Many were eagerly anticipating the release of Black Diamond's new line of climbing shoes; in fact, we were downright excited to compare these kicks to the top shoes on the market. A company that makes everything from pants to cams to lanterns, Black Diamond brings us their version of a beginner climbing shoe, the Black Diamond Momentum. We found these shoes to leave a bit to be desired, though they are made well and have reasonably good features. If the shape fits your foot, you're in luck, as they are comfortable with their knit upper and flat soles. If not, they are relatively uncomfortable and lack support. Overall, the Momentum's are a decent shoe for the price, especially for those new to climbing.
Black Diamond Momentum - Women's Review
Compare prices at 4 resellers Pros: Inexpensive, breathable, well constructed
Cons: Run small, tight in toe box, stiff sole leaves uncomfortable gap under arch
Manufacturer: Black Diamond Equipment
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Black Diamond Momentum is a flat-soled, Velcro slipper that is ideal for those new to climbing. The main draw of this shoe is its reasonable price tag and fit that has been designed for all-day comfort. That said, the Momentum is rather uncomfortable for those with wider feet, and the stiffness of the soles make the slippers hard to fill out, leaving air pockets and gaps underfoot, which can become uncomfortable over time.
For women with narrow feet, the Momentum is going to be a comfortable option. These shoes have a very similar fit to the Butora Libra in that both have a very flat, stiff sole and a design that lends itself to comfort above all else. Unlike the Libra, though, the Momentums are much narrower and tougher to break in. These shoes felt fairly uncomfortable to our wider-footed testers.
A significant difference between the Momentum and other climbing shoes is their material used in their uppers. Black Diamond has designed these shoes to have a breathable, fabric upper, rather than a traditional shoe that is constructed with either a leather or mesh upper. We found them to be a bit more breathable than a classic leather shoe, like the Five Ten Anasazi, but the improvement is not a game changer.
Having an ultra-sensitive toe is not what these shoes are designed for. The BD Momentum is a shoe that focuses on comfort before performance. That said, these shoes have surprisingly sticky rubber and can hold their own among the other beginner shoes in this review concerning sensitivity. We found the La Sportiva Finale to have stickier rubber, but the Neo-Friction of the Momentum was not far behind. The Momentums have soles that are almost as stiff as those on the Butora Libra, which detracts from their overall sensitivity in a big way. At first, these shoes felt like wooden planks on our feet when standing on small holds. Over time, though, they break in to be a reasonably sensitive shoe.
While their stiff soles detract from their ability to toe into small holds, they come in handy when standing on small edges. The flat shape of the sole and the stiffness of the toe box make the Momentum a great candidate for vertical terrain. Small edges morph into large footholds under a stiff sole like the ones the Momentum totes. Not quite on par with our edging favorites, the La Sportiva Miura, the Momentums are a great pair to get you warmed up for more technical face climbing.
These shoes received a lower score in this metric for a few reasons. First, the material that makes up the upper is not as thick, nor as durable as leather, which could lead to wear. Shoes with extra rubber on the sides and leather uppers, like the Five Ten Anasazi, tend to hold up better to continuous jamming. The flat shape of the Momentum does make them a good candidate for crack climbing, especially lower angle cracks and multi-pitch trad climbs like those found in Tuolumne Meadows.
Since the Momentums lack a downturned toe box and the asymmetry of a more aggressive shoe, they are not the tool of choice for pockets and steep climbing. These shoes are designed more for edging on vertical or less-than-vertical terrain, whereas shoes like the Lotus are better suited for steeper climbing. The affordable and technical Lotus impressed us enough to earn our Best Buy Award.
Ease of Use
The Momentum, like most of the other Velcro slippers in this review, received high scores in this metric. It doesn't take much to get these shoes on and off, which is nice for gym climbing and bouldering. If they are sized properly, they are comfortable enough to wear for hours at a time, making them a great option for the gym as well.
The Momentum is a good budget option for those new to climbing who aren't ready to commit over $100 for a new pair of shoes. These shoes excel at low-angle routes, gym climbing, and vertical sport climbs and will help newer climbers get on their feet, allowing them to get a feel for the sport.
For $90, these are the least expensive shoes in this review. It's hard to find a decent pair of climbing shoes for less than $100 these days, and the BD Momentum is the closest option we found to fit the bill. A similar, but more expensive shoe that we found to be a good introductory option is the La Sportiva Finale, which is only $10 more, but has better rubber - at least in our opinion.
Overall, the Black Diamond Momentum performed as well as expected. It can edge and hold its own on vertical terrain and we didn't notice a huge difference between the new fabric uppers and the classic leather uppers regarding breathability. Unfortunately, the women's version of these shoes is very narrow, and our wide-footed testers found the women's Momentum to be very tight and borderline uncomfortable. We were not blown away by these shoes by any means, but they are a good buy for newer climbers on a budget.
— Jane Jackson