I interviewed one climber this week for our Sunday Sesh series on climbing shoes and what the locals use, like, and look for in a climbing shoe. Since she said I could use her name, I will, because I think that Megan has a lot to offer us in terms of climbing shoe knowledge, despite her commenting to me that, “I’m not very educated about climbing shoes.” I beg to differ!
Megan was gracious enough to take the time to answer my short battery of questions on climbing shoes, which began with the question of what her favorite climbing shoes were and/or what climbing shoes she wore the most. She had the pair that I see her wearing often out, and then she produced a different, newer-looking pair of shoes from her bag. The shoes that she likes the most are the well-loved and much-used pair of blue and black Evolv climbing shoes that she wasn’t sure of the model of (thus, her comment about being uneducated about shoes). This pair of shoes had definitely been worn and was in sore need of repair, with holes in the toes and other obvious wear. She told me about this pair of shoes and I was intrigued by Megan’s insight into shoe knowledge that she doesn’t even know she has! She even did a comparison with the other, newer pair of shoes – a pair of similar-looking Scarpa climbing shoes that she didn’t know the model of, either, which is perfectly okay! As a side note, I looked up Evolv’s website and I’m reasonably sure that the worn, and well-loved pair of shoes that Megan showed me are of the Evolv Kira species, for reference.
Before I even asked what she liked about her shoes, Megan did a fantastic comparison of features between the two pairs and told me why she likes the Evolv pair best. “I really like these shoes (Evolv pair). They have great rubber – they’re sticky and soft. They’re really comfortable and they’re Velcro. This other pair (Scarpa), not so much. I mean, they’re okay, but they’re not as soft and the rubber isn’t sticky. I just..don’t like them as much.” She said a ton in just a few sentences about these shoes!!! First, the Evolv pair has the Trax rubber, which is different than the Vibram rubber that Scarpa uses. Even though the two pairs of shoes looked similar, there were vast differences between them. Megan likes the comfort of the Evolv shoes, which she would bring up again as I asked the next few questions. The rubber on the Evolv pair was both sticky and soft, so she had great sensitivity and they were good for technical climbing due to these properties of the rubber used. She likes the Velcro – easy on and off. The Scarpas weren’t comfortable and she really noticed the difference in the rubber. For her, the sticky, soft nature of the Trax rubber in the Evolv shoes was the deal-maker for the Evolv pair, and the deal-breaker for the Scarpa pair. When she spoke of the Evolv climbing shoes that she held in her hands, she was excited. A tone of disdain took over when she talked to me about the Scarpa climbing shoes. For her, the Evolv [Kira] climbing shoes were the way to go.
I asked next about general fit and how tight she likes her shoes. “They have a nice, comfy fit. Not painful.” She was, of course, talking about the pair of Evolv shoes. The last question I asked her had me puzzled until I looked up Evolv’s sizing recommendations online. Her street shoe size is a 6.5 US, and her Evolv climbing shoe size is a 7.5 US. I would’ve thought that she was mistaken, except she looked at the tags of her shoes right in front of me and told me the sizes. On the Evolv website, it tells you to size up from your street shoe size for a more comfortable fit. I had never heard of such a sizing recommendation before. The sizing recommendation, though, comes from the fact that Evolv bases their sizing on a tight fit in your street shoe size without sizing down for that tight fit, like most other climbing shoe manufacturers do. That, too, then, contributes to the comfort of the Evolv climbing shoes that Megan has! The lesson here? Know thy feet! And Megan definitely does!
The reason that this interview was so valuable was because it opened my eyes to a fact that I had overlooked in choosing a pair of climbing shoes: if they’re comfortable, they fit, and you like the way they help you climb, then that’s the pair for you! You don’t have to know the name of the model to know that that particular pair of climbing shoes is what works for you!!! So, Megan, you taught me a lot, and I thank you for your time, and I wish you many moons of happy crushing on the rock!!! This has been the Sunday Sesh, No. 3.