Cruzer Psyche in Smoke

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I am such a slip on snob as I own an untold number of the Evolv Cruzer, specifically in gray.  I have worn the slip on for many years while out climbing or just on the daily.  On one occasion I accidentally paired one worn out shoe with one brand new shoe because I had haphazardly tossed a few pairs in my entryway closet.  They are built to last and hard to let go.  My beloved shoe is sadly no longer in the main lineup, but you can buy a version of it at a discount; hope you can find your size!  Ok, back to the Cruzer lace up featured here in the color smoke.  The shoe color I thought the above image represented was that of an indigo.  I totally ignored the smokey color description; I have a hard time seeing grays, browns and purple, I guess.  However, this shoe is definitely on the spectrum of black to my sense of color, and this is another good reason to check out a shoe demo.  When I opened the shoe packaging and discovered the color was not as I had imagined, I instantly became absorbed in the overall design of the shoe.  I immediately flipped the shoe over and saw the thick Trax rubber as well as a durable canvas material, and then I slipped them on.  The Cruzer Psyche comes in a women's specific design, and I comfortably sized these as one would a regular street shoe.  The interior pattern has a feminine touch, and I am definitely a convert to the lace up now.  To me, the color is more charcoal than smoke, but they are super cute; a definite favorite.

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The Cruzer lace up is perfect to wear on a leaf covered trail, or an approach with slick wet rock because the Trax rubber is super reliable.  I now laugh at my past flip flop trail excursions.  How stupid!    

Evolv Shakra

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To me the Shakra dutifully serves as a Evolv's signature women's specific all-around climbing shoe.  It is a capable worker shoe, and it just might take you to your redpoint burn when you are least expecting to send.  I also love the pop of color featured in the overall design.  The orange stitching hugging the ankle is especially pleasing to the eye.  If the Oracle has won its place in my pack as my primo sending shoe this summer, the Shakra has definitely earned the number one spot as my go-to-shoe for working routes and just getting mileage in.  If you ever climbed in the Defy, you will understand what I mean about having a dedicated worker shoe.  To me it is wise to have a pair of uber comfy shoes in one's pack, and these definitely fit the bill.  I size these in a 7.5.

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Evolv Oracle

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I have not ventured down the road of lace ups in quite some time as I have always loved the easy on and easy off sensibilities of velcro climbing shoes.  After a few test runs on familiar routes, the Oracle has earned a top spot on my bag packing checklist.  I now wear these shoes when I am serious about my redpoint go.  The Oracle's design is top-notch, and I for one like the extra comfort found in the shoe's tongue pads, the fact that the laces stay tied as well its precision on dime-sized edges.  

 

Check out the construction technology of the Oracle; it's located on the eighth graphic.  

I like to size my shoes so that my toes cannot move around in the toe box, and I like my heel to be firmly held in place; the heel tensioner is noteworthy. So I would say I like my shoes as tight as I can have them without the sensation of pain, right on the edge of super tight.  I went with a size six in the Oracle, and this is actually a half size down from how I size my Shamans.  It is certainly a risk to select a smaller sized shoe because if the fit is too tight you are left with either a return shipping fee, or you manage but are not necessarily happy out at the cliff.  Hans, my territory sales rep, works really hard to visit all of the gyms in New England, and he demos all of the latest shoes in Evolv's lineup.  It would be wise for you to try these on in a gym because when you do, I think you will be sold too!  Plus, it is basically like a complimentary service to a gym membership.

*It goes without saying that these are vegan friendly.

Native Eyewear

 Kodiak's in Dessert Tort with green reflex lenses.  These mirrored lenses seriously reduce glare!   

Kodiak's in Dessert Tort with green reflex lenses.  These mirrored lenses seriously reduce glare!   

Native Eyewear's Kodiak sunglasses are stylish in every sense of the word.  More than that, I enjoy wearing them in all types of scenarios.  When I wear them I can see clearly because the lenses help to offset my astigmatism when I am out in the sun.  The N3 polarized lenses are described as offering "crisp definition and peak visual acuity" and in my experience this is entirely the case.    

