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Mad Rock Flash 2.0 Review

Mad Rock Flash 2.0
Best Buy Award
Price:   $83 List | $57.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Affordable, Comfortable, Good general climbing shoe
Cons:  Lots of heel/arch space, Only moderate performance
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Mad Rock
By Thomas Greene ⋅ Review Editor
Thursday

Our Verdict

The Flash goes on quick, with minimal futzing to line up the flaps that make up the tongue of the shoe. They are the first rock shoes to feature a Shock Gel heel, a feature designed to provide impact protection should you come off the rock. It was hard to assess how well the extra padding worked, but at a minimum, the cushioned heel, combined with the roomy fit, makes the shoe eminently wearable on and off the rock.

In line with Mad Rock philosophy, the Flash is affordable and durable, leaving you with enough money for important things like eating and buying PBR. Which, of course, wins it our Best Buy award. Of the budget shoes reviewed, this is by far the superior shoe. This shoe would be appropriate for beginners and experienced climbers alike, offering decent climbing ability, and comfort.

Discontinued - April 2017
Mad Rock has informed us that it has discontinued the popular Flash 2.0 climbing shoe. While it has not been immediately replaced by a new version, they do plan on releasing one in the future.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Men's Rock Climbing Shoes

up to 5 products
Score Product Price Style Upper Lining
86
La Sportiva Genius $195
Editors' Choice Award
lace Suede Leather/MIcro fiber none
86
La Sportiva Katana Lace $185
Top Pick Award
lace Leather/Lorica Pacific (forefoot and back)
86
La Sportiva Futura $185
velcro Leather/Synthetic Leather Unlined
80
La Sportiva TC Pro $185
Top Pick Award
lace Leather Sentex/PU Foam
76
La Sportiva Miura $165
lace Leather dentex
76
Five Ten Arrowhead $175
velcro Cowdura⢠Synthetic synthetic
76
Five Ten Anasazi VCS $165
velcro leather synthetic
74
La Sportiva Solution $180
velcro Leather/Lorica HF
74
Evolv Pontas 2 $130
velcro Non-stretch Synthratek synthetic upper microfiber leather cotton
74
Sportiva Miura VS $175
velcro Leather synthetic
74
Evolv Shaman $160
velcro synthetic Unlined
72
La Sportiva Mythos $145
lace Leather none
72
Five Ten Dragon $175
lace Synthetic (Cowdura) none
72
Mad Rock Flash 2.0 $83
Best Buy Award
velcro Leather / Synflex none
70
Five Ten Moccasym $125
slipper leather none
70
Five Ten Team $175
velcro MicroFiber (Synthetic)
66
Scarpa Force X $139
Lace 1.8mm Suede/Micro Suede none
66
La Sportiva Tarantula $90
velcro Leather/ Synthetic Leather synthetic (tongue and arch only)
66
Scarpa Boostic $180
velcro Suede/Micro Suede none
62
La Sportiva Katana $150
velcro Leather synthetic
58
Evolv Defy $89
velcro Elastic Synthratek synthetic upper nylon

Our Analysis and Test Results

The New Version of the Mad Rock Flash 2.0 vs. The Older Version


The Flash 2.0 is now available in a new color: yellow and black; the original orange color Flash 2.0 is also still available. Mad Rock has confirmed that the only update that the Flash 2.0 has received is that it is available in a new color. See below for a side-by-side comparison, with the latest version pictured on the left and the older (yet still available) model shown on the right.
Mad Rock Flash 2.0
Mad Rock Flash 2.0

Hands-On Review


The Mad Rock flash is easily as comfortable as advertised. Even when sized to be decently tight, the shoe feels spacious and forgiving, a practical choice for an-all day shoe that will keep the wearer's feet comfortable between laps, and not leave them groping at the velcro straps mid-belay for relief.

The big downside to all that comfort is a limit in performance. The same spacious fit that makes this shoe so cozy 'out of the box', gives you the sense that the shoe is hovering around your foot. When climbing, the shoe flares under the arch, and lifts in the heel as you weight your toes. The fit, combined with a few unexpected slips off small sloping holds, makes us hesitant to wear these shoes when really pushing the grades.

