Evolv Cruzer Approach Shoe
- Upper: 100% Cotton canvas with medial vents
- Lining: Microfiber
- Closure: Lace closure with two eyelets and dual overlap tongue
- Insole: Microfiber lined memory foam
- Midsole: Soft microporous EVA
- Outsole: TRAX® high friction rubber with edging platform
- Rand: High friction durable rubber toe
Size tested: 13
Stated weight per shoe: ~218 grams (size 9)
Days tested: 50+
Locations: Rocky Mountain National Park, Eldorado, & South Platte, Colorado; Indian Creek, Castle Valley, UT; Central Cascades, WA; Vedauwoo, WY.
The Evolv Cruzer probably isn’t what comes to mind when you picture an approach shoe. Its canvas exterior, low cut top, and street shoe aesthetic are definitely a break from more traditional options like the Five Ten Guide Tennie or La Sportiva BoulderX. The Cruzer looks way more low-key, save for the seemingly mandatory stripe of sticky rubber wrapped around the toe of all approach shoes. As I was putting them on for the first time, I remember thinking that the Cruzers looked more like a pair of Chuck Taylors than technical footwear.
Turns out, that isn’t a bad thing.
The Cruzer has an all-canvas upper, protected in the front by sticky rubber around the toe. The canvas is doubled up around the heel.
In daily use around town, this heel area sees very little wear, and for a while I thought this was a pretty superfluous addition to the shoe. But after one heel-toe cam into a short off-width up in Vadauwoo, I was glad that it was there, and I’ve since come to realize that this simple heel reinforcement is a clever way of addressing most of the climbing needs of this shoe.
I’m never going to be wearing approach shoes for hard face climbing, thin cracks, or anything very technical that would require actual climbing shoes. I do occasionally have approach shoes in the mix if there’s some moderate off-width or hand cracks involved, in which case the Cruzer’s reinforced heel and toe rubber is perfectly sufficient.
This was the case several times in Vedauwoo, when gaining the upper ledges required some short, easy, crack climbing. I did have to put the Cruzers through a few jams or heel-toe cams, and though I wasn’t about to switch shoes or rope up, I also didn’t want to have my regular shoes eaten alive. The tough canvas and extra material near the Cruzer’s heel is great for this type of scrambling.
The shoe’s closure system involves thin laces over a dual-tongue. The dual tongue design, much like the one found in the Five Ten Stonelands, is essentially two overlapping pieces of canvas that are connected length-wise to the upper, rather than one piece of fabric connected only near the toe. This means the tongue doesn’t slide off to one side as you walk around.
The Cruzer has is an extremely comfortable fit that makes it feel more like a slipper than serious approach footwear, yet it is also quite snug.
In fact, as Evolv notes, the soft canvas around the heel also folds down easily so they can be worn exactly like slippers (easy-on, easy-off) which is great for wandering around the base of a crag. The flexible sole also helps make the shoe extremely packable relative to most other approach shoes. You can easily fold them in half to fit them in a pack, and they come in on the lighter side at ~218 grams per shoe (in a size 9). The low-cut, soft heel initially had me worried that my heel was going to slip up and out of the shoe, but the shoe’s sole flexes easily through the middle, and I’ve never stepped out of the shoe, even while scrambling. And the TRAX rubber on the Cruzer’s flexible sole grips rock securely and has held up very well.
The softer sole and snug fit of the Cruzer also make for a shoe that feels extremely precise. More so, in fact, than any other approach shoe I’ve worn, especially clunkier, do-it-all approach shoes like the 5.10 Guide Tennie or Salewa Mtn Trainer. The Patagonia Rover is a close second when it comes to sensitivity and precision, but the Rover also has some trail running DNA, which makes the fit a bit roomier than the Cruzer’s.
All these factors combine to make the Cruzer at least as good as any approach shoe out there for the garden-variety scrambling and rock hopping you’ll run into on a 14er or alpine approach.