By Jonathan Doyle
The Black Diamond Circuit is not your ordinary approach shoe. With great style and unbelievable comfort, they’re the kind of shoe you’ll actually look forward to putting on in the morning. I have worn my pair pretty much every day since I got them and tested them as thoroughly as I could while following lockdown guidelines and exercising locally.
Fit and Design
The first thing that came to mind when I slipped the BD Circuits on was just how amazingly comfortable they felt. The fit is a little tighter than your casual shoe, but not as much as a traditional approach shoe. While this means that they’re much more comfortable to walk around in all day, they don’t provide the same level of support when moving over more technical terrain. After reading a number of other reviews online, I got the general impression that the Black Diamond Circuit approach shoes are somewhat more suited to people with slightly narrower feet and I'm inclined to agree.
In terms of design, they are of much closer style to your everyday casual shoe, with the large rubber toe-cap being the only tell-tale sign that they are something much more. The Circuits are just as well suited to nipping to shop on your bike or jogging for the bus, as they are rock-hopping on your approach to the crag.
Construction and performance
The most notable aspect of the BD Circuit is the seamless knit upper. It is slightly padded for additional comfort and is also incredibly light and breathable. Furthermore, the heel section is very flexible, designed so they are easy to slip on and off between climbs without untying the laces if need be. In fact, BD go as far as showing them being used as slippers, folding the heel down for the ultimate on-off and perfect for belaying between routes.
The low-profile midsole has a small rise from toe to heel, providing what could be described as ‘everyday comfort’ cushioning. This aspect of the Circuit approach shoe means that while they are more sensitive to smaller features underfoot, they do not provide a huge amount of protection. As a result, care must be taken when boulder-hopping or moving quickly over rough terrain.
The outsole of the Black Diamond Circuit is constructed with their BlackLabel-Street sticky rubber and does as advertised. It’s grippy across a variety of dry compact surfaces, and performed exceptionally well on gritstone.
Since I have only had my pair of BD circuits for a couple of months, it’s hard to give a full account of their durability at this point. However, even though I have worn them pretty much every day, they don’t appear to be showing very much wear at all. The rubber of the outsole still looks to be perfectly intact and there is not a mark on the upper either. Black Diamond themselves say that these shoes are designed with durability in mind and as such I am inclined to agree with them so far.
The Black Diamond Circuit approach shoes are perfect for boulderers or sport climbers who need a shoe that can handle some technical terrain and can easily be slipped on and off between climbs. They are perhaps less suited to those who like to climb easier routes in their approach shoes too as the soles do not offer the kind of support needed for this. Ultimately the BD Circuits are just as at home at the crag as they are approaching the pub after a long day in the mountains, so think of them as a stylish technical town-shoe that should last you a long time.