Rock Shoes: Evolv Bandits
Evolv are a relative newcomer to the world of rock shoes. Imported by Beyond Hope (Metolius, Prana etc) they hit our shelves last year and seem to be making quite an impression. The pair of Bandits I was sent to review look like pretty standard fare, until you realise that they are made from entirely vegan products, a rare thing in this day and age.
Normally I avoid lace-ups like the plague. I don’t have enough stamina to stay on a pitch long enough to warrant a complicated pre-climb lacing strategy, and velcro’s have proven perfectly adequate on my bouldering circuits. For me, ease and speed of donning and removal are key. Generally speaking when a group of us arrive at a crag I will be on the rock faster than you can say Johnny Dawes. By the time the others have joined me I’ll have completed my warm up and be champing at the bit, yep you guessed it, I’m impatient. Likewise, I like to be able to take off my shoes after a problem or pitch and massage my aching feet.
I was a little wary when I realised that the Bandits are lace-ups, but quickly relaxed when I put them on for the first time. The system is great. Rather than a dozen or more cross-overs between reinforced eyelets the Bandits feature just 4 cross overs between elongated tubes of leather-like material. 4 cross overs seems to be ample, allowing a decent amount of tightening in the toe if necessary, whilst at the same time being only a little slower than velcro’s to operate. It’s my guess that the material will not last too many years, perhaps ruling out repeated re-soles, but they will easily last one or two life times of the shoes which is enough for me.
As for their performance, their proprietory TRAX XT5 rubber is OK, not fantastic, but again, good enough. The edges aren’t wearing down too quickly. My main gripe would be the heel. Perhaps my heels are a strange shape, but heel hooking is virtually impossible with any sense of security. There seems to be just too much rubber back there which allows way too much sliding around.
Check out the Evolv website where they state that all Evolv shoes are guaranteed to be delamination free. According to this site there are a number of things about the Evolv brand that make it stand out from the rest - customisable fitting of some models, discounted after sale re-soleing, plus various other ambiguous sounding services. Unfortunately none of this seems to have been transferred over to the UK distributior Beyond Hope.
So overall, a decent mid grade shoe. I like the fact that it is vegan friendly and its lacing system, but wasn't so impressed with the heel, and most of all I like the fact that new brands can come along and hold their own.
Reviewed by Matt Heason on behalf of planetFear