Mad Rock Loco, $90
- Steep rock: 4.5 Star
- Face climbing: 2 Star
- Long routes: 1 Star
- Upper: Synthetic, lined
- Rubber: Mad Rubber 2.5-4.5mm
With space-disco styling—and the most ferociously down-turned last I’ve seen—this shoe is not for the fainthearted. Like last year’s Mad Rock Hooker, the Loco features a rubberized upper toe and aggressively serrated rubber heel cup, making these shoes easily the grabbiest I’ve used for toe scums and heel hooks. The Loco also has a ridged dual-thickness sole, the ridge of which really hooks when you’re pawing at jibs or small edges on overhanging walls. Beware, though: This style of sole can get quickly chewed up when you stand on your feet on rough rock like granite, so it’s more of a specialized steep-rock tool. The Loco’s uppers are impregnated with anti-microbial, odor-fighting X-Static fibers—a boon because this synthetic shoe is a sweatbox. Mad Rock shoes fit close to your regular street-shoe size.
+ The best-priced steep-rock shoe.
– Synthetic uppers are hard to break in; toe is a bit blunt.