Published on 05/18/2022
The Momentum introduced new features like an all-knit upper and molded outsole to the beginner shoe category and remains a strong favorite for newcomers seeking an affordable all-rounder.
A neutral, non-aggressive shoe with a knit fabric upper, partial lining, and hemp insole, the Momentum is completely vegan in construction (no leather upper here!).
Overall the Momentum smears and edges moderately well, limited only by its softness and blunt toe. It’s also fine for easier crack climbing and jamming, with the knit upper proving to be durable and comfortable.
A high volume heel and low stickiness factor in Black Diamond’s Fuse rubber slows down the Momentum on steep sport routes and boulder problems above the low-intermediate levels.
The only other major complaint from reviewers is an apparent inconsistency in sizing, with some users reporting the need to size up to two full sizes from their normal street shoe size.
In short, the Momentum should be considered a top option for newcomers to climbing who want a comfortable, durable climbing shoe that can handle any situation with some competency. It may also suit more experienced climbers who want a shoe for moderate, all-day excursions.
- Great value considering price, comfort, durability, and versatility
- Breathable upper is flexible and resists stretch for a form-fitting feel
- Innovative technology and vegan materials for entry-level climbers
- Odd fit may cause problems dialing in the right size for some users–try it on first!
- Molded rubber outsole is durable but doesn’t provide elite grip
- Rapidly advancing climbers will quickly move past this shoe’s performance limits
Black Diamond Momentum Detailed Analysis
Description and Technical Features
Released in 2017 and updated for 2022, Black Diamond’s Momentum was the company’s first entry into the competitive rock climbing shoe market. Climbers welcomed its innovations in design and construction in an entry-level segment that sometimes lacks creativity and groundbreaking ideas.
Black Diamond designed the Momentum with a flat, neutrally shaped last with no downturn and a minor asymmetry as appropriate for the category. The outsole is 4.3 mm NeoFuse rubber and is molded rather than cut from a flat sheet. This allows the sole and rands to be designed with precise variations in thickness to reduce waste and extra weight.
Two velcro straps allow easy on-off and enough adjustability for most to achieve a tight fit. Aside from the molded sole and rand, the Momentum’s biggest innovation is its full knit upper, an evolutionary leap from most synthetic climbing shoe uppers.
According to sockless users, this fabric is breathable and conforms well to foot irregularities but isn’t as soft as its appearance might indicate. A partial liner of softer fabric encloses the front half of your foot to increase comfort and provide more structure.
Black Diamond doesn’t report the midsole material or thickness, only referring to it as “soft flex.” This means the Momentum provides relatively little support to help your foot stick to small edges in the real world. This flexibility is an asset for smearing and slab climbing, though.
Momentum Women’s Model
Black Diamond offers a women’s Momentum built on a lower-volume last. Its other specifications are identical to the men’s model, aside from different color variations. The women’s model also received the same recent updates to its upper material, rand rubber, heel geometry, and midsole construction.
The Momentum comes in a lace-up model with both men’s and women’s versions. This shoe’s design and construction are very similar except for a lacing closure system instead of velcro. The Momentum Lace offers more size adjustability and some ability to cinch down for a tighter fit and may be better if your climbing tends more toward cracks.
Fit and Comfort
The Momentum fits a fairly wide spectrum of foot shapes and volumes by most accounts. The flat shape and medium volume help, along with a forgiving combination of synthetic materials and soft construction.
Black Diamond’s “Engineered Knit Technology” upper breathes better than most other leather or synthetic shoe materials and, along with the hemp footbed, assists in moisture and odor control.
The biggest complaint regarding the Momentum’s fit is that the shoe’s sizing is extremely off compared to other brands of rock climbing shoes. Expect to size up one-half to two full sizes from your city shoe, depending on your foot volume and desired comfort level. One size seems to be the consensus for a snug fit.