The tortoise shell pattern on this frame is attractive and sharp.  There are five frame options in the Kodiak lineup with a host of lens colors to choose from.   I am a petite person and was not able to try this pair on in person.  However, after investigating the frame styles in Native's current product lineup online, I opted for these and feel entirely satisfied.  The patented temple grip really help the glasses to remain in place and will not hurt your head.  When I put these glasses on my psyche instantaneously improves and the world truly looks better.  If I could wear them all day, I would. Corey Hart-like?  Perhaps not so extreme.  

The Kodiak sunglasses retail for $149.  Perks Native Eyewear offers with a verified purchase include: free shipping, a hard case for storage, an extra set of lenses and customers also receive a lifetime warranty on their sunglasses.  This is a major selling point!  A lifetime warranty is just an awesome insurance plan to have in your back pocket.  I highly recommend the Kodiak, but I also recommend scoping out the Native Eyewear site as there are many high quality frames to choose from.  

Sterling 9.4 mm Fusion Ion

 Sterling's Fusion Ion, 9.4 in green-ooh!

Sterling's Fusion Ion, 9.4 in green-ooh!

I have been climbing on Sterling Ropes for the last 12 years and was even sponsored by Sterling for a period of time.  Needless to say, I stocked up on product!  Way back in the early days of my climbing career, I haphazardly bought ropes that were either on sale or ropes that simply came in interesting colors.  Through that experience, though, I actually learned which rope companies I preferred, and I also learned about the value of paying for a high quality rope.  You get more out of a Sterling Rope as they can last multiple seasons when properly cared for.  Some ropes just do not perform well, get cable-like, are too heavy, or will not stand up to the rigor of projecting a route.  I am now very particular about the type of ropes that I purchase, and put forth a lot of effort to keep my ropes in good condition.

My initial purchasing assessment of a rope includes the diameter and length of the rope, and I also opt for dry treated ropes.  The fall factor, elongation and stretch of the rope, and overall materials used for construction are also important aspects to know about your rope purchase.  The UIAA is an accredited and independent third party entity that is used internationally by rope and gear companies to certify safety standards.  Color and duo patterns are really secondary concerns for me but are an added bonus.  My go-to Sterling Rope has been the 70 meter, dry treated, 9.4 millimeter Fusion Ion. Having a light-weight rope that can also withstand projecting days is hugely desirable. We buy 70 meter ropes, so that when we need to, we can trim and singe the ends of the rope and still maintain a safe length of about 60 meters; a great length to use at Rumney. 

I remember this one occasion when I was getting ready to attempt to redpoint and another climber asked me to use their rope.  She was planning on going next and wanted a top rope set up so she could safely work the moves.  I was in the middle of mentally preparing myself by rehearsing beta, so I politely said "Sorry, no thanks.  I need to use my own trusty rope!"  In instances like that it would be unsafe to climb on a strange rope.  Plus, clipping would feel different, and the rope would likely have felt heavier than my 9.4.  

It is clear that climbing ropes are a lifeline for climbers, and they are also an expensive part of the gear closet.  The Fusion Ion retails for about $278, but is totally worth it.  Just remember that going in straight on your gear when hanging will save the rope and you some $$.   

Royal Robbins Performance Flannel

 This  flannel  comes in many colors, but I love it in cove.

This flannel comes in many colors, but I love it in cove.

Royal Robbins offers a performance-based clothing line that allows you to transition nicely from activities to mainstream wear. Royal himself is a pillar in the history of American rock climbing, and so the philosophy behind the brand fits in with climbers and the eco-conscious consumer. Assuming you rinsed off in a river or lake at the end of your day, you could easily wear the Performance Flannel out at the cliff and then head to a social gathering, and no one would be the wiser! The Performance Flannel is definitely a top I have worn on cold winter nights at home, at gatherings with friends, and also while out at the crag in different weather conditions. After a few washes the flannel is now a go-to top, and I never worry about it looking wrinkly or shrinking. It is certainly a super soft and warm flannel that never makes me feel overheated. The nylon and polyester fabric wick away perspiration so you can wear it while being active. I wear a size small and can freely move about while wearing it. In fact, I just put the garment on and never think about it again because it provides a natural fit. Instead of buttons, the flannel has nine well-made snaps that you can easily unfasten without worrying about durability. The flannel also has a front zippered pocket and a chest pocket snap. The chest pocket snap, the top-most collar snap and the wrist cuffs possess the only visible buttons, and the rest are hidden on the inside panel of the shirt. A few years ago I climbed in Royal Robbins' three-quarter-length pants, and that is how I became familiar with the brand. I am looking forward to reviewing the Discovery Short as I think the design will fit nicely with a harness. The current CEO of Royal Robbins is a board member for Evolv Sports and as a result there is some connection with the two brands. This flannel is currently on sale for about forty bucks!

