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Evolv Oracle Review

An ultra-premium shoe at a reasonable price.
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Price:  $175 List | $174.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Exceptional edging, quick lace closure, comfortable for its sharp downturn, great at toe hooking
Cons:  Big toe volume, painful in cracks
Manufacturer:   Evolv
By Jack Cramer ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 20, 2019
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82
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 31
  • Edging - 20% 10
  • Cracks - 20% 7
  • Comfort - 20% 9
  • Pockets - 20% 7
  • Sensitivity - 20% 8

Our Verdict

The Oracle is the latest top-of-the-line shoe from Evolv. Our testers are big fans of several of its innovative features. Foremost might be the "Knuckle Box," which is an appreciated area of extra space situated to accommodate the curled knuckle of your big toe while your foot is held in a downturned position. Another is the "FSS Heel Tensioner" — a metal eyelet connected to a cord that locks your foot down into the heel and makes lacing up a cinch. We may not be fans of these proprietary names, but we're big fans of their performance benefits. Add to that the Oracle's outstanding edging ability and its respectable sensitivity and you have a shoe that's a real contender for top honors. Our stubborn testers still prefer the Editors' Choice La Sportiva Kataki slightly, but a hearty tip of the hat to Evolv and the impressive Oracle. It's a great choice for any kind of steep bouldering or sport climbing.


Compare to Similar Products

 
This Product
Evolv Oracle
Awards  Editors' Choice Award    
Price $174.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$175.00 at Backcountry
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$153.00 at Amazon
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$180.00 at REI
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$185.00 at REI
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Exceptional edging, quick lace closure, comfortable for its sharp downturn, great at toe hookingComfortable in cracks, low volume toe fits in thin cracks, great edgingGreat edging, convenient and secure Velcro closure systemGreat precision, aggressive/down turned toe tip, sensitive, great toe and heel hooking, precise fit, comfortable, easy on/offIncredible sensitivity, great edging, durability
Cons Big toe volume, painful in cracksHeel cup can feel uncomfortable across the achilles, left some testers with sore archesNot as comfortable in cracks as lace-up modelsNot comfortable for all-day climbing, expensive, not the most versatile, hard to fit, single strap broke prematurelySpecalized use, expensive, might be hard to resole
Bottom Line An ultra-premium shoe at a reasonable price.These shoes are high-performing crack climbing machines.This shoe is well-performing all arounder.This shoe is a favorite of many veteran climbers and still feels cutting edge over ten years after its first release.Employing Sportiva's No Edge concept, this is a sensitive shoe that edges incredibly well.
Rating Categories Evolv Oracle La Sportiva Kataki La Sportiva Otaki La Sportiva Solution La Sportiva Futura
Edging (20%)
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
Cracks (20%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
Comfort (20%)
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
8
Pockets (20%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
9
Sensitivity (20%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
10
Total Scores (%)
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
Specs Evolv Oracle La Sportiva Kataki La Sportiva Otaki La Sportiva Solution La Sportiva Futura
Style Lace Lace Velcro Velcro Velcro
Upper Synthratek VX synthetic Suede leather / Microfiber Leather/ Microfiber Leather / Lorica Leather/Synthetic Leather
Width Options Regular Regular Regular Regular Regular
Lining None Pacific Pacific HF in toe box and arch area only Unlined
Rubber Type TRAX SAS Vibram XS Edge Vibram XS Edge Vibram XS Grip 2 Vibram XS Grip2
Rubber Thickness (millimeters) 4.2 mm 4 mm 4 mm 4 mm 3 mm

Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


The Oracles are one Evolv's ultra performance shoes. The rubber-covered synthetic upper provides extra protection and grip for serious toe hooking.
The Oracles are one Evolv's ultra performance shoes. The rubber-covered synthetic upper provides extra protection and grip for serious toe hooking.

Edging


The Oracle features a split outsole, meaning the firm black rubber of the heel and forefoot is separated by flexible red rubber at the arch. This reduces foot strain while it's held in a downturned position. The forefoot outsole is also made especially stiff to allow you to focus the full strength of your foot into the toe edge of the shoe. We found this design to be highly effective, which is why the Oracle receives top marks for its edging performance.

