Our Mad Rock Demon 2.0 review concluded that these climbing shoes are a solid option for intermediate climbers who will be doing lots of bouldering or climbing on overhung and steep terrain. If you’re looking for your first pair of aggressive shoes and are on a budget, consider the Demon 2.0s — you can usually find a good deal on them.
The Shoes are wrapped in Mad Rock’s Science Friction rubber which makes them exceptional at edging. If you’ve only owned a flatter-soled beginner’s pair of climbing shoes, you’ll be amazed at what you can stand on with these shoes. They also toe hook and smear well.
If you want more climbing shoes for intermediate climbers, check out our article on the best intermediate climbing shoes. Or you can compare the Mad Rock Demon 2.0 to our picks of the best climbing shoes.
When sizing the Demon 2.0s, you have a couple options. If you’d like a performance fit, we recommend you get your pair the same size as your street shoe size. If you’d like a more comfortable fit, then get the shoes half a size above your street shoe size (in US sizes).
These shoes aren’t intended to be used for crack climbing, and you wouldn’t want to use them for multi-pitch routes, either — though they do work well in the single-pitch realm where you can let your feet breathe more regularly.
- Rubber: Science Friction 3.0
- Upper: Power Flex
- Sole: Concave DDS
- Closure: Velcro
Science Friction rubber is developed in-house by Mad Rock. It is an impressive combination of stickiness and durability, and this shoe comes with generous gobs of it around the toe box. Our reviewer is on his second pair of Demons and he has never had issues with the rubber on the sole wearing thin or losing its stickiness.
EDGING (4.5 / 5)
The toe box of the Demon 2.0 has very defined edges that make it edge very well. The rubber is durable enough that the edges hold up for the life of the shoe and don’t soften over time. The stiffness of the shoe allows you to support your entire body weight when just the tips of your toes are on a hold.
If you get a toe on, the shoe will hold the edge. To illustrate this, our reviewer was once climbing a 5.11 in Sauratown, North Carolina, when he couldn’t find a good next foothold. So, he placed his toe on a slight protrusion from the wall and his foot stuck!
POCKETS (3 / 5)
The generous helpings of rubber that encase the shoes toe box and make it rigid and great at edging detract somewhat from its ability to use pockets as footholds.
The rubber bulks up the toe box which makes the toe box more voluminous and thus harder to jam into pockets. Also, your toes are curled in the toe box which increases their height.
HEEL HOOKING (3.5 / 5)
Our rating on heel hooking was a tough one. The heel on our reviewer’s first pair fit poorly to the point where his heel would sometimes slip out when he was pulling a heel hook.
However, he has had no problems heel hooking in his second pair of Demon 2.0s. Comparing the heel cups on his first pair to those on his current (second) pair, it appears Mad Rock has made some changes to the heel. He got the same size the second time around yet the heel fits much better.
Here is a photo of the two pairs’ heel side by side. On the left is the heel of his old pair, on the right is the heel of his new pair.
TOE HOOKING (4.5 / 5)
The Demon 2.0s toe hook really well. The thick layer or rubber around the toe box gives you a nice, meaty bump on top of your toes with which to hook. You can actually ‘hook’ on things with the shoes.
PRECISION (4 / 5)
Again, the toe box on the Demon 2.0 has defined edges. These edges, plus a classically asymmetrical toe box, make the shoe very precise. These shoes allow you to place your feet exactly where you want.
If you’ve been climbing in a beginner’s pair of shoes and are looking to upgrade to something more advanced, you will be pleasantly surprised at how precise this shoe will help your feet be.
SMEARING (4 / 5)
The bottom of the Demon 2.0s looks sort of like a suction cup. The middle of the toe area is sunken in slightly, a mini valley rimmed by rubber ridges.
Not only do the bottoms look like suction cups, they act like suction cups. Though there is no airtight suction, when you smear in these shoes they stick to the wall nicely. Our reviewer typically has no problems smearing in his Demon 2.0s.
CRACKS (3 / 5)
The Velcro straps, stiff sole, and bulky and rigid toe box make this shoe destined to be mediocre at crack climbing.
Sizing & Fit
We recommend you purchase your Mad Rock Demon 2.0s the same size as your street shoe size for a performance fit. The Demon 2.0s run a little small so getting your street shoe size will ensure they fit nice and snug. Our reviewer wears a size 9.5 US in street shoes and his pair of size 9.5 US Demons fits great. (If you’re looking for a more comfortable fit, we recommend you size the Demon 2.0s half a size above your street shoe size.)
These shoes are made out of a synthetic material so they won’t stretch lengthwise. Don’t buy them expecting they will. They do have a break-in period which lasted about six climbing sessions for our reviewer. After the break-in period they’ll fit your foot like a glove.
These shoes aren’t particularly wide or narrow. They’re designed for typical foot dimensions. (If you have wide feet, here are the shoes for you.)
Based on the slight difference between our reviewers first and second pair, it appears that Mad Rock recently completed a redesign of the heel cup on the Demon 2.0. For our reviewer personally, the heel fits much better now and he has had no problems with the current design.
Lastly, the Velcro straps work perfectly. They have never come undone for our reviewer and they allow him to get a great fit every time.
Our reviewer sometimes drags his toes on the wall or rock when moving his feet. Due to this, the rubber on the front of the toe box wore thin in about six months, making him get a new pair. We don’t know enough to say if this durability issue is due to the shoe or our reviewer’s toe dragging tendencies, but know that if you drag your toes these shoes could wear thin quickly.
Besides that, our reviewer has had no other durability issues with his Demon 2.0s. His first pair continued to smear and edge well throughout its life and the Velcro straps never wore down or lost their stickiness.
Our reviewer can wear his pair of Demon 2.0s for an hour to 90 minutes before his feet start feeling uncomfortable. Specifically, his big toe “falls asleep” and then begins to hurt. At that point he wants to take them off. Otherwise, he feels fine climbing and walking around the climbing gym in them.
The break-in period will last a few climbing sessions and can be painful. However, once they do break in they will fit incredibly well and be pretty comfortable for their aggressive nature.
These shoes smell pretty bad for our reviewer. They are made out of a synthetic material which doesn’t breathe as well as real leather. Our reviewer has just started Lysol-ing his shoes after each use which has reduced the smell slightly.
The thick layer of rubber over the toes makes these shoes a little insensitive. However, the shoes aren’t completely lacking in sensitivity and our reviewer can still feel the rock underneath his feet — just not the finer details of the rock.
If you like your feet to feel protected by your climbing shoes this shoe has a great level of sensitivity for that. It’s not the softest shoe (in fact it’s rather rigid) so you won’t bang or stub your toes if you slam them against the rock or wall. Our reviewer personally prefers this level of sensitivity and sees it as a nice balance which supports the shoes great edging ability and an appropriate level of feeling.
Our Mad Rock Demon 2.0 review concluded that, while this isn’t the highest performing shoe out there, for the price they are a great value. They are ideal for intermediate boulderers or sport climbers looking to upgrade their shoe game to a higher-performing, aggressive climbing shoe.
This was our first review of a Mad Rock climbing shoe (see Climbing Magazine’s thoughts on more of them here) and we were pleasantly surprised by their quality. They have an in-house rubber, Science Friction, which performs well and maintains its stickiness for the life of the shoe. It also edges like a knife.
If you get the Demon 2.0s, be ready for an uncomfortable break-in period followed by some impressive edging and toe hooking abilities. Get them the same size as your street shoe size for a performance fit, and enjoy the performance.
This review was conducted by an infrequent contributor to the site.