Evolv Luchador Lace
Size Tested: 13.5
Profile: Slightly cambered semi-asymmetric
- Upper: Synthetic leather (Synthratec) with leather footbed
- Lining: Microfiber
- Midsole: MX-P: 1.5 mm full-length
- Sole: 4.2 mm TRAX high friction rubber
- Rand: VTR rand (thicker front toe area)
Stated Weight per Shoe: 7.0 oz (men’s size 9)
Reviewer’s Feet: size 13 street shoe, medium-volume, low arch, neutral gait
Days Tested: 20
Locations Tested: South Platte, Eldorado Canyon, Clear Creek & Boulder Canyons, Lumpy Ridge, CO; Wild Iris, Fremont Canyon, WY
Evolv designed the Luchador to work on everything from technical cracks to open faces to hard routes in the gym. Since there is always a place for a well-rounded performer, we were interested to get our feet in them and see where the Luchador really shined, and how it stacked up against some of the other well-known, jack-of-all-trade shoes out there.
I’ve worn the Luchador (the lace-up version) all around Colorado and Wyoming, in as many places and situations as possible, to try to get a sense for how well it lives up to its do-it-all billing. I’ve taken the Luchador on a diverse selection of different styles of climbs to get a sense of how they held up when compared to some of my favorite shoes from each category: face climbing, crack climbing, and slabs.
I wore the Luchador in 13.5 which yielded a snug but not excessively tight fit. My street shoe is typically a 13, and I was surprised with how snug the 13.5 Luchador was. I can wear them comfortably for a pitch or two, but that’s about it. Long sessions in the gym or multi-pitch climbs require me to take them off from time to time. This fit is exactly what I wanted from the shoe, but I had to go up a half size to get it, so take that into consideration.
But once I bumped up in size to get the right fit (a fit comparable to my other shoes), I’d say that the Luchador is relatively higher-volume than many shoes of its type; more similar, for instance, to the Five Ten Anasazi velcro than the La Sportiva Miura or SCARPA Vapor. It’s not quite as high volume as some iterations of the Anasazi, but it’s close. This makes the Luchador a good alternative for climbers who can’t quite get a perfect fit in to the Miura, and I’d say that the Luchador is best suited to someone who sits between the Miura and Anasazi in terms of volume.
By most appearances, the Luchador shares many characteristics with the La Sportiva Miura Lace and the SCARPA Vapor. The Luchador has a similar combination of slight downturn and moderate asymmetry that make it very precise while still being fairly sensitive. It’s not super stiff like the La Sportiva TC Pro or Five Ten Anasazi Guide. Rather, the Luchador draws its edging ability from the shape of the last rather than a stiff sole, which allows it to mimic the powerful-yet-sensitive capacity that makes the Miura lace and Vapor so successful.
All that is to say, the Luchador is excellent at technical face climbing, from slab to slightly overhanging. It’s also great for the technical footwork that often accompanies difficult trad climbs, particularly the face climbing, intensive trad style of Eldorado Canyon, CO, or granite corners and / or finger cracks where successful footwork is largely concerned with smearing, edging, and otherwise working the edges of the crack.
Because the shape of the Luchador’s last is a bit aggressive for an all-around shoe, it does pretty well on pockets, and slightly less well on steep overhangs. No surprises here. The precision when toe-ing in on something is plenty for face climbs that hover around 90 degrees, but much steeper than that and the difference between the Luchador and more specialized sport shoes, such as the SCARPA Instinct or Five Ten Dragon or Hiangle, becomes very apparent. Such is the fate of the all-around climbing shoe.
In cracks, the Luchador shares some of the same limitations as the La Sportiva Miura lace or SCARPA Vapor: it’s not the best choice for straight in jamming. In order to really take advantage of the Luchador’s strengths, the fit I settled on was snug enough to be uncomfortable in thin hands cracks. For perfect hands and larger cracks, the Luchador (when fit ideally, anyway) does reasonably well, but saying a shoe climbs perfect hand cracks well is hardly a strong statement about its ability.
Compared to a strictly face climbing shoe like the Miura VS or SCARPA Instinct, the Luchador handles cracks relatively gracefully. But on the other side of the coin, the Luchador lags behind established crack shoes like the La Sportiva Katana and TC Pro, or Five Ten Anasazi.
On granite slabs in the South Platte and Lumpy Ridge, Colorado, the middle-of-the-road stiffness of the Luchador climbs competently, but it took me some practice to develop an intuitive sense for how to use them best. What I mean is, trad shoes have two real schools of design when it comes to slabs: truly soft shoes like the Five Ten Moccasym are great for dropping your heel and draping the entire sole over the rock from almost any angle. On the other hand, you’ve got extremely stiff shoes like the La Sportiva TC Pro that are less willing to fold in half, but counter that by allowing you to stand up on miniscule nubs and crystals.
In each case, based on how much flex the shoe allows across the midsole and down the center line of your foot, it is fairly clear which technique you’re going to use. With the Luchador, I pawed my way up some granite at Lumpy Ridge before settling into a comfortable sense of how to deploy it to maximum effect—by edging where possible rather than padding steadily upwards.
As for hooking with either heel or toe: meh. We’re talking about a vertical sport or technical trad shoe here, so while it heel hooks securely (partly resulting from the security offered by a snug lace up closure), the Luchador is definitely not what you’re reaching for if your boulder project requires a technical hook. The slightly larger volume nature of the shoe makes heel hooking in the Luchador less precise than in the La Sportiva Miura, but it’s not a big deal. In general, shoes in this category play to not lose rather than playing to win as far as hooking goes, and the Luchador is no different. So no surprises here.
I don’t tend to offer my thoughts on the looks or aesthetics of gear, partly because I value functionality so much more, and partly because asking me to ruminate on fashion is like trying to start a book club with a baboon. I grew up in the Kurt Cobain, David Foster Wallace era. What can I say?
With that full disclosure, the Luchador almost demands some comment on its style. Many climbing shoes take inspiration either from eponymous icons from the climbing world (e.g., Piton, Astroman, Copperhead, Solution, Grandstone, TC Pro, etc.) or misty, overly-serious images from the Mad Max universe or an Xbox game (Dragon, Furia, Blackwing, Instinct, Vapor, Feroce, Shaman, Anasazi, and so on). To say that the Luchador bucks this trend is a hilarious understatement. It’s even out of step with the rest of Evolv’s line. What to make of this? Who knows. But if you’ve been waiting for shoes with shiny upper material and lightning bolts emblazoned on the sides, then this is your moment!
All told, the Luchador does a decent job fitting into the jack-of-all-trades category. It’s a bit stiffer than the La Sportiva Miura lace not as stiff as the Miura VS, nor does it feel quite as aggressive as the latter.
Compared to the La Sportiva Miura or Vapor, it’s a half step less precise, though some climbers will probably prefer the Luchador for its higher volume last and slightly stiffer sole.
While purchasing all-around gear is generally a good philosophy for those just getting started, the Luchador has more firepower than you need from a first pair of shoes (or shoes that are going to get eaten alive by the rough and gritty holds in a gym). And if you’re learning to climb cracks or you’re headed to Indian Creek, you’re better off looking elsewhere. However, if you’re breaking into difficult terrain and want a pair of shoes to bring to both sport and trad crags, the Luchador is worth a look.