The "Knuckle Box" is a molded area of extra space to accommodate the knuckle of your curled big toe. Our testers think this feature makes the Oracle much more comfortable for a downturned shoe.
The "Knuckle Box" is a molded area of extra space to accommodate the knuckle of your curled big toe. Our testers think this feature makes the Oracle much more comfortable for a downturned shoe.

Cracks


The downturn of the Oracle brings your foot into a ninja-like position with toes curled. This position has huge advantages on steep terrain, but corresponding disadvantages for crack climbing. Foot and toe jams feel considerably more painful when your toes are curled, and the Oracle's rubber-coated upper does little to relieve this discomfort. This shoe could still be useful for hard crack projects where the crack is too thin to jam any part of your foot inside, but for anything wider there are a lot better shoe choices.

One area where the Oracle doesn't excel is crack climbing. That's because its downturned design places your toes in a curled position that makes crack jams especially painful.
One area where the Oracle doesn't excel is crack climbing. That's because its downturned design places your toes in a curled position that makes crack jams especially painful.

Comfort


Downturned shoes are ordinarily less comfortable than their flat-soled brethren. The Oracle bucks this trend to some degree due to a couple of innovative features that enhance its comfort. The most effective might be the "Knuckle Box" which is a molded area of extra space for your curled big toe to nestle inside. This relieves significant pressure on the knuckle that you're usually forced to endure with other aggressive downturn designs. The Oracle also boasts extra rubber on the heel and synthetic upper to pad your foot while heel or toe hooking. Finally, the still sole on the forefoot provides plenty of sport for slow technical sequences. For these reasons, our testers think this is one of the most comfortable high-performance shoes.

The profile of the Evolv Oracle's toe is a little too large for perfect pocket climbing. Its sharp downturn is still beneficial on the steeps  but you can't squeeze them inside the tiniest pockets.
The profile of the Evolv Oracle's toe is a little too large for perfect pocket climbing. Its sharp downturn is still beneficial on the steeps, but you can't squeeze them inside the tiniest pockets.

Pockets


While the "Knuckle Box" greatly improves comfort, it also increases the volume of the toe box. That's not a good thing if you're hoping to squeeze the Oracle inside a tiny pocket. In addition, the toebox is also pretty wide horizontally, further limiting the shoe's usefulness for pocket climbing. One feature it does have in its favor is the "Love Bump" — a molded concavity on the underside of the toe that fills dead space and gives you an even better angle for pulling with your toes while pumping up the steeps.

The blue metal insert on the top eyelet makes tightening the laces effortless. The pair of blue cords extending downward help lock your foot down in the heel.
The blue metal insert on the top eyelet makes tightening the laces effortless. The pair of blue cords extending downward help lock your foot down in the heel.

Sensitivity


All shoes have to strike a balance between support and sensitivity. The Oracle strikes this balance with some bias toward support. Its stiff sole provides plenty of support, but it simply can offer as much sensitivity as a softer design. These shoes are also fitted with 4.2 mm of Trax SAS rubber. This is a little thicker than average and markedly more than ultra-sensitive performance shoes. Nevertheless, in many situations, our testers ended up preferring the additional support of the Oracle over the higher sensitivity of other models.

The Oracles feature 4.2 mm of Trax SAS rubber. Whether on the toe or the heel  or testers found it to be pretty grippy.
The Oracles feature 4.2 mm of Trax SAS rubber. Whether on the toe or the heel, or testers found it to be pretty grippy.

Value


The Oracle is currently Evolv's priciest offering, yet it's still a fair bit cheaper than the top shoes from Scarpa or La Sportiva. Our testers think it can definitely hang with any of those shoes, so we consider it an awesome value for an ultra-performance shoe.

Conclusion


Add the Oracle to the ever-expanding list of outstanding climbing shoes. It features a slew of innovative features that enhance performance and comfort, while still being priced for a few dollars less than its closest competitors. Although it's not the best shoe to chose for pockets or cracks, for all other disciplines, it performs excellently.


Jack Cramer