2019 Climbing Shoe Review: Black Diamond Zone LV
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Testers wore their street-shoe size in the Zone LV, which seems to be sized more aggressively (1/4 to ½ size smaller) than other BD rock shoes. The shoes stretch little, so the tight fit endures. Testers universally noted a narrow toebox, with a loose heel.
Downturned, asymmetrical, low-volume shoe. Engineered knit upper; leather footbed/partial lining; one-piece Soft-Flex midsole; 4.3 mm 3D-molded Fuse outsole.
Stiff toebox outstanding for edging, small holds, and precision work; sticky Fuse rubber imparted solid smearing once testers came to trust the feel. The knit uppers were great for long, sweaty gym sessions. The shoes are overbuilt, so should hold up to hard wear and multiple resoles.
Heelcup was baggy—one tester recommended scaling back the rubber in favor of suppler fabric. Also, last is to a specific foot shape, and because it doesn’t deform/conform much during break-in, testers experienced pinch spots in the forefoot and heel. A softer footbed would help.
While we reviewed the Zone previously (No. 366), the low-volume version was new to testers. Both Zones fall squarely in the middle of BD’s line, combining the aggressive, downturned last of the elite Shadow with the two-strap closure and engineered knit upper of the entry-level Momentum. Does this hybrid work? Well, yes and no. “The Zones were great for small footholds,” said one tester, who took them crystal-standing on South Platte granite and trad climbing in Eldorado. And, “The Zone LV makes even tiny edges feel solid, and is sturdy and easy to place,” echoed another, who cited remarkable precision. But from the mid-foot back, there were concerns about the heel being baggy and the anterior last not being adjustable enough (the top Velcro strap, while large, doesn’t have much play). That said, the shoes had solid, mid-range performance with both jamming, thanks to their semi-flat last, and scumming; coupled with their precision toebox and reliable support, this makes them an attractive all-arounder.