Well, a little while back I finally made the big purchase. I was stoked. I even thought about buying a rope and scaling the Sears Tower — the midwest’s “high point” — before coming home.
During a recent business trip on an off-duty evening, I made a point to drop into Erehwon Outfitters to spend some time trying on and choosing a pair of rock climbing shoes.
Fueled by a grande pumpkin spiced latte I plunged past the guidebooks, camping accessories and Yakima car cases and into the corner counter with the climbing gear. It was refreshing to see ice climbing gear in stock; you don’t see that in Peaklessburg. That was very distracting for me, but that’s not why I was there.
There were about ten shoes in stock and two models were on sale for $45 US. I started there but only tiny sizes were available; typical. Narrowing in on the men’s shoes, I had them pull down the shoes priced under $100 US in my size — or close to it; they didn’t have anything larger than 11.5 US / 45 EU. So I had two to try, if they fit.
I started with the Evolv Defy. It was comfortable, just as everyone that had reviewed them online had said. The tongue is padded more than the majority of climbing shoes. I compared them to another pair from Evolv, the Bandit, a lace-up model. I didn’t know anything about them but one of the sales peopled climbed in a pair just like these three times a week and strongly recommended them. My smartphone checked the reviews; others were extremely happy with them too. I wondered why these were never on my radar.
The Bandits felt good. I swapped shoes again to compare. The Defy felt roomier in the sides, perhaps because of the Velcro closure. Length-wise and in the toe box they felt the same. But the Bandits felt surer whenever I stood on the edge of the chair to simulate smearing as best I could. The Defys did well too, but the Bandits were doing very well. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why but I sensed a subtly noticeable difference.
I wanted the Evolv Bandits. I could have saved a bit of money and probably could have done fine with the Defys but the Bandits felt like a shoe for a long term commitment, like I was looking for. When I went to check out, I realized why these shoes weren’t on the sonar: They were priced over my budget by about $10 US, though they were labeled $99. I did the cost benefit analysis and my excitement won out.
I hadn’t been this excited about gear since I shopped for my softball mitt. Like the shoes will be, the mitt was a “pricey” investment, took effort to break in, and has provided already a decade of service. I hope these Evolv climbing shoes can do that too.
By the way, Erehwon is nowhere spelled backwards, in case you were wondering where the name came from. I think that’s clever.
Unfortunately, my quest for new rock climbing shoes didn’t here, though. More to come in my next entry. So if you enjoyed this post, please consider following the Suburban Mountaineer on Facebook or Twitter. Happy reading and carpe climb ’em!