Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Review: Evolv Nighthawk

Having posted a review of the Oracle, the new top of the line shoe from Evolv, it only seems fair that I give a little love to their new "low end" lace-up shoe, the Nighthawk.  Coming in at only $79, they edge out the Defy as Evolv's cheapest model, and while it's often true that you get what you pay for, the Nighthawk is certainly proof that good quality doesn't always have to be expensive.

I actually picked up two pairs (sized 10.5 and 11) to have as comfortable options for a 12 hour route comp that's coming up next month, remembering how painful even my least aggressive shoes became by the end of the event last year.  The smaller of the two pairs (my street size, and the size I use for other Evolv models), felt totally comfortable as soon as I put them on, though the leather has already started to stretch enough that going down half a size might have been a good idea.  Using them for routes at the gym, I've worn them for over an hour at a time without any discomfort.  

While they obviously don't perform as well as the Oracle, they can handle far smaller holds on slab to slightly overhanging terrain that I had anticipated.  Whether on gym plastic, Maryland quartzite, or Pennsylvania diabase, they've consistently held me on 2-3mm edges, and the low angle makes smearing easy.

Bitterness and Shadows, Frederick, MD

God of Thumbder, Mt. Ephraim, MD 
   God of Thumbder, Mt. Ephraim, MD
Highball Slab, Mt. Gretna, PA

So what are the tradeoffs?  Aside from the flatter shape obviously making steep terrain more difficult than aggressive shoes would, the biggest issue I've found is that the less tapered toe (compared to my other shoes) is harder to fit into thin slots.  On one boulder I tested them on, this meant consistently popping out of a starting slot foot, even though they would have held the thinner edges above that I could have stepped directly down on.

Overall, I'd highly recommend the Nighthawk for newer climbers looking for a good all-around shoe, or for experienced climbers who want something they can wear all day on non-steep terrain without overly sacrificing precision.  Give 'em a try!

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