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Tenaya Oasi Rock Shoe Review


The new Tenaya Oasi, a high performance rock shoe for steep rock.Tenaya Oasi | $165  ★★★

As its $165 price suggests, The Oasi is a top-shelf shoe. German wunderkid Alexander Megos wore the Oasi on his recent first ascent of Retired Extremely Dangerous, Australia’s first 5.14d (9a/35). Within its bouldering/sport-climbing niche, I’d classify the Oasi as an all-rounder, a shoe that’s pitched in the Goldilocks zone: Not too stiff for the gym. Not too soft for outdoor climbing.

I was impressed by the Oasi’s comfort for a snugly sized performance shoe. It felt nimble from the get-go with minimal break-in and suffering required.

The Oasi’s last is conservative, only slightly downturned and moderately cambered, and the toe box is roomy, unlike most aggressive models that cram your piggies up against your big toe. My feet loved this shoe.

My feet love Crocs too, but I wouldn’t want to climb in them. Fortunately, the Oasi sports a thin 3.5 mm Vibram XS-Grip 1 rubber sole (many new shoes have 4- to 5-mm soles) that enhances touch and sensitivity. It feels as if there is virtually no sole under the arch, making this shoe as soft as a slipper longitudinally. You can easily wiggle the tip of the toe up and down by flexing your foot.

The Oasi edges respectably thanks to a thin midsole in the forefoot, providing good lateral stiffness, and what Tenaya call “SRX dynamics,” which is a neat, if cryptic, way of saying that the rand rubber—and your foot—doesn’t bulge out beyond the sole, and that a tiny open space is designed into the heel to accommodate the change in volume that occurs in a down-turned shoe when you stand on a foothold.

Despite the purported open space (which I couldn’t detect), the Oasi felt locked-on and secure for heel hooking. The heel cup itself is deep and the shoe rides high on the back of the ankle. This didn’t bug me, but you might want to make sure the deep heel works for you.

The upper is synthetic, with a cotton lining, and a Sportiva Solution-esque half sock. The lined, synthetic construction minimizes stretch, so you don’t have to size the shoe cripplingly tight, while the cotton provides an organic feel on the foot. I also liked how light the Oasi felt. So much so that I weighed one—7.4 ounces. For comparison, my trusty Sportiva Miura VS’s weigh 9.4 ounces per shoe.

Two thin Velcro straps secure the Oasi. These can be fiddly—you need to pull on both sides of the buckle to avoid trapping slack on the underside of the strap—and are skinny enough to create pressure points if you cinch them too tightly. The Velcro tabs on the straps don’t have much surface area, and if you’re as sloppy as me about sticking them down, they can pop off. Positives: You can adjust the length of the straps and replace the Velcro tabs if they wear out. Tenaya also rightly says that the shoe can be worn like a slipper—the straps are for added security and you shouldn’t need to cinch them tightly.

The Oasi fits big—i.e. you need to buy a smaller size than you might think. I’m a U.S. men’s 9.5/10 (EU 43) in a street shoe. In the Oasi, a US 7.5 (EU 40) was just right.

I loved the Oasi on steep rock and plastic. It also performed better than I expected for outdoor face climbing. For gently overhanging rock at my limit, I’d be happier in a shoe that drove my foot more aggressively into the toe box—and be willing to tolerate a bit of pain as the tradeoff.

Overall, the Oasi is a great shoe. It provides a unique combination of performance and comfort, and really can “do it all.” I’d recommend the Oasi to ambitious climbers who like their shoes on the softer side of the Goldilocks zone.

Top-end sport and indoor shoe.
Sensitive and comfortable.
Mildly downturned and cambered.
Closure system: Two Velcro straps and half sock.
Rubber: Thin 3.5 mm Vibram XS-Grip 1.
Insole: Lycra with two perforated layers.
Material: Microfiber with TXT Treated cotton lining.

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