In the right conditions – namely on mostly dry approach routes and trails – the Black Diamond Mission LTs perform very well, but they’re not the best wet-weather approach shoe available.
Laces are spread out across the shoe and provide some decent foot support
Footbed felt a nice size profile – not too narrow, not too wide
Protected rubber rand
Not that waterproof – absorbs water
Laces are round and so easily slip out
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Black Diamond Mission LT: first impressions
Despite coming in colors with names like Wisteria, Black Diamond Mission LTs are as far from a fashion-orientated piece of apparel as you can get.
Putting comfort and grip at the heart of the design, these are reliable shoes that combine innovative features with laces that bind over the arch of the foot, using an evenly distributed system to ensure the pressure isn’t just focused on the lacing near the top of the foot and can be easily adjusted without having to dig your fingernails in.
Webbing “grabs” the lacing, extending durability and ensuring a tight, snug fit. The Black Diamond Mission LTs are many people’s go-to approach shoes thanks to the BD rubber offering high performance grip.
A highly breathable chassis is made with Black Diamond’s signature EnduroKnit, which is a one-piece, ultra-breathable upper for lasting temperature regulation that’s hyper-durable for season after season of abuse. A tuned EVA midsole provides ample stiffness for technical precision, while remaining comfortable and the nylon rock plate provides protection. All of which sound great reasons for including them in our best approach shoes buying guide, but do they live up to the promise on the trail?
• RRP: $140 (US) / £103 (UK)
• Weight (average, per shoe): 312g / 11oz
• Materials: EnduroKnit upper; Web lining; Tuned EVA midsole; Nylon rock plate; BlackLabel-Mountain sticky rubber outsole
• Colors: Men’s Eclipse Blue & Amber / Nickel & Ultra Blue Women’s Anthracite & Wisteria / Ice Blue & Alloy
• Compatibility: Approach, walking, climbing, lifestyle
Black Diamond Mission LT: on the trails
These are proven and comfortable approach shoes, well-suited to dry weather conditions – but we did wonder… how would they stand up to more mixed weather?
Combining mesh with a durable rubber rand at the front, Black Diamond’s Mission shoes are designed to be breathable even during the hottest heatwaves. Despite their breathability, however, the waterproofing isn’t great (see below), and it took a long time for the shoes to completely dry out after a sudden downpour.
The Missions felt pretty reliable as far as sizing went, offering just enough room in the foot-bed without yielding hotspots for blisters, yet still hugging the back of the ankle and heel reassuringly. This mix ensured the shoes felt comfortable even for a long approach, through sandy, gravelly terrain through to muddy, bracken-strewn paths typical of a gritstone crag.
I did find that my foot felt slightly slippery, and there was some movement in the middle of the foot, so I think something sizing for this would have been better to go down slightly for optimum snugness.
On test, I noted that, while the shoes didn’t immediately let water in, after a short period moisture seemed to seep in, from the tongue of the shoe to the arch. It was a shame, as on initial inspection it looked as though the shoes would be able to cope.
I tested these shoes walking around Llyn Gwynant and even the low-level wet rushes and boggy ground seemed to seep through the shoes. If Black Diamond offered the Missions in a GTX version, this would enhance the wearability of the shoes.
The Black Diamond Mission LTs have a number of well-considered features that make them feel as though they’ve been designed (and tested) for (and by) seasoned sunny weather rock climbers to deliver exactly what you want from approach shoes.
The webbing tab at the back of the shoe is long enough to allow a slim snap-gate to clip the shoes onto the back of the harness for multi-pitch climbs, whilst the supportive midsole absorbs the impact of approaches during dry and dusty rocky terrain.
The lugs on the soles of the shoe are prominent, and arranged in an attractive diamond lug shape that offers security on descents and provides support when clambering uphill (see also: approach shoes vs hiking shoes: which are the best for your adventures?).
However, the lack of reliable waterproofing, combined with slightly slippery laces, made me conclude that the Mission LTs weren’t particularly well suited for users who might want them for UK trad climbing, or anywhere else where belaying in damp, muddy terrain is commonplace. The shoes just weren’t good at keeping my feet dry for long periods, compared to other approach shoes out there.
Overall, however, the Black Diamond Mission shoes feel like a reliable approach shoe in dry conditions. I will keep on using them for future rock-climbing trips in sunny climes.
A former brand ambassador for Merrell and current Ordnance Survey #GetOutside Champion, Jessie Leong’s lifelong outdoor odyssey began with Duke of Edinburgh’s Award walks in the Peak District. This segued into long hill hikes in the Yorkshire Dales, multi-day treks in the Lake District, scrambles in North Wales and adventures scaling alpine pinnacles. When not walking, she can be found rock climbing, wild swimming, cycling, photographing, filmmaking, writing and modelling. Jessie’s most recent claim to fame is playing a Miss World contestant in the 2020 feature film Misbehaviour.