For years I struggled to find a technical shoe in a real women’s fit – not just a unisex rock shoe in a smaller size and pinker color but something narrow across the forefoot and flat down the back of the heel. I’m not really a girly girl when it comes to climbing gear, but my feet are much daintier than the rest of me.
On my quest I tried women’s offerings from 5.10, Scarpa, Mammut, Montrail, and countless others – even Evolv, so imagine my surprise when I tried on the Pontas Lace – a unisex shoe – and found it fit my tiny little feet perfectly.
Being a clever bunch, the folks at Evolv realised a more-or-less universal truth. Women tend to have smaller feet than men. Therefore, the people most likely to wear their unisex rock shoes in a small size are women. The shape of the Pontas Lace changes significantly as the sizes get smaller, to suit narrower, girlier feet. Genius!
To be fair, Evolv aren’t the only rock shoe manufacturers to change the shape of a climbing shoe depending on size, but they’ve hit on a good combination with the smaller Pontas Lace. In particular, there’s just enough of a slingshot heel to deliver force through the toes but not so much that the back of the shoe is baggy on a female foot with a less chunky heel. If you have problems getting a secure heel hook because your shoes don’t fit perfectly at the back, they might be a good choice next time you need a new pair.
Fit is half the battle when choosing rock shoes and rubber is the other half. The Pontas Lace is stiffer than the velcro version, but it’s not a stiff shoe compared to most offerings from Scarpa and Red Chili, for example. It edges very well but there is enough stickiness there to let you smear with confidence.
I also love the lacing system. Most of Evolv’s higher-end shoes have a square lacing pattern that makes for fast adjustment all the way down to the toe. It’s much quicker to get the tension just right than with the traditional diagonal criss-cross layout. The Pontas Lace are also vegan-friendly.
At the end of the day, they won’t be everyone’s ideal rock shoe. Every pair of feet is different, but I have managed to convert a few other women (and one man with narrow feet) to the Pontas Lace. If you struggle to find a good women’s shoe that lets you climb to your full potential, give them a try.
Jess Spate lives and climbs in South Wales, UK. She writes travel articles for companies like Timeshare Secrets, who provide Marriott Time Share Resale resources.