Gear Review: Black Diamond Momentum Shoes
By: Will Babb
I started climbing about a year ago now, within my first week of school at Ohio State. I was soon a regular at the campus climbing gym, spending three or four nights a week on a rope. I threw myself into climbing with more passion than any other hobby, and I knew right off that climbing wasn’t just a phase.
Within that first month of climbing I invested in all the gear I needed- harness, chalk bag, and shoes. My first pair of shoes were the La Sportiva Tarantulas, a great beginner or intermediate climbing shoe. They didn’t take long to break in and were comfortable enough to climb in for a few hours. After a few months of climbing in my Tarantulas, I realized it was time for a new pair. My shoes were starting to show that they had seen quite a few climbs, and the unpleasant odor of well used shoes just wouldn’t go away. Additionally, as I started to climb more difficult routes I saw the need for a more aggressive shoe.Thus, my second pair of climbing shoes- the La Sportiva Muiras.
Uncomfortable is probably the first word that comes to mind when I think of my Muiras. They are two sizes too small, aggressively shaped, and so tight I can only spend short periods of time in them before my feet are screaming for a break. Surprisingly enough, that is why I love my Muiras. They might be painful and have a long break in period, but they perform far better than the Tarantula. I can stick my foot on the smallest edges and stick. These shoes are perfectly designed for climbing long slab routes at Red River Gorge or the most difficult, crimpiest routes in the gym.
I manage to make it down to the Red a few times a year, something I hope to change in the next year. But as it stands, I’m still primarily a gym climber. The Tommy Caldwells of the world probably spend more days at the crag than in a stuffy gym, but most of us aren’t fully sponsored climbers. Most of us spend the bulk of our time training in the local climbing gym to get ready for the occasional trip to the Red or New. That is where I saw the need for the Black Diamond Momentum shoes.
Black Diamond is new to the climbing shoe market, but as with any other piece of equipment I’ve bought from them their shoes have surpassed my hopes. I bought the Momentums as a relatively inexpensive shoe to use day in and day out at the gym and on easier sport routes. If I test myself on a particularly blank wall, I’ll still strap on those uncomfortable Muiras, but for the most part in the coming months you’ll find me crushing routes in the Momentums. They fulfill everything I wanted out of them- comfortable enough to wear all day, budget friendly, and technical enough to give me confidence on tough routes.
The Momentums will be my new go-to climbing shoe. I can put them on and leave them on the entire time I’m at the gym without feeling as if I’m causing permanent damage to my toes. That seems like it should be a given, but that’s a level of comfort I’ve been missing the past few months. I had mediocre confidence in the performance of the Momentums when I bought them- after all they were a brand new shoe with no reputation for just $90. I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find them performing well above their price point. Several times I’ve found myself perched on a poor foothold and expecting my feet to peel off at any second, only for them to stick long enough for me to clip the next bolt and climb on. Black Diamond advertises the shoes as breathable, comfortable, neutral shoes built for moderate routes, and thus far the shoes have met each of those expectations.
My only complaint is that I should have bought the velcro rather than lace up shoes, as I like to be able to slip my shoes on and off easily at the gym. Outside of that, I am thrilled with my shoes thus far. They’re lightweight, fairly breathable, and seem durable enough to withstand climbing three nights a week. For now I’m the only person at the gym climbing in the little-known Momentums, but I expect that to change soon as more people try them and see how great they are. You trust Black Diamond to make the highest quality cams, draws, and biners on the market, so why not trust them with your climbing shoes? It’s not often that a brand gets a product right on their first try, but Black Diamond seems to have done just that.