Verdict: The glove-like fit of the La Sportiva TX4 is in part what allows such confidence while scaling difficult terrain. It is also grippy and comfortable enough for walking, so you can hike for miles. Overall, I’m downright impressed with the La Sportiva TX4, and plan to continue using them for their intended purpose for as long as they’ll last!
Superb in scree fields
Surprisingly good for technical climbing
Great foot protection
Stiff and comfortable for walking up and down inclines
The La Sportiva TX4’s are about as true to the concept of an approach shoe as you could imagine. They fit like a glove, they are grippy as glue, you can walk in them for hours, and you can climb in them with confidence. The rubber under the toe even says “CLIMBING ZONE” on it -- which I had to put to the test.
Who should buy it
The La Sportiva TX4 is for those who need an approach shoe for steep, rocky, rooted, muddy, uneven, or loose terrain, and especially in situations where a slip could be consequential.
Who should NOT buy it
The La Sportiva TX4 is not for you if you:
prefer a waterproof approach shoe (the La Sportiva TX4 is available in GTX version)
It wasn’t until the third or fourth time I took the La Sportiva TX4 climbing that I truly realized how superb they were in their element. Not all crags have difficult approaches, but this one had some pretty steep loose rock at the base of the cliff (called “scree”).
I’ve navigated terrain like this before, but never with such comfort and confidence. Not only did I feel like I had more grip than usual, but the leather uppers and rubber toe cap (called a rand) were exceptional at protecting my feet from any sharp rocks sliding into them, which happens ALL THE TIME in scree fields.
The grip and fit give you confidence
But it’s not only scree fields, it’s pretty much every aspect of a steep approach where the La Sportiva TX4 excel. They are grippy and fit like gloves, so you can trust them on steep rock, almost like a typical climbing shoe. But they are also comfortable for walking, so you can hike for miles.
Doing technical climbs in approach shoes is not a new phenomenon in modern climbing -- it’s a common taunt to say to your climbing buddies “oh yeah, I climbed that route in my approach shoes”. Well, now that I was armed with approach shoes, I had to see what all the fuss was about.
I managed to climb a 5.8- route with some tricky footwork without a fall or take, albeit, I did it on the top rope. Although actual climbing shoes would have been better, the La Sportiva TX4 did surprisingly well so long as I wasn’t trying to stand on small rock features. Not only that, I probably would prefer the La Sportiva TX4 over climbing shoes on an easy slab or crack climbs -- the kind of routes that I might set up for friends who have never climbed before.
The La Sportiva TX4 is good for most weather
Basically, if it’s too hot or cold for enjoyable rock climbing, then it’s probably going to be too hot or cold for the La Sportiva TX4 as well. While wearing these in the summer, I was somewhat surprised how my feet didn’t sweat through them immediately, but that said, I still found them a bit too warm when it was 80F+ out, and opted for sandals instead (but that’s also getting into the “too hot for climbing” territory).
I think the La Sportiva TX4 will be ideal for spring and autumn temperatures, and I wouldn’t trade the foot protection the upper provides for more breathability!
The La Sportiva TX4 is also not waterproof, and does take a while to fully dry after getting wet.
Like a second skin
The TX4’s have a nearly perfect fit, which is great most of the time. With approach shoes, I don’t want my foot to have too much freedom in the shoe so that I could take advantage of the superb grip the soles provide. The glove-like fit is in part what allows such confidence while scaling difficult terrain.
The inner material is also quite soft, which means that the La Sportiva TX4 is quite comfortable to wear without socks, which is especially nice when you want to change out of your climbing shoes after a climb.
Difficult to put on and take off
The main thing that bugs me about the La Sportiva TX4 is that they’re difficult to put on. Considering that the La Sportiva TX4 fits like a glove, the pull tab in the back is darn near useless at helping get the foot into the shoe. However, this is ultimately a fairly minor complaint, as loosening up the laces fully makes it relatively easy to slip the La Sportiva TX4 on or off.
Where they fall short
Like I mentioned in the opening, the La Sportiva TX4 fills a somewhat niche market -- a shoe that needs to be good at hiking and climbing. However, this is somewhat of a weird middle ground. The TX4’s don’t excel at either hiking or climbing. If you want to climb, you should get climbing shoes. If you want to hike, you should get hiking boots or trail running shoes. Why? Because if you’re doing just one of these activities, the activity-specific shoe is almost always better than the TX4 at that activity.
As much as the TX4’s seem like they could excel at hiking, they aren’t superb; hiking boots and trail running shoes will almost always be more comfortable for covering a lot of ground. Although the TX4’s ability to climb was impressive, climbing shoes are almost always going to be better at climbing on just about any terrain.
BUT, I could never climb a 5.8- in my trail running shoes with the ease I climbed it in the TX4’s. I could never hike all day in my climbing shoes, or wear my climbing shoes to work as I’ve done with the TX4’s. So although they fall short compared to climbing shoes or hiking footwear at either of these activities, they do a pretty darn good job at both.
I am a Boston-Qualifying runner, climber of 10+ years, and all-around outdoor enthusiast living in the Pittsburgh area. My wife and I like to spend as much of our weekends as we can climbing, be it at our local gym, the New River Gorge, and numerous other crags throughout the US!