Iconic shoe manufacturer Mad Rock is the first to acknowledge the historical importance of the Phoenix, describing it as “the classic lace-up model that helped launch the brand back in 2002”. Which is why people got a bit weepy when the shoe was discontinued, albeit after over a decade of faithful service. An instant classic, but never a shoe about to be accused of cutting edge design the Phoenix was getting a little long in the tooth when it was quietly retired and could have benefited from a redesign. Well that’s just what it’s got. With a name like Phoenix you have to think there was always a plan to bring it back after being discontinued and there will be dozens of headlines about rising from the ashes but we’re happy to skip that and get on with looking at the shoe itself.

The first thing to notice straight out of the box is the colour. ‘Mustard’ according to Mad Rock. Mustard isn’t to everyone’s taste of course but personally I think it’s a great shade and the subtly understated colour and detailing speaks volumes about staying true to the slightly retro theme of the shoe. They haven’t dragged the old girl out to tart her up like mutton dressed as lamb. The Phoenix is still a lace up leather shoe with a slightly asymmetrical toe box and a supportive midsole. It looks to have a pretty decent heel on it for hooking but nothing too aggressive. It may be 2020 but this shoe is all trad.

“It kind of reminds me of a pair of Vans – the skate shoes”, says our reviewer, Chris, which says a lot about the shoe as a comfy and familiar bit of kit. “You know straight away this is not a shoe for aggressive climbing and you’re probably not going to send a hard sport project for the first time wearing these. It’s a trad shoe and so far it’s super comfy and I’ve mainly used it for route setting. It sort of recalls the La Sportiva Tarantula.”

We’re going to give the shoes a proper work out before we review them so if you’re interested in how Chris gets on then watch this space.

Words by Steve Shipside.