Its modest preload, slight downturn and asymmetric fit give it an idea: the newest member of the Black Diamond family of climbing shoes, Zone, feels particularly at ease on steep routes. Guest author Christian Possa took a closer look at the shoe.

A guest post by Christian Possa

The first time you put on a Black Diamond Climber will notice two things. First: In search of the right size, you can confidently orient yourself on everyday shoes or half a number below (Black Diamond Size Chart). And secondly: The knitted surface material called "Engineered Knit" surprises with an impressive wearing comfort.

Firm seat and still breathable

Thanks to the two tightening loops, the zone can be pulled comfortably on the foot and is already surprisingly good with open Velcro straps. Heels and forefoot are tightly enclosed by a second skin. This is due to the so-called "engineered Knit Technology" by Black Diamond. The finely knit surface material is elastic and breathable, but supports the foot at the same time with a constant tension. The high toe box brings the toes almost automatically into a raised fighting position. This provides a preload from the toes to over the midfoot and thus for a precise and powerful start.

From the same mould

In vertical to slightly overhanging walls, such as the limestone, the zone works well. This may also be due to its sole of 4,3 mm Fuse rubber, which casts Black Diamond into shape. In combination with the molded sole center this makes the climbing shoe particularly dimensionally stable, precisely fitting and hard-wearing. Black Diamond rates the midsole of the zone as "soft flex", but honestly, the shoe feels relatively stiff.

Kicking and Hooking made easy

During training sessions in the Boulder Hall, where the whole spectrum of grips and kicks can be found over a few hundred square meters, it is most evident where the zone is fully developed and where its limits are. The rubber strips on the forefoot make it possible to use the Toehook as a tried and tested solution for tricky problems. Thanks to the prestressed strips you can pull kicks in the overhang well. Support offers the zone even with overstretched body position. The direct power transfer to the kicks makes it easier to hold the tension. The strong bias of the heel gives Heelhooks a very good feeling.

At the same time, the constant pressure on the Achilles tendon also gives an idea of ​​what the areas is less designed: friction struts or generally flat and steeply sloping kicks. Since the shoe reliably fixes the foot in a preloaded position, it feels rather uncomfortable to press the heel far down, for example, to generate as much friction surface on a sloping volume. But no one claims that this shoe is the preferred choice for slalom. Of the areas Feels at home, where the forearms start to pump quickly and where body tension is needed - in steep routes and in the overhang.

Two versions in three colors

The high-performance climbing shoe is available in the regular size, where you can fit well even with a wide midfoot, and as a low-volume version, which is much narrower at the front and has a lower overall height from the toe box to the upper velcro. The climbing shoe is available in three colors: Aluminum, Curry and Astral Blue for the Zone, and Octane, Seagrass and Wild Rose for the Zone LV.

The climbing shoe zone of Black Diamond

The main features of the Black Diamond Zone

  • Engineered Knit Technology for top breathability and comfort
  • 4,3 mm Fuse rubber for outstanding grip, optimum consistency and performance
  • Prestressed strips for steep routes
  • Minimalist midsole for sensitivity on steep terrain
  • Two Velcro straps for adjusting the fit - with the possibility to close the shoe particularly tight
  • Normal strips for normal to large feet

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Credits: footage Black Diamond, text Christian Possa