GOLF APPAREL REVIEW! – Oakley Cipher Shoe

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(Written By: GolfSpy Matt) If you were at the Demo Day for the PGA Merchandise Show this January, there’s no chance that you missed the dozens of pairs of red shoes from Oakley.  The red proved to be a clever marketing move since no one walked past without asking, “What’s up with those shoes?”  Those shoes, the Oakley Cipher, have a lot going on, actually, but the thing that everyone notices are the Nano Spikes.  While more and more companies are going “spike-less,” Oakley has engineered a totally new sole that reduces weight and promises as much traction as traditional cleats.  Golfspy Dave and I both put the Ciphers to the test to let you know whether these shoes deliver or if Nano Spikes are headed for the dust bin of failed ideas.  Read on, spies…

oakley cipher shoe review


Golfspy Dave summed it up by saying, “Stylin kix.”  I’ll be a bit more verbose.

The Oakley Cipher is a good looking golf shoe that plays more towards the style of an athletic shoe as opposed to the classic, traditional golf shoe.  The shoe is almost entirely mono-color: the only thing that disrupts the blackness (or whiteness, redness, blueness) is the silver “O” logo on the outside of the toe.  The other thing I like about the style of this shoe is that it can work for anyone, depending on the color choice.  For more toned down types, you have basic black and white.  If you want to grab people’s attention, go for the red or blue.

Dave and I both agree that the Cipher’s get an “A” for style.

Score: 19/20


The bar for comfort has been set very high this year with some excellent shoes, so I put the Oakley Cipher through a true torture test: standing on the tee box at a charity scramble for 7 hours.  My feet felt as good coming off the course that day as they did walking on.

For me, a large part of the comfort is the weight.  I’ve tested some light shoes this year, but these are far and away the lightest. They don’t necessarily weigh a lot less than other super light shoes (just an ounce or two), but something in the design and weight distribution gives them a “lighter than air” feel.

While the feel is not the same cushy feel that you get with TRUE Linkswear (the reigning comfort king), I would say that the Ciphers are every bit as good to your feet as TRUE's.

Score: 23/25


The biggest question I got about the Oakley Cipher was about the traction.  Non-replaceable spikes are becoming more accepted, but the NanoSpike Technology pushes things to a whole new level.  Even I was concerned my first time out.

So was the concern merited?  Not really.  After four or five swings, I completely forgot about the shoes.  On grass, I had very little issue with slippage except for the occasional “swing like a gorilla” moments which no amount of spikes could save.  The one place where traction wasn’t great was on mats.  My theory is that since the NanoSpikes are surrounded by a firm TPU sole, they don’t really get much of a grip when the ground doesn’t have any give.

The Ciphers are not waterproof, but they do have a band around the lower part of the upper that should keep light mist and dew away from your feet.  That said, these are not your best choice for monsoon season.

Finally, I know I mentioned it already with regard to comfort, but it bears repeating: these shoes are ridiculously light.  As I’ve said before, a lightweight shoe is a definite performance advantage, especially for walkers.

Score: 17/20


The Oakley Cipher retails for $130, which I think is an average value.  As I’ve said in recent shoe reviews, there are simply so many good shoes near the $100 mark that a shoe really has to stand out to be over $100 and get a high "Value Score".  Dave’s comments were similar, noting the number of excellent shoes below $130.

Also on the point of value, the NanoSpike replacement pads cost $20 per set.  Oakley believes that a set of NanoSpikes should last somewhere around 20 rounds, depending on the golfer.

Score: 14/20

The Peanut Gallery

Being that they’re black, like all my other shoes, the Oakley Cipher didn’t immediately grab anyone’s attention…until I turned them over.  One of our new Peanut Gallery members cracked me up by asking, “Have they always been like that?” when she saw the NanoSpike sole.

Overall, there was some light skepticism about the effectiveness of the NanoSpikes, hearty approval for the light weight and style, and a collective “hmmm…ok” about the price.  The group felt that the price was fine, certainly far from outrageous, but not such that they would be buying a new pair tomorrow.

Score: 13/15

Final Thoughts

Overall, both GolfSpy Dave and I think that the Oakley Cipher is a very stylish, comfortable shoe.  Dave’s biggest complaint was the lack of waterproofing, but when you’re aiming for the lightest golf shoe on the market other performance elements must be sacrificed.  What has not been sacrificed is traction: neither Dave nor I found any substantial difference between NanoSpikes and traditional spikes.  If you’re looking for a featherweight footwear option that will set you apart on the course, the Oakley Ciphers should be in your sights.

