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Black Diamond Aspect Review

A quality trad shoe at a reasonable price
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Price:  $150 List | $149.95 at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Excellent edging, reasonable price, great for cracks
Cons:  Painful break-in period, limited usefulness on steep terrain
Manufacturer:   Black Diamond Equipment
By Jack Cramer ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 20, 2019
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80
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#12 of 31
  • Edging - 20% 9
  • Cracks - 20% 9
  • Comfort - 20% 8
  • Pockets - 20% 6
  • Sensitivity - 20% 8

Our Verdict

The Aspect is Black Diamond's entry in the crowded field of climbing shoes marketed for trad climbing. It features a stiff, flat sole that provides an excellent platform for exploiting marginal edges and supplies adequate protection for sustained foot jams. Unlike a lot of other trad shoes, though, the Aspect is a low-top design. This means that it can't shield your ankles on an ominous off-width crack, but your also less likely to feel Achilles pain after you're twenty pitches into a monster day. Our testers were pleasantly surprised by its overall performance. When you factor in its reasonable price, we think the Aspect presents an awesome value as a trad and crack shoe.


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Awards  Editors' Choice Award    
Price $149.95 at REI
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Excellent edging, reasonable price, great for cracksComfortable in cracks, low volume toe fits in thin cracks, great edgingGreat edging, convenient and secure Velcro closure systemGreat precision, aggressive/down turned toe tip, sensitive, great toe and heel hooking, precise fit, comfortable, easy on/offIncredible sensitivity, great edging, durability
Cons Painful break-in period, limited usefulness on steep terrainHeel cup can feel uncomfortable across the achilles, left some testers with sore archesNot as comfortable in cracks as lace-up modelsNot comfortable for all-day climbing, expensive, not the most versatile, hard to fit, single strap broke prematurelySpecalized use, expensive, might be hard to resole
Bottom Line A quality trad shoe at a reasonable priceThese shoes are high-performing crack climbing machines.This shoe is well-performing all arounder.This shoe is a favorite of many veteran climbers and still feels cutting edge over ten years after its first release.Employing Sportiva's No Edge concept, this is a sensitive shoe that edges incredibly well.
Rating Categories Black Diamond Aspect La Sportiva Kataki La Sportiva Otaki La Sportiva Solution La Sportiva Futura
Edging (20%)
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
Cracks (20%)
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
Comfort (20%)
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
8
Pockets (20%)
10
0
6
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
9
Sensitivity (20%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
10
Total Scores (%)
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
Specs Black Diamond Aspect La Sportiva Kataki La Sportiva Otaki La Sportiva Solution La Sportiva Futura
Style Lace Lace Velcro Velcro Velcro
Upper Leather Suede leather / Microfiber Leather/ Microfiber Leather / Lorica Leather/Synthetic Leather
Width Options Regular Regular Regular Regular Regular
Lining Hemp Pacific Pacific HF in toe box and arch area only Unlined
Rubber Type NeoFriction Force Vibram XS Edge Vibram XS Edge Vibram XS Grip 2 Vibram XS Grip2
Rubber Thickness (millimeters) 4.3 mm 4 mm 4 mm 4 mm 3 mm

Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


The Aspects aren't particularly flashy  but we're thoroughly impressed with their performance for techy face and crack climbing.
The Aspects aren't particularly flashy, but we're thoroughly impressed with their performance for techy face and crack climbing.

Edging


The stiff midsole sets the Aspect up well to be an edging wizard, and our testers were thoroughly impressed with its ability to edge on a variety of rock types. We particularly like that the Aspect can achieve what feels like a performance fit despite its flat sole. The stiffness of this sole also ensures that your feet are supported and don't fatigue during sustained edging sequences.

The Aspect is Black Diamond's premium shoe for trad climbing. You'll enjoy its supportive midsole when you're standing on small micro edges.
The Aspect is Black Diamond's premium shoe for trad climbing. You'll enjoy its supportive midsole when you're standing on small micro edges.