Mad Rock Flash 2.0 testing at Lake Tahoe CA.
Mad Rock Flash 2.0 testing at Lake Tahoe CA.

Performance Comparison


The Flash 2.0 (highlighted in blue) didn't top out on any of our scoring metrics, but did provide solid all-around performance at a relatively low price.


Edging


The Flash is only average on thin edges, and we experienced a few unexpected slips on really small stuff. The shoe doesn't feel tremendously secure on your foot, and forces your to drop your heel and toe into more of a smearing position to compensate. The 3.8 mm rubber is soft, and though it conforms to fit small spaces well, it does not hold up when you weight the toe. If you want edging machines, check out the higher performance (albeit more expensive) La Sportiva TC Pro or La Sportiva Miura VS.


Crack Climbing


The Flash is decently comfortable in cracks, in spite of the velcro. Because the flat toe keeps your foot in a reactively natural position, it stands well in cracks. It also protects your foot well in jams. This shoe is designed for general climbing, and won't be a complete let down wherever you take it.


Pockets


This show has a pointed toe that does surprisingly well in lower angle to almost vertical pocket climbing. The steeper it gets, the more you'll slide out of pockets. The heel rise/arch flare issue can make pocket climbing a little challenging, so make sure you've got the shoe battened down.


Sensitivity



The soft midsole of the Flash makes it both comfortable and a little sloppy feeling.
The soft midsole of the Flash makes it both comfortable and a little sloppy feeling.

The comparatively thin rubber is fairly sensitive. The flat-footed shape does really well on slab climbs and on most smearing applications. It is also not so sensitive as to feel sloppy. In spite of not having a lot of arch support, the Flash holds up well under the climber's weight. The upper doesn't get bunched up like on the 5.10 Team. This is a real bonus from a shoe that is nearly half the price as the Team.


Comfort


The Flash is very comfortable, without comfort being the sole purpose of the shoe, like with the La Sportiva Tarantula. Beginning climbers will not be put off by a slight pinching of the toe, and will be able to adjust the shoes to their feet easily with the velcro straps. During our testing, we witnessed a guided teenage group walking to a crag already wearing the Flash. Although that seems vaguely sadistic on the part of the guide, it is a testament to the comfort of this shoe.


The "Shock Gel Heel" cushioning also adds to the comfort level:
.

Best Applications


More than a great beginner shoe, the Flash will sub in on the days when your feet need a break from your sending shoes, or on your training days. They are the best budget climbing shoe we tested. They can easily be taken up to some harder climbing and they won't destroy your feet or empty your bank account. This is a great gym shoe, or even for long days on moderates in the mountains. They really are that versatile.

Testing how well the new Mad Rock Flash 2.0 heel hooks on the Fat Tire Boulder  Lake Tahoe CA.
Testing how well the new Mad Rock Flash 2.0 heel hooks on the Fat Tire Boulder, Lake Tahoe CA.

Value


The Flash wins the Best Buy award for it's versatility, affordability, and durability. It climbs well enough for some harder days, and will give the beginning climber something to grow into. They will also provide a more experienced climber with an affordable easy day alternative, helping you keep your go-to shoes in good shape longer.

Mad Rock Flash 2.0 heel hook testing on "Flyan Mayan" at Lake Tahoe CA.
Mad Rock Flash 2.0 heel hook testing on "Flyan Mayan" at Lake Tahoe CA.

Conclusion


The bottom line is that the highly innovative folks at Mad Rock have come up with a solid shoe that doesn't require multiple trips to the blood bank to afford. They are a great shoe for cruising through the lower grades in comfort, putting in an all-day effort at the gym, or pulling on some moderate boulder problems. The price point and comfort level also makes them a great option for beginners who are not wanting to invest a ton of money in a hobby that they are unsure they will really get into.

The Flash is comfortable and allows you to feel very small features well.
The Flash is comfortable and allows you to feel very small features well.

Other Versions


Madrock M5
Madrock M5
  • High performance edging shoe
  • Flat sole design
  • Glove like fit
  • $105

MAdrock Shark 2.0
Shark 2.0
  • High performance yet comfortable
  • Stiff aggressive downturn
  • $119

Thomas Greene
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