Evolv Elektra Review (With Video!)
Our Evolv Elektra review came to the conclusion that this shoe is a great first option for beginner female climbers. The Elektra is not the highest performing climbing shoe out there, but it does what beginner climbers and boulderers need it to do.
If you’re looking for your first pair of climbing shoes, check out out list of the best women’s beginner climbing shoes. Or, you can compare the Elektra to our picks of the top climbing shoes available today.
Our reviewer, Sarah, has owned the shoes for a couple of years and during that time has climbed in them consistently for over seven months. She has enjoyed the Elektras and recommends them to any beginner climber or boulderer. For anyone interested in getting their first pair of climbing shoes, you cannot go wrong with the Elektras.
For sizing, we recommend you purchase your pair either the same size as your street shoe size or half a size below it (in US sizes). The shoes won’t stretch since they are made out of a synthetic leather, so make sure they fit well on the first try. They should fit snugly but not be painfully tight.
Table of Contents
- Profile: asymmetrical
- Sole: 4.2 mm TRAX© high friction rubber
- Rand: VTR rand
- Upper: synthetic (perforated Synthratek upper)
- Lining: nylon
- Midsole: MX-P: 1 mm sensitive half-length
- Sizes: 3-11 US women’s (including half sizes)
EDGING (2.5 / 5)
The Elektra is not the best edging shoe. The shoe’s sole is flat and the toe box is round which makes it difficult to get a foot on those thin microholds. In the climbing gym this might not be that much of an issue since the holds are usually bigger and more forgiving, but once you begin to venture outside know that it can be difficult to get your feet on tiny holds with this shoe.
However, if you are a beginner climber, you won’t need the best edging shoe. The footholds you will be using will most likely be large and easy to get feet on. There might be a few indoor routes or problems that you climb where the lack of edging performance will be noticed, but not enough to warrant dishing out $160+ on your first pair of climbing shoes.
POCKETS (3.5 / 5)
This shoe is decent at using pockets as footholds. You’d never buy it exclusively for that purpose, but overall it can manage. Women’s shoes usually run narrow so, in general, they’ll be good for pocket climbing.
HEEL/TOE HOOKING (4 / 5)
The rubber on the Evolv Elektra is well placed and thick in the right areas due to its VTR (Variable Thickness Rubber) rand. Your heels and toes are protected and the bottom Velcro strap is high up enough that it doesn’t interfere with toe hooking.
Our reviewer never had any issue toe hooking or heel hooking with these shoes. The shoe’s heel cup fits her heel well and her heel has never slipped out.
SENSITIVITY (4 / 5)
The Elektra is a sensitive shoe. The rubber is relatively soft which makes it easy to feel the rock with your feet as compared to stiffer, more aggressive shoes.
Sensitivity could either be a positive or negative feature depending on personal preference. However, sensitive shoes usually have soft rubber which is also what makes them comfortable. And, for your first pair, we recommend getting something comfortable so you don’t have to obsessively clip your toenails or endure the pain of aggressive shoes.
Also, wearing a sensitive shoe for your first climbing shoe will help you determine whether you’d like to go more or less sensitive with your next shoes.
PRECISION (3 / 5)
Indoors, the Elektra performs well and can be precisely navigated to almost any foothold. However, outdoors, small holds mixed with the shoe’s blunt toe box make it hard to place your foot on a hold with precision.
If you’re a beginner, you will probably be doing a majority of your climbing indoors, so low precision will not be the biggest issue for you.
However, if you’re a more experienced climber who wants to climb outdoors more, then we suggest you look for a more aggressive shoe that can stick to the small nubs and bumps found on natural rock.
SMEARING (3 / 5)
The Elektra will smear well in the beginning of its life, but the sole’s stickiness will wear out as you climb in it. Depending on how often you smear and how good your footwork is, the rubber could stay sticky for a pretty long time — or it could lose its stickiness after a handful of months.
It’s likely that you’ll hardly notice the smearing ability of this shoe if you climb indoors since smearing is not too common in gyms.
Smearing is more common outside, though, so if you’ll be doing lots of outdoor climbing than a higher performing shoe, such as the La Sportiva Miura VS Women’s, would be a better choice.
