Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Affordable, Comfortable, Good general climbing shoe
Cons: Lots of heel/arch space, Only moderate performance
Best Uses: Gym climbing, Moderate rock and bouldering
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.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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: .
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.
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.
The Evolv Defy is nearly identical in form and function as well as price to the Flash 2.0. Both shoes have a very similar pointy toe, Velcro design like the more top end Five Ten Anasazi VCS. For a more extreme Mad Rock shoe check out the very aggressive Mad Rock Shark 2.0.
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.
— Thomas Greene
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Most recent review: September 18, 2014
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