La Sportiva TX4 Review Facts
When it comes to approach shoes, compromises often need to be made. A shoe that is comfortable and well-suited for hiking or approaching the climbing area will often underwhelm the user in the area of smearing or edging. Shoes that excel in the climbing area most often fail in the comfort department due to pinching or narrowing in the toebox. In truth, many climbers spend their time and money searching for the shoe with the best balance between the worlds of climbing and approach. For some, the La Sportiva TX4 approach shoe is the one that comes closest to that ultimate goal.
The outsole portion of these shoes are made from Vibram Mega-Grip material that extends not only over the entire bottom of the shoe, but also around the toebox area and the rand area of the shoe. This allows for great overall protection from abrasion
, as well as the ability to grip, edge and smear quite well when needed. The outsole itself is also surprisingly flexible, allowing the user to easily switch between the hiking trail and low-level climbing. This certainly helps on the longer treks where switching between varying types of terrain may be necessary.
We were slightly disappointed, however, that the rubber of the outsole did wear down a bit faster than we expected, and some customers found the need to actually re-sole their shoes within the first year of active use.
Often the mid-sole area of the approach shoe
is overlooked like a supporting cast member on a hit drama series. However, in the case of the La Sportiva TX4, the mid-sole is really where the magic happens. Created through a combination of a unique STB control system and traverse injected Memlex material, the mid-sole is fairly stiff and provides fantastic support and overall control. It helps to prevent ankle twists and sudden instability in the ankle very much like a higher profile hiking boot, but without the added weight of elevated profile.
The upper portion of these shoes is nearly as tough as the outsole. It is made from a leather material that features with a non-slip mesh lining. The two combine to provide good protection from the elements overall while still maintaining comfortable ventilation overall. The lacing system has a heel wrap feature which allows for a somewhat more customized fit
, with the ability to easily adjust the tightness level with a quick tug of the heel loop or laces as necessary.
Most people found these shoes to have adequate ventilation, especially considering the leather material in the upper portions, and the thick rubberized outsole and rand area. As expected, the mesh lining adds to the overall feel of ventilation, although once the shoes get wet, there is really little that prevents the pores from being clogged. In addition, many found the shoes to be a bit less than ideal in the breathability area after the dirt and grime from the climb
had taken their toll.
Often when it comes to comfort in an approach shoe, people who have slightly wider feet, or those whose feet swell with activity are frankly left out in the cold. Thankfully in the case of the La Sportiva TX4, that is no longer the case. A generous toe box area, as well as a wider cut overall in the forefront area of the shoe, means that a person with a wider foot won’t have to deal as much with pinched toes or instep areas. Add to that the padded tongue and the relatively unique lacing system, and these shoes are some of the more comfortable on the market today.
All that being said, quite a few climbers did find that the shoe was a little too bulky and weighed a bit more than they would have liked in an approach shoe, especially in situations where longer treks over rougher terrains were encountered. While one pound and 10 ounces for each pair of shoes doesn’t sound like very much, it can add up over time.
At first glance, these shoes are nothing really exciting when it comes to style. They have an overall sleek design that is somewhat surprising considering their relatively bulky nature and stiff mid-sole construction. In general, we found the overall style to easily go from climbing and approaching to a simple walk in the park or to a family barbecue
with little effort. One feature that we found surprising, though was the fact that the heel itself was slightly elevated compared to other approach shoes. While at first, we found it to be a novel concept, we quickly realized the benefit of having a slight heel while sliding down the rocks in a talus field. It certainly helped with stopping and traction control.
For the most part, most customers found their pair of La Sportiva TX4 approach shoes to be fairly durable, with a few notable exceptions. While the leather upper portion, lacing, and mid-sole were shown to be as tough as they come, the out-sole and tread were found to be less so. Quite a few customers discovered the need to re-sole or at least repair the rubber material after only a year of frequent use.
Another area, surprisingly enough, that didn’t quite pass the durability test was in the lacing system of the shoe. Quite a few climbers found that the eyelets and the pull cord at the back of the heel for the lacing system weren’t attached as well as they could have been, considering the rough use and environments
that these shoes were likely to encounter. In fact, quite a few people reported accidentally pulling off the heel adjustment cord with only a little bit of added strength.
