Black Diamond Mission LT Review
Cons: Can be difficult to pull on, rolls in cracks on narrow feet
Manufacturer: Black Diamond Equipment
Compare to Similar Products
Black Diamond Mission LT
|Price||$139.95 at Amazon||$130.00 at Amazon||$159.00 at Amazon||$140.00 at Amazon||$129.95 at Amazon|
|Pros||Moderate price, dirt-proof ankle cuff, comfortable over long distances||Lightweight, comfortable, supportive, climb well||Stiff for edging and standing in aiders, excellent for scambling, good hiking support||Awesome balance of hiking and climbing abilities, great support||Supportive, durable, very sticky rubber|
|Cons||Can be difficult to pull on, rolls in cracks on narrow feet||Synthetic uppers not as durable as leather||More narrow than the rest of the TX line, expensive||Relatively heavy and bulky||Heavy|
|Bottom Line||A pair of these will get you where you need to go for "in-a-day" objectives without weighing down your harness too much on the route||Only snow and ice can stop these approach machines||The TX Guide is a great option for all but the widest of feet, offering hiking support and sticky rubber for confident scrambling||Specializing in heavy loads and big wall climbing, this model is also a well-rounded favorite||If you find other brands run too wide, these may be the best choice for long approaches|
|Rating Categories||Black Diamond Mission LT||La Sportiva TX2||La Sportiva TX Guide||La Sportiva TX4||Scarpa Crux|
|Climbing Ability (35%)|
|Hiking Comfort (25%)|
|Weight And Packability (20%)|
|Specs||Black Diamond...||La Sportiva TX2||La Sportiva TX Guide||La Sportiva TX4||Scarpa Crux|
|Outsole||Black Diamond BlackLabel-Mountain rubber||Vibram Mega-Grip||Vibram Mega-Grip||Vibram Mega-Grip with Trail Bite heel||Vibram vertical approach|
|Upper Material||polyester enduro knit||Polyester mesh||synthetic TPU, PU||Leather||Leather|
|Weight per Pair (in oz)||23.6 oz (size 9.5)||20.3 oz (size 9.5)||24.8 oz (size 9.5)||26.2 oz (size 9.5)||27.2 oz (size 9.5)|
|Mid Height Available?||No||No||No||Yes||No|
|Midsole||EVA, protective rock plate||Mem-lex/C2 Combo Cord||dual-density compressed EVA, TPU Torsion Shank||Traverse injection MEMlex||EVA|
|Sticky Rubber? Toe Rand?||Yes, Yes||Yes, Yes||Yes, Yes||Yes, Yes||Yes, Yes|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Long ago, the Five Ten Guide Tennie was the only widely available sticky rubber hiking shoe. For better or worse, the Guide Tennie influenced the design of approach shoes for decades to come, and every company seems to have some take on the venerable classic. In this case, Black Diamond's Mission LT has our tester's making favorable comparisons to their favorite old approach shoes from the mid-'90s. When it comes to technical climbing, the Missions and Guide Tennies are pretty evenly matched, but when faced with a long approach with a heavy pack, we'll take the Missions every time.
While the Mission LT features large lugs in the middle and rear for traction when hiking, it has a smooth and sticky zone in the front for more technical edging work. There are stiffer approach shoes that edge better and lighter models that are more sensitive, but considering how nice the Missions are for hiking, we'd say they still edge quite well.
We've evaluated approach shoe sticky rubber by scrambling easy classics in Tuolumne meadows. Rubber indeed makes a big difference in a shoe's performance on rock. We've tested some rubber that increased our pucker factor and had us fearing for our safety. BD's BlackLabel-Mountain rubber performed fine without overwhelming. We found it to be satisfyingly sticky for most climbs we'd keep our approach shoes on for. For smearing, a thinner, lighter shoe may perform better but offer less support for hiking, and the Mission LTs strike a nice balance.
The Mission's relatively wide fit makes them comfy in cracks, while the sock-like upper prevents them from rolling around or twisting off your feet. The webbing straps that stand in for lace eyelets could be damaged if you're really getting after it regularly (climbing miles of easy technical cracks) but we didn't notice any wear during our testing and believe they'd survive a season of guiding and much longer for the average climber.
We had the opportunity to test these kicks on long boulder-strewn approaches in Red Rocks and steep, kitty litter bushwhacks in the Sierra. The knit liner provides a snug seal around the ankle. While this makes it somewhat difficult to get the shoe on, it also does an excellent job of keeping fine dirt and pebbles out. Often we end our day dumping out a small pile of fine dust out of our shoes after a day climbing in the Owens River Gorge. The Missions are pleasantly impervious to this dust.
A nylon rock plate keeps your feet protected when you're at the end of a long day and prone to dragging your feet and misstepping, which can be an issue in lighter, flimsier shoes. While there are models out there that are more suited to an approach shoe challenge lap on the rostrum, the Missions are much better suited to long approaches.
The EVA midsole kept us feeling quite support on longer hikes with a pack or crash pad, while the slightly rockered shape kept us moving forward. The precise lacing system kept our feet locked in place, even when running downhill. For a multi-day expedition, we'd prefer a little more support, but for anything "in-a-day," the Mission LT is up to the task.
Weight And Packability
To help yank the sock liner on over your sweaty feet, BD included a pull tab on the heel and the tongue of these shoes, both of which double as clip-in loops. We found using the heel loop to be the most convenient for clipping, but using the tongue loop makes the shoes feel more balanced and close to your body when clipped to your harness. Our size US Men's 9.5 pair weighs 23.6 oz, putting them square in the middle of the pack in terms of weight. For their comfort and support, we find that they're respectably light. They're not our first choice of what we'd want to be clipped to our harness on a long multi-pitch, but if the hike in is long enough, we'll take 'em'.
With welded seams and durable but breathable upper, these shoes exhibit excellent craftsmanship without the high asking price of similar offerings from La Sportiva and Scarpa. After scrambling up some easy crack climbs and racing up our local hills, we feel they have at least a couple of seasons of life in them and are an excellent value.
While the Black Diamond Mission LT doesn't snag any of our top accolades, they also don't cost as much as most of our award winners. They are still a very capable approach shoe that inhabits a versatile sweet spot between technical climbers and high mileage sloggers. If this somewhat wide-fitting shoe fits your foot, don't hesitate to take a pair of these home.
— Matt Bento