Mad Rock Shoe Review

By Climbing ,

Mad Rock Flash, $69

Summary: Mad Rock certainly made a splash this year with their innovative and esoteric designs, but it’s their comparatively simple Flash that drew the most raves from our testers. Overall, this unlined Velcro slipper relies on a tried-and-true design, delivering sport-oriented performance equal to that of shoes which cost twice as much. The aggressive, injection-molded tiered heelcup takes a little getting used to when heel-hooking, but once you dial it in, you’ll be psyched on what you can latch onto. The Mad Rock rubber has an incredibly sticky feel, but we also noted that it wasn’t the most durable in the test.

Pros: Inexpensive. Aggressive heel. Excellent all-around sport shoe.

Cons: Limited Velcro adjustment.

Overall grade: A

Mad Rock: (503) 797-1952,

Mad Rock Hooker Lace-up and Zipper, $89Summary: With its thought-provoking, convention-flouting design, the Hooker —available in both lace-up and zip-upversions — turned many heads. First to catch the eye is the shoe’s offset closuresystem, which allows for the forefoot to be covered in injection-molded rubber withlittle ribs that make for outstanding toe-hooking. The hard edge/soft interior dual-density sole seemed bizarre at first, but provided a stable edging platform without sacrificing smearability. The unlined Hookers also feature the same aggressive heelcup standard on all Mad Rock models. Beware of wearing these shoes on hot, sunny days — all that black rubber will make your feet hotter than a habañero. Pros: Inexpensive. Rubber-swathed forefoot. Aggressive heel. Cons: Hot. Elastic on Zipper bunches up. Overall grade: B+

Mad Rock: (503) 797-1952,

Mad Rock Mugen, $79

Summary: The Mugen shares the same dual-density sole and heelcup as the Hookers, but it’s Mad Rock’s only shoe to offer a synthetic upper, or to be lined (with canvas). While the Mugen performs similarly to the Hookers in most respects, it is compromised by a stiff, non-pliable upper. Rather than conforming to your foot, the fabric bunches and kinks, resulting in a less-than-satisfactory fit.

Pros: Inexpensive. Aggressive heel.

Cons: Limited Velcro adjustment. Upper doesn’t conform to foot.

Overall grade: B-

Mad Rock: (503) 797-1952,

Mad Rock Phoenix, $69

Summary: The Phoenix is Mad Rock’s take on a trad-climbing rock shoe, with the addition of its aggressive heel cup. While it’s a comfortable shoe that you can wear all day (and smears well), the Phoenix comes up short in crack-climbing performance — the lacing extends too far down the chiseled toe, leaving no room for an adequately protective toe rand. And unlike most trad rock shoes, the Phoenix is unlined, meaning it will quickly stretch out.

Pros: Inexpensive. Aggressive heel.

Cons: Needs more toe rand.

Overall grade: C+

Mad Rock: (503) 797-1952,

Mad Rock Shark, $79

Summary: The pull-on slipper cousin of the Hookers, the Shark offers the same sole, heelcup, and forefoot rubber, and performs similarly well. However, the Shark’s elastic tongue is very abrasive and the shoes are all black, making it a foot oven when climbing in the sun. Also, these shoes are very difficult to put on because of their exceptionally high ankle; however, Mad Rock says that the ankle has subsequently been lowered by two millimeters.

Pros: Inexpensive. Rubber-swathed forefoot. Aggressive heel.

Cons: Very hot. Elastic tongue very abrasive.

Overall grade: B

Mad Rock: (503) 797-1952,

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