Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Mad Rock Shark 2.0 Shoe Review

A week ago, I was hooked up with a pair of Shark 2.0 climbing shoes from Mad Rock Climbing and was able to give them some testing at the gym.  After all they are designed to be a competition shoe and a gym would be the best spot for the initial tryout.

Pardon the appearance of the Shark 2.0 shoes in the picture, I have very chalky hands...at all times.

The first thing I noticed about the shoes is the bright orange "Arch Flex" that made the shoe very flexible and comfortable.  In the mid-sole area, the edge of the shoe was stiffer than the center which helped with the overall flexibility and sensitivity while wearing the shoe.  The heel cup was solid and tough and the design gave the heel cup extra stiffness.  After a while of playing with the shoes like a baby plays with a rattle, I put them on to see how they felt.

Flex you say?! 

I had a little bit of difficulty getting the shoe on but once on, it felt snug, tight (perfect amount), and secure.  The mono-velcro latch was nice since I didn't have to worry about tightening multiple straps or trying to figure out which one needed to be tighter (or that I'm lazy and tightening one strap takes less energy).  I jumped on the wall and started feeling them out and was impressed with how light they felt on my feet.  It had the perfect amount of rubber around the toe, and I could actually feel what my foot was touching on the wall, even on tiny "smear" foot-holds.  The biggest concern I had when testing the Shark 2.0 was if my heel would slip during heel hooks, which has always been a problem for me.  My concern disappeared quickly upon trying some difficult overhanging heel hooks in the gym and my heel sticking like gum in your younger sibling's hair (must be something to do with that Science Friction rubber they have over at Mad Rock).  I also appreciated the extra rubber on top of the foot which was great for toe hooking.

I went through my normal routine of warming up and climbing the "v8's and v9's" (quotes due to our gym's (Prime Climb) notoriety of sandbagging boulder problems...and that plastic grades really don't matter).  After climbing in them for an hour and scenting the shoe with my ruggedly pungent foot aroma, I was already used to them and felt comfortable on just about everything, even on longer routes on our lead wall (no toe cramping!).  These could definitely be a great shoe for  whenever you're facing some really hard routes or problems.

I usually have something about a shoe I would like to change but I couldn't really find anything to change about these shoes since I've had them.  If I had to compare these to another shoe, I would compare them to the La Sportiva Solution, very similar in flexibility but without the higher cost.  The rubber quality is not as high as La Sportiva but is still better than previous Mad Rock models.  I also liked the Shark 2.0 better because the heel cup fit nicer.  Overall, Mad Rock did a great job designing the Shark 2.0 and making it an aggressive shoe for all types of climbing.  I can't wait to see what they have in store for their next innovative shoe (Shark 3.0 anyone???).