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Evolv Oracle Review (2024): Perfect Performance Lace-Up?

Evolv Oracle review
The Evolv Oracle are comfortable, performance lace-up shoes for steep climbing.

Bottom Line

9.3Expert Score
Superior Comfort and Elite Performance on Edges and Overhangs
The Evolv Oracle rock climbing shoe was introduced in 2018 as a premium model designed for steep sport routes, bouldering, and high-level gym climbing. This lace-up model promised expert performance and superior comfort in a vegan-friendly package that incorporated Evolv’s latest and greatest technology features.

Our review confirms the intent and purposes of this climbing shoe. With a broad forefoot that welcomes wider feet and an aggressive shape, the Evolv Oracle climbing shoe lets you tackle steep and overhanging terrain in relative comfort.

And, while not a stiff climbing shoe by any means, the Oracle achieves stellar edging power thanks to a high-tensioned rand and partial midsole. This gives you the support you need on micro edges and vertical stone.

We should also mention that currently the Oracle is being phased out of Evolv’s lineup in favor of the Shaman Lace, which shares many of the sizing and performance aspects of the Oracle.
Comfort
9.5
Performance
9
Durability
9.5
Value for Money
9
PROS
  • Almost unbeatable on micro edges
  • Tight fit without pressure points
  • Lower price than other premium climbing shoes
CONS
  • Tall, blunt toe box not adept at pockets
  • Not super sensitive

Introduction

Evolv Oracle on feet

The Evolv Oracle is a member of Evolv’s ultra-performance EVO Lab series of shoes. Designed for moderate to expert bouldering, sport climbing, and indoor climbing, the Oracle delivers exceptional performance in these environments, with a less painful fit and easier break in period than many competitors. Its all-synthetic construction is a plus for vegans.

Comfort

The Oracle is built on a highly aggressive downturned, asymmetrical last, but its wide forefoot and toe box make it feel immediately accommodating on first wearing.

Evolv Oracle climbing shoes

Materials

The Oracle’s construction starts with an unlined Synthratek VX upper, a material with fairly good breathability compared to some other synthetic climbing shoes. The split mesh tongue is generously padded and includes an anti-microbial coating to inhibit odor-causing bacteria.

One unique technical feature on the Oracle is the FSS heel tensioner system that incorporates a cord looping under the ankle to lock down the heel and keep the shoe tight under the arches.

Evolv Oracle Love Bump midsole

Like most of the climbing shoes in Evolv’s advanced EVO Labs lineup, the Oracle combines a tall knuckle box with a “Love Bump” midsole. These two design features give your toes room to curl into a natural crimping position without leaving dead space underneath. It sounds and feels strange if you’re not used to it, but it really works. And without much discomfort.

The speed lace closure cinches down quickly and securely for easier on-off than many lace-up climbing shoes.

One other feature that adds to performance and comfort, Evolv’s Dark Spine is a separate midsole component that stiffens the back of the shoe and protects your heel bone during heel hooking moves.

Last but not least, at 9 oz (255 g), the shoe is fairly lightweight.

Oracle heel

Is There a Women’s Version of the Evolv Oracle?

Evolv doesn’t offer a women’s version of the Oracle. For a similar pair with lower volume, climbers with narrower feet and heels might want to check out the Shaman Lace LV (low volume) from Evolv.

Fit, Foot Shape, and Sizing

Evolv Oracle unboxing

The Evolv Oracle fits best on medium to wide feet. If your forefoot is narrow, you may feel like you can’t cinch the shoes tight enough because the lacing system only extends midway down toward the toe. Most reviewers with wider feet loved the Oracle’s fit and minimal break in.

The Oracle felt like it was sized small to most reviewers. We recommend sizing up a half size from US street shoe size for a fairly high performance, tight fit, but many reviewers went up a whole size to get the best fit.

Performance

Trax sole with superior grip

Edging

The Oracle’s 4.2 mm/0.1 in Trax SAS rubber outsole is a medium hard, proprietary formula used on all of Evolv’s high-performance models. It adds just a little more stiffness to the already supportive midsole, which together gives you an incredible platform for standing on tiny edges and bumps with great precision.

