Mad Rock M5 ReviewMarch 24, 2014
- Slightly asymmetrical toe shape adds performance
- Easy on, easy off design
- Slightly downturned toe adds a bit of performance
- High arch support
- Too much rubber on the heel made heel hooking difficult
- Too stiff
- Proprietary Science Friction rubber not the stickiest
As climbing shoes seemingly creep toward the $200 mark each and every year, the Mad Rock M5 is a surprisingly great do-it-all shoe that won’t break the bank. It has a high arch and medium-wide fit and a low-volume heel that leaves little dead space in the shoe, but remains comfortable throughout the day if sized properly. It is slightly downturned toe will handle sport climbs, gym routes and boulder problems, but its stiffness lands it as an all-day, all-purpose shoe.
The M5 has a solid edge that really performed well on larger footholds, but the shoe felt too stiff, with too much rubber, to allow me to feel the tiniest footholds. Still, it’s precision toe box fit well and allowed me to use all aspects of my foot.
Again, the stiffness of the shoe compromised the sensitivity needed to really feel the rock underfoot. Mad Rock’s proprietary Science Friction rubber isn’t the stickiest rubber, either, which also made smearing a challenge.
A pointed, narrow, lower profile toe had the M5 finding the center of pockets like a champ. More sensitivity would only improve its performance here.
When it comes to heel hooking and toe hooking, the M5 gets the job done. A great patch of rubber atop the foot helped with basic toe-hooking, but due to the shoe’s stiffness, it was hard to flex the foot and really lock toe hooks in. The heel had way too much rubber for tricky or advanced heel hooking.
This isn’t an Indian Creek or desert shoe, but you could use it in certain places and on certain crack climbs. The shoe’s stiffness is actually an asset on hand and fist cracks. But it’s a little too downturned and too asymmetrical for lieback jamming.
The M5 is super comfortable, with no hot spots and no dead space. Medium-wide feet with high arches will really appreciate this shoe.
For the price, the M5 is a great way to break into the all-purpose and even high-performance shoe market. And though Science Friction rubber isn’t the stickiest, it seems to last a long time. You’d be hard pressed to find a better performance shoe for this price.