One welcome development in recent years is that not all performance climbing shoes are as painful as all once were. The Method S is a good example of this, because despite it being designed with top-end performance in mind, I've found it a supremely comfortable shoe. It's soft, sensitive and specialist, suitable for highly dynamic bouldering both indoors and out. Dare I say it, but I think this could be Black Diamond's best shoe yet. Given that it was designed by Greek re-soling legend George Vlahandreas, perhaps this shouldn't come as too much of a surprise.
The Method S is a supremely soft shoe, which - according to the blurb - is "designed for steep climbing". In reality it's (thankfully) capable of much more. Both indoors and out we've used it on slabs and smears and due to its soft nature it's great at getting the sticky stuff (i.e. the rubber) onto rock or plastic. There's no denying that it does excel on steeper terrain though. Its ability to smedge (aka. smear and edge) is exceptional, as it moulds itself around whatever footholds are available. On vertical terrain its edging ability will probably be found lacking, as its minimalist horseshoe midsole doesn't offer a great deal of support, which makes it it hard to stand on small edges, but this is more noticeable outdoors than it is indoors. Finally, if you're climbing 'comp style' problems, with big volumes, the Method S has a whole lot of rubber around it, so it doesn't matter if you're using the tip, edge, toe or heel - it's got something that'll catch.
Focus-wise, the Method S is - perhaps unsurprisingly - best used for bouldering, with top-end performance in mind, although it's worth noting that due to its comfort it climbs well on easier problems too. Whilst there may be some application to sport climbing, it would be quite specialist, requiring a certain gradient and rock type. Trad climbing would be an absolute no-go unless you have toes made of adamantium or are on something super specialist!
The Method S is a downturned, asymmetric shoe, with a single strap for adjustment. It's available in both a Men's (high volume) and Women's (low volume) and width-wise sits somewhere on the narrow side of medium. That said, it's fit my wide foot remarkably well, mostly because the soft mesh uppers are capable of stretching around the shape of your foot. As a result of this, the Method S manages to be both technical and comfortable, feeling more like a rubber sock than a climbing shoe - something that's further aided by the lovely sock knit lining. In terms of sizing the Method S is true to size and you should be able to wear the same as your street shoe size. As for stretch, they definitely give, but exactly how much will depend on how small you buy them.
The Method S features Black Diamond's Black Label Fuse rubber, which is their softest and stickiest compound. How sticky? Let's agree it's really sticky, with other online pundits reckoning it to be stickier than the likes of Vibram's XS Grip 2. Having used the shoe extensively both indoors and out I'd be inclined to go along with this, although its softness further explains why it isn't an able edging shoe, as the rubber is simply too soft to maintain the firmness required to remain stood on a small hold (although the horseshoe midsole does help, particularly indoors).
Another potential downside of its softness is that it'll inevitably wear out quicker, although refining your footwork will (hopefully) resolve this to some extent - just remember to place your feet precisely. A rubber thickness of 3.75mm is used throughout the sole, which is a little above average, and should hopefully give it that bit more longevity, whilst retaining its signature sensitivity.
On the top of the toe there's a large patch of rubber, which has been integrated sympathetically into the design so that it doesn't aggravate the knuckles of your big toe. This is great for toe hooking, not just because of the grip, but also because the shoe is so soft you can really make the most out of pulling back on your foot too.
Whilst the shoe itself is definitely a step up from anything Black Diamond have produced previously, there are still some slightly clunky elements to it - in particular the heel, which feels like it could do with a bit of refinement.
No all-rounder, the Method S is undoubtedly a specialist offering, but if you're after something soft and sensitive for top-end bouldering then it's one to put high on your list. Comfy and forgiving by the standards of a technical performance shoe, it's also fun to climb in.