Comfortable climbing shoes well suited to dry climbing and indoor walls – perfect for beginners and those seeking all-day comfort over cutting edge performance.
Not great for edging/technical moves
Uncomfortable for larger, wider feet
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Black Diamond Momentum: first impressions
New to climbing? Looking for a comfy climbing shoe that won’t break the bank? Black Diamond Momentums could be the answer.
The Momentum has a flat neutral last, a soft midsole and a breathable upper fabric, made with Black Diamond’s Engineered Knit Technology (EKT) that keeps feet from getting too sweaty.
Despite its beginner credentials, the fabric packs some technical features. The mesh structure has been specifically designed by to ensure there’s both stretch and comfort, but the shoe also offers some rigidity and retains its shape.
They close with two Velcro straps, for ease-of-fit adjustability, and the soft toe rands and flexible midsole supply good levels of comfort. There’s not so much here for those operating on steeper, slightly overhanging walls though – this is very much a shoe for entry-level climbers wanting comfort and ease of use.
And the Black Diamond Momentums are vegan friendly thanks to their synthetic materials.
• RRP: £85 (UK) / €90 (EU)
• Weight (per shoe): 155g / 6oz
• Lining: Hemp footbed
• Outsole: NeoFuse
• Upper: EnduroKnit
• Colors: Black / Alloy / White
• Compatibility: Beginners, indoor climbing and bouldering
Black Diamond Momentum: on the crag
So how did Black Diamond Momentum women’s climbing shoes perform when we put gave them a through work-out for our best women’s climbing shoes buying guide? Read on to find out…
Breathability and materials
The fit of the Black Diamond Momentums should suit those looking for something that has been designed to allow feet to breathe and stay comfortable, no matter whether they’re being worn in a gym or out on the crag. The Engineered Knit Technology upper provides exceptional breathability and comfort. It also supplies flexibility near the tongue, and more rigidity in the side of the shoe to help the shoe stay supportive. I liked the lining of the shoe, which being hemp – a natural fiber rather than synthetic – helped prevent my feet from getting very sweaty and smelly by the end of the climbing session.
The pale material shouldn’t deter you – it’s fairly resistant to day-to-day dirt, but to keep your shoes tip top a cloth should be able to clean any residual chalk or mud after a session at the wall (there are more tips in our how to clean climbing shoes article).
A microfiber lining in the front of the shoe ensures that foot slippage is minimized in the toe area, although I found this area much wider and less pointed than in some other shoes.
The shoes stood out on test because of their considered, minimalistic design that sets them apart visually from the other leather/ suede combinations available at the beginner end of the market. Their clean, simple aesthetic certainly has appeal. I tested the white, blue and black shoes, though an all-white Momentum option might be less practical and show the muck more, particularly when climbing outdoors on dusty, dirtier terrain.
Black Diamond Momentum women’s climbing shoes are specifically designed around the female foot, which tends to be smaller than men’s, so there shouldn’t be huge amounts of volume in the front toe box or gaps around the heel. Out of the test shoes, the Black Diamond Momentums had the most amount of room for my feet to spread out in them, but I had sized them larger (half a size smaller than my trainer size, as compared to one and half smaller on some brands) to accommodate comfort at the crag. This size offered enough room in the front foot-bed, yet hugged the back of my ankle and heel sufficiently for me to feel comfortable and secure. It ensured the shoes felt comfortable when I was climbing moderate, slabby routes on limestone, right through to torquing my feet into a slightly less favorable damp cracks, typical of a Gritstone crag.
When it came to form, I did find that my foot felt slightly slippery, and there was some movement in the middle of the foot, so I think I would have been better advised to go down slightly more for optimum snugness. I appreciated the soft-flex midsole, which did provide sensitivity and all-day comfort, but would have liked there to have been greater arch support or a slightly narrower sole. The soft, flexy midsole means that, while there is some benefit when using them on slabby, vertical walls indoors, users will find it hard to work with them on overhanging, technical walls.
Learn more about how a rock climbing shoe should fit – busting the “no pain no gain” myth.
One tweak I feel could be made is to use a slightly more sensitive rubber composite on the sole of the shoes. According to Black Diamond, the rubber has been chosen thanks to durability and molded for optimal comfort, consistency, and weight – but because of its 4.3mm thickness I felt like I didn’t quite have the sensitivity I have in my other shoes, and they lacked that über “sticky” feel when I put them on.
Technology geeks will be keen to hear that on the Black Diamond Momentums, the NeoFuse outsole has been created via heat injection, instead of the more commonly found die-cutting construction. Black Diamond heat-injects rubber into a foot-shaped mold, meaning there’s no need for glue, and therefore increasing the durability of the sole.
The combination of high-quality rubber alongside innovative technology promises a long-lasting platform, ideal as an all-day shoe for new climbers who may wear out a pair of shoes with less precise feet.
The shape of the rubber has been molded using a special shape for greater responsiveness from the foot, but I feel the texture of the rubber lets the shoe down as it isn’t in the same league as the Vibram rubber used on other shoes. Similarly, the soft-flex midsole provided comfort, but I also felt a tad more stiffness would have also helped encourage confidence and good footwork, rather than creating a pair of rock-climbing slippers.
On a more positive note, the two simple-to-adjust Velcro straps made it super straightforward to adjust the fit and easy to take the shoes off – perfect if you’re swapping leads and want to give your feet a break.
Overall, Black Diamond Momentum are a product I'll be recommending to friends who are starting out, thanks to their combination of comfort and decent entry-level performance. They are a shoe that could also be worn by veterans seeking all-day comfort, as they’re reliable and affordable, but I’d perhaps consider another climbing shoe that has a slightly more technical rubber grip.
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.
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