Black Diamond Aspect Review: A Good Pick for Trad?
Published on: 05/02/2022
The Black Diamond Aspect are very good trad climbing shoes that are sturdy, versatile, and comfortable.
Additionally, the Aspect also boasts considerable durability and support when climbing. The Aspect’s stiff sole and extra padding make easy work of edging, jamming, most cracks, and long, multi-pitch routes. Micro edges are no match for the flat lasted Aspect, either. And, we anticipate that you’d be able to get a very respectable amount of wear from a pair of Aspects before needing to replace them.
We even found that, once broken in, the Aspect does better on bouldering problems than most of its competitors. By the time the Aspect has molded to your foot, it does a surprisingly good job of heel hooking. While still a trad shoe at its heart, the Aspect would also be a decent choice for climbers looking to trim the fat off their arsenal of slippers.
- Great build quality and performance at an excellent price
- Neutral profile keeps the Aspect versatile without sacrificing comfort
- Top-rate edging performance thanks to stiff sole
- Offers greater sensitivity than most trad climbing shoes
- Lack of ankle protection leaves ankles exposed in some cracks
- Shoes demand downsizing and a sometimes tough break-in period as a result of the stiffer sole and leather build
Black Diamond Aspect Detailed Review
Black Diamond’s Aspect shoe is a great addition to the trad climbing shoe scene. The Aspect offers a comfortable fit, impressive versatility, durability, and excellent build quality at a highly competitive price point. This stiff-soled slipper is especially well-suited to any trad line, slabs, or routes with plenty of edging and cracks.
The Aspect boasts several clever features like its durable, sticky rubber, lateral stabilizer rands, and heel tension strap. Once broken in, the Aspects balance comfort and performance across multi-pitches in a way that few of their competitors manage. If you’re on the market for a great trad shoe without wanting to invest in a top-end climbing slipper, then the Aspect might be perfect for you.
The Aspect’s comfort was one of its greatest strengths for us. Black Diamond’s innovative designs maximize performance without sacrificing the user experience. Using 4.3 NeoFriction Edge Rubber for its outsole means the Aspect can offer extra padded protection when edging and in cracks. Also, the shoe’s tongue utilizes engineered knit technology, which adds breathability for longer sessions.
In terms of fit, the slip-lasted Aspect is pretty neutral. Anyone with narrow feet may find it on the roomy side. The Aspect uses lace rather than velcro, limiting how adjustable it is. You’ll likely need to downsize at least a US half size; we recommend trying the Aspects before buying to ensure you get the proper fit.
We mentioned above that the Aspect lacks the ankle support of other trad climbing shoes. While this impacts the protection, it provides while crack climbing, there is a positive side to this design choice. We found that the lower-cut Aspect is much less likely to cause Achilles pain or discomfort than similar models with more ankle support. This makes it an excellent choice for climbers who have struggled with Achilles injuries or pain in the past.
It’s worth noting that some climbers do have a slightly tough time with the Aspect when breaking it in. In particular, the seam between the rand and the tongue commonly seems to cause chafing and toe cuts for some. This can be prevented through climbing tape, though, and the issue seems to resolve itself once the shoe is broken in.
Edging is far and away one of the Aspect’s greatest strengths. The lateral stabilizer rands help you maintain position when putting pressure either on the outside or inside edges of the shoes. This, combined with the high-tension midsole, lets you carve up most edges easily.
Another strength of the shoes is their surprising sensitivity. This feature lets you sink in and feel each hold, which is a big help when edging on tiny holds. The fact that the Aspects are so comfortable means you can tackle edging-heavy routes without worrying about foot pump.
The Aspect offers satisfactory performance while smearing. The subtly set midsole flexes enough for you to dig into the wall. Also, the shoe’s low profile gives your ankles a greater range of motion when smearing. However, the lace upper can feel a bit restrictive. We think that using velcro rather than lace would make the Aspect far more comfortable when smearing.
Foot jams with the Aspect can be somewhat variable. The toe profile is vertical and slender, which helps you work the shoe into smaller slots when crack climbing. Pockets, on the other hand, are another story. The Aspect’s toe box is quite wide and broad, which means you can’t fit them into a lot of narrower pockets. This is another reason the Aspects wouldn’t be our first choice for steeper terrain.
It’s worth noting that the Aspect comes with some features to preserve its longevity in the face of abrasive jamming. The internal lace protection system covers a vulnerable part of the closure, protecting the laces from excessive damage.
As a result of its stiffer, neutral sole, the Aspect does falter somewhat when hooking on steeper terrain. We found it tricky to get the leverage you need when toe hooking and heel hooking on these routes.
However, we were surprised by how well the Aspect does when hooking on bouldering routes, especially once you’ve broken them in. The rand line is extended, which helps you get purchase when toe hooking. The Aspect’s heel hooking performance is even better, thanks perhaps to its sticky rubber and stiffer midsole.
Suitability for Different Climbing Styles
The Aspect is essentially outdoor gear first and foremost. While it could probably hold its own on some sports routes, we feel that a more dynamic, downturned model would be preferable. Much of what makes the Aspect so great means that the shoe lends itself better to longer, more traditional routes. You’d be better off with a more sensitive and aggressive slipper for sports routes, which are generally much more explosive.
While they aren’t dedicated gym climbing shoes, the Aspects do a respectable job on most indoor routes. However, we’d likely recommend a more sensitive model to anyone looking for gym shoes that they can get the most out of.
Despite being a trad shoe, the Aspect held up surprisingly well to bouldering problems. As mentioned above, the Aspect does incredibly well with heel hooking and offers decent toe hooking performance thanks to its rand. We wouldn’t necessarily recommend the Aspect as a dedicated bouldering shoe, but you’ll likely find it satisfactory for the occasional boulder problem.
Trad and crack climbing are where the Aspect truly shines. Thanks to the shoe’s rubber, which is thick and sticky, you can expect impressive longevity from the Aspect if you primarily use it on trad routes. The shoe offers excellent support and stability, making it a standout for multi-pitch routes.
Additionally, the Aspect comes with many clever features that make it optimized for cracks. For example, a strip on the leather upper slightly covers the tops of the laces, protecting them from wear and tear. The midsole’s flexibility also lets you jam into most cracks without difficulty. However, it is worth noting that the low profile of the Aspect leaves your ankles exposed, which can be an issue in some cracks.
The BD Aspect climbing shoe is a great choice for anyone looking for a trad slipper that won’t break the bank. This hard-wearing rock shoe offers durability and impressive versatility and is comfortable for most foot profiles. The shoe is also supportive enough to take you through long sessions, another big plus in our book.
While the aspect stands out on the crack climbing shoe scene, it wouldn’t be our first recommendation for bouldering routes or steeper terrain. We would likely suggest you opt for a more aggressive, downturned shoe with greater sensitivity for those kinds of routes.
|Weight||9.1 oz/258 g|
|Sole thickness||4.3 mm|
|Material||Leather, Synthetic, Knit upper|
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|Activities Trad, Crack|
|Level Intermediate, Advanced|
|Upper||Highest grade European leather upper|
Reference: Black Diamond official website