Verdict from 3 experts and 5 user reviews

6 reasons to buy

  • Grippy underfoot: Gear critics deem the Evolv Zenist’s outsole incredibly sticky. They say that smearing with it is quite impressive.
  • Sensitive: According to a professional reviewer, this climbing shoe will let you get a better feel of whatever your feet get in contact with.
  • Precise: The Zenist delivers pin-point accuracy over and around tricky holds.
  • Edge master: An expert says that it gets on tiny edges effortlessly, "particularly on steep limestone terrain."
  • Durable: It has “good longevity,” says a seasoned climber-slash-blogger.
  • Comfy: Someone who tests climbing gear for a living finds the Zenist unbelievably comfortable.

1 reason not to buy

  • Expensive: This Evolv offering is among the pricier bunch.

Bottom line

If you have never felt like you were on top of things in your climbs before, then let the Zenist turn the tables for you. Designed for competition-style ascents, this magnetizing piece will energize every maneuver you need to pull off to surmount that tricky route. Yes, the Zenist is another great addition to Evolv’s climbing portfolio, and it can be yours too if you can stomach its high asking price.

Tip: see the best climbing shoes.

Evolv Zenist: Power to the climber

Whether you are still green around the ears or you destroy routes with grade 5.11 and over, the Zenist can make you feel vastly in control. This sense of empowerment is possible thanks to the following:

Unlined and almost zero-stretch upper. With the Zenist’s glove-like fit and liner-free confines, you will be feeling virtually every feature of the surface minus the dead zones.

Scaly toe patch. Toe hooks are a whole lot easier with the Zenist’s highly textured rubber toe patch. Plus, its wide coverage means you can be more creative with your toeing maneuvers.

Segmented outsole. This kind of sole construction gives you extra midfoot flexibility, making smears feel a bit more natural.

Evolv Zenist vs. Phantom

In this climbing shoe bout, the Zenist finds a contender in the Evolv Phantom. Their key differences are as follows:

Price. Between these two aggressive climbing shoes, the Zenist is more affordable. Case in point: You will be spending about $10 less on this than the Phantom.

Outsole thickness. The Evolv Phantom’s proprietary outsole is thinner than the Zenist’s by approximately 0.2 mm.

Rigidity. The Zenist has soft confines, while its rival has a middle-of-the-road stiffness.

Fit management system. A network of straps makes up the Phantom’s closure. The Zenist’s, on the other hand, consists of a single strap.

Takeaway: If you prefer to go about your projects with more flexibility and technical footwork is your thing, choose the Zenist. If you need extra support and sensitivity underfoot, opt for the pricier Phantom.


How Evolv Zenist ranks compared to all other shoes
Bottom 42% aggressive climbing shoes
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Bottom 35% Evolv climbing shoes
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Bottom 45% indoor climbing shoes
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The current trend of Evolv Zenist.
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