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Evolv Shakra Review

Though marketed as a high-performance sport climbing shoe, the Shakra's impressed us more with their comfortable fit.
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Price:  $160 List | $159.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Comfortable, fairly sensitive, great heel cup
Cons:  Lacks stiffness needed for edging, clunky toe box lacks precision, not great for crack climbing
Manufacturer:   Evolv
By Jane Jackson ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 21, 2019
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69
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#16 of 18
  • Comfort - 25% 9
  • Sensitivity - 25% 7
  • Edging - 15% 6
  • Cracks - 15% 5
  • Pockets - 15% 5
  • Ease of Use - 5% 9

Our Verdict

Designed to be a comfortable, high-performance shoe, the Evolv Shakra toes a fine line between comfort and precision. The shoe has an incredibly well-padded tongue that opens wide, making them both comfortable and easy to get on and off. We found ourselves walking around the gym in these puppies for hours, with no complaints from our feet. Though they are comfy on flat ground, they also perform surprisingly well, with a slight downturn and snug-fitting heel and arch. For folks transitioning into a more aggressive shoe, the Shakra are a great choice. They provide all the performance upsides of an aggressively shaped shoe, with the comfort of a model that caters more to the beginner climber.


Compare to Similar Products

 
This Product
Evolv Shakra
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award  Top Pick Award 
Price $159.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$175.00 at Backcountry
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$170.00 at REI
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$157.25 at Amazon
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Comfortable, fairly sensitive, great heel cupSensitive, great for edging, supportive, comfortable, versatileComfortable, high performance, sticky rubber, easy to put on, good in cracks, versatileComfortable, extremely sensitive, great for smearing and steep climbing, easy to get on and offGood for steep climbing, break in well, conforms to foot shape, comfortable, aggressive shape
Cons Lacks stiffness needed for edging, clunky toe box lacks precision, not great for crack climbingExpensiveStretch out quickly, costly, lack supportExpensive, No-Edge technology could be an acquired tasteExpensive, lacks versatility
Bottom Line Though marketed as a high-performance sport climbing shoe, the Shakra's impressed us more with their comfortable fit.The Kataki wins our Editors' Choice Award for their combination of comfort, sensitivity, and edging prowess.The Skwama are impressive in many realms, combining comfort with a high performance fit.If you let them, they may revolutionize your footwork; they'll take some getting used to, but are top notch for steep climbing.The Solution gets our Top Pick for steep climbing and bouldering for their aggressive shape, precision, and comfortable design.
Rating Categories Evolv Shakra La Sportiva Kataki - Women's La Sportiva Skwama - Women's La Sportiva Futura - Women's Solution
Comfort (25%)
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
Sensitivity (25%)
10
0
7
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
9
Edging (15%)
10
0
6
10
0
10
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
7
Cracks (15%)
10
0
5
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
5
10
0
7
Pockets (15%)
10
0
5
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
Ease Of Use (5%)
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
Total Scores (%)
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
Specs Evolv Shakra La Sportiva Kataki... La Sportiva Skwama... La Sportiva Futura... Solution
Style Velcro Lace Velcro Velcro Velcro
Weight (Per Pair, size 37) .9 lb 1.08 lb 1.00 lb .91 lb 1.06 lb
Width Options Regular Regular Regular Regular Regular
Fit Asymmetrical Asymmetrical Asymmetrical High Asymmetry Asymmetrical
Upper Synthetic Suede leather microfiber Leather/Microfiber Leather/ Synthetic Leather/Lorica
Lining Unlined Pacific Unlined Unlined HF (heel and toe box only)
Sole Rubber TRAX SAS Vibram XS Grip2 Vibram XS Grip2 Vibram XSGrip2 Vibram XS Grip2

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.

Performance Comparison



Toeing in on the Kilterboard with the Evolv Shakra.
Toeing in on the Kilterboard with the Evolv Shakra.

Comfort


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.

The extra-padded tongue make the Shakras some of the most comfortable  yet aggressively shaped shoes we've tested.
The extra-padded tongue make the Shakras some of the most comfortable, yet aggressively shaped shoes we've tested.

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.

Sensitivity


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.

Shown above is the "Knuckle Box" holding our toes in proper sending position.
Shown above is the "Knuckle Box" holding our toes in proper sending position.

Edging


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.

Toeing in on steep granite in the Shakras.
Toeing in on steep granite in the Shakras.

Crack Climbing


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.

Testing out the Shakra's crack climbing abilities (and our own) at the slippery Swan Slab in Yosemite Valley.
Testing out the Shakra's crack climbing abilities (and our own) at the slippery Swan Slab in Yosemite Valley.

Pockets


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.

Two Velcro tabs make the Shakra super easy to get on and off.
Two Velcro tabs make the Shakra super easy to get on and off.

Value


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.

Comfort and high-performance is the name of the game in the Shakras (and when you're climbing in jeans).
Comfort and high-performance is the name of the game in the Shakras (and when you're climbing in jeans).

Conclusion


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