Oakley is known for bold designs, and the Oakley Cipher 2 spikeless golf shoe lives up to that reputation. The Cipher 2 is extremely lightweight and waterproof. Comfort, however, didn’t reach our expectations, and the Cipher 2 didn’t grip well in longer grass.
Retail price: $150
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The Oakley Cipher 2 sits low and practically growls at you. The trademark Oakley “O” appears on the outside of the toe, with snazzy racing stripes running about three quarters the length of the shoe. The prominence of the racing stripes varies depending on the color combination you choose – we purchased a white pair with subtle grey stripes, while there is another white pair with extremely noticeable red stripes.
The Oakley color palette (which oddly enough varies, depending on the retailer) includes black/sliver, grey/yellow, orange/white (for you Tennessee Volunteer fans), charcoal/white, red/white, white/grey, white/black, white/red, and white/gold.
CONSTRUCTION AND DURABILITY
The upper of the Oakley Cipher 2 is a single piece of “synthetic skin” material. The good news is that it is extremely lightweight and is waterproof. The downside is that in certain lighting, it can have a plastic look. Oakley provides a two-year warranty on the waterproofing, and we had no issues with any leakage in our test rounds.
The synthetic skin is similar to leather in the ease with which it can be cleaned. Dirt and mud can be wiped off and we didn’t experience any problems with staining.
The NanoSpikes used on the outsole for traction (see below) are actually replaceable – a NanoSpike replacement kit can be purchased for a suggested retail price of $20.
COMFORT AND ON-COURSE USE
The Oakley Cipher 2s are the lightest shoes we’ve tested, weighing in at 1.2 lbs. for the pair (as tested) [Editor’s Note: with our recent review of the FJ SuperLites CT, the Cipher 2s drop down to being the second lightest among our test group]. The combination of NanoSpikes and midsole made us feel a little lower to the ground, which ostensibly helps with stability.
While the uppers were flexible enough, we experienced some break-in difficulties with the rear of the shoe, which rubbed the back of our ankles raw on the initial test round (we wear no-show socks). Yes indeed, we had to resort to applying Band-Aids the same way Mrs. Critical Golf does with a troublesome pair of high heels. By the second round, this had abated for the most part, but it was a painful introduction to the Cipher 2s.
The shoe doesn’t breathe as well as others we’ve tried – our dogs didn’t feel like they were on fire, but neither were they chilling out in a cool breeze. Oakley touts an antimicrobial treatment to help control odor inside the shoe – thus far we haven’t noticed a real difference.
Oakley has a novel approach toward achieving grip on the course – there are five areas of “NanoSpikes” (tiny nubs that are actually made of metal) on the outsole, which feel almost like sandpaper. The edges of the outsole feature ridges to provide some traction. Depending on the terrain, the NanoSpikes provide differing levels of grip. When you try the Cipher 2s on in a store and stand on carpet, you feel like you are positively glued to the ground (which truthfully is what sucked us into buying a pair in the first place). We didn’t have the same level of confidence on the course in longer grass, and as the rounds progressed, grass and dirt would clump up on the NanoSpike zones and essentially negate any traction they might have provided. The Cipher 2s are probably best suited for play on drier courses that have harder ground and tighter cropped fairways (links golf, anyone?). In addition, make a mental note not to walk on your hardwood floors in the Cipher 2s – we didn’t actually make this mistake, but it sure would be an expensive one.
The suggested retail price of the Oakley Cipher 2 spikeless golf shoe is $150. If the shoes had delivered on the amazing grip it displays on a golf store carpet, we might be more enthusiastic about the value. The Cipher 2s are extraordinarily lightweight, but didn’t quite provide the comfort level we’d like at this price point.