The Conflict 2.0 also isn’t the most aggressive or greatest shoe for overhung routes, especially in the toe, and a cave junkie might want more downturn. However, people who climb mostly on overhangs are probably aware of other shoes that handle this type of climbing better, like the La Sportiva Solutions; the Evolv Talon or Predator; or the Boreal Kintaro. When it comes to overhangs, however, the Conflict 2.0 has great strengths in its ability to toe hook. The upper toe box is completely covered in rubber, but your toes aren’t so smashed that toe-hooking is too painful.
This shoe can heel hook because of the stiffer, unique close-fitting design of the heel. It has square-looking features with several shallow ridges. It is possible that this is the reason the shoe offers great friction and holds tight to the smallest of heel hookable features. Again, I get very little slip even in the deepest of heel hooks.
Mad Rock has also included a few little features that you might not stop to think about, but that make a climbing day a little bit more comfortable. There is a padded tongue so you can really crank on the three Velcro straps to give you a secure fit but not be uncomfortable. It also has a hemp lining on the inner sole to help minimize climbing shoe stench, which actually does seem to help (though I’m sure we all know a couple of climbers whose shoes produce an odor only fire can fix).
A quick note on cracks. I have been known to spend some time at Indian Creek crack climbing, but not in this shoe, because of the Velcro straps. Mad Rock does, however, make a lace-up version called the Concept 2.0. I prefer a board-lasted shoes for crack climbing to save my feet some pain, but for those of you who use a soft shoe, the toe and outside edge of the Concept 2.0 does taper into a fairly low profile, so I would think they would do well in finger cracks. And because the toebox is covered in rubber and the laces don’t go too far down, they would probably hold up quite well.
Overall, there really aren’t many downsides to the Conflict 2.0. The only real drawback is that because it was designed to do everything well, it wasn’t tailored to be the absolute best at anything. So if you are projecting a route or problem that has only very thin, delicate holds or is extremely overhung, you’d be better off going with a more specialized shoe.
So, how does the Conflict 2.0 compare to…
The La Sportiva Miura VS
The Mad Rock competes with the Miura VS in that they are both well-rounded shoes, but they feel very different. The Miura VS ($170) is a very supportive, stiffer, Velcro shoe that is great on everything from vertical to overhung. It’s known for its ability to edge and hold on for dear life. The fit of the Conflict 2.0 is more relaxed (toes aren’t as crunched) and not as stiff, which is why it can’t edge quite as well as the Miura; but it can toe hook, which in my opinion, the Miura doesn’t do well.
The La Sportiva Venom
While it isn’t made anymore, the La Sportiva Venom was a soft, sensitive, aggressive slipper that was great for pocket climbing and anything overhung. Similarly, the Conflict 2.0 is just as good on pockets and overhung routes or problems. But what distinguishes it from the Venom is that it can heel hook a lot better because the heel fit is better.
The 5.10 Moccasym
The Moccasym is one of the best selling slippers of all time at $119. It is soft, sensitive, smears great, edges well, and is comfortable all day long. The Conflict 2.0 is almost as sensitive, and I believe just as well rounded as the Moccasym. However, I find the Conflict 2.0 has more performance when it comes to heel hooks and toe hooks. Obviously, these two moves are not essential to every single climb, but I think it is an important skill the Conflict 2.0 excels at that sets it apart from other well-rounded shoes.
I bought this shoe looking for something inexpensive that I could use to save my expensive shoes, and I ended up with a shoe that I wear all the time. I use it to warm up, train, cool down, and to send some of my harder projects. I have used this shoe extensively for two seasons, and they have performed well the entire time, all for $109.
Is it the perfect shoe? No. But it is a great well-rounded shoe, and not merely a “great-for-the-price” shoe.
I would happily recommend them to a friend—so long as that friend and I have similarly shaped feet.
The Miura VS takes the mechanics of the Miura lace that made sport climbers embrace them, and ramps them up a few notches. Sport climbers, rejoice.
The Salewa Mountain Trainer is a comfortable, well constructed approach shoe that falls closer a to low-cut hiker than a climbing shoe, and is ideally suited for long approaches or scrambling.
The women's version of the La Sportiva Miura VS is a fantastic climbing shoe. But if you have particularly narrow heels, you should definitely try before you buy.