The original Evolv Defy have long been a benchmark for budget, comfortable climbing shoes. They’re the shoes I first learnt to climb in, and wore until my toes poked out the end. For 2014/2015 Evolv have released a redesigned version of this popular model and we’ve been keen to get them on the rock, and down the gym to see how they compared.
Comfort & Fit
The Evolvs are designed as comfort shoe, and my old pair of Defys were just that. When climbing for the first time, the new Defys seemed stiffer and slightly uncomfortable in comparison – however, after a 3 or 4 weeks of climbing they soon broke in and seemed to adapt well to my foot shape so bare with them. The fit is good although quite relaxed around the mid-foot compared to a more high-end shoe, they do not ‘hug’ your feet as (for example) The Pinks do. The heel fits well and security, and the double velcro system ensures you can adapt the fit from very relaxed to cranked up for trying slightly harder grades.
The Defys can take an absolute beating – the whole shoe feels well made, and the rubber appears thick enough to outlast most others. After 3 months of use, the edge is worn a little but there are no signs of significant damage or any sign of my toes poking out the end. We think this durability, combined with the comfort makes them perfect training shoes.
The Evov Defys are great for easy to intermediate sport, trad and indoor climbs
Sensitivity & Edging
As the weeks turned into months of use, we found the rubber did soften and allow for a reasonably sensitive feel. The non-hugging fit does dampen the feeling slightly but overall the shoes give good confidence for standing on the small stuff. The edging performance itself is average, the Defys are good enough up to somewhere around F7a slabs but they did pop off the really small stuff when a higher end shoe stuck. Baring in mind that, the shoes are not high end edging machines we can’t fault them too severely here – they certainly get the job done on easier grades.
Shoes that suffer a little in edging usually have a comeback with smearing – and the Defys are no exception, we found the 4.2 mm TRAX® high friction rubber stuck quite well both to artificial walls and rock. The flexibility in the mid-sole, and flat non-aggresive profile allows a good contact patch to be pressed against the wall. At this price point, they performed well – slab climbers take note!
Hooking & Cracks
With a good heel fit and rand, the Defys perform well for basic hooking, whilst the toe rand and slipper-like fit make them quite good for cracks too (although the velcro straps don’t help at all on wider cracks!). Overall they’ll handle most of the straightforward stuff without issue.
We love the Defys, they’re a great all-round training shoe for abusing at the gym and for easier routes outdoors. Yes there are much better specialist shoes out there, but not at this price point. What’s the deal with wrecking your expensive ‘project’ shoes on a warm-up or training route – stick with the cheap shoes up until they really make a difference; we’ll be using the Defys down the gym for the foreseeable future.