Black Diamond are a relatively new arrival in the climbing shoe market. For many years they were in fact the US distributer for Scarpa. When we first saw their rock-shoe range back in 2017 it was intriguing that such a well established (perhaps the most established) climbing company should choose to diversify into an already flooded market. The main question was what could they bring to the table and the two most obvious answers at the time were knit technology and their own in-house sticky rubber (allowing greater control and the ability to mould specific pieces). Five years on and BD have an established range together with the new arrival the ‘Method’ which is on review here.
The Method sits in second place below the Shadow in the BD rock-shoe range. It has a moderately downturned last, twin velcro fasteners with a split tongue that makes putting the shoes on a breeze. Black Diamond say that the Method has
“… a downturned last that’s not ultra-aggressive, these shoes perform well on a variety of angles, from steep to vertical, making them a one-quiver sport shoe for those who value simplicity”
Now I think they mean a ‘quiver of one’ or that may merely be a trans Atlantic ‘lost in translation’ moment but otherwise it turns out to be an accurate description. The Method is a classic climber’s all-rounder. I’ve been using them as pretty much my only shoe since I picked them up from Tim at OTS in July. In that time they have worked brilliantly across the board from limestone (polished and unpolished!), granite, gneiss, grit and plastic. I’ve bouldered, climbed trad and sport, single and multi pitch and even got back into red pointing. Throughout the experience I’ve never once thought ‘I could have done that if I had X shoe on my foot instead of the Method’.
That is not to say they are perfect and it may be more a reflection of the modest grades that I’m climbing (currently nothing above 7a+ on the sharp end) nevertheless I’ve been impressed. As with any rock shoe fit is paramount and as gear reviewers we sometimes get asked what is the ‘best’ rock-shoe we’ve used to which the somewhat unhelpful answer is ‘it depends on what fits your foot’. I’ve got wide Hobbit feet and so I tend to love shoes that will fit wide though there is far more to it than that; where is the last wide, what shape is the toe box etc. This is not just about comfort either. If you have wide feet and squeeze them into a narrow lasted shoe your foot will ‘bulge’ the rand out often making outside edging (back-steps/Egyptians etc) tricky as the edge of the sole is pushed away from the rock. Likewise the shoe is under more stress and is more likely to breakdown or split. The Method’s accommodated my wide feet perfectly, they are easy to pull on and the heel rand does not exert undue pressure on my achilles. However the rand and moderate downturn does provide sufficient tension so that using small edges on steep and overhanging routes is still possible.
The sole is soft and with only a moderate downturn smearing is easy and they work well on the grit and granite. Despite BD pioneering the use of knit uppers in rock-shoes the Method’s upper is a conventional microfibre that stretches just enough to mould to the shape of your foot – after two days of cragging they were as comfortable a pair of performance rock-shoes as I’ve had. Size wise having not worn BD rock-shoes it was a bit of a guess, I’m a Euro 43.5, UK 9-9.5 and went for Euro 43 UK 9 in the Methods which worked out well. I could squeeze down to an 8.5 if I wanted outright performance but that would be to the detriment of long route comfort. The uppers have remained soft and pliable throughout the review period without bagging out and still provide a great fit over three months in. They Method is a great shoe for long sessions or long routes providing a great performance/comfort balance. The heel uses some of the moulding techniques that BD’s in house rubber development allows to produce a secure, comfortable but precise heel that works well for heel hooking. I was initially cautious about the BD rubber. Most of my recent rock-shoes have been shod in Vibram XS Grip2 or Edge, it’s well proven and respected stuff and I think like many climbers I fall into the ‘I know what I like and I like what I know’ conservatism when it comes to boot rubber. To be honest for the last decade the differences between the top rubbers have been slight and subtle and probably only an significant when you move toward the more extremely specialised end of the market. So the first sessions out on A55 roadside limestone (literally straight from the trade show) I kept opting for smeary or ‘iffy’ holds to see how the BD rubber stuck. The answer was that it was indistinguishable from Vibram XS Grip2 to me, excellent smearing but still able to hold an edge. A month later in the Alps and with crazy high temperatures it still performed excellently with no more tendency to creep than any other non-edging specific rubber compound on either the limestone or various volcanic rocks. In terms of durability after three months of heavy use there is plenty of life left in the soles (with a sensible 4.3mm original thickness) and the rubber is wearing consistently with no ‘tearing’ so overall a total thumbs up for BD rubber. In fact the Method has maintained its performance characteristics throughout the review period, the upper moulded nicely to my foot and the combination of the thermoformed midsole and moulded rand/tension band and heel have kept everything performing consistently.
Overall I’ve been very impressed with the BD Method; fit, comfort, construction and performance including the rubber are excellent. It is up against some serious competition such as the well established Scarpa Vapour V (a slightly more edging orientated shoe) but it is a worthy competitor and if you tend toward a wider fit probably a better bet.
- Great all round performance
- Easy to get on and off
- Good heel hooking
- Lacks a little in toe power/edging
Disclaimer – CGR reviewers are never paid to provide a review and the website does not take advertising. We are a bunch of keen climbers and travellers that accept sample products and offer an honest and independent review of the item. The reviewer will often keep the sample after reviewing it for both hygiene reasons and more often they’re in no fit state to return!