Overall these shoes provide a good amount of protection
, both from abrasion and inclement weather. While the rubberized rand and out-sole can wear out faster than expected, the combination of the leather upper portion and the outsole provides great protection from scrapes, abrasions, or even lacerations. In addition, the stiff mid-sole area provides great overall protection from instability. Finally, the leather upper portion helps to keep water, muck, and debris from affecting your feet in any significant way.
Truth be told, one of the surprising things about these approach shoes from La Sportiva is how responsive they are in a wide range of environments. At first glance, they really look just like any other approach shoe that is more geared towards the hiking aspect of the approach. While they certainly perform well there, their real claim to fame is how well they perform when edging or smearing. Truth be told, if the edge is up to a quarter inch in size, these shoes have been shown to be as adequate as many of the climbing shoes that are designed for edging and smearing that are on the market today. In addition, the relatively stiff toe box area is surprisingly responsive in crack climbing situations and can easily handle low-level technical climbs.
For the most part, most climbers found these shoes to be remarkable in their supportive nature
, given their overall sleek design. While they do tend to be a bit bulky on the bottom half of the shoe due to the tread style and the rubber outsole, because of the stiffness and framework provided by the mid-sole area, added weight for the extra support is somewhat lessened.
One of the great aspects of the La Sportiva TX4 is their ability to handle a truly wide range of terrains. The supportive nature of the midsole added protection of the outsole, the tread, and their overall lighter and more comfortable feel means the climber can quickly adapt to and adjust for changes in the environment. These shoes performed remarkably well hiking through dense forest, climbing over strewn rocks, scrambling up gravel mounds, as they did working through the muck or dealing with slick leaves. Add to that the fact that they perform remarkably well in most low-level technical climbing situations, and you have a pair of approach shoes that can almost go anywhere.
Truth be told, we expected these shoes to be a bit more expensive, considering their overall versatility. However, we found these shoes to fall easily into the moderate price range of between $140 and $160 USD. While they are certainly an investment and should be treated as such, the price certainly makes them a stronger possibility for those who have a limited budget.
Slipping and sliding is a part of climbing, unfortunately, and often can lead to serious injury if the climber isn’t careful, or doesn’t have adequate traction and control. In a very real sense, this is where this particular approach shoe really shines. The tread of these shoes has lugs that are orientated in opposite slanting directions, as well as an elevated heel. While this combination may make for a unique piece of art after stepping in ink, it does serve a specific purpose.
Essentially, the opposite slanting orientation and elevated heel increase the overall traction of the shoe by nearly 20%, which in turn allows for a more controlled braking event, even after sliding and losing control. Add to that the overall stability of the shoe and the likelihood of injury from sliding down a slope is greatly reduced.
If you’re looking for an approach shoe that has a full range of flexibility and motion, you’ll probably want to consider other options than the La Sportiva TX4. While it certainly has some overall flexibility, for the most part, the stiffness of the midsole area prevents significant bends and twists in the shoe. It can certainly handle low to moderate amounts of smearing or edging, but on more advanced climbs, another pair of shoes may be necessary.
Comparison to Other Brands
When it comes to overall versatility, the La Sportiva TX4 is the winner hands down in the world of approach shoes. Most users found them to be more stable and more comfortable than the Evolv Cruzer Psyche, or even the popular Five Ten Guide Tennie. Plus, its ability to easily scramble through a wide range of environments does edge out a good majority of the competition. While it doesn’t perform as well as some other climbing oriented approach shoes, in most cases it does the job.
Despite its low profile overall, these approach shoes from La Sportiva provide a good amount of stability. The combination of a relatively stiff midsole, thicker out-sole material, and a durable leather upper portion combines to give the climber a sure fit overall and increased ankle stability. Add to that the lacing system that can be easily adjusted and tightened as necessary and there is little chance of ankle twists or weakness in the step.
The Bottom Line
If you’re looking for an approach shoe that is both versatile and fairly comfortable even if you have feet that don’t fall into the ideal paradigm, you definitely want to take a closer look at the La Sportiva TX4. While they may be a bit on the heavier side compared to more climbing oriented approach shoes, the combination of features proves to work remarkably well together. In the search for the “one shoe to rule them all,” the La Sportiva TX4 can certainly make the argument for success.