“On steep terrain, I could roll into sidepull edges, and I knew right away I was standing in the perfect spot—it felt like there was nothing between me and the rock.” —Daniel Woods
December 13, 2017, San Jacinto Mountains, Riverside, California. Paul Robinson and Daniel Woods gathered at the Golden State’s incredible granite bouldering area Black Mountain to break in a new shoe, one designed for the intermediate-to-expert boulderer and sport climber alike. There, at 7,500 feet amidst twisting pine trees and bucolic hillsides, they warmed their hands in their puffy jackets and prepared to get on the rock. They weren’t there for slabs or vertical face problems, just steep, hard blocs—terrain the shoe is specifically designed for.
“The X1 takes overhanging climbing to another level,” Robinson said over the phone of the medium-volume blue, black, and yellow unlined slippers, which feature a single hook-and-loop closure system. They’re designed to fit like a snug sock. Because they’re so soft, they will fit a variety of foot shapes.
Like many of Evolv’s shoes- the X1 is completely free of animal byproducts, including the glue. Robinson and Woods contributed to the design in several ways, helping shape the toe point and heel structure, a ball form that cups the back of the foot and stays put even on the most demanding heel hooks. “They’re also touchy-feely,” Robinson added of the downturned, down-cambered slipper, which has a 4.2mm TRAX-SAS high-friction outsole. “The X1 will excel on steep terrain outside or in the gym.”
Also on the phone was Daniel Woods and team manager Matt Hulet. Woods chimed in:
“Even though the X1s are so sensitive, you can wear them for long periods because they are really comfortable.”
The X1s are different from anything currently in the Evolv lineup. At $140, they’re made to fit and perform like a top-level shoe, something in the $165–195 range, but with an emphasis on comfort and everyday use, and at a mid-level price point. The X1s are also packed with high-end features, including a sensitive EX-P 0.6mm midsole, high-tension heel rand, variable-thickness rand, thin high-friction toe patch, and downturned toe box. Robinson and Woods are looking forward to using the knowledge they’ve gained from helping design the X1 to create their new high-performance signature model, due out in spring 2019. Their signature shoe is expected to be the most expensive in the Evolv lineup.
A QUIVER OF SHOES
When asked if they planned to keep climbing in the X1s after their signature model is released, Robinson and Woods said they always like to have a quiver of shoes on hand, each with a different purpose.
Robinson said: “Like any line of climbing shoes, you have to have a wide gamut of stiff to downturned. Our signature shoe will have a stiffer toe—that’s one big difference—but the X1 will definitely remain in my lineup. The X1 will still be perfect for some problems.” Woods agreed.
LISTENING TO THE ATHLETES
Hulet emphasized that involving team athletes in the testing process is critical before taking a design to market, whether it’s a signature shoe or not. “We talk with our athletes and dial in every design based on their feedback,” he said.
Hulet continued, “We wanted to make a shoe for training in the gym, that’s downturned and aggressive and allows for heel and toe hooking, and that fits and feels like a slipper but with a single strap closure. With the X1, we nailed it.”