Kai's Go-To Climbing Shoe.
Chris Sharma's classic Shaman takes on a new name this year: Kai Lightner. This Limited Edition Kai Lightner Signature Shaman Climbing Shoe is Evolv's engineered shoe for agile and versatile climbers and is equipped with extra rubber for more toe-hooking and heel-hooking. The Shamans have a synthetic upper so it will maintain its shape and size long into use. The moderate downturn will keep you on fierce routes, and the hook-and-loop closure will keep these shoes on your feet while you're pulling that over-the-head heel-hook you need to top out.
- High-performance climbing shoe designed with crushers in mind
- Ideal for bouldering and sport climbing on steep, overhung walls
- Downturned with knuckle toe box for precise placing
- Thick high-friction rubber on toe, sole, and heel for sticking moves
- Hook-and-loop closure for tight, supportive fit
- Item #EVL001J
- Q & A
Comfortable once broken in
- Familiarity: I've used it several times
Order a full size up. Love the 2nd color option from the orange and blue one. The synthetic upper isn't going to stretch, nor is the overall length, but the shoe will soften, which is what the break in is accomplishing in the case of these. You have to get the length correct and make sure the shape fits the contour of your toes.
To address some recommendations I commonly see, these are not beginner shoes. I've heard that suggested a few times, and it's simply ridiculous. These are aggressively cambered which is going to be awful for new climbers. Secondly, they have an extremely thick sole which is not good for beginners who need to work on footwork. As a result, they are not a sensitive shoe but they can edge as good as most anything I've ever tried. They are nothing short of confidence inspiring on tiny edges and not just on steep terrain, they're incredible for micro edges on slabs and vertical routes. That stiffness with rubber on the top and bottom makes them incredibly good at heel and toe hooking as well. The primary sacrifice IMO is in smearing where a softer shoe is generally greatly appreciated. But, they're still usable in all departments so don't rule them out, they're just not going to act like slippers on smeary stuff. I haven't tried, but I could see these being good for thin cracks, or mixed crack and face routes, where the velcro isn't going to be a huge issue.
Break in, they hurt at first, a lot. The toe box is fairly low volume so expect pressure from all sides. This is something that beginners and intermediate level climbers will likely not have experienced unless they've jumped into aggressive or under-sized shoes before. I have a medium-wide and fairly flat foot and the first few times I could only stand to wear these for 10 - 20 minutes and that was pushing it. Out of the box I almost returned them because of the top pressure. After about 3 sessions I could do a full hour as long as my nails are properly trimmed and I don't do something stupid like accidentally kick the wall. As the shoe softens, one can expect to be able to handle much longer sessions assuming the toe box is the correct shape of the climbers foot. In my case, like most evolv shoes, the shape of the shoe has almost the perfect curve for my toes.
The closure is excellent but actually overkill IMO. I could climb in these without any velcro, a single top strap would be sufficient for me. I'm not coming out of them period.
As already stated, they are phenomenal for toe and heel hooking. However, the heel is fairly low volume compared to shoes like Anasazi VCS. If you have a very deep heel, these may not feel right, I could see these being too low volume for some feet. But if they fit, they can hook like no other. This was one of the primary reasons I ordered these and I'm not disappointed, just an incredible amount of power with these.
So, overall, they're a great aggressive shoe if they are sized correctly and if they fit your foot. They're one of the only aggressive shoes that fit my flat-ish feet well, There's some 5.10's and Boreal that I like, but Sportivas are almost all horrible for me. I can't comment yet on durability, it seems like a mixed bag of they'll last forever and I blew through them in 2 months. If you have careful and deliberate footwork, I can't see these being short lived. There's just too much rubber to go through. They occasionally go on sale, so watch for that, but if they fit your foot, they should be a great aggressive shoe for sport, bouldering, and the gym.