We were particularly impressed with the overall fit and the ruggedness of the Black Diamond Technicians’ construction, which helped inspire confidence when navigating steep rocky descents and teetering over smooth limestone slabs.
Not good in wet conditions
Similar sole to a trainer – not versatile in inclement weather
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Black Diamond Technician Leather: first impressions
Precise, durable, and comfortable, the Black Diamond Technician Leather approach shoe boasts super-sticky rubber for the most gruelling approaches and descents. It hugs the foot, minimizing hot spots with its comfortable heel, and the evenly distributed lugs provide grip – especially when smearing up slabs.
• RRP: $144.95 (US) / £125 (UK)
• Weight (per shoe): 340g / 12oz
• Materials: One-piece breathable, durable-knit (EnduroKnit) upper; lightweight, molded TPU midfoot strap and lace-lock; EVA midsole; sticky Black Label-Mountain rubber sole
• Colors: Men’s: December Sky / Amber; Women’s: Asphalt Goblin Blue/ Rosewood
• Compatibility: Approach, scrambling, walking
The lightweight, half-bootie / half-tongue has a slipper-like feel and makes the shoe super easy to put on and pull off, without having to crush the back of your heel to get tired feet back in.
Available in both male and female versions, with a graduated fit system and use of leather across the shoe, these feel premium quality, and up there with the best approach shoes you can buy. They’re well designed, and technically more capable for demanding days out where fit is so critical for a successful adventure.
Used as they’re intended, the Black Diamond Technician Leather approach shoes are everything you need to be able to get yourself down from committing, rocky multipitch climbs.
Black Diamond Technician Leather: on the crags
In previous assessments, Black Diamond approach shoes didn't fare that well with me, mainly down to their lack of waterproofing and slightly off-color palette, in my opinion. But with a slick black / grey suede leather upper, and the use of graphic Black Label-Mountain rubber on the Technicians, it feels like BD have really put more thought into this approach shoe.
It’s important to have approach shoes that continue to feel comfortable from first thing in the morning, through to when you’re standing around in the afternoon heat at the crag, swapping in and out of your actual climbing shoes.
I have been particularly impressed with how comfortable (and easy to wear) the Black Diamond Technician approach shoes are. Made with a slightly spongy, synthetic durable knit, Enduro knit has an elasticity that makes it easy to slip the shoes on. A flat lace helps relieve any pressure points, using a graduated fit system to help lock the foot into place, which criss-crosses all the way from the toe to the arch. Having a relatively long tongue also helps with the overall comfort of the shoe.
These aren’t wet weather approach shoes, so they might not be best suited for particularly mixed conditions, but I found them to be a good rival to the likes of La Sportiva Leather Guide shoes. The thicker material provides protection against the elements, and it doesn’t absorb water, although I would have liked to see Gore-Tex or other membrane incorporated into the shoe’s design.
The Black Diamond Technicians impressed me with their combination of rigidity (a tuned EVA midsole provides stiffness and comfort) and durability. The rubber toe and upper construction are ideal for technical climbing, and the tough suede alongside welded TPU overlays provides protection. All in all, these features together manage to make it feel as though the shoes could withstand some real knocking around against rough rock – and still come away looking unscathed.
It made a massive difference wearing these on the downhill compared to a softer, more lightweight trainer-like approach shoe, where I found my feet getting tired after a long day of wear. Thanks to the midsole, which provides some arch support (my feet pronate), the Technicians felt suitably supportive for a whole day out of walking and standing at the crag.
For this test, I wore a size 40 / UK 6.5, which felt true to size and allowed my feet to fit comfortably. My feet have a slightly wider front footbed, with a normal arch.
A good approach shoe should always allow enough room for your feet to spread out, without the toes feeling like they’re going to move about. I found the Black Diamond Technician Leather fitted comfortably, even when my feet had started to swell after a day of climbing. The lightweight wrap-style tongue allows you to pull the shoes off and on easily at the crag, and a graduated lace system goes all the way to the toe for a secure lockdown fit.
Black Diamond have gone with a specific climber-friendly design – a wider ribbon loop at the back of the heel, as well as near the shoe’s tongue, helps assist with sliding the foot into the shoe, but they are mainly used to help clip the shoes to the back of your climbing harness when you’re not wearing them. Having multiple attachment points is a bonus, and I like the reinforced Black Diamond rubber heel accent, which adds extra protection and durability.
The sole is highly confidence-inspiring, with a diagonal pattern of circular lugs at the front and diamond shapes at the back to help improve traction when climbing and pushing down on the sole to retain grip and friction, to helping assist with braking.
Black Diamond don’t work with Vibram but use their own in-house Black Label-Mountain rubber – some tech fans might want a recognized brand to inspire confidence, however I found these perfectly good for sticking onto the rock, even on slippery limestone and scree-covered slopes.
These shoes are one of those stealthy additions to my increasing footwear collection that I’ll use time and time again. It’ll be interesting to see whether they will stand up to multiple big ascents and descents, and if they can transfer to the wet, muddy, ever-changing landscape of the UK for additional mountain days. But so far, they’ve been one of my favorite shoes on test.
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.