Mad Rock Hooker-Zip rock shoes

Unless you’ve crawled under a rock, it's hard to escape all the buzz about Mad Rock, the "new" shoe company that entered the market last year.
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Unless you've crawled under a rock, it's hard to escape all the buzz about Mad Rock, the "new" shoe company that entered the market last year. We use new in quotes because the shoes come from the same factories that once made Five Tens. Mad Rock's long history in rock shoe production is evident in the Hooker-Zip.

By anyone's definition, the Hooker-Zip is a high performance rock shoe that is well built and climbs great. It's best suited for a low volume, narrow to medium width foot; the sizing system is similar to Five Ten's (buy your street shoe or a half size smaller) rather than the Euro brands.

There isn't anything revolutionary about the design of the Hooker-Zip, although there are some interesting tweaks. The rubber is at least the equal of Five Ten's venerable C4, against which all others are compared (often unfavorably).

The dual-density rubber in the forefoot doesn't appreciably affect climbing performance although the internal lip is sometimes useful for pulling in on a nubbin. Similarly, ridges on the heel cup may on occasion prove handy for heel hooks, and ridges over the toes can sometimes help on overhangs. These features are more about looking different than improving performance.

Although encasing the forefoot in rubber prevents the leather from stretching, the trade-off is very sweaty feet since the vent holes can only do so much. Also, the black top makes them uncomfortably hot in the sun; choose the Mugen, which has a white upper, for a multi-pitch trad shoe.

To listen to all the hype about rubber and other features, our tester was expecting to climb a full grade harder just by pulling them on. In actuality, they made no difference whatsoever in his climbing ability.

What the $90 Hooker-Zip does admirably is equal the performance of shoes that sell for $50 more and THAT is the real revolution. With Mad Rock offering good quality at a low price, and Montrail entering the market in a couple months, other shoe companies need to re-evaluate their business model.

SNEWS Rating: 4 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested Retail: $90
For more information:www.madrockshoes.com

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