The X1, from Evolv's Ultra Performance line of climbing shoes, offers an aggressive, performance-oriented, vegan friendly shoe at an affordable price. Emphasizing sensitivity and simplicity, the X1 is geared towards boulderers and sport climbers who focus on steep, hard climbing.
The X1 boasts Evolv Trax SAS Rubber with a thinner sole than many of their other shoes. The single strap design is simpler than the closure systems of their other shoes (the Oracles use laces; the Shamans have three straps; the Agros have a pulley-system that mimics a two strap closure while only using single strap), emphasizing a tighter fit on the heel. The Mega Molded Trax SAS Toe Patch allows for more stretch in the front of the foot while still covering the parts of the shoe most likely to be used for toe-hooking. Finally, the heel is constructed in two parts: a rubber cup with a thicker, stiff spine of rubber that offers a higher degree of tension with which to pull against. This, coupled with a high tension heel rand, provides a stable feel in the heel and through the toe.
The X1 is a narrow shoe; it will fit tight from the heel to the toe. Expect some stretch, but not much. This shoe definitely favors climbers with a smaller foot profile for their size. That said, Evolv's Variable Thickness Rand system decreases hot spots by utilizing less rubber in areas prone to pressure. The single strap closer allows for some relief in the toe box while still offering a heel that will stay in place.
The X1 is designed to be one of Evolv's most sensitive shoes; the sole is thinner than most of their other models. That said, you should not expect sensitivity on the level of Five Ten or Unparalleled. For climbers used to wearing those brands, these will still be stiff and may offer a good shoe with which to transition to harder rubber. For climbers that already wear Evolvs, the difference will be noticeable.
All in the all, the X1 is an excellent performance oriented shoe that toes the line between the super-stiff and the super-soft; this means that they will perform best on steep terrain and in the gym, but can still manage on those small edges in the Buttermilks. The tight fit makes them a good choice for more experienced climbers accustomed to aggressive, down-turned shoes or for climbers with thinner feet. If you're looking for a shoe with more durability than the softer options out there but with more sensitivity than the stiffer shoes available, we recommend you give these a try!
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