Evolv Shakra Review (2023): How Good Is This Bouldering Shoe?
Published on: 04/26/2023The Evolv Shakra is a low-volume comfy downturned shoes with great sensitivity for steep boulders.
Thanks to the Shakra’s soft fabric and flexible midsole, it makes smearing and steep climbing a breeze. Using velcro straps and a generous, split tongue, the Shakra is easy to pull on and off, making it a great choice for bouldering sessions, too.
Vegan climbers are also sure to appreciate the Shakra’s animal-free synthetic upper. With minimal stretch, the shoe fits close to street size, and its fantastic build quality promotes increased longevity in what are typically high-wear zones, especially at the forefoot and around the toes.
While the Shakra is perhaps not a true high-performance model, climbers looking for a comfy, downturned model that offers plenty of flexibility can’t really go wrong with this shoe.
- Evolv’s ‘Love Bump’ and ‘Knuckle Box’ allow the Shakra to marry comfort and sensitivity beautifully
- Decent performance and good versatility overall
- Great fit for vegan climbers, thanks to its Synthratek VX Synthetic Upper
- Incredibly lightweight shoe, making it easy to transport and wear for extended sessions
- For a high-performance shoe, it’s something of a letdown in certain areas
The Evolv Shakra is an aggressive, downturned shoe that also manages to be highly comfortable and versatile. With velcro strap closure, a synthetic upper, and 4.22 mm TRAX SAS sticky rubber outsole, the Evolv Shakra climbing shoe is also vegan, making it one of the few high-end climbing slippers to use fully plant-based materials.
Modulating between thicker and thinner rand rubber to eliminate pressure points, the Shakra also offers plenty of protection over the big toe knuckle, making toe hooks feel effortless. As a lower-volume shoe, climbers with small to medium-sized feet will likely find it easiest to get a dialed-in fit with the Shakra.
Comfort, Fit, and Sizing
Arguably the Shakra’s greatest strength overall is the comfort it offers climbers, even during longer, more intense sessions. This is due in large part to the shoe’s clever design, which uses Evolv’s ‘Knuckle Box’ and ‘Love Bump’ technologies to help the Shakra feel as natural as possible, even despite its aggressive, downturned profile.
The Knuckle Box works by placing the big toe in a gently curled position, which helps transfer power through the length of the Shakra. According to Evolv, it also eliminates the hot spots that you’ll often find towards the front of other shoes. Simultaneously, for maximum comfort, the Love Bump elevates the ball of the foot and helps the toes stay active without strain.
The Shakra boasts a lower-volume shape overall, meaning climbers with, well, lower-volume feet will generally be able to get a more accurate fit with it. We found that this shoe fits fairly true to climbers’ street shoe size; since the Shakra climbing shoe uses a synthetic upper, any stretch after breaking it in is minimal. Climbers with wider feet may want to go up a half size, but, as always, try before you buy.
While certainly serviceable, the Evolv Shakra’s edging power does leave something to be desired. Ultimately, it’s clear that comfort has been Evolv’s priority in designing this shoe, and it does show in its performance; the Shakra lacks the stiffness you want to provide a truly support edging surface, especially on sketchier holds.
With that being said, the shoe is still fairly sensitive, allowing you to feel smaller edges more accurately than you might with a model that uses thicker rubber.
Smearing is definitely one of the Shakra’s strengths. The shoe’s 4.2mm TRAX SAS outsole is nice and grippy, helping the climber stick to the rock with ease. Combine this with its supple flexibility, especially through the arch, and you can effortlessly transfer plenty of much-needed energy through the Shakra on smears.
The Shakra offers decent performance on heel hooks, though its heel cup is perhaps a bit softer than it ideally would be for moves like these. While you may experience some slipping on smoother surfaces, we didn’t have any issues with the heel cup actually collapsing, which is all too common in softer climbing shoes.
The Shakra’s toe-hooking performance is fantastic, though. Thanks to the shoe’s Molded Trax SAS Toe Patch, the forefoot gets plenty of protection when toe hooking. This feature also provides extra toe coverage to make sketchier hooking maneuvers far more viable than they otherwise would be.
Downturned shoes in general are less than ideal for being jammed into cracks, and this much is true for the Shakra, too. While its design works well to eliminate dead space and reduce pressure points, making it easier to work into smaller jams, your toes will start to hurt after a few longer cracks in this model.
Application in Different Climbing Styles
The Shakra handles most sport climbing routes nicely. Its sensitivity allows you to really feel and dig into each hold, and the midsole is both flexible and grippy, making this shoe a knockout as far as smearing and dynos are concerned.
Outdoor vs Gym Climbing
We’d argue that the Shakra lends itself more to gym climbing than outdoor routes, due to how soft and sensitive it is. With that being said, it’s durable and hardy enough that you can feasibly use it for outdoor climbing, too, provided that you’re not jamming it into cracks for hours on end.
All in all, the Shakra is a decent bouldering shoe. It’s comfortable and very quick to pull on and take off, which makes it great for longer, more strenuous sessions. However, it’s worth noting that it’s not quite as stiff or aggressive as you’d ideally like for maneuvers like edging and heel-hooking.
Trad and Crack Climbing
This is clearly not a climbing slipper made primarily for crack or trad climbing, and it shows. While, as a more aggressive shoe, the Shakra is remarkably comfortable for trad sessions, it’s simply too soft to offer the level of support you’d want when climbing in this style for extended periods.
Unfortunately, the Evolv Shakra’s crack climbing performance is frankly lackluster at best. The shoe is on the narrow side, which, combined with how soft it is, means that the foot is subject to pretty massive amounts of friction when using it in cracks. Additionally, its velcro straps will wear out fairly quickly when you utilize the shoe in this way.
Ultimately, the Shakra by Evolv is a great choice for climbers looking for a versatile, exceptionally comfortable shoe. Climbers looking to invest in their first pair of aggressive shoes may want to look into the Shakra, too; despite its aggressive downturn, it’s still comfortable enough that those of us with less conditioned feet can still get plenty of mileage out of it.
As probably one of the most comfortable climbing shoes out there on the market today, the Evolv Shakra is a great choice for anyone looking to get a versatile pair of climbing slippers that they can easily wear for longer sessions without pain. Most climbers will likely find that the Shakra represents good value for money, thanks to it combining these features with its impressive durability. With that being said, if you’re on the hunt for a more specialized or truly high-performance model, then you’ll likely want to look elsewhere.
Evolv Shakra FAQs
The Evolv Shakra is a low-volume shoe, and will best fit climbers with narrower, smaller feet.
The Evolv Shakra is very soft, even compared to its competitors.
At first look, the Evolv Shakra looks very similar to the Evolv Shaman LV (low volume). However, the brand adapted the platform to make it more suitable for women in terms of fit with the Shakra. Also, the midsole is more flexible.
|Weight||7.2 oz/204 g|
|Sole thickness||4.2 mm|
|Experience level||Intermediate, Advanced|
|Midsole||MX-P: 1.2mm Half-length|
|Upper||Synthratek VX synthetic|
Reference: Evolv‘s official website
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