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Evolv Stryker Editorial Review


Submitted by vegastradguy on 2008-02-19

Rating: 12345   Go Login to rate this article.   Vote: 1 | Comments: 4 | Views: 7834

by Mike Ousley


by pmyche

By my experience, approach shoes can do several things reasonably well, albeit no one task excellently.

With that in mind, I chose Strykers as my sole foot gear for Zenyatta Mondatta. I needed, primarily, a durable and comfortable shoe for multiple days of aid climbing. The minimal easy free climbing on the route was less a consideration. Being we were climbing at the end of November at up to 6500' elevation in the Sierra, I was also hoping for a shoe that would be reasonably warm (read: not exceedingly cold), that I could bolster with gaiters as needed.

As I normally do, I ordered a slightly snug size that would allow me to stretch into the shoe. I had previously run these Strykers through their paces on the lower pitches of a different El Cap route--so I did have some experience with the shoe before committing to a week-plus long foray with them. They were beginning to adapt to the bunions and other nuances of my foot architecture.

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Evolv
Psyching up for the launch. Photo: Mike Ousley.

This newer generation Stryker is a very different animal that the previous blue-colored version; the toe profile (and entire shoe) is sleeker, and the shoe is not as rigid. The lacing system has been simplified to standard upper eyelet grommets which cinch up and down without re-threading anything. The toe and heel rands cover much more generously. Leather has replaced fabric in a major percentage of the upper. The fine Trax rubber is sticky as any; a smooth, dot-free area exists under the toe/instep where edging action occurs. It's clear that Evolv has put resources into improving the Stryker, as the shoe is greatly refined from its previous incarnation (which I liked as a big wall shoe).

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Psyching up for the launch.
Mike Ousley
Photo: Evolv.

Hiking

No problems. I found the shoe comfortable but not sloppy when laced loosely for an unladen stroll up the trail and over talus. Cinched down, they worked as well as an approach shoe could for hiking a monster load down the descent slabs and steep trail.

Aid

Stryker performed well in the aiders: Stiff enough to not be painful on potentially toe-crushing slabby sections, and comfortable enough to be totally unnoticed on a three-hour lead in one-inch-wide stirrups. The sleek toe made for nice dexterity in manipulating the aiders and quickly stabbing steps. Toe-hooking, heel-hooking and edging to aid in cleaning was a least as effective as with a wall boot, and with greater comfort and protection than a pure rock shoe.

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Rare slabby aid on an otherwise steep route.
Mike Ousley
Rare slabby aid on an otherwise steep route. Photo: Mike Ousley.

Free

Very reasonable performance, especially in light of the shoe's merit in other areas. Torsional rigidity was good enough for confidently edging 5.7 and manteling after a run of ten or so hook moves. Jamming in hand-sized cracks was also quite reasonable.

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Lower temps and wind on the upper route brought out the gaiters. Approach shoes and gaiters: a great combo for cool-weather walling.
Mike Ousley
Lower temps and wind on the upper route brought out the gaiters. Approach shoes and gaiters: a great combo for cool-weather walling. Photo: Mike Ousley.

Bearing in mind that wall climbing is probably the most effective way to destroy a shoe: Stryker's durability seems above average. Coincidentally, my partner had purchased a new pair of La Sportiva Cirque Pros the same time I got my Strykers (comparably priced shoes at around $90 retail). We climbed the exact same pitches with our new shoes, effectively (but inadvertently) setting up a shoe-off between the Cirques and the Strykers. The Cirques were outgunned on durability by a good margin. Halfway up ZM, worried his shoes would not complete the wall, my partner had slapped duct tape on his thin, failing toe rands. The Strykers were still pristine at that point:

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Mike Ousley

However, 15 or so pitches up ZM, I experienced a slight de-laminating of one toe at the Stryker's sole. I also opted for a preemptive duct tape patch on this area of my shoe, but the patch was dust after half a pitch. Thankfully the de-lam held tough for the remaining pitches and descent. I subsequently contacted Evolv about the issue, and they offered to repair the shoe at no charge. Ideally, wall shoe preparation would include advance reinforcement with Shoe Goo, Seam Grip or a similar product on exposed joints and seams--prudence we eschewed before climbing in our new kicks.

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After 20 pitches, multiple approaches and descents: slight de-lamination at toe and residual duct tape from impromptu patch job.
Mike Ousley
After 20 pitches, multiple approaches and descents: slight de-lamination at toe and residual duct tape from impromptu patch job. Photo: Mike Ousley.

For aid-intensive big walls, the Stryker is as close to a perfect compromise as any shoe I've used, including wall-specific boots, light hikers and up-sized rock shoes. If I had to cite a shortcoming in the Stryker, it would be in the durability department (at least as far as aid walls go). But to be fair, I've seen even wall-specific boots fall apart in a scant number of pitches. All said, I would have some reservation about launching up a 30-pitch nail-up with the Stryker's performance as I experienced it. I don't imagine that's what Evolv had exclusively in mind when designing the shoe--there's the approach shoe compromise in effect.

For less than grade six monster nail-ups, I don't think any shoe could do hugely better than the Stryker all-around. I'm generally impressed with its performance and improvements, and I would recommend the shoe for a range of tasks from true approaches to in-the-trenches wall action.

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Stryker feeling at home on the Lightning Bolt Roofs
Mike Ousley
Stryker feeling at home on the Lightning Bolt Roofs. Photo: Mike Ousley.

Full Disclosure: The company that manufactured this item provided it free of charge to rockclimbing.com who in turn provided it as compensation to the reviewer for his review.

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4 Comments CommentAdd a Comment

 angry
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 2008-02-20
I got my Strykers in November, right when they first came out. Due to these shoes, I pretty much just leave them on up to around 5.11a. I just can't justify taking them off and putting climbing shoes on unless the route is really hard.

Simply put, these approach shoes climb rock better than half the rock shoes on the market. They are super comfy to walk in too.
 wanderlustmd
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 2008-02-28
Thanks for the review. I've been looking into some approach/aid shoes. These seem like the ticket!
 acorneau
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 2008-07-29
So what is the long-term verdict on these shoes? Are they holding up well or falling apart?

How about an update, please?!?
 mtnkid85
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 2009-01-29
Seconding acroneau, Update on these guys?

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