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Shoe Fit...

I just got a new pair of slip-on Evolv Optimus climbing shoes in the mail from (60 day returns), and I have a fit question. The shoe is synthetic, and advertised as having no stretch. However, reviews have indicated a bit of stretch or "molding." Evolv says to order your street shoe size, and most reviews said to order your street shoe size or one-half size larger. I remember one or two reviewers suggesting going a full size larger. Some of the guys who ordered their street shoe size were talking about using shoe horns, "using patience," and "taking their time," so I was already leaning towards the larger end of the spectrum. My normal shoe is a 10.5, so I ordered an 11 (11!! Yeah, I know). Other than that, they have symmetrical toe (2nd toe is longest) and a some turn-down. All in all a solid gym/steep wall/bouldering shoe for someone with rounded toes and high arches, which is me.

Now, I can put them on easily, my heel sits securely with very little wiggle, and my whole foot seems to fit with relative ease, but...

God do they hurt my 2nd and 3rd toes. Its right at the first knuckle on both toes of my right (the larger) foot especially, right where it contacts the top of the toebox; my toes are fairly crunched against the top synth-leather, but I think no more than they would be in any other shoe, and anyways I've always been told that's what one wants, in order to maximize power transfer, feel, etc... My issue is that this is the first pair of shoes I've owned, and the first pair with such a camber that I've ever worn. To top it off, I really don't have anything but worn-out indoor gym shoes to compare to...

Also, I haven't climbed hard in a couple years, so I have no more calluses on the tops of those knuckles; I know that is a factor. I know one's foot develops a certain tollerance for the shoe. I remember building such tollerances in the past. I can currently keep them on for about 15-20 minutes at a time, before I need to take 'em off and stretch out the little piggies.

My question is, should I try a larger size, maybe a 11.5, or do I count on my pain tollerance going up, calluses building, and the shoe molding a bit? I fear that if I go any larger, the heel will start slipping frequently. My current Evolv's are tight, but not as tight as some shoes I've worn. When I last climbed a lot--some 10 years ago--I remember squeezing into some tight shoes. These shoes are not that tight. And so, I am under the impression that if I deal with this pain for now, I'll have dynamo shoes in a couple months. I'm just wondering if, instead, I'm gonna have half-size-too-small-shoes that I can't return.

I think I fear that, because I don't have a baseline to test against, that is, because I haven't previously tried on a pair of climbing shoes with similar camber after climbing in well-fiting, more traditionally-cambered shoes, I have no way of knowing if the discomfort I feel is to be attributed to the new sensation of such an aggressively-cambered shoe, or to said shoe being too tight in general...

What say you? Anyone have any experience with Evolv shoes?

Well, that's it...your silence tell me I need to suck it up and toughen up. Anyways, upon wearing them around the house more, it's evident they are the correct size; I just need to get used to such an aggressive shoe. Walking is just horrible...the down-turned toe makes the curling of the toes even more extreme when the last is forced flat by body weight. I hope my calluses build up quickly...

Hmmm, I read your post, but I do not climb.

Just wanted you to know that somebody cares. I'm very picky about fit myself, if the feet ain't happy nobody's happy.

Personally I like my boots/shoes to be a size bigger than what I wear. Hiking the Grand Canyon 20 years taught me that whether I am hiking up or down steep trails, a boot that fits too tight or is just my size, is sore to be inside of by the end of a hike in or out of the backcountry.

I backpacked a lot from age 21 to age 30 and I had so much calluse on my feet I cut a lot of it off cause my feet got so stiff on the bottoms.

Now I tend to not wear heavy duty shoes and hike more like basecamp dayhikes than the 20 miler days I used to do when I was 25. I can still do a 10 mile day, but prefer it to be with a light pack and light shoes. They used to say in the 70s, every pound on your feet is twice as much on your back.

I just started climbing. What I was told anyway is that they are supposed to hurt. A friend of mine "who has climbed for 25+ years." Told me to get my shoes a full size smaller, but of course you should try on a bunch of different shoes to see how they fit.

In all honesty I was told no pain no gain. But like I said I'm a bit of an amateur.

I know what you mean... I'm used to my climbing shoes sizing a full size smaller than my street shoes, but these are already a half size larger...

When I used to buy mountaineering boots back in the 70s, I would start out to soften them up by filling them with hot water, emptying it out and putting the boots on and wearing them till they dried. Then I would put some sort of wax or water sealer on the outside and they would be "broken in". Otherwise it could take up to a month to do it on my feet.

Sorry, late reply due to work overload!

My personal belief is that it's not a good idea to equip beginners with super tight shoes.

One of the key points of climbing technique is to support and raise your weight using your feet, rather than your hands. Even the strongest climber will flame out fast climbing with arms alone. The problem with super tight shoes is that if your feet hurt badly enough, you'll do just about anything to keep the weight off them, including relying far more than you should on arm strength.

So for a beginner, my advice is usually to size the shoe so that your toes are butting right up against the front of the shoe, but are NOT curled over. When you get better (and your feet get stronger), maybe you'll want a super tight, high performance shoe, and will have the mental discipline and climbing familiarity to tolerate the pain. Fine - in that case turn the old ones into your "all day cruisers" for when you're out doing easy stuff. But for a beginner, it seems better to me to facilitate use of your feet by making sure you're comfortable.

In the case of the OP, it sounds like you're not really a beginner, even though you've been out of the sport for a while. Based on your post, it sounds like the shoes are probably big enough, but may not be the best shape for your feet. I generally resist buying new models of shoes over the internet, exactly because I want to check out how the shape hits my foot before I buy.

I can't say whether your new shoes will stretch, mold and get comfortable or not (or whether you'll develop calluses and/or tolerance), but if you have doubts, you might want to consider a different model or maker before your return period expires. (Any chance you can try some on in a local shop?) My experience has been that even synthetic shoes and synthetic lined shoes will "mold" to your feet to some extent, but the top of the toe box is not really subject to fully-weighted continuous pressure like the front and sides, and so may not change all that much.

In any case good luck!

Thanks, tokyo bill. My toes are curled pretty good. I've been wearing them for a couple weeks now, and I can tell they are getting more comfortable with each successive wearing; now whether that's from molding or tolerance is to be determined. I can keep them on, and walk--albeit with care--some decent amount of distance now, keeping them on for a half-hour at a time. At this point, I think I'm gonna keep 'em and see if they keep "breaking in," up to near the 50-day mark. I'll decide then if I want to spring for the next-larger pair.

I'm getting pretty excited, actually, because if these do end up fitting like they just might, I can tell they'll climb better than any other shoe I've worn, at least for their intended purpose.

kinda funny i just bought the same pair of shoes. size 9.5


how have the been doing for you ?

Getting better with each big is the 9.5 relative to your street shoe size?

These shoes are uber-sticky on steep cave-like overhangs. I still can't keep them on for very long, but they work well on the few bouldering routes I've used them on, and they heel hook well too. They do a number on my top toe knuckles though, and if I wear them for more than 40 minutes at a time my Achilles Tendon starts getting a bit sore, but I suppose that's par for the course.

I wear anywhere between a 10-11.5. they fit pretty well for my feet just cant wear them for very long as well. Haven't tried any routes yet just bouldering around in the gym.

Got them out on real rock today, some deep-water soloing on overhanging sandstone here in southern Illinois, and they performed admirably well both wet and dry!! Great sensitivity, and what turned out to be a perfect fit going a half-size larger than my street shoe size. Dime edges are now, literally, a dime a dozen.

Cool - glad to hear they're working out!

November 28, 2020
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