Hands-on Gear Review

Mad Rock Mad Monkey Review

Price:  $39 List | $38.95 at Amazon
Pros:  Inexpensive, easy on and off, highly adjustable
Cons:  Not the most durable, lacks great performance
Bottom line:  The Mad Monkey is a good, comfortable shoe for the little ones to get into the sport, at a great price point.
Editors' Rating:   
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Manufacturer:   Mad Rock

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 lowest 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 no more.

When they grow out of (or blow through) these and start climbing harder, we would recommend checking out a shoe with better performance like the Evolv Venga. If bouldering or hard sport becomes their thing, the La Sportiva Maverink is our Top Pick.



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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Adam Paashaus

Last Updated:
Wednesday
May 16, 2018

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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, the Butora Brava will give better performance and sensitivity for just a mere $5 extra, making it our selection for Best Buy.

Performance Comparison


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.
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.

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, the Black Diamond Momentum - Kids or the La Sportiva Maverink.

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

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 the La Sportiva Maverink. No other kid's shoe will come close to it when it comes to performance in pockets.

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. We found the Evolv Venga or the technical La Sportiva Maverink have more sensitivity when you need to feel the holds you are stepping up on.

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. If a lower volume shoe is wanted for a similar price, take a close look at our Best Buy, the Butora Brava or for a wider fit, the new Black Diamond Kids Momentum - Kids.

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

Best Applications


The Mad Monkey shines as a great, all-around beginner shoe. From the birthday party wall at the gym to a low angle 5.9 at the local crag, this shoe should perform just fine.

Value


At $40, this shoe was a top candidate for our Best Buy but was slightly "edged" out by the more sensitive and better performing Butora Brava at the great price of $45. 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. Poor footwork and years of use have taken their toll.
These Monkeys have seen better days but are also a few years old. Poor footwork and years of use have taken their toll.

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.

Adam Paashaus

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Most recent review: May 16, 2018
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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 (3.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
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Rating Distribution
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5 star: 0%  (0)
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3 star: 100%  (1)
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