CRACKS (4 / 5)
The Elektra’s flat sole is good for shoving into cracks and the rubber is thick enough that it protects your feet while you’re wedging them between rocks. Overall, it’s a good crack climbing shoe.
When buying the Elektra online, buy your pair either the same size as your street shoe size or half a size below it (in US sizes). Our reviewer wears an 8.5 in street shoes and her size 8.5 Elektras fit great. You want to buy them so close to your street shoe size since the Elektras are made out of a synthetic leather that will not stretch lengthwise.
Though the Elektras won’t stretch lengthwise, they will conform to the shape and width of your foot. The Velcro strap closure style is also good for quickly getting the shoes on and off, though the shoes are so comfortable you likely won’t want to take them off unless you have to.
In general, the Elektra fits great. It has a flat sole and round toe box so you don’t have to squeeze your foot into the shoe to get it on. The shoes fit great in the heel and toe box if you size them correctly and the Velcro straps allow you to tighten or loosen them as needed (there is also a lace version of the Elektra if you’d prefer that).
Women’s climbing shoes do run narrow relative to men’s shoes, so if you have particularly wide feet then you might consider checking out the men’s version of the shoe, the Evolv Defy.
Our reviewer has owned her pair of Elektras for a couple of years and climbed in them consistently for seven months. So far, the only durability issue she has had is the rubber on the sole losing some of its stickiness. The rubber around the toe box and heel has not worn thin.
Also, the Velcro straps have retained their stickiness. Our reviewer has never had her straps come undone accidentally. Overall, the shoe has held up well after seven months of consistent use, and they appear ready to hold up for many more.
We expect you could get up to a year or so of consistent climbing out of your Elektras before having durability issues. And, at that point, you’ll probably be ready for a higher performing shoe.
Like most beginner climbing shoes, the Evolv Elektra is pretty darn comfy by climbing shoe standards. The shoe’s sole is soft and flat and the toe box is round which makes it fit more like a rubber slipper than a stiff, hooked climbing shoe.
Our reviewer can wear her Elektras for an entire gym session without taking them off, and her feet won’t start to feel uncomfortable until after an hour of continuous wear.
Evolv shoes, especially the Defy and Elektra, have a reputation of being smelly. The shoes are made out of a synthetic material which retains moisture (i.e. sweat) and can cause the shoes to develop a strong odor.
Our reviewer actually didn’t have much of an issue with her shoes smelling, but there are many accounts online of people who have not had a history of foot odor but who have smelly Elektras.
The best way to manage the smell is to dry your shoes out as quickly as possible after climbing in them. You can let them air dry outside or place them on top of a vent, but getting rid of the moisture will be key to managing the smell.
If purple is your thing, then you’ll love how these shoes look. There is also a new teal color if that’s your style. However, if you’re looking for something a little flashier, you might find the Elektra bland. It consists of solid colors and lacks the patterns that some shoes have.
After conducting our Evolv Elektra review we recommend these shoes to beginner female climbers or boulderers looking for their first pair of climbing shoes.
The Elektra isn’t the highest performing climbing shoe out there because it isn’t trying to be. It was designed with beginners in mind. It’s meant to be cheap, comfortable, and durable enough to hold up while you test out the sport and find your feet in it (puns…).
Vs. Other Beginner Shoes
At $89 retail, The Evolv Elektra is one of the cheapest climbing shoes out there. It represents a great value in that regard, and you can’t go wrong by choosing the Elektra as your first climbing shoe.
However, if the potential of having smelly shoes bothers you, the La Sportiva Nago Women’s is another great beginner’s climbing shoe which retails for $99. The Nago Women’s is a leather climbing shoe which means it will stretch lengthwise (you can read our review to know what size to get) and not retain smell as much. It also has laces instead of Velcro straps.
Besides that, however, the two shoes are almost identical. If you’re nervous about the Elektras being smelly, go with the Nago Women’s. If you’re indifferent on smell, go for whichever shoe you can find a better deal on.
This review was conducted by an infrequent contributor to the site.