Our Editors' Choice Award winner, the La Sportiva TX2 is a fabulous blend of lightweight style and sleek climbing performance. Though not as cushioned as the La Sportiva Boulder X, we found the comfort and support to be around the same as the TX3 which is superior in durability but lesser in climbing ability.
Nothing but stoke! Heading up to Yosemite's Washington Column with the TX2.
A lot goes into technical climbing performance, and it's the main feature that makes an approach shoe so much more than a hiking shoe. As climbers, we're often found boulder-hopping, talus-scrambling, or kicking steps in snow to reach our objectives, whether they're alpine peaks or hidden boulders. Climbing performance often comes with diminished comfort, as a cushier shoe is much less sensitive to precise movements. Our testers found the TX2 to excel in climbing performance without sacrificing too much comfort, helping to win it our esteemed Editors' Choice Award.
With a firm edge and a rigid sole, the TX2 has excellent edging abilities, making it a fierce competitor in this category. We found this shoe to perform almost as well as the Arc'teryx Acrux SL, our Top Pick for Climbing Ability, and much better than the rest of the competition. The smearing zone is similar to that of the TX3, but with a tight lacing system that reaches all the way down the foot and a lighter weight, the TX2 is superior. We also found that the toe was significantly thinner than the TX3's which significantly aids in its competency at crack climbing.
Granite schmearing is a breeze with the TX2.
Whether scrambling around Yosemite or running up peaks in the High Sierra, we found that the TX2 surpassed our expectations for this scoring metric, earning one of the highest scores of any of its competitors.
To separate "comfort" from "support," two closely linked metrics, our expert testers decided "comfort" would refer mostly to the top of the shoe, leaving "support" to describe the bottom. We looked at fit, sizing, materials, breathability, and lacing to determine the overall feel of each product.
One of the first things our testers noticed about the TX2 was its soft fleece lining around the heel and tongue. We found the heel to be incredibly comfortable, sitting at a great height and full of plush padding. The width is ideal, and the toe is narrow enough for excellent climbing precision but wide enough for hiking comfort.
The TX2 has a knit upper that is lighter and more breathable than the mesh of the TX3. The tongue is wide and padded with comfy fleece all the way to the toes. The tongue is attached to the side of the shoe on the inside half, and we found that this ensured the tongue stayed in place and never bunched up. The lacing extends all the way down the foot to the toes, which we'll explain a bit more when we talk about technical climbing performance. As far as comfort goes, it was easy to pull the laces tight for moving on technical terrain or loosen them up for more casual jaunts.
Our testers loved the fleece interior of the TX2.
Overall, our testers found the TX2 to provide a significant amount of comfort, especially for its weight, but we did notice that it is a bit slimmer than some of the other shoes we tested. If width is a big concern for your feet, we would likely suggest sizing up a half of a size. We would say that it is comparable in overall comfort to the Scarpa Gecko or the Adidas Terrex Solo, but the feel is quite different. The TX2 is significantly lighter than the Gecko and much more rigid than the Terrex Solo.
For our reviewers to judge support, we looked at each shoe's stiffness, arch fit, stability, and ability to protect your feet from the elements. These are approach shoes, after all, and what good would they be if they couldn't carry us through talus, up snow slopes, or on loose trails? We found the TX2 to have an above- average amount of support due mostly to a solid and rigid base.
The TX2's sole is very rigid, especially when compared to other shoes in its weight class. Compared to the flexible Terrex Solo or floppy Evolv Cruzer Psyche, this shoe is a much better fit for variable terrain. While neither of those shoes would be at home in the mountains, many of our reviewers found the TX2 to be a perfect fit for rocky scrambles and loose talus approaches.
Comparing the narrower heel of the TX2 (left) to the burly one of the TX3 (right).
The toe is well-protected when compared to many of its competitors, but when laid side-by-side to the TX3, it's clear that the latter is the much burlier shoe. The TX2 lacks the lateral support of the TX3, a crucial factor in both long-distance hiking comfort and protection from loose rock. The TX2's heel is impressively sturdy but is still a measure behind its big sister. The only element the TX2 does not protect from is water. The knit upper has zero waterproofing capabilities, though they do dry quickly. While this may not be our first choice for prolonged wetness, we wouldn't mind getting a little damp knowing how quickly we'll be dry once again.