Royal Robbins passed away on March 14th.  May his legacy live on through the achievements he made in climbing, kayaking and this great company: NYT obituary.  

My top two favorite coats: compelling and rich.

I decided to share this post because buying a coat is an investment, and you want the product you buy to last and to fit properly.  The women's Patagonia Nano-Air Hoody and the women's Black Diamond's LT Hybrid Hoody, which might be phased out because I've owned it for at least two or more seasons, are the best coats for climbing throughout the year.  I definitely would opt to top off these two coats with my trusty '08 puffy in the winter, but I will wear either one while out at the crag in the spring, fall and even on some summer nights. I might be more inclined to continue wearing the LT Hybrid Hoody while actively climbing because I feel that the fabric stretches amply in the armpits to allow me to freely move.  The LT has stood up to granite and has no holes or tears.  In the colder months I find it distracting to be weighed down by extra layers.  The Nano-Air is certainly a high performing coat, and one that I want to hang on to for many more seasons to come.  The wrist fabric has cuffs that do not bunch up, the sleeves are the perfect length on my small frame, and the hood offers a snug fit over my head.  The Nano-Air also remains dry in inclement weather.  The zipper zips tight up to the tip of my nose without irritation, and it is an overall super comfy and warm coat.  One of the best features Patagonia offers is their product guarantee; it lasts a lifetime!  I found that small in both brands offered me the best fit.  

When I decide to purchase new clothing, for climbing or just in general, I now choose to avoid buying additional down or animal fibers like wool.  I also pay attention to a company's ethical stance regarding the environment and how animals are treated in the supply chain. Patagonia did have an issue with wool a year or so ago, but they steadfastly corrected the egregious misstep by a South American supplier. Animals that are bred for their wool are at a later date sent to the slaughterhouse.  And that realization, before Patagonia's supply news shed light on the issue, caused me to stop buying new wool products.  Years ago I decided to get rid of leather products that I might have acquired in the past, so no leather belts or shoes, but for now I am keeping my old wool sweaters and base layers.  To me, the amount of effort and cost put into the production of new products just to replace all of my old garb would be contributing to the overabundance of "stuff" and is not feasible.  That being said, if you need a few synthetic coats to last you a long-ass time, choose one of these or both.  

Cruzer Slip-on

The Evolv Cruzer in slate now comes with gold lettering on the side in a color dubbed canteen.  

 

The Cruzer by Evolv is an amazing and versatile slip-on shoe.  I have received a bunch of compliments and inquiries about this shoe, and if someone else is wearing the Cruzer we usually have an ice breaker moment and bond over our wise purchase.  Pretty rad for a shoe!  It is made from 100% cotton canvas material, has a comfy microfiber interior lining, and the sole is made from Evolv's high friction TRAX rubber.  And if you feel like wearing it like a slipper, the heel of the shoe flattens allowing you to quickly slip them on to your feet. The other cool feature is that you can easily stuff these in your backpack, compressing them until you pull your gear out of your bag.  I wear this shoe exclusively in the color slate, and I feel that the overall style of this shoe transitions nicely to the cliff as well as when I am out and about in my daily life.  I typically wear a size 7 street shoe, and this shoe fits me in a size 6.5 with a variety of socks or even barefoot.  A treacherous part of my day while out climbing has always been navigating rocky trails.  Before the Cruzer became available, I used to stumble a lot in other approach shoes.  Forget lace ups, and get this slip-on.  You will want to wear them everywhere! 

Evolv Shaman

 

Evolv Shamans

I used the new Shamans straight away on my project.  The shoes were form fitting, but comfortable right out of the box. I typically like to break new shoes in before using them on redpoint attempts, but once I tried them on I knew that these were ready to go. The Shamans offer superior edging on small footholds and are great on steep terrain. As a female climber I downsized a half size, and they fit my feet perfectly.  The three strap closure system never fails, and my heel sits perfectly tight in the shoe while heel hooking.  Right now I pretty much just climb in these shoes, and I highly recommend them!