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La Sportiva TX Guide Review

This shoe can do it all, from precise climbing on mid-5th class terrain to rugged hikes to long aid climbs
la sportiva tx guide approach shoes review
Credit: La Sportiva
Price:  $169 List
Manufacturer:   La Sportiva
By Jeff Dobronyi ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 18, 2022
76
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 13
  • Climbing Ability - 30% 10.0
  • Hiking Comfort - 25% 7.0
  • Support - 15% 8.0
  • Weight and Packability - 15% 7.0
  • Construction Quality - 15% 4.0

Our Verdict

The La Sportiva TX Guide is an all-around climbing and hiking machine, earning our approval as the top approach shoe on the market. It features a stiff sole with sticky rubber and a precisely-fitting toe box for excellent climbing performance. The cushioned sole and breathable mesh upper provide comfort on every type of terrain, and stiff rubber reinforcements around the forefoot and heel prevent lateral movement of the foot and increase support. The shoe is also very light. The only drawbacks are a narrow fit that may deter users with the widest feet, and a widespread sole delamination issue. Still, the performance of this shoe is worth the drawbacks. This is one of the best approach shoes ever made.
REASONS TO BUY
Stiff for edging and standing in aiders
Light weight
Excellent climbing ability
Good hiking support
REASONS TO AVOID
Narrow fit is a problem for wide-footed users
Major durability concerns
Editor's Note: This review was updated on October 18, 2022 to reflect recent updates to this model.

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Pros Stiff for edging and standing in aiders, light weight, excellent climbing ability, good hiking supportAwesome balance of hiking and climbing abilities, great supportExcellent for climbing, light and compact, comfortablePrecise feel for climbing, supportive, durableComfortable for running and hiking, lightweight, versatile
Cons Narrow fit is a problem for wide-footed users, major durability concernsRelatively heavy and bulkyNot the best for long distance hiking, not much supportHeavy, thin sole makes hiking less comfortable, stiff leather upperPoor climbing performance, lacks support
Bottom Line This shoe can do it all, from precise climbing on mid-5th class terrain to rugged hikes to long aid climbsThis model combines high performance with the ability to handle big loadsThese shoes climb great, hike pretty well, and disappear into a pack while climbingA great all-round approach shoe that is supportive and great for climbing and comes at an attractive priceBasically a trail running shoe with sticky rubber, this model excels on technical trails and easy scrambles
Rating Categories La Sportiva TX Guide La Sportiva TX4 La Sportiva TX2 Evo Scarpa Crux Scarpa Rapid
Climbing Ability (30%)
10.0
7.0
9.0
8.0
4.0
Hiking Comfort (25%)
7.0
9.0
6.0
6.0
10.0
Support (15%)
8.0
9.0
5.0
7.0
5.0
Weight and Packability (15%)
7.0
5.0
9.0
6.0
8.0
Construction Quality (15%)
4.0
7.0
6.0
8.0
6.0
Specs La Sportiva TX Guide La Sportiva TX4 La Sportiva TX2 Evo Scarpa Crux Scarpa Rapid
Outsole Vibram Mega-Grip Vibram Mega-Grip with Trail Bite heel Vibram Idrogrip Vibram vertical approach Vibram Megagrip
Upper Material synthetic TPU, PU Leather Recycled knit, PU toe & heel Leather Mesh, PU
Weight (per pair) 29.8 oz (size 13) 26.2 oz (size 9.5) 26.4 oz (size 13) 27.2 oz (size 9.5) 28 oz (size 13)
Width Options Regular Regular Regular Regular Regular
Mid Height Available? No Yes No No Rapid GTX Mid Coming Soon
Midsole Dual-density compressed EVA, TPU Torsion Shank Traverse injection MEMlex Traverse lite injection MEMlex with co-molded TPU shank EVA EVA with a TPU arch insert

Our Analysis and Test Results

The TX Guide is an incredibly versatile climbing shoe, excelling in nearly every metric of our testing process.

Performance Comparison


la sportiva tx guide approach shoes review - the la sportiva tx guide is most at home on steep rock climbs where...
The La Sportiva TX Guide is most at home on steep rock climbs where other approach shoes fall short, allowing guides and recreationists the chance to leave their climbing shoes at home.
Credit: Sam Willits

Climbing Ability


The TX Guide climbs better than most approach shoes on the market. Our testers felt comfortable leading mid-5th class terrain while wearing these shoes, which is a testament to their secure feeling on the rock. They have a stiff platform and sticky Vibram MegaGrip rubber, providing secure footing on edges, smears, and cracks alike.