Cracks


Marketed as a trad shoe, we expected the Aspect would perform well on cracks. It greatly exceeded these expectations. The absence of a downturn in the sole allows your toes to lay flat, improving comfort for any size foot or toe jam. The toe box volume is also low, which makes these kicks useful for cracks that are thin hands size or smaller. The first four eyelets on the laces are also protected with a strip of leather to smooth out the contact surface and prevent the laces from getting worn through. The only kind of crack that the Aspect didn't impress us on was off-widths. That's because its low top design doesn't rise high enough to guard your ankles like other trad specific shoes usually do.

Although the Aspects don't have the high-top design of many other crack shoes  we still found them comfortable to jam inside sustained splitters.
Although the Aspects don't have the high-top design of many other crack shoes, we still found them comfortable to jam inside sustained splitters.

Comfort


Our lead tester wears a 10.5 street shoe and was delighted with the fit of a pair of size 10 Aspects. The flat and stiff sole boosts their comfort making them ideal for intricate techy projects or long multi-pitch routes. During a brief break-in period, however, we noticed significant discomfort. This was principally due to a rough spot at the seam where the tongue and leather upper are attached that was abrading the smaller toes of our tester. The problem was temporarily solved with a tape, and later after they were properly broken in there was no further discomfort.

During a brief two-week break in period the seam between the tongue and rand cut our lead testers ring toes. This was solved with a bit of tape and the problem disappeared once they were broken in.
During a brief two-week break in period the seam between the tongue and rand cut our lead testers ring toes. This was solved with a bit of tape and the problem disappeared once they were broken in.

Pockets


The Aspect has a narrow toe profile that allows them to squeak inside small pockets. The flat sole, however, means that they're not very effective for pulling with your feet if the angle is steep. Laterally, the toe box is also pretty wide (ie. not pointy) which can make squeezing them inside narrow pockets an impossible task. For occasional pocket climbing, the Aspects do OK, but we recommend a more downturned design your next exotic trip to a limestone pocket paradise.

The flat sole of the Aspect isn't very effective for helping you pull with your toes on steep pocketed climbing.
The flat sole of the Aspect isn't very effective for helping you pull with your toes on steep pocketed climbing.

Sensitivity


These shoes are outfitted with 4.3 mm of NeoFriction Force rubber. Although that's a little thicker than the most shoes, the Aspects still manage to feel rather sensitive. Our testers believe they off a notch more sensitivity than their popular trad shoe rival, the TC Pro. Nevertheless, the stiff sole of the Aspect ultimately places a limit on how sensitive they can be, so don't expect to be able to feel the same minuscule holds as you could in a pair of soft bouldering shoes.

Although the sole of the Aspect is stiff  when they're sized properly they still feel surprisingly sensitive. During our tests it became a favorite for trad and techy vertical face climbing.
Although the sole of the Aspect is stiff, when they're sized properly they still feel surprisingly sensitive. During our tests it became a favorite for trad and techy vertical face climbing.

Value


For the performance these shoes offer, they seem like a pretty good bargain. Head to head we even think some trad climbers will prefer them over the more popular, and more expensive, La Sportiva TC Pro due to the Aspect's higher sensitivity. Add to that the durability advantage from 0.3 mm of extra rubber and the higher likelihood of find them on sale, and these shoes start looking like a pretty great value.

After they were broken in  the Aspects felt much better at heel hooks than the average trad shoe.
After they were broken in, the Aspects felt much better at heel hooks than the average trad shoe.

Conclusion


The trad and crack climbing shoe scene has been dominated by the TC Pro for several years now. That's starting to change as several companies have added their own stiff-soled, high-top mimics. Black Diamond's contribution, the Aspect, is a great addition and worthy of consideration for those desiring more sensitivity or a low-top design that's less likely to irritate their Achilles tendons.


Jack Cramer