Designed as entry-level climbing shoes for intermediate outdoor and gym climbing, the Black Diamond Momentum wasn’t engineered for professional-level climbing. And nobody should expect that from climbing shoes with a $100 retail price. The Momentum does exactly what new climbers need them to do and performs well enough to be an all-day shoe for some seasoned users.
The Momentum is perfectly adequate on medium-size edges on rock, and positive foot holds in the gym. However, its soft nature handicaps its ability on smaller edges and nubbins. And a wide toe doesn’t help transfer power or fit into smaller crevices and pockets.
The flat-lasted, flexible sole of the Momentum is better suited to smearing.
The only downside to the Momentum’s performance in climbing lower-angle slabs and smearing indoor walls and volumes arises from Black Diamond’s chosen rubber compound and relatively thick sole.
The 4.3 mm thickness adds durability but sacrifices some smearing sensitivity. And some reviewers found the rubber formula to be among the least grippy they’ve used, although most report it to be fair to very good.
Toe and Heel Hooking
As we have mentioned, this shoe is not for extremely overhung terrain and highly technical footwork. This goes for heel and toe hooks.
There is very little rubber extending over the top of the shoe to aid grip for toe hooks. And the molded rubber heel lacks sensitivity and is reported to be too loose for secure heel hooks by many.
The Momentum is adequate in cracks that aren’t too steep or technical. It has trouble in smaller seams where its blunt toe box can’t gain much purchase and in cracks that force you to put too much pressure over the buckles.
Otherwise, the fabric uppers have proved highly wear-resistant, and the rest of the shoe is plenty tough enough for jamming and heel-toe camming moves.
Best Uses for the Black Diamond Momentum
Black Diamond’s Momentum is a fine choice for beginner to intermediate-level sport routes inside and out. For most beginners, you’ll wear out the rubber on the Momentum by the time you improve your skills enough to need a higher-performance pair of climbing shoes.
The Momentum is totally capable of the occasional trad day on moderate routes and may even be ideal for someone who prioritizes comfort on easier multi-pitch lines. However, most dedicated trad climbers will be happier with a stiffer and more supportive shoe with better sensitivity.
Bouldering is the Momentum’s weakest area only because modern boulder problems often focus on steep terrain with tenuous footwork. Which is not what beginner-level shoes are meant for. Boulderers who aim higher than intermediate grades should look for a model with a more aggressive downturn and a pointier toe. Still, the Momentum is fine for warming up on the bouldering wall and casual outdoor attempts.
Gym climbers appreciate the easy access of velcro climbing shoes and the Momentum’s superior airflow thanks to a mesh upper and microfiber and hemp lining. This is an excellent choice for a first pair of gym shoes for those who can find a good fit.
Black Diamond Momentum Review Conclusion
We liked the Black Diamond Momentum enough to name it as an alternative choice in the “Best Beginner Shoe” category in our 2022 Climbing Shoe Buying Guide. While it makes obvious compromises in performance thanks to its devotion to comfort and versatility, overall, it’s a strong competitor compared to other shoes at this price point.
|Weight||7.8 oz/221 g|
|Shape||Straight, mild asymmetry|
|Sole thickness||4.3 mm|
|Activities Bouldering, Slab, Sport, Crack, All around|
|Level Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced|
|Upper||Pacific (front), Dentex (back), Engineered Knit Technology (synthetic mesh)|
|Lining||Microfiber (partial), hemp footbed|
Reference: Black Diamond’s official website
Where to Buy It?
We buy most of our stuff from REI.com. Their service is great, and it’s a co-op, so they treat their employees well and answer to their members, not shareholders.
Note: we receive a commission when you buy through us. This keeps our team of writers/climbers going!
Eric Neyer was introduced to the joys of rock climbing while studying creative writing in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. He has lived and climbed all over Colorado for the past 20 years. Currently residing in southern Colorado, on most weekends you’ll find Eric sport climbing the local granite or limestone, scouting out the next great boulder problem, or hiking one of the state’s 14,000-foot peaks.