Smearing

All of the features that contribute to the edging prowess of the Oracle are kind of a downside when it comes to smearing. However, this only becomes an issue on long, less-than-vertical sections where the shoe’s downturned shape fights against your need to flatten the sole onto the rock. Otherwise, the Trax SAS rubber offers great grip and sticks just fine on indoor volumes and slabby outdoor moves.

Pair of Evolv Oracle with TRAX rubber outsole

Hooking

Heel hooking is a strong suit for the Oracle, with the FSS heel tensioner completely locking in your heel and the Dark Spine heel midsole protecting your Achilles. The angle of the heel also seems ideal for heel hooks and latching on to different-shaped holds.

Toe hooks are also awesome, with a high rand and toe patch creating a huge rubber contact area on the inside and top of your foot.

Jamming

The Oracle’s knuckle box and love bump keep your toes in a curled position, which is not what you want when you slide your foot sideways into a crack. So, jamming can be a painful experience in the Oracle, especially if they’re sized tightly. You can get by if you need to make a few crack climbing moves here and there but don’t expect the Oracles to be ideal trad climbing companions.

Climbing Scenarios

climber putting on Evolv Oracle shoes

We liked the Evolv Oracle climbing shoes best on hard boulder problems, steep single-pitch sport routes, and on vertical to overhanging indoor climbing. It’s awesome at face climbing on granite, sandstone, conglomerate, and limestone, so long as you’re not dependent on using tiny pockets as footholds.

While the Oracle is stiffer and less sensitive than the latest crop of ultra-soft performance shoes, in many cases, we find this extra support helpful in saving energy on climbs with tricky footwork. This is true even on short boulder problems, not just long vertical routes.

In the gym, the comfort allows you to leave your shoes on for longer sessions, but the speed laces still enable easy entry and exit.

Oracle lace-up

Other Uses

The Oracle is also well-suited for highly difficult trad climbs with finger-size cracks and smaller ones. This style of climbing usually doesn’t offer the security of a full foot or hand jam, so you can rely on the face climbing and edging abilities of the Oracle.

Durability, Resoling, Sustainability, and Animal Welfare

Evolv Oracle upper

The Evolv Oracle is a sturdy shoe made of high-quality materials, and it shows no signs of abnormal wear after over a month of heavy use.

Evolv’s VTR (variable thickness rand) helps greatly to extend the life of the shoe’s toe rubber. This is even more important in a shoe like the Oracle as it transfers your power to the big toe and encourages climbers to constantly put pressure on this area.

When you do wear out the sole or rand, you can easily resole and repair them at your favorite climbing shoe resoler, or try Evolv’s in-house resole service, Yosemite Bum (1).

Like many Evolv models, the Oracle uses no animal products in its construction and is vegan-friendly.

Evolv Oracle vegan shoes

Conclusion

The Evolv Oracle is a great value considering all the innovative features and a solid all-around choice for intermediate to advanced-level climbers who enjoy hard, technical climbing indoors and out. These shoes have an excellent balance between support and sensitivity to stick to edges like glue, with a level of comfort that’s unique in such an aggressive package.

Facts

Technical Specs

Weight9 oz/255 g
FitPerformance
DownturnVery aggressive
ShapeHigh asymmetry
VolumeHigh
StiffnessStiff
Sole thickness4.2 mm
ClosureLaces
ResoleableYes
VeganYes

Use

ActivitiesIndoor, Outdoor, Bouldering, Sport
Experience levelIntermediate, Advanced

Technologies

OutsoleTRAX SAS high-friction rubber, VTR rand
Midsole1.6 mm Half-length "Love Bump" midsole, Dark Spine heel midsole
UpperSynthratek VX
LastSlip-lasted
LiningUnlined

Where to Buy It?

We buy most of our stuff from REI.com. Their service is great, and it’s a co-op, so they treat their employees well and answer to their members, not shareholders.

Note: we receive a commission when you buy through us. This keeps our team of writers/climbers going!

References

Yosemite Bum Resoles (retrieved on 10/06/2023)
https://www.yosemitebum.com/

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