Hello, Mad Rock!

This week, I’ve had the chance to demo some Mad Rock shoes.

Mad Rock has a new rep in town, Boris Tuong, and he has just received a full demo kit.  So, soon you will have the opportunity to give some of these models a test drive yourself.

Out of the six pairs that I received, I was able to put some decent time in with three of them and do a couple of boulders in a fourth.  I’m hoping to get back out later in the week and try the other two along with giving the Demons some more time.

I used the La Sportiva Muira for a couple of years and wore a size 39.  Last fall, when one the Muira’s just could not be resoled another time, I picked up a pair of Scarpa Vapors through Steep and Cheap for about half price.  After doing some comparisons of the Muira and Vapor online, I ended up ordering a size 39.5 and they fit great right out of the box (even better after some MacGyver style rubber modification under the ankle bone on the right shoe).

I’ve never worn Mad Rocks before, so I asked Boris for some sizing guidance.  He suggested, from his experience, that I should start with half a size up from my street shoe, 8.0, so I took all the available models in 8.5 (41.5).

Back L to R: Phoenix, Flash Concept
Front L to R: Conflict, Demon, Shark

On my first night of three, I took out the Demon and the new Shark 2.0 for a little bouldering.  After a couple of problems with the Demon, I decided that I needed to review this shoe in a smaller size.  The toe box was comfortable enough, but I had slosh in the heel and across the top of the front of my foot.  I didn’t feel in control of the shoe, so I switched over to the Shark.

I sat down next to another climber who had an older pair of Demons.  At eight months old, the edging was rounded, as any shoe that old would be, but not worn through or peeling anywhere.  He estimated they’d gotten 8-10 hours per week through the winter and his only issue was funk.  Is that a foot or shoe problem?  Only time can tell.

Mad Rock Demon
New vs. 8 months old – holding up well

The Shark fit very comfortably and I think it will be a great shoe for aggressive bouldering and sport climbing.  However, like the Demon, I had too much wiggle room with size 41.5.  I finished out the night in the Sharks getting some good edging and smearing, but was always aware of the gaps between my foot and the shoe in certain places from having on too large of a size.

Mad Rock Shark 2.0

On day two, I put in a lead session before getting back into bouldering.  For both sessions, I used only the Conflict.  Right when I slipped them on, I was excited about this shoe.  The toe box was similar to the Demon and Shark, having a ridge line that cups the down turned bend of the toes.

Looking down the flat sole of the Flash at the down turned toe box of the Conflict and Shark 2.0

The front half of the shoe wrapped snugly around my foot and the three Velcro straps allowed me to cinch in as tight as I wanted depending on the intensity of the route or problem I was working on.  I especially liked that the straps ran at a diagonal across the shoe so that when I was pulling them tight, it wasn’t creating a bunched seam straight up the top of my foot, rather the upper was pulled more flush across the top instead.

This shoe performed well for me on edges, smears, and heel hooks.  There wasn’t the slosh that I was having in the Demon or Shark, but I still think that a half size down would make this shoe even better for me.

Mad Rock Conflict

On my third consecutive day to the gym, I decided to do some moderate bouldering, sticking mostly to V4 and under.  I picked the Flash 2.0 for this session.  This shoe has a more traditional toe box than the others that I had tried out so far and a gel filled heel.

My first impression of the shoe as I slipped it on was comfort.  I’ve been climbing in mostly aggressive shoes for the past several years and this pair did not have the down turn and ultra tight fit that I have grown used to.  I can see this being a great model for the intermediate climber or for an all day trad day.

Once again the size may have come into play, but I found heel hooking on anything with the Flash to be less secure than with the Conflict.  On even the smallest of foot chips, this shoe edge well.  The comfort was great and the straps were adequate to dial in the fit.  I’m not sure what the intended benefit of the Shock Gel under the heel is, but it certainly makes the shoe comfortable to walk or stand around in.

Flash 2.0 is another model that I want to give a better test after downsizing.

Mad Rock Flash

After my initial foray into the world of Mad Rock, I’m looking forward to checking out the remaining models and retrying the ones above in the next size or two down.  I think a more snug fit will give me greater confidence on the smaller foot holds and better control on heel hooks.

As I am able to get more sessions in, I will update my thoughts on each model.  Mad Rock will also be lining up some demo days at local gyms and I’ll be helping to spread the word about those events once they are scheduled and confirmed.

If you are especially eager to get your feet in some and know Boris, drop him a line.  Otherwise, feel free to inquire here or with justclimbmn (at) gmail and I’ll help to connect you.

4 pairs of new shoes in 3 days and only 1 blister!


This doesn’t answer the question of the Shock Gel in the Flash 2.0, but it is a nice video nonetheless.


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