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La Sportiva TX Guide - Women's Review

These shoes are confidence-inspiring, durable, and designed for alpine scrambles and other rugged missions
La Sportiva TX Guide - Women's
Photo: La Sportiva
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $160 List | Check Price at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Durable, stiff, great climbing ability
Cons:  Lacks cushion, expensive
Manufacturer:   La Sportiva
By Jane Jackson ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 26, 2021
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73
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 10
  • Climbing Ability - 35% 9
  • Hiking Comfort - 25% 6
  • Support - 20% 7
  • Weight & Packability - 20% 6

Our Verdict

A stiff midsole and narrow profile make the TX Guide a climbing machine. These shoes are precise and durable, making them great for jamming into cracks and confidence-inspiring on smears and small footholds. They combine the light, nimble feel of a running shoe with the climbing precision of the top approach shoes on the market. Frankly, it's our favorite approach shoe for climbing 4th and 5th class rock, receiving our nod for its prowess in alpine settings and objectives where approach shoes might replace bringing climbing shoes. Important to note, these shoes (like many from La Sportiva) run a bit narrow. These shoes are not our recommendation for general crag shoes. They are technical, specialized footwear built for the alpine. Matching their intended use is key to get satisfaction out of this pair.

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Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award   Best Buy Award 
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$130.00 at Backcountry
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$129.95 at BackcountryCheck Price at REI
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Star Rating
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Pros Durable, stiff, great climbing abilityLightweight, great climbing ability, comfortableSupportive, comfortable, durableBreathable, lightweight, climbs wellComfortable, supportive, inexpensive
Cons Lacks cushion, expensiveNot as durable as someHeavier, moderate climbing abilityLess comfortable for long hikesHeavy, poor climbing performance
Bottom Line These shoes are confidence-inspiring, durable, and designed for alpine scrambles and other rugged missionsThis is an all-around awesome shoe with excellent climbing performance and a comfortable, lightweight designIf you're heading into the alpine or big walls, this durable and supportive model is well-suited for your endeavorsA great all-around shoe with above-average breathability and weight to keep feet feeling freshAn awesome budget option that covers the needs of most climbers, especially equipped for hiking comfort and long-term durability
Rating Categories La Sportiva TX Guide La Sportiva TX2 - W... La Sportiva TX4 - W... Scarpa Crux Air - W... La Sportiva Boulder X
Climbing Ability (35%)
9.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
4.0
Hiking Comfort (25%)
6.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
9.0
Support (20%)
7.0
6.0
8.0
6.0
8.0
Weight & Packability (20%)
6.0
8.0
6.0
7.0
4.0
Specs La Sportiva TX Guide La Sportiva TX2 - W... La Sportiva TX4 - W... Scarpa Crux Air - W... La Sportiva Boulder X
Weight per Pair (in oz) 21.5 oz 16.8 oz 21.0 oz 19.1 oz 28.6 oz
Sole Rubber Vibram Mega-Grip Vibram MegaGrip Vibram MegaGrip Vibram Vertical Approach, Megagrip Vibram Idro-Grip V-Smear
Width Options Regular Regular Regular Regular Regular
Upper Synthetic Polyester mesh Leather knit polyester mesh Suede
Midsole dual-density compressed EVA, TPU Torsion Shank Traverse Lite Traverse Injection MIMIlex 2D EVA-MP 2mm polypropylene, 2mm LaSpEVA

Our Analysis and Test Results

Impressive climbing ability and a stiff midsole make these great for burly mountain endeavors and big walls. That said, the fit is very narrow, making these shoes limiting for those with wider feet.

Performance Comparison


Runout traverses are no problem in the TX Guide; we stood on our...
Runout traverses are no problem in the TX Guide; we stood on our feet with confidence in these approach shoes.
Photo: Alexa Flower

Climbing Ability


What sets approachies apart from hiking shoes and makes them unique to climbers is their ability to handle well on technical terrain. Approach shoes feature a rubber closer to climbing shoes in their stickiness and stiffness, and often sport a "climbing zone" at the front of the toes to increase smearing and edging capabilities on fourth and fifth-class rock. To test climbing ability, we climbed a variety of rock types. Slabs, cracks, and face holds are some of the styles of technical foot placements one may encounter when traveling in technical terrain. For us, a shoe used for alpine scrambling must inspire confidence. At times, your shoes are the key component for staying alive and attached to the mountain. This is why this metric is so important, especially when it comes to the TX Guide and their award-winning performance as our go-to for big missions.


There are a few key features that contribute to these shoes excelling in the climbing department. Like most La Sportiva approach shoes, the TX Guide has a Vibram MegaGrip sole that is super sticky and confidence-inspiring in talus and on scramble-y approaches. Since these shoes are designed for guides and fast alpine travelers, the tread is designed for maximum traction and climbing ability. The stiffness of the midsole makes standing on edges easy and the narrow profile makes them ideal for precision foot placements. We also liked the asymmetrical lacing system, which allowed us to fine-tune the fit for scrambling. The reinforced rubber toe cap and the durable synthetic upper add an extra layer of protection for the feet, which comes in handy in talus and when scrambling.