We did find this shoe to be above-average in this category, and it was impressively stable on uneven terrain. We found it to perform decently even when carrying heavy loads. The sides are reinforced adequately, much more so than the Five Ten Access or Arc'teryx Acrux SL. Ultimately, we found this shoe to perform well on a wide variety of terrain, making it our number one pick for short approaches and alpine missions alike.
Weight in an approach shoe is important for a few reasons, and to make sure we got the right measurements, we put each shoe on our own scale to see how it stacked up. We didn't need a scale, however, to be immediately impressed with the TX2 as soon as we took it out of the box. Its low weight makes it an incredible shoe for multi-pitch climbing, and we found it to be much more comfortable in casual settings for this reason as well.
Weighing in at a remarkable 8.4 ounces per shoe, the TX2 is the second lightest shoe in this review. While the Evolv Cruzer is two ounces lighter, it lacks the structure and comfort of the TX2. Compared to the TX3, at 10.7 ounces per shoe, it's easy to see where the TX2 shines. We'd happily strap these shoes to our harnesses or stuff them in our packs for long days, especially if the descent route requires a lot of hiking, scrambling, or boulder-hopping.
An up-close look at the knit upper of the TX2.
We here at OutdoorGearLab often suggest using weight as a secondary category once you've established which of the other metrics are more important to you and your objectives. With approach shoes, we find that the ratio of weight to stability is an important consideration, especially if you participate in the wide spectrum of climbing types and environments. This ratio is the thing we find so impressive about the TX2. No other shoe that weighs less than 10 ounces has even close to the amount of comfort and support of the TX2, which makes it weight even more impressive. If you frequently climb in areas like Yosemite and Red Rocks that require technical descents off long routes, we really can't imagine a better shoe.
As with almost everything we test here at OutdoorGearLab, there's usually a catch. With the TX2, the catch is definitely durability. We tromped through miles of backcountry and up countless pitches in these shoes and received mounds of feedback from friends and colleagues. We found that the lightweight design of the TX2 doesn't lend itself well to durability, but we can't say we expected it to.
The TX2's outer is a knit mesh that is soft and pliable. Our testers put it through the wringer and found that it did wear out faster than the burly mesh of the TX3 or the leather of the Boulder X and Scarpa Gecko.
Loving the TX2's narrow toe, extensive lacing, and lightweight mesh
Additionally, because the side of the shoe isn't as heavily reinforced as some of the other models we tested, the TX2 is also susceptible to rubbing and wearing out along the big and little toes. While still burlier than the canvas Cruzer Psyche, we concluded that this shoe had a similar lifespan to the Terrex Solo.
Frankly, we can't think of a single place the TX2 doesn't belong! Its lightweight design makes it a perfect shoe for multi-pitch climbs with long or complicated descents. Its great climbing ability and ample support system make it equally suited to alpine scrambles, and its comfortable interior means we'll also wear it to run around town.
A few of our favorite things: Half Dome, sunshine, and the La Sportiva TX2.
While it didn't fit into one of the categories above, we also have to write a shout-out to the bungee cord feature on the back of this shoe. Is it a little gimmicky? Sure. But we definitely used it to strap our shoes to one another every time we went multi-pitch climbing, whether we were shoving them into a pack or clipping them to our harness. Another big score for the TX2.
Ringing in at $130, the TX2 is just about average for today's approach shoes. While twice as expensive as our Best Buy Award winner, the Cruzer Psyche, our testers agreed that you'd likely get at least twice the life and comfort out of this shoe and find it a worthwhile investment.
It didn't take long for our testers to recognize the awesomeness of the La Sportiva TX2, and as the weeks of testing went on, we only found more things to love. It climbs excellently, is astonishingly lightweight yet comfortable and supportive, and is suited just as well to the crag as it is to the alpine.
From front to back, we can't get enough of the TX2.