing boxes like hooking where it thoroughly excels. Again, the presence of the new EvoWrap tension system works wonders here, connecting the toe and heel of the shoe efficiently to maximise the amount of power I was able to crank in through every tenuous toe and high heel. With sumptuous amounts of rubber covering both ends of the shoe, hooking felt powerful, precise and protective, especially outside on rougher, sharper textures.

Fit & Feel

Along with pretty much everything in the Zenist Pro, the fit of the shoe is a radically different proposition from the standard version. Like the Shaman Pro, the Zenist Pro gets the Phantom treatment, now coming draped in every bit of Evolv’s performance fitting finery. The result is a fighter jet-like fit with unparalleled precision right across the shoe thanks to the adjustable EvoWrap strap which cranks every bit of the comfy Vegan upper in to your taste and packages it inside a snug neoprene sock. Combine this with the EvoWrap tension system, which holds the underside of your foot like a rugby player cradling a rugby ball, and the cockpit of the Zenist Pro becomes a very powerful place to be indeed. 

The shape of the Zenist feels custom made for the gym, coming in narrow at the heel for precise hooks and wider at the front (certainly wider than the more outdoor focussed Shaman Pro) to allow your foot ample room to smear naturally. The ultimate balance between performance and comfort, the marginally downturned profile of the Zenist feels like the most universally accommodating shoe Evolv have made in some time and certainly fit me better than its previous iteration. At 1 UK size down, the Zenist became a projecting weapon reserved for small, sharp bursts on my hardest projects. Would I go with this downsize again? Probably not. Sizing closer to your street shoe is definitely recommended if you want to maximise the shoe’s potential as a workhorse for training in the gym and out on real rock.

Tech Sheet

Round Up

The Zenist has undergone some serious Frankenstein level surgery during its upgrade to the Pro version. Now a lean, mean gym climbing machine, Evolv have taken the Zenist’s simplistic beginnings and transformed them into a world beater. The combination of seriously impressive edging performance with sensitive Zenist DNA has created the ultimate all-rounder. Need one competition ready shoe that can do it all? I’ve found it.

Purchase the Evolv Zenist Pro Here

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