The laces are highly adjustable and come down to the front of the...
The laces are highly adjustable and come down to the front of the shoe, making it easy to cinch them up before encountering technical terrain.
Photo: Alexa Flower

Hiking Comfort


As mentioned above, the TX Guide is a climbing performance machine. This shoe is designed for moving fast in the alpine and covering ground with confidence and efficiency. Their stiff soles, narrow profile, and sticky rubber make them great climbing shoes, but also mean that they lack in the comfort department. Because of the emphasis on performance in their design, it comes as no surprise that these shoes fall a bit short when it comes to comfort.


The stiffness and narrow fit of the toe box that makes the TX Guide a precision climbing machine also creates the potential for foot pain on long slogs into the mountains. Depending on your foot shape and the overall fit of the shoe, this can be either a major issue or inconsequential. The inspiration behind this shoe is light and fast movement through technical terrain over comfort, so it makes sense that the TX Guides have more features that emphasize climbing ability over comfort and padding.

Though their midsole makes them feel stable and solid in talus, it...
Though their midsole makes them feel stable and solid in talus, it also makes them a bit uncomfortable after a long day under a heavy load.
Photo: Alexa Flower

Support


Padding and cushioning help shoes feel comfortable from the first step onward. As the miles add up, the support a shoe provides begins to affect comfort. When moving across rocky terrain, a stiffer sole actually provides support that protects the feet from getting sore. A more flexible shoe tends to wear out feet faster.


Unlike some of the approach shoes in this review, the TX Guide has the stiffness and construction to hold up to major abuse on the trail. These shoes are solid workhorses that will support your feet when carrying heavy loads or when standing in ladders. We've hiked deep into the backcountry in these shoes and have also done a fair bit of big wall climbing in them and have yet to complain about the lack of support underfoot. If anything, the stiffness of the shoe can feel a bit unforgiving after miles on the trail.

Footbeds
Our lead tester has always had trouble with foot pain, though she hikes hundreds and hundreds of miles in approach shoes every year. To combat the lack of support often found in approach shoes, she uses Superfeet insoles to add a bit more arch support underfoot. This can help with the generally flat and unsupportive insole that comes in most approach shoes.

We were excited to have the stiff sole of the TX Guide for big...
We were excited to have the stiff sole of the TX Guide for big walls, but on flat ground, the stiffness started to cause a bit of discomfort after a while.
Photo: Alexa Flower

Weight and Packability


Weight is an important aspect of approach shoes. On the trail, heavier shoes make for tired legs over long distances. Clipped to a harness or stuffed into a climbing pack, less weight and a streamlined profile help keep approach shoes out of the way and less of a distraction. Packability varies a bit more and depends on the shape and size of the shoe. Some shoes are light on the scale but have a profile that makes them difficult to pack down into a day pack.


The TX Guide falls in the middle of the pack on the scale, with a measured weight of 21.5 ounces, or 1 pound 5.5 ounces for a size 7.5 in US Women's, as measured on our scale. For the level of support and stiffness these shoes provide, 21.5 ounces seems fairly lightweight. In terms of packability, the TX Guides' narrow profile makes them feel small and compact when clipped to a harness or when shoved into a pack.

A sleek profile makes the TX Guide a reasonable shoe to climb with...
A sleek profile makes the TX Guide a reasonable shoe to climb with clipped to a harness.
Photo: Alexa Flower

Value


Like many of the models from La Sportiva, the TX Guide is on the more expensive end of the spectrum. These shoes are definitely worth the price, so long as they are sized properly and fit your feet well. They will hold up to the wear and tear of the mountains and are built to last. Because they are designed for such technical environments, these shoes are probably not worth it unless you are planning on traveling in the alpine extensively or climbing big routes that require technical approaches and descents.

The TX Guide is a great option for technical scrambling and...
The TX Guide is a great option for technical scrambling and accessing remote and beautiful locations.
Photo: Alexa Flower

Conclusion


The TX Guide is La Sportiva's latest addition to the TX series and makes for an impressive addition to the fleet. These shoes are made for scrambling and traveling over mountainous terrain. They are burly enough to handle the wear and tear of big wall climbing and moving through talus fields. Their solid construction, breathable yet durable upper, and super stiff midsole make these our go-to for big missions—whether that be long alpine scrambles or big walls in Yosemite Valley. The stiffness provided by the midsole is crucial for both feeling solid on rock and for standing in ladders and performing the work of wall climbing. These lightweight and sleek shoes are up to any burly task—but fall a bit short in terms of comfort. That said, their narrow shape caters to climbers with a narrower toe box.

The East Ledges of El Capitan are the ultimate test for any approach...
The East Ledges of El Capitan are the ultimate test for any approach shoe. The TX Guide stood up to the challenges of this slippery granite testing ground!
Photo: Alexa Flower

Jane Jackson