The Evolv X1

An Evo­lu­tion in high-per­for­mance slip­pers


“On steep ter­rain, I could roll into sidepull edges, and I knew right away I was stand­ing in the per­fect spot—it felt like there was noth­ing be­tween me and the rock.” —Daniel Woods

De­cem­ber 13, 2017, San Jac­into Moun­tains, River­side, Cal­i­for­nia. Paul Robin­son and Daniel Woods gath­ered at the Golden State’s in­cred­i­ble gran­ite boul­der­ing area Black Moun­tain to break in a new shoe, one de­signed for the in­ter­me­di­ate-to-ex­pert boul­derer and sport climber alike. There, at 7,500 feet amidst twist­ing pine trees and bu­colic hill­sides, they warmed their hands in their puffy jack­ets and pre­pared to get on the rock. They weren’t there for slabs or ver­ti­cal face prob­lems, just steep, hard blocs—ter­rain the shoe is specif­i­cally de­signed for.

“The X1 takes over­hang­ing climb­ing to an­other level,” Robin­son said over the phone of the medium-vol­ume blue, black, and yel­low un­lined slip­pers, which feature a sin­gle hook-and-loop clo­sure sys­tem. They’re de­signed to fit like a snug sock. Be­cause they’re so soft, they will fit a va­ri­ety of foot shapes.

Like many of Evolv’s shoes- the X1 is com­pletely free of an­i­mal byprod­ucts, in­clud­ing the glue. Robin­son and Woods con­trib­uted to the de­sign in sev­eral ways, help­ing shape the toe point and heel struc­ture, a ball form that cups the back of the foot and stays put even on the most de­mand­ing heel hooks. “They’re also touchy-feely,” Robin­son added of the down­turned, down-cam­bered slip­per, which has a 4.2mm TRAX-SAS high-fric­tion out­sole. “The X1 will ex­cel on steep ter­rain out­side or in the gym.”

Also on the phone was Daniel Woods and team man­ager Matt Hulet. Woods chimed in:

“Even though the X1s are so sen­si­tive, you can wear them for long pe­ri­ods be­cause they are re­ally com­fort­able.”

The X1s are dif­fer­ent from any­thing cur­rently in the Evolv lineup. At $140, they’re made to fit and per­form like a top-level shoe, some­thing in the $165–195 range, but with an em­pha­sis on com­fort and every­day use, and at a mid-level price point. The X1s are also packed with high-end fea­tures, in­clud­ing a sen­si­tive EX-P 0.6mm mid­sole, high-ten­sion heel rand, vari­able-thick­ness rand, thin high-fric­tion toe patch, and down­turned toe box. Robin­son and Woods are look­ing for­ward to us­ing the knowl­edge they’ve gained from help­ing de­sign the X1 to cre­ate their new high-per­for­mance sig­na­ture model, due out in spring 2019. Their sig­na­ture shoe is ex­pected to be the most ex­pen­sive in the Evolv lineup.


When asked if they planned to keep climb­ing in the X1s af­ter their sig­na­ture model is re­leased, Robin­son and Woods said they al­ways like to have a quiver of shoes on hand, each with a dif­fer­ent purpose.

Robin­son said: “Like any line of climb­ing shoes, you have to have a wide gamut of stiff to down­turned. Our sig­na­ture shoe will have a stiffer toe—that’s one big dif­fer­ence—but the X1 will def­i­nitely re­main in my lineup. The X1 will still be per­fect for some prob­lems.” Woods agreed.


Hulet em­pha­sized that in­volv­ing team ath­letes in the test­ing process is crit­i­cal be­fore tak­ing a de­sign to market, whether it’s a sig­na­ture shoe or not. “We talk with our ath­letes and dial in ev­ery de­sign based on their feed­back,” he said.

Hulet con­tin­ued, “We wanted to make a shoe for train­ing in the gym, that’s down­turned and ag­gres­sive and al­lows for heel and toe hook­ing, and that fits and feels like a slip­per but with a sin­gle strap clo­sure. With the X1, we nailed it.”

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