The Evolv Agro is a finely tuned weapon against steep routes and boulder problems. The durable and aggressive downturn, asymmetrical shape and high sensitivity combine to turn each foot into a precise and powerful tool. The shoe is particularly adept at pocket pulling on the steepest of lines, and toe-hooking and scumming abilities are phenomenal. The fit is aggressive but efficient when the draws don’t touch the cliff, but other models serve longer routes and multi-pitch lines better. The Power Tension System and extensive rubber covering of the shoe kept the shape, performance and fit consistent over time, but also mandated a long and arduous break-in period.
The Evolv Agro is one of the most aggressive shoes in the testing category, a tool created specifically for the steepest of routes and boulders. The edging ability reflects the design intent; edging on steep overhangs, where only partial body weight gets placed on any hold, worked well, but the lack of high rigidity allowed the 4.2 mm Trax SAS rubber to roll on smaller edges when high-stepping with full body weight on vertical and less than vertical stone. The Agro relies on a thin rubber midsole and Evolv’s Tension Power System, which pulls the forefoot down from three different places, for both shape and structure under the forefoot. These structures provide the necessary edging power for steeps, but these are not the shoes for routes that depend on high loads on razor edges.
The Agro was one of the more sensitive shoes in the test category, especially when loading small footholds typical of high-end, steep sport routes and boulders. Although not as sensitive as a classic slipper, the Agro’s aggressive asymmetry, tight fit, and tensioned downturn gave excellent feel when precise footwork under active loading (vs. static loading of just standing on the holds) was the key to the climb. The amount of sensitivity at the very tip of the big toe was noticeable compared to the other shoes in this test category. The shoes are much more sensitive than a 4.2 mm sole and inclusion of a midsole would typically indicate. The Trax SAS rubber was surprisingly sticky on all surfaces, and combined with the high sensitivity, allowed confident smearing, even on polished limestone.
Evolv covered the entirety of Agro’s toe box upper with textured rubber, and the shoe’s soft nature allow conformity on and around toe hooking features, making it the best toe hooking shoe of the test category. We could toe hook and scum at any angle, in any foot orientation, with confidence. The shoe’s heel fit my narrow heel well, and a tall heel rand provides extensive rubber coverage in the area, while the aggressive fit and highly adjustable closure system offered excellent heel hooking stability. Traction and sensitivity of heel hooking were on par with most of the other shoes in the test category.
The Agro performed admirably on shallower pockets on steep rock. The sensitivity, tight fit, asymmetric shape, and downturned profile all provided powerful pocket pulling and loading ability. As the angle lessened, the advantage decreased due to the lack of rigidity that aids fully loading the edge of the pocket. The toe box shape fit shallower pockets better as well; the pointy shape doesn’t extend back as far as some others in the test category, and the height of the toe box bumps up just behind the rand to accommodate the big toe knuckle. Again, these attributes point the Agro as a steep rock specialist.
The Evolv Agro’s aggressive downturn, high amount of asymmetry, and tall toe box (from the bump out for the big toe knuckle while in the downturned position) detract from its ability to be a good performer in cracks. Jamming in this shoe, regardless of the crack size, isn’t comfortable, but the Agro is a sport climbing and bouldering specialist. Using the edges of cracks as a smearing feature was about the extent of crack efficiency, and the aggressive fit made longer routes uncomfortable in comparison to other shoes in the test category.
The Agro has one of the most aggressive fits of this test category. The generous downturn and asymmetry of the last combined with a tighter last overall, decidedly make it a performance oriented shoe with the fit to match. The overall last accommodates my narrow heel, wider forefoot, and low volume foot well, with no gaps or wrinkles anywhere. The interior microfiber lining added a touch of skin comfort, while the single tabbed, multiple strap closure offers excellent adjustability in the way it provides tension to the upper. The synthetic upper and almost total rubber coverage makes for a brutal break-in period; patience is necessary as the minimal amount of stretch takes more use than any other shoe in the test to become comfortable. Again, this is a steep sport and bouldering specialist shoe, and comfort is relative. The Agro is adequately comfortable for the duration required from most sport routes and boulders; longer routes might induce some grimacing as the feet swell, and toes become sensitive. Trying the shoes on at the store is best; the fit, although excellent for this tester, might not be tolerable to some. I wear a size 10 street shoe, and the size 10 in the Agro eventually stretched enough to be comfortable for short durations; going up a half size would produce a more comfortable shoe at the cost of performance on high-end routes. The downturn and general shape have proven durable, with hardly any change over the duration of the test beyond the break-in. The shoe did retain heat and absorb sunlight more than shoes with less rubber coverage.
Seiji Ishii works as a trainer to professional supercross/motocross riders, adventure riding test editor at Dirt Rider Magazine and an AMGA certified rock climbing guide/instructor for White Star Mountain Guides/Austin Rock Gym. He lives in Wimberley, TX with wife Shay, 3 year old daughter Sequoia, 3 dogs and a cat. His personal time is spent rock climbing, any form of dirt biking, cycling, and training for the next mountaineering adventure.