- Profile: Slightly cambered asymmetrical
- Sole: 4.2 mm TRAX® XE High Friction rubber
- Rand: VTR rand (thicker at toe)
- Upper: Synthetic (Synthratek VX)
- Lining: Synthetic
- Midsole: MX-P: 1.6mm full-length midsole
Size Tested: 13
Days Tested: 12
Test Locations: Independence Pass, Clear Creek Canyon, Eldorado Canyon, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO; Spearfish Canyon, SD
The Evolv Supra, one of the newest additions to Chris Sharma’s signature series of shoes, replaces the now-discontinued Luchador. While there are some similarities between the Supra and Luchador, there more differences, and the two shoes climb quite differently. Evolv describes the Supra as “the perfect down-cambered, powerful shoe that doesn’t sacrifice stiffness or comfort,” and aims it at intermediate-to-advanced climbers. This review focuses on what all this equates to in terms of on-rock performance, and why the Supra actually has more in common with shoes like the SCARPA Vapor V or the Five Ten Quantum than with its predecessor.
Last & Geometry
Evolv is spot-on in their placement of the Supra as a mid-range sport-climbing shoe. It’s modestly downturned and features some slight asymmetry across the midsole, which, combined with a toe-box that orients power towards the very front of the shoe, allows for precise footwork on edges and pockets. That said, the Supra is not so aggressive that it’s terribly uncomfortable after multiple pitches or an entire gym session. These factors comprise the bulk of the difference between the Supra and Luchador — the Supra essentially inherited the Luchador’s last and added minor tweaks, including a bit more downturn, a more tapered toe box, and a slimmer heel cup. Though they are similar in overall volume, anyone who wore the Luchadors will find the Supras to be somewhat more snug on account of the modestly more aggressive shape.
Size & Fit
While they are comfortable, in my street shoe size of 13 I’d describe the fit of the Supra as “performance-oriented.” And after climbing in them for a while, I think that’s the way to go since it allows you to take full advantage of the shoe’s shape characteristics mentioned above. If, however, you’re looking for a shoe for serious all-day use or have ambitions to climb up long, straight-in cracks, you might consider giving yourself an extra half size. One last important note on sizing — Evolv offers their climbing shoes in split sizes for $30 extra on their website, which is something to keep in mind if your left and right feet are different sizes.
TRAX XE Rubber & Construction
The sole of the Supra uses Evolv’s proprietary TRAX XE rubber. This is one of Evolv’s newest rubber compounds, and is designed more for edging than the softer TRAX SAS rubber that appears on every other Evolv shoe (save for the upcoming General, which will also use TRAX XE). Though the compounds are different, TRAX XE and TRAX SAS are analogous to Vibram’s XS Edge and XS Grip — one harder compound for sustained edging, one softer compound for friction and sensitivity. In general, I thought the TRAX XE compared favorably to the Vibram XS Grip, the softer of the two Vibram compounds, while the TRAX SAS is a bit softer still. Overall, I had no complaints about the Supra’s rubber.
The rubber of the Supra’s toe cap is molded, rather than shaved down, which allows the rubber to be thicker where the shoe sees a lot of action, and thinner off to the sides. This is a nice feature that aims to help the shoes last a bit longer between resoles. It goes without saying that you’ll eventually break them down and have to get them resoled, but at least you’ll have a slightly greater buffer before you do irreparable damage to the rand.
Above the toe cap, a triangular patch of TRAX rubber provides good coverage for toe hooks, and I’d say the Supra toe hooks well enough, but not spectacularly. It’s essentially right in line with what you’d want from an intermediate-to-advanced sport/gym shoe. The rest of the upper consists of Evolv’s light synthetic Synthratek VX, which gives way to three slender, alternating velcro straps lashed across a thin, split tongue.
The Supra is a quality work-horse sport-climbing shoe. The shape of the shoe focuses support towards the front of the inside edge, which makes the Supra feel precise when working with the front of your toes, like you would with pockets or edges of a certain shape and orientation. This is more noteworthy when you consider the Supra’s relatively modest downturn — it isn’t the surgical tool that the Sportiva Solution, Scarpa Instinct VS, or Evolv Agro are, but it also fits more casually than those shoes, making it an easier choice for long days at the crag with friends, or regular gym sessions.
In general, the Supra handles face climbing with satisfying competence. Edging on near-to-just-past-verticaI rock is really the Supra’s home turf. It doesn’t stand out from similar shoes on really steep or pocketed limestone, but it does those things well enough given the Supra’s intended market of intermediate-to-advanced climbers. If you’re looking for an advantage on steep, hard limestone, you need a more aggressive shoe than this anyway, and should probably turn your attention to shoes like the Evolv Agro, SCARPA Vapor V, La Sportiva Genius, or Solution, etc. The Supra is better suited for those who’ve been sport climbing or bouldering for some time, and are now at the point where slightly more precise / aggressive shoeswill make a discernible difference in their experience.
A more helpful comparison to the Supra might be to think of it as a slightly less aggressive SCARPA Vapor V. Both feature moderate downturn and asymmetry (though the Vapor V has slightly more, and feels more snug as a result), both have a middle-of-the-road midsole in terms of stiffness, and they’re both geared towards pockets and edges while maintaining some comfort for longer use. The Vapor V gets a little more precision out of it’s shape, but the two shoes climb fairly similarly.
The Evolv Supra offers a nice blend of performance and comfort, perfect for intermediate sport climbers (those looking to progress through the 5.10 to 5.11+/5.12- grades), or advanced climbers who want a more comfortable shoe for the gym or casual cragging. The Supra’s shape strikes a nice balance between precision and comfort, and the new TRAX XE rubber seems to be able to handle granite and limestone as well as other medium-firm rubbers on the market.
That said, the Supra isn’t for everyone. Trad climbers might want more room in the top of the toe box, less downturn, or both, and sport climbers or boulderers looking for a shoe for the hardest routes and problems should check out more aggressive, specialized options. But for the intermediate-to-advanced climber looking for a competent face-climbing shoe with a pretty comfortable fit, the Evolv Supra is worth a look.