Mad Rock Drifter
America’s least expensive shoe, the Drifter, is a no-nonsense, flat-soled slipper. Two Velcro closures snug up the mid-foot area and a lined toe-box keeps the shoe from stretching at the toes. Out of the box these shoes felt medium stiff, but the compressed polyester insole quickly softened up. The Drifter excelled at smears and I wore them on granite slabs to 5.13a. On its website, Mad Rock claims that the shoe has been worn to climb problems up to V15.
I expected the Drifter to be less durable than its more expensive cousins, but it seems pretty tough for a slipper. It does stretch, however. I suggest sizing down a half size from your street-shoe.
I’d recommend these shoes to folks who climb predominantly indoors. They will improve your foot strength on vertical problems and they’re malleable enough to bend and grab holds on the steep.
This would be a great, comfortable first climbing shoe for someone just dipping a toe in the water, unsure whether to commit to a $150 shoe. The Drifter would make a nice dedicated gym shoe, or, by the same token, an adequate second shoe, sized comfy for multi-pitch climbs. The Velcro makes it easy to take them off at belays.
These are not high-performance shoes that will improve your climbing just by slipping them on, but someone with strong feet could do just about anything in them.
*Sizes up to 15.