Evolv Phantom Preview - The New Bouldering Performer?

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The evolv Phantom has been in development for what seems like years. Eagerly awaited and much hyped, this shoe was designed to be the ultimate bouldering performance climbing shoe. As we aren't able to fully test the shoe right now we'll be doing a quick preview before the full evolv Phantom review.

The shoe has just released in March 2020 after around two years of testing and refinement and now available at a few online retailers. There were prototypes floating around and some earlier versions that looked a little different. This design was given the OK after it's last testing period with Daniel Woods.

The shoe was designed with the input of Daniel Woods and Paul Robinson. The evolv Phantom was targeted from the start at overhanging boulder problems and hard sports routes. The asymmetry, detailed construction of the toe, and the massive amount of rubber all add up.

Daniel Woods snagged the first pair of the final design and managed to take down 3 8C+, 4 8C, and 3 8B+ boulders with them. Read on for a preview of all the details before our full evolv Phantom review. Without access to crags or a gym we can't give a full low down quite yet.

Evolv Phantom Review

evolv Phantom - Worn by Daniel Woods

$185 at Backcountry

$184.95 at Moosejaw

Check price at REI

Rubber: 4.2mm Trax SASDownturn: Extreme downturn
Shape: Very asymmetricClosure: Six point adjustable single pull
Stiffness: Medium softSizing: Half size down from street shoe - see fit info

Build

The last of the shoe is very down turned and very asymmetric. This basically means your foot will be curled downwards and in - giving the toe the most power when you push down. The 4.2mm of Trax SAS is evolv's stickiest and softest rubber. The most friction but not the most durable. This shoe can be resoled.

The inside of the show is evolv's new "Neoflex" technology. Essentially it's a flexible neoprene "sock" that helps the fit of the toes and forefoot while adding to compression when pushing down. It has two mid-soles - one variable thickness at the front for fit, and one larger for keeping tension.

The closure of shoe is really well designed. If you are used to something like the La Sportiva Solution, it works similarly but with more adjustability. It has six loops connected with a single pull tab to close which velcros to the side. You can adjust the fit mid session, and shorten and lengthen the fabric closure overall too. How well the velcro sticks will be quite important.

evolv Phantom review
The Phantom is almost completely wrapped in rubber

There is a huge amount of rubber around the shoe. The heel has a strap of Trax SAS rubber wrapped from the bottom to the top, and then a thinner rubber around the sides. There is also the classic evolv rubber wrap from the back of the heel round to underneath the foot arch. This keeps the heel sucked in for heel hooks.

More rubber goes around the side of the shoe to keep the shape and then a larger patch covers the whole top of the foot. Essentially all of this rubber means that you can "scum" your foot in any position on the wall to get friction. It also means a very stiff fit that won't change the shape much over time. It's also pretty fiddly to get on - but then the shoe won't budge once it's fitted.

Performance

The shoe is softer in the mid foot but stiffer at the toes - though not super stiff. Bouldering shoes are traditionally very soft and this shoe is nearly there. It retains the feel and sensitivity needed by having a very detailed mix of rubber thickness throughout. The aim of the design was to allow flex but keep tension when pushing upwards from that flexed position.

evolv Phantom review
The neat six point closure system is great for adjusting fit

The extreme shape really pushes the foot into a hooked position. The big toe hook then means all of the pressure from your foreleg can push down into one point. It does mean this shoe isn't very comfortable for longer routes. Definitely one to slip off between attempts. It's really not meant for slabs and smears and won't do well in those situations.

The evolv Phantom is very advanced shoe meant for advanced boulderers and steep sport climbs. The high price point reflects that amount of design work and technology that's been put into the shoe.

Fit + Sizing

Evolv advise that Phantom should be fitted at street shoe size for a comfort fit. For a performance fit they advise to go down one half size. For Women evolv say to go down an extra 1.5 sizes based on the same advice i.e. Women's 8 = Men's 6.5.

Evolv Phantom Summary

If you are into hard bouldering and want a new performance shoe - this is a good bet. Evolv have made brilliant bouldering shoes and this is their latest and greatest - both the agro and X1 and firm bouldering favorites.

As soon as we are able to get the evolv Phantom review ready by testing on real rock and indoors walls we will release it.

Evolv Phantom climbing shoe - new for 2019
The evolv Phantom climbing shoe explained by Mike Turner of evolv

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