Evolv Cruzer Psyche
- Microfiber lined memory foam insole for lasting comfort
- Soft microporous EVA midsole
- 100% Cotton canvas
- Collapsible heel for slip-on use
Size Tested: 13
Days Tested: 11
Test Locations: Rocky Mountain Nation Park, Independence Pass, & Lumpy Ridge, CO; Spearfish Canyon, SD; North Cascades, WA.
If you happened to read the review I wrote a few years ago about the Evolv Cruzer (now called the Cruzer Classic), you may remember that I really liked it as a minimalist cross-over between a technical approach shoe and a more casual, around-town shoe, but that I wasn’t as fond of it for colder weather or longer approaches. Well, Evolv has now expanded the Cruzer line to include the more substantial Cruzer Psyche and the Zender. We have a review of the Zender coming shortly, but first, we’re going to go over the Psyche, discuss how it relates to the original Cruzer, then locate it within a larger approach shoe / footwear context.
Construction and Weight
The Cruzer Psyche (henceforth referred to just as the Psyche to avoid confusion) can be crudely described as a beefed-up version of the Cruzer Classic. Both shoes share a pretty similar last, but the Psyche has two major changes — extra padding and support throughout the upper, and slightly more volume overall, particularly in the toe box.
The Psyche features the same canvas upper as the Classic but adds an additional canvas liner and stitching throughout that add some heft to the shoe. Sure, it’s not much, but the result is a notable move away from the stark minimalism of the Cruzer Classic.
The upside here is that you get some extra warmth, padding, and general niceties about comfortable footwear that matter over the course of a long hike or scramble, while still maintaining a very lightweight package. In fact, despite the increased material in the upper, the Psyche is still one of the lightest approach shoes out there, with a stated weight of less than a pound (374 g / 13.2 oz) for the pair.
For context, Five Ten’s Guide Tennie is 375 g / 26.5 oz per shoe — twice that of the Psyche, and La Sportiva’s BoulderX weighs in at 964 g / 34 oz for the pair. I’m an enormous fan of lightweight footwear, especially if the hike is long or steep, and the Psyche delivers in this area.
The downsides to the beefier construction (compared to the Cruzer Classic) are, potentially, the added warmth (depending on your climate and preferences) and the ease of flattening the heel in order to convert them to make-shift slippers at the crag. Granted, this is still possible with the Psyche, but more material means less malleability, and the Psyche isn’t quite as comfortable as a slipper compared to the Cruzer Classic.
The extra volume in the Psyche results in a more relaxed feel compared to the Cruzer Classic, which has a very snug, precise fit. Though the Cruzer Classic wasn’t uncomfortably tight for me (for reference, I have average-volume feet), it was way more snug than most situations required. Because of this, I’m happy to have the bit of extra room when I’m hiking for long stretches or wearing the Psyche around town.
The flip side to the Psyche’s comfortable fit is that you lose some precision — more room for comfort means more room for your foot to move around inside the shoe. It also means your toes probably have a little more space between them and the rand rubber at the front. As a result, the Psyche feels sloppier than the Cruzer Classic and concedes some of the latter’s scrambling capability in return for being noticeably more comfortable on long approaches.
While I really like the looser fit for hiking, the extra room makes the Psyche feel like it runs a little large. I wore the Psyche in my street shoe size (13), and both times that I took them on hard scrambles, I wished I was in a 12.5 — in the 13’s my feet are able to slide from side-to-side on steep terrain and it makes the shoes feel less stable and precise. On the other hand, the shape of the Psyche’s last retains the asymmetry of the Classic, which helps keep more of your weight on your toes. This is a plus when scrambling and helps make up for some of the lost precision.
Pure Scrambling Performance
So, if the Psyche doesn’t maintain all the scrambling prowess of the Cruzer Classic but keeps some of the geometry favorable for semi-technical terrain, where does that put it amongst other approach shoes in terms of scrambling? The answer: still on the capable half of the spectrum.
The best way for me to break this down is to think about what I would reach for if I was heading off to do, say, a long 4th or low-5th class ridge traverse, or hike a 14er — something encompassing both technical scrambling and a long time spent on your feet.
For a day like that, I would take the Psyche over the Five Ten Camp Four or Adidas Terrex Solo because of the Psyche is lighter and less bulky while still being a comparably good scrambling shoe. However, I found the Psyche to be a step below the Salewa Mountain Trainer and SCARPA Crux for raw technical scrambling ability because of its looser fit, though it is lighter and stuffs into a pack easier than either of those shoes.
The Psyche is priced well below most of its rivals at $75. The next closest comparably priced shoes (outside of the Cruzer line) are the SCARPA Crux or Five Ten Aescent, each around $120. Most of the other approach shoes on the market go up from there: Five Ten’s Guide Tennie costs $140, Salewa’s Mountain Trainer is $170, and so on. This is a remarkable difference, one that makes a strong case for the Psyche being one of the best value hiking / approach shoes available.
The Evolv Psyche offers an appealing compromise between pure scrambling performance and more moderate trail / casual comfort. It retains some of the minimalism and low weight that defined the Cruzer Classic, but offers more comfort for longer hikes. Because the Psyche is still quite soft and extremely lightweight, it’s a phenomenal trail shoe that is able to handle itself just fine on patches of steep scrambling, though if you’re looking for maximum performance in technical to semi-technical terrain, a stiffer shoe like the Salewa Mountain Trainer or SCARPA Crux is probably more appropriate. The snug fit of the Cruzer Classic also offers more stability and precision on difficult terrain, but isn’t as comfortable on long hikes.
The Psyche’s blend of hiking comfort and decent scrambling ability is great for day hikes like those on many of Colorado’s 14ers where maintained trails frequently give way to rock-hopping and some scrambling. The Psyche makes a strong case for itself on this type of terrain on its own, and when price is factored in, it’s certainly worth a look.