Mad rock vision, the future of footwear?
Climbing shoes have long been central to the sport. Learn more about their history in Albert Ok's informative video here:
Mad rock climbing, founded in 2002 by Young Chu, has been a major player in the climbing scene and has proven its ability to innovate. “To us, ‘Innovation’ isn't just a catch phrase-it's a challenge to be met daily.”
Recently, the Madrock drone has become quite popular for its molded heel edge that is leaps and bounds ahead of the traditionally rounded heels of popular competition shoes like the la sportiva solution & Scrapa Drago.
Many climbers, pro and amateur alike have found this new heel edge feature to be game changing for their heel hooking performance. Matt Fultz, pro climber, has even gone as far as to say “I could only send this one wearing my Drones. All about that clutch heel-lip! My go-to for sure.” about Symposiarch, v12
Madrock athlete Elija Kiser called the drone's heel "essential" for sending Levity v14 here.
After watching Brooke Rabbotou toe into bolt holes at the world cup competition, I sat at home wondering how can climbing shoes possibly get more finely tuned. To me it seemed like we've come as far as we can without an overhaul of the current system. Shortly after, I found a potential answer to that question:
Claiming to be the future of climbing shoes, the vision is a two part shoe, made of an inner fabric-lined slipper and an outer compression molded rubber sheath. Importantly, Madrock notes that these two layers are not attached, which would in theory allow for them to be modular. This would allow a climber to swap out the outer rubber depending on the demands of their climb. Having easy access to a stiff or soft outer may be more convenient than bringing multiple shoes. My first impression of the Vision: Its gorgeous, but I’m skeptical it will function as well as a traditional climbing shoe, let alone better.
As we’ve all experienced with climbing shoes, a poor fit can be disastrous. Whether its the notoriously warped, loose-fitting heel cup or the too-tight, blister-inducing shoe, we’re constantly discussing the best way to get shoes that just right. Personally, I’ve had enough bad experiences with traditional climbing shoes which integrate the rand, sole and rubber into one platform. I’m concerned that if you separate these layers to be modular, the layers have the potential to slide along each other and be an even less reliable interface from foot to rock.
Other climbers have concerns about dead space between the inner slipper and outer rubber. Climbing shoes have evolved to create extreme sensitivity and responsiveness in the toe box and heel. I'm worried the vision would be a step in the wrong direction, away from that sensitivity and responsiveness.
I've recently heard whispers that the Vision may be delayed and is not a top priority for Madrock.
My verdict? I’m skeptical but hopeful. I like Madrock as a company, I use their pads and shoes. If anyone can innovate on the shoe, Madrock has already proven they are qualified to do so. I hope that the vision will be another game changing improvement on the current footwear landscape, but I’m not sure I’ll be an early adopter.
What do you think?
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