The General is Evolv’s newest trad shoe with a technical downturn for small edges. They have given it their Trax XE edging rubber that is a little denser than their other rubber giving it a little more dig on small edges and more stiffness providing more comfort when jammed in a crack. I have to admit I was really skeptical of jamming my foot in a crack with a downturned shoe, regardless of how slight the downturn is, but the padding in the toe box, the denser rubber, and the rubber over the toes equalizes it and it’s actually comfortable compared to other crack shoes I’ve worn over the years. The General also provides some protection for the ankles without hindering movement which is great for those of us that are tired of bloody ankles at the end of a long day in Joshua Tree. All of this combined with a neutral color scheme and leather outer make this a good all-around shoe that excels in a crack without giving up technical ability and doesn’t look like footware worn at a cross fit gym.

  • All Day Multipitch
  • Crack Climbing
  • Face Climbing
  • Slab Climbing
  • Steep Overhang

I give the General a 9 out of 10 on slab because of comfort not performance. If I ran into a slab pitch in the middle of a 10 pitch climb I wouldn’t think twice about using this shoe, if I was out for an entire day of slab climbing, like in Tuolumne Meadows, I would chose a different shoe like maybe the Addict Slipper.

I gave it a 5 out of 10 for steep overhang because it doesn’t quite have the downturn to give you an advantage on steep terrain that the Shaman or other more aggressive shoes have. But once again if I ran into steep terrain in the middle of a multi pitch this shoe would hold its own.

Features

Leather outer with a synthetic liner

The leather outer gives the shoe a lot more durability and breathability while the synthetic liner keeps the shoe from stretching like shoes did in the good old days.  As my shoe has broken in it has gotten more comfortable but it has not stretched out at all.

Lace up and Synthetic overlapping tongue

The tongue is comprised of two overlapping flaps that stay in place and provide a little padding and breathability. This also provides a consistent fit since they stay in place and the laces provide a more customized fit than Velcro.

Extra Padding

When I was younger I never taped my hands, I referred to hand jammies as “Bitch Mittens” and I would just make due with whatever beginner level shoe for trad, which usually led to some painful jamming.  As I’m getting older and recovery takes longer and pain hurts more I’ve grown to appreciate not being in agonizing pain while crack climbing, I’ve even broken down and gotten me some bitch mittens. The padding in the toe box, overlapping tongue and over the heel bones makes this shoe much more comfortable in the crack. While I still believe that if you haven’t bled you haven’t climbed it is nice to be able to lace up your shoes on day 4 in Jtree and know your feet won’t be the reason you climb poorly today.

Rubber over the toe

I’m a big fan of rubber over the toe, I’m not sure why every shoe doesn’t have this.

High top

The original climbing shoes were all high tops but as sport climbing, bouldering and gym climbing became more popular the high top that limited mobility fell out of favor, these old high tops wrapped all the way around the ankle providing support and limiting movement. This shoe isn’t a throwback to those older high tops but instead gives your ankle the protection it needs in wide cracks without limiting your mobility. While this isn’t the first shoe to do this I think it has done it best so far.

Edging rubber

I’m not in the shape I used to be right now so to test the edging rubber I’ve been looking for the smallest edges on everything I climb to see how it would do. I’m a firm believer that good foot work and a strong core are what keep your feet on the wall however having the right shoe and rubber makes this a lot easier. This shoe will not fix your bad foot work but if your foot work is already good the rubber will stick to the smallest of edges.

Slight downturn

In the old school shoes we used to have to down size to get a technical advantage but now our shoes are shaped to give us that advantage without the pain of foot binding. Your toes have more power when they are bent than they do straight. The slight downturn gives you that advantage without being too aggressive and therefore painful while jammed in a crack.

The Fit

I got my first pair of these shoes a little tighter than I normally would a trad shoe, not toe curling tight but on the snug side, similar to the fit of my all day sport shoe. This concerned me at first, I’m not into foot binding and I’m unwilling to climb while my feet are in pain from an undersized shoe. I tested them in all the different size cracks from tips of my toes up to buried to the ankle. They performed well especially in the smaller sizes where the edging rubber really shines.  They were not uncomfortable in the crack at any size and the extra padding combined with denser rubber seemed to nullify the snug fit and slight downturn of the shoe; let’s be honest no shoe can completely take away the pain of wrenching your foot in a crack, nor should it. For a full day of single pitch craging this fit worked well but for all day multi pitch I did get a pair ½ size up giving my toes a little more wiggle room. I have been wearing the first pair I got as my primary shoe since October and it has not stretched out any, it has gotten a little more comfortable but I wouldn’t downsize expecting this shoe to stretch.

Conclusion

Over the years I’ve climbed in all sorts of “trad” shoes. Most of which were little more than beginner shoes that provided comfort in the crack but face climbed poorly. I’ve had a few pairs that did both decently but didn’t offer the protection of the high top. I tried the TC Pro and thought it was an excellent shoe, I thought the same of the Astroman. I climbed in the Grandstone for a few years and thought it was a good shoe but it was a throwback to the old school shoes with a full wrap around high top and it limited mobility. The General combines all of the features I am looking for in a performance trad shoe, it edges well, it’s comfortable in the crack, it protects my ankles, the shape of the high top doesn’t limit mobility and it fits so good without any hot spots.

This review might sound like a puff piece to make my sponsor happy but the truth is this shoe is what brought me back to Evolv. I was sponsored by Evolv back in 2010 and while I really liked the fit of their shoes for sport climbing at the time they didn’t have a good trad shoe, which is 75% of my climbing, and honestly their rubber wasn’t very sticky.  I believe that good foot work is the reason your foot stays or doesn’t, not the stickiness of the rubber, but the old rubber required your footwork to be much more on point. This shoe is everything I want in a performance trad shoe and the rubber is now on point. They have made some serious improvements to their rubber compound that makes it just as sticky as anything else on the market. That combined with the fit I love and a quality construction have made this one of my favorite shoes I have ever climbed in.

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