Score: 86/100




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Review Summary



{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

andy butterbaugh July 16, 2012 at 7:15 am

the sandpaper gripping came off during my 3rd round on one shoe and the 5th round on the other shoe. i am a -1 handicap and think i am pretty easy on shoes. the problem was the backing not staying attached to the velcro. in other words the velcro held, but the sand paper traction gave loose. other than that i love the weight, room and feel i get. oakley sent the replacement and i will try again.


Chris June 26, 2012 at 6:04 am

Any issues walking indoor on hard floors? Harwood in particular. Heard the sole is much like sandpaper. . . That could be bad.


Yohanan June 15, 2012 at 11:19 pm

Wow Inventive for sure.
I doubt they will be around long?
Does the under 30 crowd have thst much cake in this economy to make them next year? Or are enough guys in there late 30s and early 40s wantkng to take off 10+ years by wearing these going to make them sell enough of them?
What will UA and Puma do?
I went and got the ecco biom hybrid. Fantastic. Ever laced up som Yak leather? Nice and that sole grips everything so far.
Will try on the tw13 next. But i doubt rbey are as cushy as they look?
Still with etonic. Hopefully they wake up soon. They ruled spikeless for almost 10 years with the g sok. Wtf etonic? Is your ceo to blame or just more corporate malaise while we wait to be purchased?
Oh welll – At fj wont go in reverse? We always can count on fj to stay on top?


Brian June 13, 2012 at 12:27 pm

That shoe is uglier than Janet Reno.


JBones June 13, 2012 at 7:57 am

I’ve been waiting for a review of these, since I saw the pictures of them from the PGA show.


Alex June 12, 2012 at 11:34 am

I have to say that I am surprised by the fact they they slip on the mats. I thought that the nano spikes would be perfect for that and it would creat a completely different type of range shoe. I understand that it is the TPU that was most of the problem, so is the TPU what digs into the turf as well.
And having a shoe at $130 and not be completely waterproof is bold. There are plenty of shoes at the $100 price point that have the 2 yr garauntee and they are getting lower and lower in cost.


Golf Ladies Clothing June 12, 2012 at 8:18 am

I’m always looking for a lightweight, comfortable golf shoe to wear that I do not feel like Pat Boone. Good article, thanks


Three Guys Golf Blog June 12, 2012 at 7:04 am

Another solid write up. My only issues with Oakley is that I still have not bought into the brand as a true golf company. Snobby, yup, but I am not a big fan of stuff that looks to technical. Still, I think they may be on to something with the nano spikes. I am interested to see how they last over 4-5 months of play though.


R. P. Jacobs II June 12, 2012 at 9:16 am

+1..Couldn’t have said it any better, especially the first sentence..Shallow thinking?..Probably, though noone’s ever accused me of being a real deep thinker…Life’s simpler this way…

Fairways & Greens 4ever…..


R. P. Jacobs II June 12, 2012 at 9:18 am

Jesus, to show ya just how shallow my thinking is, I meant the second sentence…..

Fairways & Greens 4ever….


Golfspy Matt June 12, 2012 at 10:49 am

Nah, you meant the first one. :)


Brian June 11, 2012 at 10:11 pm

Did you run in to any issues with the nano spikes separating from the adhesive backing? I was going to get a pair of these earlier in the season and after reading some reviews it sounded like that was a very large issue. Almost to the point of a recall.

I got the impression that Oakley was going to change something with the adhesive to hopefully eliminate the problem. So also curious when you got the shoes. If they were a more recent version maybe the problem got fixed?


Golfspy Matt June 12, 2012 at 5:54 am

I can’t comment on whether or not I got a “more recent” version or not: I simply don’t know.

Personally, I had no issue with the NanoSpikes separating and Dave didn’t mention anything about that, so I assume he didn’t either.

I was actually pretty amazed at the strength of the Velcro that holds the NanoSpikes to the shoe – it takes real work to get them off, which is obviously a good thing.


Mstod June 11, 2012 at 6:16 pm

I’d be very interested to see how many people actually replace the nanospikes around 20 rounds. I thought these looked a good shoe until I read that particular section. Maybe they are more of a shoe for those golfers using carts every round.


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