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Evolv Rave Review (2023): All-in-One Comfort and Performance?

Evolv Rave review
The Rave from Evolv is a neutral, slipper-style climbing shoe built for performance and comfort. With its attractive price and clean lines, this climbing shoe warrants a deeper dive.

Bottom Line

9Expert Score
A very good slipper climbing shoe with tensioned rand for an optimal fit.
If you’re after a comfortable shoe that’s easy to take on and off and offers solid all-around qualities, the Rave is worth checking out. It gets around the preconceived notions about slipper climbing shoes by using a high-tension heel rand. This avoids the dreaded baggy heel.

While these work as specialist sender shoes, their neutral shape, comfort, and support make them an excellent choice for all-day climbing. Cutting-edge precision and comfort are fairly well-balanced here. They’ll even stay in place for some heel hooking.

Their full-length midsole and outsole offer decent protection and support. This, coupled with its relatively competitive price, makes the Evolv Rave a solid choice for climbers of all levels.
Comfort
9.5
Performance
9
Durability
8.5
Value for Money
9
PROS
  • Awesome shoe for most situations
  • Good balance of features and comfort
  • Trax SAS rubber offers great grip and is fairly durable
  • The unlined leather means maximum breathability and comfort
CONS
  • No fastening system means no custom fit
  • The leather upper takes a minute to break in
  • Pull loops mightn’t last as long as the rest of the shoe
  • Small-mid profile heels might experience some bagginess

What Kind of Shoe is the Evolv Rave?

Evolv Rave climbing slipper with soft leather upper form

Fans of the slip-on style shoe find them comfortable and convenient. But not everyone agrees. Detractors of this type of climbing shoe often malign them as baggy-heeled slippers. The newly designed heel on the Evolv Rave does not suffer from this common issue—or at least not nearly as much as some of its rivals.

The Rave is built upon the company’s previous slipper model, the Addict. But Evolv has added some features and improved the fit over their previous model. The heel redesign reduces the likelihood of a baggy-heeled experience. We included this model in our selection of the best climbing shoes for beginners, while we tend to steer newcomers away from slippers altogether.

Evolv Rave climbing shoes with a perfectly fitting slipper
© 📷: @bobbysorich on Instagram

The high-tension rand helps with this. But the overall snug fit coupled with the soft, unlined leather upper means the shoe molds to the shape of your foot with time. Don’t despair if the heel doesn’t feel perfect immediately. Give it time.

Thicker rubber in high-wear zones protects the foot and means increased longevity. Thinner rand rubber at critical points means increased feedback and excellent edging. A full-length 1mm insole and a full-length Trax SAS 4.2mm outsole provides maximum support without feeling too stiff. The leather, semi-stiffness, and good protection give a sense of confidence while wearing the Rave.

Sizing

Evolv Rave climbing shoes

The Rave is a unisex model. Thankfully, it’s available in half sizes too. Because it’s unisex, women should go as much as one-and-a-half size down from your street shoe size for a snug fit on a narrow foot. Those with mid-high volume feet should go at least a half size down from their usual shoe. If you’ve bought shoes from Evolv before and were happy with their fit, you should be safe with ordering the same size.

Comfort

Climber putting on the Rave for a climbing session
© 📷: @bobbysorich on Instagram

This is one of the key design features of the Rave. Most brands’ slippers focus on comfort at the expense of performance. Though they may feel a little tight initially, the Rave’s soft leather upper forms to your feet. They will feel snug before they stretch to fit. The VTR rand also means protection at high-wear sections while reducing pressure points by thinning out in key areas. The friction hot spots common in other rock shoes are not present here. It’s a shot that offers precision and comfort in fairly equal measures.

Performance

Evolv Rave climbing shoe

Edging

The clean lines and slip-on styling could fool you into thinking this is another low-performance, super chilled-out shoe. But the Evolv Rave climbing shoe can crush on the right person. These are amazing slippers and offer pretty good precision for edging. Once broken in, the shoes fit like other brands’ neutral models. Crucially, that VTR rand allows you to feel the rock to apply power more efficiently. The thicker front toe area is only thicker by comparison. It’s still plenty slim enough for most smaller-mid-sized pockets and edges.

Smearing

The Trax SAS outsole offers maximum durability with decent traction. It’s sticky in warmer conditions–and performs reasonably well across a range of temperatures. On everything but the smoothest slab, the smearing is good here.

Rave Evolv with molded vtr to reduce pressure points

Hooking

This is better than you might think at first glance. The Evolv Rave is certainly not hook-specific and is ultimately more suited to vertical climbing. But with an all-leather upper and generous rubber wrapping the heel, an occasional cheeky hook is possible. You can also be more confident that these will stay on during a heel hook than previous generations of slippers.

Jamming

The narrow toe box is small enough to be jammed into vertical cracks and holds there. Whether or not the thin layer of unlined soft leather is enough protection for your toes depends on your constitution. This awesome shoe was designed to hold up over multi-pitch climbs with various technical challenges. They can jam. But probably not all day. Some of us prefer more rubber to protect our toes.

Use

Evolv Rave on feet
© 📷: @bobbysorich on Instagram

Sport Climbing

Those looking for every possible edge might consider a more aggressive shoe than the Rave. But those sport-climbing multi-pitch routes where a little bit of everything is required could do way worse than the Rave. Especially, if there’s going to be a lot of walking, standing around, and swapping of footwear.

Outdoor vs Gym Climbing

reviewer testing the Rave shoes in the gym
© Evolv

The Trax SAS rubber outsole is designed for maximum friction on different rock types and plastic holds. It’s intended as an all-around rubber for all kinds of surfaces at various temperatures. And it performs admirably in both the gym and at the crag.

Bouldering

While they could certainly hold up to some light bouldering use, the Rave is more suited to the vertical stuff. There’s not enough in the toe area for these to be ideal for hook-heavy, overhanging boulder action.

Evolv Rave rubber outsole reinforced in high-wear zones

Trad and Crack Climbing

This is where this shoe shines. The stiff, full-length midsole and arch wings outsole make these great for long, challenging trad routes and cracks. There’s enough support here to prevent foot fatigue. But the fit also feels forgiving and confidence-inspiring.

Conclusion

Evolv leather upper

These comfortable, all-around slippers perform well on even the smallest edges and nubs. Their variable thickness rand (VTR) offers support and durability where needed but slims down for added sensitivity in select areas. These have changed a lot of preconceived notions about slip-on climbing shoes. And they’re budget-friendly too. Much more than another pair of baggy-heeled slippers. Recommended.

Facts

Technical Specs

Weight8.7 oz/247 g
FitPerformance
DownturnNeutral
ShapeLow asymmetry
VolumeMedium
StiffnessBalanced
Sole thickness4.2 mm
ClosureSlipper
ResoleableYes
VeganNo

Use

ActivitiesIndoor, Outdoor, Sport
Experience levelBeginner, Intermediate, Advanced

Technologies

OutsoleTRAX SAS
MidsoleFull Length with Arch Wings
UpperLeather
LastSlip-lasted (new design)
LiningUnlined

Where to Buy It

We buy most of our stuff from REI.com. Their service is great, and it’s a co-op, so they treat their employees well and answer to their members, not shareholders.

Note: we receive a commission when you buy through us. This keeps our team of writers/climbers going!

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