Evolv Shakra Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Comfortable, fairly sensitive, great heel cup
Cons: Lacks stiffness needed for edging, clunky toe box lacks precision, not great for crack climbing
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Shakra did best in the comfort metric, with slightly above-average scores across the board. These shoes are great all-arounders, able to hold their own in most climbing styles.
The Evolv Shakra is one of the more comfortable downturned shoes we have tested. "How do they do it?" we wondered as we wore these shoes for hours at the gym on their first day out of the box. Well, it seems to us that the combination of a soft midsole, a generously padded tongue, and a Velcro closure system that allows for lots of adjustability is just the combination needed for a comfortable, yet high-performing shoe. The heel cup and arch fit snuggly on our feet, without constrictions in the widest part of the toe box.
We sized these shoes the same as our street shoe size and found that they fit quite well. The upper is synthetic, not leather, so don't expect these to stretch much.
Since they received such praise in terms of comfort and fit, it's really no surprise that the Evolv Shakras also did well in the sensitivity metric. These shoes fit the contours of our feet like a glove, increasing our ability to use the shoes effectively. Most importantly, Evolv's "Knuckle Box" and "Love Bump" technologies make the Shakra fit well and perform like a high-end shoe. The love bump pushes up the ball of the foot, engaging the toes and placing the foot in a powerful position. The Knuckle Box provides room for the big toe to rest comfortably in a slightly bent position without causing pain. This shape holds the foot in such a way that the toes are able to feel and engage with small footholds with comfort and ease.
Though we have been raving about the fit and performance of these shoes thus far, the Evolv Shakra's didn't turn out to be our favorite edging shoe. The Shakra's soft midsole, rounded toe, and "Love Bump" design detract from the shoe's ability to edge. These design features make the Shakra a good bouldering or steep climbing shoe, but don't really make it a great option for vertical, techy climbs.
Their soft, malleable design and reinforced toe make the Shakra a decent crack climbing shoe. They can twist into tight finger cracks and thin hands cracks with ease. That said, the Shakra's probably shouldn't be your first choice on your next trip to Indian Creek, especially if long 5.10 hand cracks are something you enjoy. The Velcro straps that secure the Shakra will most certainly wear out and cause pain when jammed repeatedly into a hand crack for 150 feet.
We have discussed the toe box a bit in the metrics above, and it turns out, this plays into the Evolv Shakra's performance in the realm of steep pockets as well. The toe box is a bit wide (remember that "Knuckle Box" technology mentioned above), which makes the Shakra less-than-ideal for precise, small pockets. The toe is also a bit rounded, which also takes away from their ability to fit into small footholds.
Ease of Use
Here, the Shakra shines. We found these to be some of the easiest shoes to use — especially during the break-in period. They are super easy to get on and off — since the tongue opens up a few inches to accommodate wide feet. The padded tongue then secures with a Velcro strap that is widely adjustable, unlike the narrow range of the Scarpa Arpia. These features make the Shakra easy to take on and off, but the overall comfort of the shoe make them comfortable enough to walk around in for a few hours during a bouldering session at the gym.
The Shakra is a great transition shoe for those looking to step it up from a beginner model into a more aggressively shaped shoe. Unfortunately, the price tag on the Shakra reflects the price tags on most high-performance models — expensive. If your main priority is comfort, they are a great all-around shoe with little break-in time and a designed centered around all-day comfort.
For steep climbing, bouldering, and gym climbing, the Shakra is a great option. They are easy to take on and off, provide comfort for hours, and perform at a high level in most styles of climbing. The Shakras are soft in the midsole, so they don't do great on dime-edges or super-technical slabs, but otherwise, these shoes are a good option for the all-arounder.
— Jane Jackson