We searched near and far for a shoe that could carry us to the wildest corners of the map. We wanted durability without sacrificing weight and climbing performance without losing hiking support. In the past, we've found approach shoes to be too specialized, leaving us with a pair for short approaches and a pair for long missions. But then came the La Sportiva TX3. This shoe has just about everything we've ever wanted in an approach shoe, and at the reasonable price of $135, we're recommending this to everyone we meet. We are very excited to award this shoe our Top Pick for Toughness Award for its all-around excellence and exceptional durability.
La Sportiva TX3 - Women's Review
Cons: Slightly less durable than leather
Manufacturer: La Sportiva
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Our Analysis and Test Results
If you're going to have just one approach shoe in your quiver, you might just want to make it the TX3. Light, supportive, and utilizing an excellent climbing edge, this shoe is your one-stop shop for all things burly approaching. From the sport crag to the High Sierra, big walls to boulders, the TX3 excelled. In our first round of testing, we awarded it our top-notch Editors' Choice Award, but after being introduced to the lighter, sleeker La Sportiva TX2, we decided instead to award this shoe our Top Pick for Toughness.
Climbers today are asking more of their approach shoes than ever before, especially when it comes to fifth-class climbing ability. We want to edge, smear, and jam our shoes to success, forgoing the discomfort of real climbing shoes whenever possible. For this category, we took the TX3 all over California, pushing its limits on technical terrain. We ultimately loved this shoe and, though it was slightly outperformed by the Arc'teryx Acrux SL and TX2, it still had one of the best scores in this category.
As with most approach shoes, the TX3 has a smooth "climbing zone" at the front of the foot. This firm toe handled excellently on delicate edges in Tuolumne, with the stiff sole adding to our security. We had no problem smearing up the slabs of Tenaya Peak in this shoe and found its relatively narrow shape to be an excellent fit for crack climbing, though not quite as stellar as its little sister, the TX2.
Without delving into support too much, we used this category to evaluate each shoe's coziness, from its materials to its lacing system and sole structure. We put dozens of miles on each pair and ultimately found the TX3 to exceed our expectations. This shoe earned an above-average 6/10 in this category for its great lacing, stiff sole, and comfy mesh.
The laces on the TX3 reach very far down the front of the shoe, making for a versatile, adjustable fit. This shoe can easily be cinched up for technical climbing or loosen for a casual feel. This was one of our favorite shoes to wear around town, as well, because of its highly versatile fit and soft materials.
The TX3 has a breathable mesh upper that made for impressive hiking comfort. Even though our feet were soaked after kicking steps in snow up to Tuolumne's Mt. Conness, we were impressed with how quickly this shoe dried out. The stiff midsole made for remarkable all-day comfort. Overall, it felt impossible to wear these shoes out as they kept our feet happy for miles on end.
We aren't always lucky enough to have roadside climbing, so we need an approach shoe to support us on long hikes into the mountains. For this rating metric, we looked at how well the shoe protected us from the elements and kept our feet happy. The TX3's excellent arch support and stable sole kept us stable and confident no matter the terrain.
We loved the stiff sole of the TX3, and the burly outer lugs kept us stable on the most uneven terrain in the Sierra. While the build was rigid enough to kick steps in early season snowfields, our feet were quickly drenched. The mesh upper did dry quickly, though we were jealous of the men's La Sportiva TX4 and its leather upper in these scenarios.
One of the reasons we picked the TX3 for our Top Pick for Toughness Award was for its versatility, and we were pleased with how supportive and comfortable the shoe was even after hiking for hours on end.
Like all gear junkies, we're obsessed with shaving ounces. The lighter the approach shoe, the easier it is to clip them to our harness for a multi-pitch adventure. We were pleasantly surprised that despite the TX3's burly design, it weighs in at only 10.7 ounces, earning one of the highest marks in this category compared to its competitors.
At 10.7 ounces, the TX3 is well below average. While it is beaten out by the mega-lightweight TX2 but about two ounces, this shoe is more supportive. And while the Boulder X is one of the coziest shoes in this review, it's hard to justify its 14.3-ounce weight in comparison. In addition to being light, the TX3's narrow fit make it easier to slim these shoes into a backpack.
Our testers put these shoes through endless miles of hiking and scrambling to find their weak points, from stitching to materials to rubber. And while we didn't judge these products on their rubber, as climbing rubber wears eventually, we did find big differences in their builds. The TX3 has a burly outer sole, and despite its mesh upper, we found it to hold up to even our most rigorous days in the mountains.
We were skeptical of the TX3's mesh upper at first but found it to be burly and strong. Compared to the mesh of the Adidas Terrex Solo, this upper is much more durable without sacrificing breathability. Even after tons of time spent on the sharp granite of Tuolumne, the mesh held its own without showing any signs of abuse.
We loved how intense the outer lugs were on this shoe. They kept us comfortable and secure while also being able to withstand long days on the trails. Compared to the smoother sole of the Scarpa Gecko, we'd pick the TX3 for alpine climbing any day.
The only thing we would change is the clip loops on the heel. While they didn't break on us, they seem flimsy when compared to those of their competitors.
The TX3 was one of the most versatile models we tested. Its light design makes it a cinch to bring along on multi-pitch climbs, and its supportive construction makes for an excellent alpine companion. Whether hiking near or far, the TX3 is guaranteed to keep you comfortable. Its climbing ability makes it an excellent choice for scrambling missions as well. Frankly, it's hard for us to think of a reason not to bring the TX3 with you.
Coming in at $135, the TX3's pricing is spot on. Exceptional value for a slightly above-average price convinces us that this shoe is a great deal. Frankly, when compared to the $170 Acrux, it was hard to stop ourselves from running out and buying ten pairs!
While we concluded that the lighter TX2 easily meets the needs of the average climber, we just couldn't deny the TX3's performance in rough terrain. Whether climbing big walls in Yosemite or Patagonia, this shoe handled anything we threw at it. While the TX2 lagged in durability, the heavy lugs and tough mesh of the TX3 made for an exceptional alpine climbing shoe.
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Most recent review: May 10, 2018
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