Gear Review: Evolv HERA Climbing Shoes, the Shoes that Give Back

The Hera shoes and I at Clark Creek
Canyon in the Sierras. (J. Johnsen)
I always told myself I'd never be the kind of girl who's addicted to shoes. But there's just something about sliding my feet into a pair that fits just right for each specific day, or each specific activity. Of course, I'm talking about climbing shoes. I've got my comfortable go-to lace up pair, an aggressive relatively uncomfortable pair, and one in between. The only thing missing from my shoe collection was a pair of comfortable all-around velcro shoes I could rip off in between boulders or between walks from route to route at the gym. Thanks to Andy at East Ridge Outfitters, that void has been filled.

I entered my first outdoor bouldering competition this spring at the newly opened Pennsylvania mecca that is Governor Stable, and was awarded a pair of Evolv shoes after winning the women's beginner category. Andy is incredibly committed to supporting the local climbing community and as such, he donated at least five pairs of climbing shoes as prizes for the Meltdown comp, among other things. Having never worn Evolv shoes before, I tried on several pairs before finding my perfect match.

The first pair of I tried on were the Elektras. I've seen them all over the gym and at the crags, but with my high arch and narrow heel, they didn't fit my foot at all. I had to try on the Pontas because if Chris Sharma wears them, they have to be great shoes, right? They might be great shoes for men, but they were much too wide for me. Finally, I tried on the Heras, and it was just about a match made in climbing shoe heaven.

I don't like sacrificing performance for comfort, and don't have to with the Heras. They're the perfect balance between the technical, aggressive women's La Sportiva Muira VS shoes I have, but aggressive enough. The Hera shoes are narrow enough for my narrow feet, though there's still a tiny bit of room on either side of my heel. The size 9 is definitely tight, but not uncomfortably so. (I wear a 40.5 in the La Sportiva Muira VS and a size 10 women's street shoe). I love having a great all-around velcro shoe that doesn't hurt! They are synthetic and don't stretch, though I wish they'd stretched just a teeny bit.

I've used them for indoor and outdoor bouldering as well as route climbing and they've performed well in every instance. The stiff sole makes them great for just about every type of climbing, and they come up high enough on my ankles for heel hooking. I did have a friend who owned them complain that the rubber wore out much too quickly, but I've had them for five months and haven't noticed any issues. (Andy explained that Evolv made some changes to the shoe's design after hearing that problem from a lot of climbers, and it seems they've fixed it!)

The only small issue I've noticed is that despite the perforated synthetic uppers, my feet sweat quite a bit in them. It doesn't affect the fit, but they do tend to get a little stinky. A dose of Friendly Foot after each use certainly helps with that.

Aside from the performance, the Hera shoes are truly special for a completely different reason - they are part of Evolv’s effort to give back to the community. 1% of all sales of this shoe are donated to the Hera Foundation for research on curing ovarian cancer. I love supporting brands that truly work to make a difference love that Evolv designed a shoe to help the Hera Foundation.

Huge thanks to East Ridge Outfitters for providing prizes for the competition! As always, all opinions expressed here are my own. Overall, I love the Evolv Heras. They're great, comfortable all-around shoes. Have you tried them out? Tell us in the comments!