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Hands-on Gear Review
Mad Rock Lotus Review
Cons: Strange heel cup, hard to get on at first, specific
Bottom line: The Lotus is an exceptional shoe, especially for steep climbing and bouldering.
Weight (Per Pair, size 37): .79 lb
Manufacturer: Mad Rock
We were surprised by how much we loved the Mad Rock Lotus after a few days out in the Buttermilk Boulders with these shoes. Having never worn Mad Rock shoes before, or knowing anyone who had, we were unsure what these shoes would be like on the grainy granite outside Bishop, California. The Lotus boasts a sleek, tight fit like a slipper and is surprisingly comfortable for being so aggressive looking. They excelled on everything from slabs to overhanging cave climbs. In fact, we were hard-pressed to find a shoe that delivers this kind of performance and fit for the price. These qualities, plus their relatively low price tag ($120) were enough to give the Lotus our Best Buy Award.
RELATED REVIEW: The 11 Best Climbing Shoes For Women
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
Once you get these puppies on, the Mad Rock Lotus don't want to come off. They conformed to our feet like a rubber glove, without feeling like our toes were breaking. The Velcro closure and padded tongue make them comfortable and easy to adjust. As a shoe for steep climbing as well as pitches that are vertical require precise footwork, the Lotus is an excellent option.
First and foremost, it should be noted that these shoes run very small! We ordered a US women's size 8, with a street shoe size of 7.5 and these shoes were very tight at first.
Luckily, we were used to cramming our feet into tight shoes, because otherwise, these would have felt quite small. They did seem to stretch out a bit over time but remained pretty tight. All that being said, these shoes are surprisingly comfortable for such a technical fitting shoe. They conform to the shape of a foot without leaving any weird gaps in the heel or arches of the foot. They are similar in fit to the Sportiva Solution, but are an overall less aggressive (and honestly more comfortable) shoe. The small, double-sided tongue make for a decent amount of padding on the top of the foot, protecting the foot from being pinched by the Velcro straps. This added padding, as well as the support underfoot, make the Lotus comfortable for a slipper. That said, shoes with this tight, slipper-style design take some getting used to and could feel uncomfortable at first as your foot adjusts to this new position.
For precision footwork and sensitivity, the Lotus won us over after some use. It took a little while for the rubber to wear in.
Much like the La Sportiva Miura, the Lotus felt like it got more sensitive as the rubber wore down on the toe a bit. We decided to test these shoes out on some granite slabs to see how well they did at smearing and standing on small footholds, and the Lotus impressed. One feature to note is the stiffness of the toe box in comparison to the midsole. The midsole lacks support, while the toe box is stiff; so, for extended periods stemming or smearing on slabs, we found our feet tiring significantly.
These shoes are not exactly designed for technical edging, but the Lotus does not disappoint in this metric, either.
The toe box is stiff enough to feel solid on small edges, and the rubber is sticky. Though they are made for steeper climbing, with their aggressive downturn and elaborate heel, the Lotus can still be worn on vertical terrain where tiny edges are the only option. The Lotus is comparable in design to the La Sportiva Solution but comes at a third of the price. For a shoe that is more qualified in the realm of vertical terrain, try the Libra or the more expensive La Sportiva Miura. We were skeptical of Mad Rock's Science Friction rubber at first, but over time it won us over by standing up to the tried and tested rubber of both the La Sportiva and Five Ten models we tested.
The Lotus is not a crack climbing shoe.
These slippers will probably feel pretty weird when wedged into a hand crack, and we wouldn't advise it! If crack is where it's at for you, we like the Evolv Kira or the slightly more expensive Five Ten Anasazi and La Sportiva Miura.
It is in this metric more than any other that the Lotus shines. Just by looking at their downturned shape, one can tell that it should perform well on steeper terrain. The rubber on the toe is slightly concave, which amplifies their ability to toe in on steep walls. Also, the Arch Flex midsole cups the arch of the foot to provide more support in pockets. The rubber on the top of the shoe provides protection and rubber for toe hooks and tight-fitting pockets. Other shoes that perform well in this type of terrain are the La Sportiva Solution, and to a lesser extent, the Butora Acro.
Ease of Use
The closure mechanism on the Lotus makes these shoes one of the highest scores shoes concerning ease of use.
Like the Solution, the Lotus is a slipper-Velcro hybrid. This provides the ease of a Velcro shoe with the snug fit of a slipper. The tongue is padded with a simple Velcro hook-and-loop strap for adjustability. If sized correctly, this pair should be simple to get on and off. If they are tight, the heel will also be very tight and will require a lot of force to get your foot into the sold rubber heel cup that makes the Lotus look so unique.
Much like the Butora Acro and the La Sportiva Solution, the Lotus shines in the steep sport climbing and bouldering arenas. They are great as a gym shoe as well and could be a good option for transitioning from a beginner shoe with minimal shape to a more aggressive fitting shoe.
For $120, it's hard to beat the value of the Lotus, which is why this shoe received our Best Buy Award. Though there are shoes that are less expensive in this review, such as the Finale or the Butora Libra, neither compare to the performance of the Lotus. This shoe is up there with the more expensive La Sportiva models regarding its design and ability to perform on a variety of terrain types. The fit is also top notch, as is the rubber, which was of surprisingly high quality and very sticky. For the price, we found these shoes to be an excellent option.
With the fit of a slipper, sticky rubber, and an aggressive shape, the Mad Rock Lotus is a steep climbing powerhouse. These shoes are great for the gym or bouldering since they are easy to get on and off. If they are sized properly (definitely go up a size or two from your street shoe size!) they also make for a comfortable shoe for all-day sport climbing. We are impressed with these kicks, as they're hard to beat when it comes to price and overall performance.
— Jane Jackson
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