For years, climber women have watched with envy as our male friends roam around in the La Sportiva TX4. We spied their leather upper and burly heel, their sleek look and slim weight. But envy no more, my female comrades! The time has come. La Sportiva released a women's specific TX4, and we couldn't wait to get our hands — err, feet — on them. And just as we expected, this shoe rocks. While it was just barely edged out of the top spot by the slimmer La Sportiva TX2 - Women's, the TX4 was one of our all-time favorite shoes and quickly revealed itself as the obvious choice for our Top Pick for the Alpine.
La Sportiva TX4 - Women's Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Supportive, comfortable, durable
Cons: Heavier, more expensive
Manufacturer: La Sportiva
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The La Sportiva TX4 received high scores in every metric but particularly stood out for its combination of durability and weight. It also had an incredible blend between climbing ability and support that made it an excellent choice for traveling on semi-technical terrain in the backcountry.
Judging by the TX4's high overall score, it's easy to see why it took home an award.
One of the major differences between approach shoes and hiking shoes that makes them unique to climbers is the ability to handle well on technical terrain. These differences usually involve not only a rubber sole but a "climbing zone" on the toe that enhances the ability to edge and smear on fifth-class rock. For this metric, we judged each shoe's ability to move on a variety of types of rock and compared them side-by-side.
On fifth-class rock, we often have to trust small edges to support us. And while this is easy is rock climbing shoes, it can be unnerving in approach shoes. We found the TX4 to have a decent edging capability due to its stiff toe, precise lacing system, and firm edge. The flat sole is this shoe also added to its sensitivity, enhancing our ability to trust our feet. While not as precise as the TX2 or Arc'teryx Konseal, we were impressed with the TX4's ability in this arena.
This shoe also did well smearing, with an excellent rubber tread. We felt confident on smooth Yosemite slabs and rugged talus alike. This shoe is not super wide in the forefoot, like the Boulder X, making it a decent choice for crack climbing. That said, the TX2 is much slimmer, fitting more easily into small cracks. While the TX4 does have one of the highest scores in this category of any shoe we tested, it fell a bit behind the TX2 and is one of the reasons that this shoe did not win our Editors' Choice Award for best overall approach shoe.
On the other end of the scoring spectrum is comfort. This metric mostly describes a shoe's upper, toe, and fit, while the "support" metric described below was used to judge a shoe's sole and latter support.
We found the TX4 to be above average in comfort, though it lacks some of the cozy features of its competitors. While the TX2 has a fleece lining and mesh upper that is both plush and breathable; the TX4 has a mesh inner and leather exterior. This material is less breathable than the mesh and not quite as cozy once we start packing on the miles.
That said, the lacing system adds to the shoe's overall comfort score. The laces reach far down toward the toe, letting us customize the fit. We can tighten up the laces when we need to travel in technical, demanding terrain, or we can loosen them a bit for walking on established trails or bouncing around at the crag. The TX4 is stiffer than the TX2, but this adds to its overall support score, which we'll describe next.
Some shoes seem comfortable when we first put them on but can't hold up to miles and miles of abuse. This metric is used to evaluate each product's ability to keep up with us when we head out in the backcountry time and time again.
The TX4 is one of the most supportive shoes that we tested for this review. The stiff sole is great for traveling on uneven terrain. Additionally, the heel is much wider than the heel of the TX2 making for better stability and protection from sharp surfaces. While this shoe doesn't have quite as much arch support as the Boulder X, we found the blend of support and climbing ability to be impressive, since we generally find that a shoe can only excel in one of these two categories.
The leather upper is an excellent addition for traveling in alpine terrain. We found these shoes to be reasonably water resistant, and the robust toe and heel do very well when kicking steps in snow or strapping on a crampon for glacier travel.
Finally, we loved this shoe's lateral support. We touch on this in the "durability" section below as well, but as far as support goes, we found much more stability in the TX4 than the TX2 due to its burly lateral reinforcements. When standing in aid ladders for hours on end, we'd much rather be in this shoe than any of the others that we tested.
Weight is a pretty simple thing to test: we put each shoe on a scale and see how they measure up (pun intended). Our testing team found weight to be a vital part of an approach shoe's success because of our tendency to carry them with us. Whether you're clipping your shoes to your harness or stuffing them in a pack, every ounce counts when you're climbing technical terrain at your limit.
The TX4's was not one of the lightest shoes that we tested but was still better than average. At 10.5 ounces per shoe, we found this to be on the upper end of things that we would consider clipping to our harness. Compared to the TX2 at 8.4 ounces, or the ultralight Evolv Cruzer Psyche at 6.8 ounces, the TX4 is a bit behind. However, compared to shoes with similar support scores, like the Vasque Grand Traverse at 11.5 ounces or the Boulder X at a staggering 14.3 ounces, the weight-to-support ratio is one of the best.
We here at OutdoorGearLab tend to put our approach shoes through the wringer. But isn't that our job? As opposed to hiking shoes, our approach shoes are designed to take us through snowfields, walls of talus, and even on technical terrain. With that in mind, durability is a crucial part of the overall scores of the shoes we tested.
And here is where the TX4 truly shines. Yes, it has great scores across the board, but it is the highest score for durability for a variety of reasons. The upper is leather which we found to last considerably longer than the mesh shoes in this review, like the TX2. We tested a few leather pairs as well, but none had the burly heel and lateral reinforcements of the TX4. The Scarpa Gecko, for instance, lacks the rubber extensions that line the sides of the TX4.
One of our favorite things about this shoe was the heel. It is seriously strong, and as such is much broader than that of the TX2 or Vasque Grand Traverse. While some of our reviews fit a bit clumsy in it at first, it was undeniably effective on loose, slippery terrain, mile after mile.
The TX4 is a great shoe. If you had one pair of approach shoes and this was it, we do not think you'd be disappointed. That said, this shoe shines in the alpine. Its durability, support, and comfort make it a great choice for long approaches on mixed terrain, and its above-average climbing ability can take you confidently up fourth- and fifth-class terrain. Its main downside is in weight. This shoe is a bit too heavy for us to clip it to our harness, but for most big missions, this is our go-to pick.
At $140, the TX4 is definitely on the more expensive side of the shoes that we tested for this review. We do feel that it is most likely worth that price, however, if you frequently travel in the backcountry and on a variety of types of terrain. After a month spent in Argentine Patagonia, we were so happy to have a shoe that could keep up with us. If you mostly spend your time at easy-to-access crags or climbing multi-pitch routes that require a walk-off descent, you can likely get away with a less expensive shoe that will get the job done just as well.
La Sportiva has done it again. The TX4 is an incredibly well-rounded shoe that was quickly in the running for our Editors' Choice Award. It lost this recognition due to its heavier weight and less-than-stellar climbing ability, but for long missions in the mountains, it really cannot be beaten.
— Lauren DeLaunay