Is the Evolv Valor the ultimate all-round entry level rock shoe?
Performance ☆ ☆ ☆
Durability ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Value ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
When the opportunity came to review the Evolv Valor I was looking for a comfy multi-pitch big mountain day shoe. With age I find I’m less willing to suffer craming my toes into overly tight shoes. No more siting at the bottom of Buoux with plastic bags over my feet tying to pull on ridiculously small slippers! Thankfully boot technology and ergonomics has moved on in the last 25 years and boots fit better, you no longer need the pain to get the performance.
The Evolv Valor is a classic double Velcro strap design billed as an entry level to intermediate rock shoe. It shares a common design heritage with the Evolv Defy but differs in that it has a beefier/stiffer sole. Unlike high-performance shoes the Valor has a flat rather than down-turned sole profile and a less aggressive heel band. Both these design elements decrease ‘power’ at the toes but conversely make the shoe very comfortable to wear. If you’re someone who suffers Achilles problems that are aggravated by the aggressive heel bands on some rock shoes the Valor would make a great choice. The build quality of the Valor is excellent a durable synthetic upper resists stretching out and good quality stitch work means there have been no ‘blow outs’ or any appreciable wear to the uppers during the review period. The sole and rands are Evolv’s Trax XT rubber which has also worn well and performed effectively. The rands are Evolv’s VTR design (variable thickness rand) that puts more rubber in high wear areas and reduces thickness elsewhere to enhance comfort. They are certainly comfortable but I can’t comment on rand wear really apart from to say there is nothing yet after three months! I find it quite hard to judge rubber unless comparing similar types of shoe as other characteristics such as sensitivity and stiffness tend to colour perceptions but the Trax rubber certainly held its own.
Over the past few months I’ve used the Valors on a variety of rock including grit bouldering, limestone sport routes as well as multi pitch mountain routes in the UK and France and training indoors. The Valors have performed well in all of these roles but for me where they really shine is on the multi pitch stuff. For bouldering and sport climbing they are fine but I found them a little insensitive for my tastes, this is probably due to the thicker sole and the ‘comfort’ fit that I opted for. Likewise indoors the reduced sensitivity had an impact on harder problems but the comfort when doing circuits was joy! Once I got them out on bigger routes the comfort and support came into their own. No desperately sprinting up pitches to rip your boots off at the belay to relieve screaming toes! Even with the extra weight of a sac my feet remained comfortable and I could savour every pitch without the distraction of painful feet.
Overall the Valors have proved a great all round shoe, I sized them for comfort and using on big routes but even so they still performed well in a variety of roles. They make a great entry level boot that will still serve more advanced climbers especially on less technically intense mountain routes.