The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of gear

Mad Rock Mad Monkey Review

A good, comfortable shoe for the little ones to get into the sport, at a great price point
Mad Rock Mad Monkey
Photo: Mad Rock
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $45 List | $44.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Inexpensive, easy on and off, highly adjustable
Cons:  Not the most durable, lacks great performance
Manufacturer:   Mad Rock
By Adam Paashaus ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 16, 2018
  • Share this article:
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
54
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 9
  • Edging - 20% 5
  • Cracks - 20% 6
  • Comfort - 20% 6
  • Pockets - 20% 5
  • Sensitivity - 20% 5

Our Verdict

Kids love the monkey! The Mad Rock Mad Monkey is a popular kids' shoe for many reasons. It has kid-friendly features, like the large hook and loop adjustment/closure that makes getting in and out a breeze. There are also great features for the parents, like the low price, and the dual tab adjustable heel that extends the life of the shoe by letting it grow with them. This shoe is a great all-around beginner climbing shoe in that it does all the things a beginner kid's climbing shoe should but not necessarily a whole lot more.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Mad Rock Mad Monkey
Awards  Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award   
Price $44.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$88.53 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
$54.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$54.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$33.60 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
Overall Score Sort Icon
54
80
78
64
62
Star Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Pros Inexpensive, easy on and off, highly adjustableSuperb edging, great crack shoe, great on steep rockAdjustable heel strap, breathability, single pull adjustmentDurable, comfortable, High quality constructionGood price, comfort, easy on/off
Cons Not the most durable, lacks great performanceLacks comfort for all day climbingFabric is less abrasion resistant than synthetic or real leatherNot great on small holds, runs quite largeSingle lace tension strap can wear out quickly, adjustable heel sacrifices heel hooking rubber
Bottom Line This inexpensive, yet comfortable shoe is great for kids who are just starting to climbAn all around powerhouse, this shoe can do just about anything well, from steep sport routes and boulders to techy slabs and cracksA great kids shoe, packed with a ton of great features that help it perform well in almost every type of terrainThe Piki is one of the more durable shoes in our roundup as well as being comfortable and a decent performerThis all-around shoe has good performance on beginner to intermediate climbing terrain at a great price
Rating Categories Mad Rock Mad Monkey Evolv Ashima Evolv Venga Scarpa Piki La Sportiva Stickit
Edging (20%)
5
10
8
5
6
Cracks (20%)
6
8
8
9
7
Comfort (20%)
6
6
8
7
7
Pockets (20%)
5
9
8
6
5
Sensitivity (20%)
5
7
7
5
6
Specs Mad Rock Mad Monkey Evolv Ashima Evolv Venga Scarpa Piki La Sportiva Stickit
Style Velcro slipper Lace-up Velcro slipper Velcro slipper Velcro slipper
Upper Syn Flex Leather Polyester Mesh Synthetic Leather
Width Options None None None None None
Lining Unlined Unlined Agion Antimicrobial Unlined Unlined
Rubber Type Science Friction TRAX High Friction TRAX SAS Vision Frixion RS
Rubber Thickness 3 mm 4.2 mm 4.2 mm 4 mm 3 mm

Our Analysis and Test Results

While the Mad Rock Mad Monkey isn't a top contender for performance, it has perfectly suitable performance for those just entering the sport. The shoes are comfortable and will not disappoint any of those kids with that monkey spirit! When the young climbers become more advanced, they can move up to a shoe that has higher performance.

Performance Comparison


These shoes are at home on the birthday party wall at the local gym...
These shoes are at home on the birthday party wall at the local gym, but can also hold their own outside on more adventurous terrain.
Photo: Adam Paashaus

Edging


These shoes are not our go-to pick for edging. They are more at home on beginner routes, which rarely require stepping up on small holds. Kids that work up through the sport and want to be able to stand on small jibs should check out our Editors' Choice, or one of the higher-performing Top Picks in our Best In Class article.

The Monkey just can't hang with the Venga on small face holds due to...
The Monkey just can't hang with the Venga on small face holds due to the super flexible sole and upturned toe.
Photo: Adam Paashaus

Crack Climbing


Easy and moderate cracks shouldn't pose a problem to the Mad Monkey. The shoe is pretty stiff laterally and has a neutral shape, so it will feel right at home on most slabby cracks. However, the upper isn't padded or lined, so when the terrain steepens, and the cracks sharpen, they don't make the best choice.

Pockets


With the aforementioned poor edging, the Mad Monkey is not destined to be a pocket puller's friend; it slightly redeems itself by having a relatively pointy toe that can get farther into pockets. Kids that have advanced to the point that they are pulling on pockets should take a serious look at one of the higher-performing options in the test.

Sensitivity


One would think that this flexible shoe would be pretty sensitive, but the forefoot of this shoe is so laterally rigid that it makes it hard to get feedback from the rock.

Comfort


This shoe runs on the large side, so most kids would need to go down a size. The comfort shouldn't upset any kids who are just getting into climbing. Depending on foot shape and volume, others may offer a better fit; most kids in the early stages will be able to get a good comfortable fit with the wide hook and loop adjustment, dual heel straps, and a synthetic suede that has some stretch to it.

The Mad Monkey is a great all around shoe for beginners and moderate...
The Mad Monkey is a great all around shoe for beginners and moderate climbers alike.
Photo: Adam Paashaus

Value


This shoe was a top candidate for our Best Buy but was slightly "edged" out. But don't let that steer you away from the Mad Monkey if the fit and price are right. One minor drawback to this shoe is the fact that kids at this level tend to have poor footwork, and the rand over the toes can take some real abuse. A thicker toe rand could extend the life of these shoes.

These Monkeys have seen better days but are also a few years old...
These Monkeys have seen better days but are also a few years old. Poor footwork and years of use have taken their toll.
Photo: Adam Paashaus

Passing these shoes down to a younger sibling doesn't always work out in practice, but they tend to hold up long enough for the kid to move up sizes.

Conclusion


We would have no reservations recommending this shoe to anyone young and just entering the sport. It's not the highest performing kid's shoe on the market, but it will get them into the sport at a great price, as the kid's climbing shoe market has expanded to offer a nice selection for them as they progress through the grades.

The dual heel strap lets the shoe grow with them.
The dual heel strap lets the shoe grow with them.
Photo: Adam Paashaus

Adam Paashaus