Review: Mad Rock Redline Strap Climbing Shoe

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MSRP: $139

The updated Redline Strap is a radically downturned, asymmetrical beast (Mad Rock calls the shape a “spiral last”) made for gym climbing and steeps. These shoes are tight: I usually wear an 8.5 or 9 rock shoe, but here needed a 9.5. Perhaps this was because the molded heel cup is so deep that there’s little stretch; the forefoot is also narrow, which made the Redline great for smear-edging. These may be the best shoes I’ve tried for technical heel hooks, specifically on small gym holds. On a roof problem at the gym, I locked in the extruded heel-hooking ridge and shook out, whereas I couldn’t even get the heel to stick in other boots. This design creates maximum torque—it almost felt like I could “crimp” with the heel, as I did on a high hook at Sam’s Throne, Arkansas. Meanwhile, for toe scums, a massive “negative-texture” (with tiny oval indentations) patch covers the forefoot, adding to friction on volumes and textured gym walls, while the soft Science Friction 3.0 outsole had me sticking to slick volumes like Velcro. The shoes also feature a single hook-and-loop closure, stretchy synthetic tongue (easy on/off), and vegan-friendly construction.

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