Aggressive precision in an updated, back-to-basics package - the second iteration of the Red Chili Voltage 2 is a no frills, no spills high performance climbing shoe that just seems to make sense. Produced in the wake of Edelrid’s Red Chili takeover, the Voltage 2 came to market in 2019 as the flagship shoe for this new alliance but, did they get it right? More on this below.
Typically German, the Voltage immediately stands out for its solid build quality and logical set of features, not to mention its efficient re-design of the original. Fixing the issues that blighted the first version (heel, straps, tensioning etc.), the Voltage 2.0 is now a fantastic all-round performer with a downturned profile and stiff front end that defines the shoe’s skill set. More ‘snub-nosed’ than Red Chili’s other high performance shoe, the Mystix, the Voltage is all about raw power on overhanging footholds thanks to a newly designed last which pumps all of the energy to the front of the shoe.
With a split sole across the bottom of the shoe, the Voltage compliments this front end performance with subtle sensitivity, allowing it to perform across a range of climbing terrains and disciplines. Although the Voltage hasn’t been specifically aimed at indoor climbing to the same extent as the Mystix, it still performs confidently here dispatching small footholds with ease and proving flexible enough to use smears, volumes and hooks effectively. A real highlight of the Voltage has been its adaptability across different climbing styles and angles.
Where the Voltage truly excels, however, is on real rock. The RC-Tension midsole under the front section of the sole and the refreshed tension rand round the back of the shoe were clinically effective outdoors on the nuanced, sharp edges of my local limestone. Stiff out of the box, the midsole soon softened to strike a wonderful balance between support and feel leaving me eager to try them out on grit too. Plastered with Vibram’s awesome XS Grip rubber over the toe, the Voltage provided great protection for the top of my toes when scumming, hooking or jamming and, sporting a re-designed heel cup, hooked here as well as any shoe I’ve ever worn. Did they get the redesign right? Absolutely.
Fit and Feel
Billed as a ‘wide’ shoe by Red Chili, I was pleasantly surprised to find more of a medium width and volume fit in the Voltage. I have feet on the narrower, skinnier end of the spectrum so I was able to downsize 2 UK sizes in the Voltage which, despite some difficulty getting them on at first, has been spot on for achieving the optimum performance fit. Those with wider feet will suit the Voltage perfectly and should find the sweet spot with a less extreme downsize.
But, the crucial question, are they comfy? With that luxurious sock liner, the Voltage feels incredible on the foot. The knit fabric on the sock is lovely against the skin whilst stretching and ventilating nicely. The dual strap closure system further enhances the experience, allowing the fit to be properly optimised across the top of the shoe.
First released in 2019, the Red Chili Voltage is still a force to be reckoned with some 3 years later. Following a relatively basic blueprint for a well-rounded high performance shoe, the second iteration of the Voltage nails all the basics and adds that electric element to Red Chili's high performance range. Having become the steady eddie of my climbing shoe arsenal and the ultimate accomplice for training sessions on the board, the Voltage isn't coming off any time soon!