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Gear Review: Black Diamond Technician

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MSRP: $135

The Technician is one of four new approach shoes launched from Black Diamond last year, designed for hammering out short approaches. Black Diamond designed it not as your all-day trudging boot, but as a shoe that can get you over complex terrain and also climb at a reasonably high level.

The design of the Tehnician speaks to that “more climbing, less walking” niche BD wants it to occupy. The Technician forgoes a brake bar—a feature on the soles of some shoes that sits below the heel for added traction—but sports diamond-shaped lugs with Black Diamond BlackLabel-Mountain rubber along the bottom, providing solid traction throughout. The toe-box is low volume, so the Technician’s edging capabilities are excellent, and overall sensitivity is high. The flipside to the low-volume toe box, of course, is that long approaches on the way in, and steep descents with swollen feet on the way out after a long day in your rock shoes might not feel amazing.

The Technician has what BD calls 3D wrap construction: within the shoe’s walls are a skeleton of loops—“lace locks”—that anchor into the shoe’s stroebel, or the connection between the walls and sole of the shoe. As such, when you lace up the Technician, this whole network of loops snugs up the body of the shoe around your foot to give a responsive, performance fit. 

Webbing loops are found in several spots on the shoe—on the heel, the tongue, and the lower laces—because who doesn’t like options?  Always nice to have multiple points from which to hang your shoes from or help squeeze them on. The Technician’s is half-bootied, which allows for easy on and off while at the crag, something I always find handy between pitches.

I’ve worn these in both the Creek and the Black, where technical, scrambly approaches are the norm. My only qualm is the lack of a considerable heel drop or the addition of a brake bar, which makes standing in aiders or long approaches a touch tricky. But, then again, the intention here is for these shoes to be more climb-oriented. 

Overall, the Technician is an impressive debut for Black Diamond in the approach shoe category. Whether it was tiptoeing down Cruise gully in the early morning light or waddling down steep Chinle with a heavy pack, the Technicians held their own.

Gym Climber vigorously tests all gear it reviews for either 50 days or 50 pitches. This is a time-consuming process and limits the amount of new equipment we can present to our readers. Every year hundreds of new products hit store shelves, and most of these aren’t reviewed due to our stringent selection and review process. To better keep you more up to date on what is new, we present First Look. Gear in First Look has not always been field tested, but is gear we think you’d like to know about as soon as it is available. Some of the gear will be reviewed using our 50 days/50 pitches criteria, in future print and online editions of Gym Climber. We have opted to use affiliate links in our gear reviews. Every time you buy something after clicking on links in our gear articles you’re helping support our magazine.

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