Review: Evolv Defy
The Evolv Defy is a bit ubiquitous and is perhaps the most popular first shoe in the market today. So when Evolv sent me a pair to review, I wasn’t sure what I was going to say. That was before I started climbing in them though. After two months of use and abuse, I not only think the Defys have earned their place as the axiomatic beginner shoe, but they also make an excellent second pair of shoe for climbers of all ability levels.
My first impression of the Defys was how soft they felt on my feet. These are easily the comfiest shoes I have ever worn, even surpassing shoes ostensibly made for comfort. When people ask me what I like about the Defys, I tell them that it feels like I am climbing on pudding. If that sounds gross to you, pick another food product. Those soft pretzels you get at the fair would be a fairly decent analogue. Peanut brittle would not.
This feeling translates almost perfectly to the rock. These shoes are incredibly sensitive and really allow you to get into the nooks and crannies on oddly shaped holds. That being said, these wouldn’t be the first shoes I would pick on a pure edging test piece, but versatility never excels at the extreme ends of the spectrum. I was also pleasantly surprised by the heel cup. I certainly did not expect the Defys to crush marginal heel hooks, and not once in my testing did I feel any slop or slippage.
The synthetic upper on the Defys means they stretch minimally. As they break in, they get slightly comfier, but don’t expect them get any larger. I sized mine half a size down from my street shoe size for a snug but comfortable fit. A full size down would have yielded more of a performance fit, but as a rule, I tend to prefer my daily wearers to be on the looser size and save the foot binders for the small percentage of routes where they are advantageous. The only downside of the synthetic upper is the notorious Defy stank, which is bad, but I have certainly had shoes that have smelled worse. If I were you, I wouldn’t wear these things as your mask at a costume party.
The Defy’s low price point and all around performance make them an obvious choice for a first or second shoe. However, even if you are not a beginner, I recommend making room in your shoe quiver for the humble Defy. Mine have become my sole gym shoe and my go to shoe for routes up to mid twelve. Any harder than that and I opt for more aggressive shoe, but for what I use them for, the Defys are perfect. Color me impressed.