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.
Mad Rock Mad Monkey Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Inexpensive, easy on and off, highly adjustable
Cons: Not the most durable, lacks great performance
Manufacturer: Mad Rock
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
— Adam Paashaus