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La Sportiva TX Guide Review

A great shoe for climbing guides or anyone who needs support for hiking but also a precision fit for climbing
La Sportiva TX Guide
Photo: La Sportiva
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $159 List | Check Price at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Stiff for edging and standing in aiders, excellent for scambling, good hiking support
Cons:  More narrow than the rest of the TX line, expensive
Manufacturer:   La Sportiva
By Matt Bento ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 5, 2021
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82
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 14
  • Climbing Ability - 35% 9
  • Hiking Comfort - 25% 8
  • Support - 20% 8
  • Weight and Packability - 20% 7

Our Verdict

The La Sportiva TX Guide is a welcome addition to Sportiva's successful TX line. They sit right between the mile-crushing TX 4s and the lightweight and techy TX 2s in terms of hiking support, while being stiffer and narrower than both of them. Because of their narrow fit and extra stiffness, they have an almost climbing shoe feel for scrambling and the occasional fifth-class move. These shoes are great for long approaches with heavy packs, standing in aiders, and easy technical climbing. They're perfect for guides and recreational trad climbers alike.

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La Sportiva TX Guide
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Pros Stiff for edging and standing in aiders, excellent for scambling, good hiking supportLightweight, comfortable, supportive, climb wellAwesome balance of hiking and climbing abilities, great supportSupportive, durable, very sticky rubberDurable, great traction in dirt and mud, excellent value, workhorse approach shoe
Cons More narrow than the rest of the TX line, expensiveSynthetic uppers not as durable as leatherRelatively heavy and bulkyHeavyHeavy and bulky, especially when carrying on your harness or in a pack
Bottom Line A great shoe for climbing guides or anyone who needs support for hiking but also a precision fit for climbingThese are our first recommendation for the majority of climbers due to elite all-around performanceThis model combines high performance with the ability to handle big loadsA good all-round approach shoe, especially for folks with narrow feetThese durable shoes are well-equipped for miles of hiking and scrambling at a great price
Rating Categories La Sportiva TX Guide La Sportiva TX2 La Sportiva TX4 Scarpa Crux La Sportiva Boulder X
Climbing Ability (35%)
9.0
9.0
8.0
9.0
9.0
Hiking Comfort (25%)
8.0
8.0
10.0
8.0
7.0
Support (20%)
8.0
7.0
9.0
8.0
10.0
Weight And Packability (20%)
7.0
9.0
4.0
3.0
1.0
Specs La Sportiva TX Guide La Sportiva TX2 La Sportiva TX4 Scarpa Crux La Sportiva Boulder X
Outsole Vibram Mega-Grip Vibram Mega-Grip Vibram Mega-Grip with Trail Bite heel Vibram vertical approach Vibram Idro-Grip V-Smear dot pattern
Upper Material synthetic TPU, PU Polyester mesh Leather Leather Leather
Weight per Pair (in oz) 24.8 oz (size 9.5) 20.3 oz (size 9.5) 26.2 oz (size 9.5) 27.2 oz (size 9.5) 32.8 oz (size 9.5)
Width Options Regular Regular Regular Regular Regular
Mid Height Available? No No Yes No No
Midsole dual-density compressed EVA, TPU Torsion Shank Mem-lex/C2 Combo Cord Traverse injection MEMlex EVA Micropore EVA
Sticky Rubber? Toe Rand? Yes, Yes Yes, Yes Yes, Yes Yes, Yes Yes, Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

For those who believe La Sportiva has already exhausted iterations of their award-winning TX series, prepare to be proven wrong. Our experience with the TX Guide has shown that there is room for at least one more model in the TX quiver, and the Guide may be the most versatile. Initially, with its stiff midsole and high toe rand, it reminded us of the discontinued La Sportiva Ganda, a cult favorite of big wall climbers. After miles of hiking and scrambling, we have to conclude that these are much more than just a resurrection of the Ganda, as they are built on a trail running shoe last and are quite a bit lighter than the old Gandas, but feature a similar precise lacing system, sticky rubber, and are great for easy 5th class or standing in aiders. Taking a cue from the name, we've assessed these techy kicks while considering the needs of actual climbing guides.

Performance Comparison


These shoes carried us comfortable to high desert limestone crags.
These shoes carried us comfortable to high desert limestone crags.
Photo: Matt Bento

Climbing Ability


A guide needs to be able to move safely and efficiently on easy 5th class terrain, day in and day out, without destroying their feet in tight pair of climbing shoes. Climbing guides will eschew climbing shoes for a comfy pair of approach shoes whenever possible, and the TX Guide opens the door of possibility a bit wider by being narrower and stiffer, providing a more precise, climbing shoe-esque fit.

While you can climb steep boulder problems in any shoes if you're...
While you can climb steep boulder problems in any shoes if you're strong enough, sticky rubber and a stiff midsole help a lot.
Photo: Matt Bento


Edging


These are the stiffest shoes in the TX lineup, and while they don't offer climbing-shoe-like sensitivity, they are excellent edging platforms. The Guides are also a touch narrower in the toe box compared to the TX 4, and put the big toe closer to the "power position" like in an actual climbing shoe.

