Red Chili Matador VCR Climbing Shoe

, June 5, 2011

In recent years Red Chili have established themselves as one of the leading manufacturers of rock climbing footwear, a position that has been cemented by their release of the Matador in 2009. The Matador is marketed as Red Chili’s high end, performance shoe for bouldering and sport climbing. It is super tensioned with an aggressive down-turned toe and is described by Red Chili as being the “perfect shoe”.  In terms of aesthetics the shoe is striking, featuring a black and red colour scheme that makes it look like they mean business, but do they?

The short answer is ‘yes,’ the Matador performs extremely well on steep walls, from the bouldering wall to overhanging limestone sport routes. The shape of the toe, combined with the limited stretch that is present in the shoe’s upper, allows not only for excellent power but also precision and purchase on the steepest of faces. Thanks to three velcro straps (as opposed to the regularly used two) my feet didn’t move around inside the shoe, adding an extra confidence on easy to challenging faces. I have also found the Matador to be the best shoe that I have so far encountered in terms of heel and toe hooking; both the heel cup and toe box are fully encapsulated in rubber allowing excellent traction when hooking is required.

So the shoe holds up well when being compared to other competetive sport climbing and bouldering ‘performance’ shoes. However, the Matador is not just a shoe for Europe’s best sport climbers (a category into which I certainly don’t fit). I wear Matadors on a regular basis when just having a play at the wall or climbing mid-grade sport routes and boulder problems outside (I have also climbed some trad in them). The softer mid-sole means that the shoes have a bit of give, allowing for them to perform well on vertical ground as well as on steeper climbs and sandstone climbing down in Kent. This forgiving aspect of the shoe’s nature also means they are a more comfortable fit than some other down turned climbing shoes such as the Scarpa Booster, therefore allowing longer sessions at the crag with little discomfort.

Ultimately, I have found the Matadors to be an excellent climbing shoe. They are sticky and durable, while providing outstanding performance on steep ground and I have happily used them on vertical walls and even slabs (although shoes with a flatter, less down turned last would of course be more suitable). Furthermore, they look good and the most ringing endorsement that I can give them is that when my old pair wore out after a good year of regular use, I got myself some new ones.

For more about the brand, read the Red Chili Story.