A little background
I have been wearing climbing slippers for years. I even have two of the same exact pairs that I rotate. When one is getting re-soled, I climb in the other. They fit perfectly. So perfectly, that I haven’t given serious consideration to any other shoe. Of course, this makes zero sense if you want to do anything other than face climbing and have any level of comfort in your feet. Good fit does not equal comfort. I guess it’s time to admit, that the right shoe for the right climb is essential. Just like skis. You don’t have just one pair of skis, do you? You need (OK, maybe want) a pair for every condition. So, I finally took a leap and tried out the lace-up Black Diamond Aspect, which was specifically made for protecting you from tight squeezes on the feet. AKA cracks.
- They have laces. Yes, obvious, I know. But I haven’t tied many climbing shoes, so I was immediately skeptical of this extra step. Hey, I’m all about efficiency!
- There’s padding and protection everywhere. These things are for sure made to take abuse!
I went with my street shoe size on these and they fit perfectly!
What I love
These things don’t just look like they should be able to take abuse; they do. You can shove them in a crack and twist them around any which way and they come out looking like nothing ever happened.
Gray and black, you’re thinking, what’s so special about that? What’s special is that it’s like a breath of fresh air to wear something that isn’t the in women’s-specific pinks and purples. More please.
From the moment I put my foot in, I knew these were going to be perfect. They were snug all around. Nothing was pinching, nothing was loose. This is extremely unusual for me. I can’t even find street shoes that fit so well.
These are not too stiff, not too soft. They fall at a perfect place right in between.
And they have that little bit of extra padding in just the right places. Like the outside of the foot, which is going to get the most abuse in a crack.
What I thought mattered, but didn’t
The laces. I am constantly in and out of my slippers because my feet hurt, so I looked at those laces and thought, what a pain.
Actually, just the opposite, I had no pain with these and there was no need to unlace and lace up all the time.
What I’m still unsure of
Only time will tell, but while amazing in cracks, these seem slightly cumbersome on technical slabs and faces. If you’ve read some of my other reviews, you know I have trust issues (see my Leki poles review) with new gear. It takes me some time to get used to something at first.
I am used to the precision of my slippers on slabs, edges, and faces after climbing in them for so long. So it’s a new kind of “trust your feet” that I need to develop with these. But, only to a certain degree. Every shoe has its place and I’ll use these for what they are designed for: cracks. And I haven’t slipped in one yet.
The bottom line
Get these. But get them for trad/crack climbing and keep sport shoes for sport climbing and your bouldering shoes for bouldering.
Rachel McCullough is an avid runner, hiker, mountain biker, rock climber, yogi, skier and photographer living in Truckee, CA. Follow @rachelmcphotos on Instagram for stunning images of beautiful Sierra scenery. In addition to sharing her love of the outdoors through Tahoe Mountain Sports, Rachel volunteers as board president for the nonprofit Tahoe Silicon Mountain to help build our local entrepreneurial ecosystem, teaches skiing at Northstar California and founded and is CEO of McCullough Web Services, known for building impeccably designed websites for clients near and far.