The narrow toe box increases sensitivity, and the stiff sole offers...
The narrow toe box increases sensitivity, and the stiff sole offers support, making these approach shoes good edgers.
Photo: matt bento

Smearing


The support and stiffness of this shoe don't lend themselves to smearing as well as lightweight, "floppier" models like the TX 2. The Guides do feature the same treadless "climbing zone" at the end of the toe and sticky Vibram rubber. We had no issues slogging up low-angle granite with the occasional smear or high step. While we encourage everyone to take out the rope if you have any safety concerns and don't encourage you to push the envelope of ropeless approach shoe scambling, The TX Guide drastically ups our confidence on technical terrain.

Sticky rubber goes a long way in providing extra confidence on...
Sticky rubber goes a long way in providing extra confidence on slabby approaches.
Photo: matt bento

Crack Climbing


These supportive shoes are great for cracks, especially wide ones. The precise lacing system allows you to crank the laces down over the midfoot to prevent the shoe from rolling while you jam your feet and the lace eyelets are more durable than those found on previous TX models. While the uppers aren't as breathable as some models, they're thicker and will survive torquing in foot jams for a lot longer. The toe profile allows us to jam our feet in cracks as narrow as 1.5".

These shoes are narrower than the rest of the TX line, making them...
These shoes are narrower than the rest of the TX line, making them uncomfortable for some when hiking long distances, but the extra snugness does cause them to roll less in cracks, creating a more secure jam.
Photo: Matt Bento

Hiking Comfort


If the shoe fits you, it will provide excellent hiking comfort. It's worth noting that the TX Guide has a narrower fit than other models in the TX series. While they're not dramatically more narrow, wide-footed folks who are maxing out in other Sportiva models may find the Guides tight and uncomfortable.


From a guiding perspective, you want a shoe that's versatile and comfortable so you can wear it all day and minimize the number of times you need to change into climbing shoes. The padded tongue and snug heel cuff create a seal against fine sand and dirt, while the cushioned midsole offers padding and support. Sportiva totes that these shoes have the profile of a mountain running shoe, and while we don't recommend using them for your next ultra-marathon, the running shoe-like EVA midsole makes long approaches with heavy packs much more palatable.

Sufficiently deep lugs bite into mud and dirt, while the smooth and...
Sufficiently deep lugs bite into mud and dirt, while the smooth and sticky climbing zone at the toe makes quick work of slabs.

Support


The TX Guide is a very (here's that word again) stiff shoe. This makes standing in aiders more comfortable, similar to the classic Ganda. It also accommodates crampons better than lighter models for the occasional short glacier slogs encountered while alpine climbing in California or the Pacific Northwest.


Remember, a guide often carries a heavier load than the average recreational climber, shouldering multiple ropes, a rack, and other gear depending on the fitness and ability of their clients, so proper foot support is crucial to a long and happy career. Multiple days of working in lightweight approach shoes can be hard on your feet, knees, and back, and our lead tester can attest to after developing planter fasciitis from a season of guiding in inadequate shoes.

Some approaches involve hundreds of feet of slabs of varying...
Some approaches involve hundreds of feet of slabs of varying steepness, and the TX Guides are up to the task.

Weight & Packability


Our sized 9.5 test pair of TX Guides weighs in at 24.8 oz for the pair. They are not what we consider lightweight compared to some sub-20 oz competitors. But they aren't as heavy as the TX 4s, and they are considerably more supportive and durable than the TX 2s, while only being 5 oz heavier for the pair.


There aren't any special elastic straps to keep them in a tight package on your harness (a couple of rubber bands would do the trick though) but they do have a clip-in loop on each heel so you can attach them to your harness or backpack for a comfortable walk off.

Like the other models in the TX line, the Guides have clip-in loops...
Like the other models in the TX line, the Guides have clip-in loops on the heels, but they are not as light or compact as the TX 2.

Value


Like many quality footwear offerings from La Sportiva, the TX Guides aren't cheap. However, they are durable in our experience, and they offer a great balance of climbing and hiking attributes. They're the closest thing to an approach shoe quiver-killer we've seen in a while, so if there isn't room in your closet for a light and floppy descent shoe and a burly beast for dispatching mega slogs to the cliff, these are excellent all-rounders.

The durable uppers are good for crack climbing, and the eyelets go...
The durable uppers are good for crack climbing, and the eyelets go through the upper material instead of using cord eyelets like the other TX models.
Photo: matt bento

Conclusion


In our miles of experience with the La Sportiva TX line, we've concluded that the TX Guide is the most balanced shoe in the bunch. We appreciate the stiffness and durability that harkens back to the Ganda combined with trail running shoe features for an all-around smoother ride. Anecdotally, we can say they are a perfect approach shoe for climbs like the Rainbow Wall or other long multi-pitch routes in Red Rocks. The TX Guides allowed for confident boulder hoping and kept us feeling secure as we circumvented some fixed lines in favor of some slabby scrambling, letting our testers pass another party and be first on the route. True to their name, we expect these shoes to become very popular with climbing guides as they are equally suited to all-day hikes as they are for easier technical climbing. While the widest of feet need not apply, everyone else should consider slipping their tired dogs into a pair of TX Guides before their next alpine romp, aid climb, or even a mellow hike to the crag.

We were happy to be scrambling in the capable TX Guides while we...
We were happy to be scrambling in the capable TX Guides while we searched for potential new routes in the Utah hills.
Photo: Matt Bento

Matt Bento