The New Mugen sports a synthetic, lined upper which will not stretch much with wear. The uppers have a colorful splash of rubber over the toes for improved toe-hooking. The shoe’s heel cup is ridged and aggressive, and also has descent tread to give you more traction when walking off of boulder problems. The outsole is 5.3 mm and has dual-density rubber in the forefoot. The outer edge of the forefoot of the sole is rubber of a higher density to aid in edging, while the rubber under the ball of the foot is recessed and softer to aid in smearing. The New Mugen retails for $79.95.
I wanted a decent, all-around shoe for climbing in the gym, so that my beloved performance shoes wouldn’t be worn out between outdoor climbing trips. The gym I was climbing out just happened to have these New Mugens on sale at a deeply discounted price, fitting my needs perfectly. So I bought the New Mugen even though the shoe was, well, not pretty. In fact, I think the New Mugen is fairly ugly. Aesthetics, however, are pretty much non-existent on my list of qualifications for a climbing shoe.
I sized the New Mugen comfortably, so that I would be able to climb for long periods of time and be able to run laps on cracks without hurting my toes. It wasn’t until I had climbed in the shoes several times that I noticed one was definitely tighter than the other. I checked the labels and found that there was a half-size difference between my two shoes. One of the shoes had been a display model at the gym and had been put back in the wrong box. Oh well. I wasn’t buying them for my hardest redpoints anyway.
In the rock gym I have found the performance of the New Mugen to be pretty good. I boulder and climb laps in them, and they do everything fairly well. The New Mugen edges better than it smears, an attribute I have found with all of the Mad Rock models that use the dual-density forefoot. This climbing shoe is very good at toe and heel hooking, and does well at vertical to very overhanging terrain. Outside I have used the New Mugen on limestone and conglomerate rock, and it has performed satisfactorily on both. Sized more tightly, I believe it would be a very good performance shoe, though not as good as my Evolvs. I have put a fair number of vertical miles on my pair, and they are holding up fairly well. The rubber on the upper toe box started to flake off very early. If it had been a plain, utilitarian patch of rubber instead of an attempt to be aesthetic it would have held up better. Still, the shoe has proven to be quite durable.
If you see the New Mugen on clearance at your local gym or gear store, I would recommend getting a pair. You are more likely to see the New Mugen on clearance than for sale at full price, since Mad Rock has discontinued the shoe. Size it tightly for performance or comfortably for mileage.
While Mad Rock has discontinued the New Mugen, the new Jester has the same components, shape, and design. The differences are mostly cosmetic. While Mad Rock believes that the Jester has an improved graphic design over the New Mugen, I believe that they have managed to make it even uglier. Another downside is that the Jester does not have extra rubber on the toe to help with toe-hooking. Mad Rock has also produced a new model of the Mugen, the Mugen Tech. To see these or any other Mad Rock products, go to www.madrockclimbing.com. For a review of another pair of Mad Rock shoes, click on http://tinyurl.com/nfgd4l. For a review of another climbing shoe, please check out http://tinyurl.com/pxm23w. If you are new to climbing and want to learn how to pick out a good shoe for you, then read this article http://tinyurl.com/p4wpjv. After you do that you can find a review of several good beginner climbing shoes here http://tinyurl.com/or63mm. Find the right shoes for you, and have fun climbing!