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Black Diamond Mission LT Review

These approach shoes are well balanced for moderately long approaches and easy scrambling
Black Diamond Mission LT
Photo: Backcountry
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Price:  $140 List | Check Price at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Moderate price, dirt-proof ankle cuff, comfortable over long distances
Cons:  Can be difficult to pull on, rolls in cracks on narrow feet
Manufacturer:   Black Diamond Equipment
By Matt Bento ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 5, 2021
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68
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 14
  • Climbing Ability - 35% 7
  • Hiking Comfort - 25% 7
  • Support - 20% 6
  • Weight and Packability - 20% 7

Our Verdict

The Black Diamond Mission LT is a well-balanced approach shoe that's perfect for all your cragging access needs, without being too heavy to carry on longer routes. We used these shoes for long and grainy approaches in the Sierra and some easy scrambling in the Tahoe region and are impressed with their smearing and edging capabilities as well as their dirt-proof ankle cuff. These shoes have a wide fit, so there's plenty of room for foot-swelling on longer approaches, but folks with narrow feet could find them insecure in cracks. Overall, these are a versatile option, and if they fit, climbers will happily wear them out.

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Star Rating
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Pros Moderate price, dirt-proof ankle cuff, comfortable over long distancesLightweight, comfortable, supportive, climb wellStiff for edging and standing in aiders, excellent for scambling, good hiking supportAwesome balance of hiking and climbing abilities, great supportDurable, great traction in dirt and mud, excellent value, workhorse approach shoe
Cons Can be difficult to pull on, rolls in cracks on narrow feetSynthetic uppers not as durable as leatherMore narrow than the rest of the TX line, expensiveRelatively heavy and bulkyHeavy and bulky, especially when carrying on your harness or in a pack
Bottom Line These approach shoes are well balanced for moderately long approaches and easy scramblingThese are our first recommendation for the majority of climbers due to elite all-around performanceA great shoe for climbing guides or anyone who needs support for hiking but also a precision fit for climbingThis model combines high performance with the ability to handle big loadsThese durable shoes are well-equipped for miles of hiking and scrambling at a great price
Rating Categories Black Diamond Missi... La Sportiva TX2 La Sportiva TX Guide La Sportiva TX4 La Sportiva Boulder X
Climbing Ability (35%)
7.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
9.0
Hiking Comfort (25%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
10.0
7.0
Support (20%)
6.0
7.0
8.0
9.0
10.0
Weight And Packability (20%)
7.0
9.0
7.0
4.0
1
Specs Black Diamond Missi... La Sportiva TX2 La Sportiva TX Guide La Sportiva TX4 La Sportiva Boulder X
Outsole Black Diamond BlackLabel-Mountain rubber Vibram Mega-Grip Vibram Mega-Grip Vibram Mega-Grip with Trail Bite heel Vibram Idro-Grip V-Smear dot pattern
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) 32.8 oz (size 9.5)
Width Options Regular Regular Regular Regular Regular
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 Micropore 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.

Performance Comparison


These shoes are pretty slick with their webbing eyelets and blue...
These shoes are pretty slick with their webbing eyelets and blue mesh uppers, and their rubber proved adequate.

Climbing Ability


We had no problem edging on lower-angle boulders.
We had no problem edging on lower-angle boulders.

Edging


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.

This model provides plenty of friction while smearing.
This model provides plenty of friction while smearing.

Smearing


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.

Our testers felt secure smearing off the deck, even with a heavy load.
Our testers felt secure smearing off the deck, even with a heavy load.

Crack Climbing


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.

Climbing low angle cracks in the Mission LTs.
Climbing low angle cracks in the Mission LTs.

Hiking Comfort


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.

The sock-liner is awesome for keeping dirt out of the shoe, but...
The sock-liner is awesome for keeping dirt out of the shoe, but makes it a little tedious to put on.
Photo: matt bento

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.

Shallow, chevron-shaped lugs offer grip in dirt but still allow for...
Shallow, chevron-shaped lugs offer grip in dirt but still allow for plenty of rock-to-rubber contact.
Photo: Matt Bento

Support


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.

The Missions offer a higher degree of support than lighter-weight...
The Missions offer a higher degree of support than lighter-weight approach shoes.

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'.

BD includes several points to clip these shoes to a harness.
BD includes several points to clip these shoes to a harness.

Value


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.

Conclusion


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