I love my shoes. I finally found the perfect fit, not only that but they look awesome. However they aren't a silver lining without a cloud. I have owned La Sportivas, Red Chilis, 5.10s, Baldrinis, Scarpas and three pairs of Evolvs. The first pair of Evolv Pontas I owned beat every other brand on whiffyness hands down. The second pair out did the first and by god the Evolv Shamans did not disappoint.
I'm not sure whether it's because working at a climbing wall means wearing my Shamans for hours without doing much climbing or it's the Evolv brand. For my vanities sake I am going to blame the brand. It's not just me either, Evolv are notoriously stinky because they have a synthetic lining but even without that climbing shoes are difficult to keep under control.
The best way to deal with the oncoming storm is to air them all the time, don't leave them in your climbing bag where the bacteria can have a gluttonous banquet. Climbing shoes are non breathable, small dark holes bathed in sweat and skin cells, if you forget to take them out of the bag after one session you may as well burn the bag and be done with it.
If you think all hope is lost then fear not here are the Boot Bananas! So with all the bravado of an intrepid explorer let's test them!
The unsuspecting Evolv Shamans.
The Boot Bananas.
Looks pretty simple...
Best of friends.
Start commencing test: 11.45am. They pollute the atmosphere within a three metre radius.
First whiff: 12.45pm. Some change in smell, seems to mask it more than deodorise after one hour.
Second whiff: 14.45pm. Definite decrease in nasal assault, can no longer smell them from two metres away. On closer inspection both the masking fragrance and shoe odour has reduced significantly. Signs of Bananas 'ripening' (as the Bananas soak up the moisture they will slowly change colour, when the Banana is completely brown it's time to replace them. Usually about six months. Weird but cool).
Bananas 'ripening' around the bottom edges.
Third whiff: 17.45pm. A slight reduction from the last test but not too obvious. I would now have the shoes in my house, normally they are relegated to the confines of the car or venting in the garden.
Fourth and final whiff: 19.45pm. Eight hours later and the patented Evolv smell has fallen behind the fragrance of the Bananas. Huzzah!
How they work.
Boot Bananas keep footwear dry and fresh using moisture-absorbent minerals and fragrant essential oils with anti-bacterial properties. The cotton banana skin allows a little of the fine deodorising powder into your boots making it inhospitable for bacteria and odours. The Boot Bananas are made from naturally absorbent bamboo charcoal, sodium bicarbonate, zeolite, lavender, patchouli, lemon and tea tree oils. Seems simple enough...
Other ways to stop smelly shoes.
Honestly I have tried a few and some work to an extent but there are major draw backs. Some people put them in the freezer with the idea of killing the bacteria. Your shoes don't smell for a little while but the rubber loses it's sticky properties, maybe I was unfortunate but I wouldn't recommend it.
Another urban legend is to put them in the washing machine. Please don't. Not only would your washing machine bare scars if you didn't do it 'correctly' but leather shrinks in warm water. You would end up with tiny shoes that don't fit and rubber that is as sticky as a badger is to flour.
Tipping various powders such as sodium bicarbonate, talcum powder, deodorising salts etc into your shoes may seem like a good idea and yes they do reduce the smell but you aren't going to get all that powder back out again. Imagine climbing like a god then peeling your shoes off to what resembles a gruesome paste covering your sweaty feet; not good for the hero look.
The scariest one I have come across is cleaning the inside of your shoe with a mild bleach solution. This will leach out of the fabric and onto your skin when you sweat; it will burn you.
A couple of ways that work which are good to your shoes and don't result in bodily harm: Boot Bananas or cleaning with a mild enzymatic solution.
Boot Bananas are great. They de-smell even the most unsocial smells leading to lack of embarrassment, awkward shuffling and mutterings about synthetic liners. So, essentially Boot Bananas give you your joie de vivre back. I would buy them, in fact I did to write this article and on that note, farewell!