La Sportiva Approach Shoes Review
For the last two years I’ve been wearing and abusing the La Sportiva TX3 & TX4 approach shoes to the best of my ability. It seems as though these two pairs of shoes are largely undefeatable. There is, however, one minor flaw in their design but beyond that singular flaw, these shoes are a staple in my guiding quiver.
Last season I wore the TX4 and this was a great shoe in place of the Boulder X. The Boulder X is a great shoe in it’s own right but always felt a bit too boot like for me. When weight and size are an issue on long alpine approaches, especially the type in Rocky Mountain National Park, the Boulder X seemed to be a bit too heavy. The TX4 provided a great deal of support, durability and climb-ability all without being too awkwardly huge or heavy.
The TX4 performed well on days when I was in my approach shoe on the approach, climb and descent as well. CMS guides in the Flatirons quite a bit and the TX4 was a good shoe for guiding the East Faces. It was supple enough to be comfortable all day yet supportive enough that performing repetitive slab moves over and over was an easy task. The shoe also gave enough security (Vibram sticky rubber rules!) when short roping guests on technical descents. On hotter days the leather seemed to be a bit too much and thus the TX3 was a better option instead.
The TX3 is effectively the same as the TX4 but with a synthetic upper versus a leather upper. Built on the same last this shoe is my go-to shoe for any and all non-technical (read: no steeper than 20-30 degree snow and absent of any ice) approaches and then some. This has been on my foot more days this season than any other piece of footwear I own.
A bit lighter and bit more breathable this shoe performs well in the dog days of summer and can fare decently well in low angle snow with a strap-on crampon attached to it. I approached the Diamond in early-July with a light, aluminum CAMP crampon attached underfoot and I felt secure enough climbing up to the North Chimney and certainly felt comfortable enough climbing the North Chimney in this shoe. Both the TX4 and TX3 are burly enough to stuff into cracks yet agile enough for precise edging while in low-to-mid 5th class terrain. Of all the approach shoes I’ve worn in the last 10 years, the TX3 has been the best all-around shoe I have had on my foot.
The only significant flaw I can find with these shoes is the carabiner attachment point on the back of the shoe; it is quite thin and susceptible to abrasion and is also integral to the design of the shoe. This “cord” acts as an attachment point for carrying on one’s harness and also the point at which the laces are threaded through. If in the case this cord becomes abraded after being stuffed into one too many cracks, the ability to carry the shoes on one’s harness is compromised.
All in all I’m impressed with the TX line of shoes and am psyched to add the TX2 to my quiver and give them a test run as well! This is a perfect shoe for somebody looking for the in-between of a trail running shoe (La Sportiva Helios for example) and a boot-like approach shoe (La Sportiva Boulder X and Boulder X Mid GTX). Durable, comfortable, lightweight and designed with alpine climbing features in mind, this shoe should allow most folks to go above and beyond!
Written By: Colorado Mountain School Guide Andy Hansen