The sole under the forefoot includes more flat rubber in contact with the rock (positive space) than space between the lugs (negative space), providing lots of surface area for secure smearing. The toe box has a narrow and precise fit, allowing the direct transfer of force from the foot to the shoe's "climbing zone", and our testers were impressed by how the TX Guide can hold an edge on the moderately small (but still obvious) holds that mid-5th class climbing often involves. The narrow toe box and rubberized toe cap provide good security during foot jams, and the shoe can easily fit into most hand-sized cracks.

la sportiva tx guide approach shoes review - the tx guide features sticky rubber and a plenty of surface area in...
The TX Guide features sticky rubber and a plenty of surface area in contact with the rock, paired with a stiff sole for excellent smearing and edging.
Credit: Sam Willits

Mountain Guides often wear approach shoes while leading their guests up easier 5th class climbs to reduce the amount of time they spend in rock climbing shoes. The TX Guide allows professionals and recreationists alike the opportunity to leave the climbing shoes at home more often and spend the day in comfortable approach shoes that can handle moderate rock climbs with a wide margin of security. For that very reason, this product has emerged as a favorite shoe of professional mountain guides all over the world.

la sportiva tx guide approach shoes review - we are impressed by the climbing ability of the tx guide, which our...
We are impressed by the climbing ability of the TX Guide, which our Mountain Guide testers trust to safely carry them to the top of low to mid-5th class rock climbs.
Credit: Sam Willits

Hiking Comfort


The TX Guide is generally comfortable for hiking and walking. It has a moderately stiff last and lots of cushioning in the midsole, meaning you won't feel every pebble and root on the trail. It is light and nimble, and won't weigh you down or feel clunky after a long day. The mesh upper is thin and breathable, allowing sweat and heat to escape on long, hot walks. And, they fit comfortably right out of the box without requiring a break-in period.


These shoes are on the narrow side, and after logging plenty of miles, our testers noticed that the shoe can create some pressure on the pinky toe, especially on the descent. A rubberized toe cap extends around the entire forefoot above the sole, extending past the pinky toe and toward the arch, meaning the mesh upper has no ability to stretch outward to make more room for the toes on the descent. This benefits durability, but slightly diminishes hiking comfort. This is a bigger problem for users with wide feet, and the shoe is still generally very comfortable for hiking.

la sportiva tx guide approach shoes review - the tx guide, left, has a low-volume forefoot compared to a more...
The TX Guide, left, has a low-volume forefoot compared to a more average-width approach shoe, right. This can be problematic for users with wide feet.
Credit: Sam Willits

Support


The TX Guide is a very stiff shoe. This makes standing in aiders and on belay ledges more comfortable. It also accommodates crampons better than lighter models for the occasional snowfield crossing or summer glacier approach.


The shoes have rubber toe caps that extends around the entire forefoot, and even stiffer heel cups that provide a secure fit to the rear. The mesh upper is thin and flexible, but a tight lace pattern locks the foot into place against the toe cap and heel cup. The result is a remarkably supportive shoe that prevents all sliding and rolling of the foot across the insole. The sole is stiff and supports the foot completely when the user is standing in aiders.

la sportiva tx guide approach shoes review - the tx guide offers plenty of support, as we could barely feel the...
The TX Guide offers plenty of support, as we could barely feel the pressure when standing in a narrow sling.
Credit: Sam Willits

Weight & Packability


These shoes strike the perfect balance between weight and performance. They are light enough to disappear into a pack while multi-pitch climbing, but still climb and hike well. Generally, the highest-performing shoes also weigh the most, but the TX Guide sets a new paradigm for what is possible in a lightweight pair.


There are lighter approach shoes on the market, but none that perform as well across the board in such a lightweight profile. There aren't any special elastic straps to keep them in a tight package on your harness, but they do have clip-in loops on each heel so you can attach them to your harness for a comfortable walk off.

la sportiva tx guide approach shoes review - the tx guide, left, doesn't pack as small as the most compact...
The TX Guide, left, doesn't pack as small as the most compact approach shoes on the market, but it still packs relatively small and doesn't weigh all that much.
Credit: Sam Willits

Construction Quality


Unfortunately, the TX Guide showed considerable durability concerns during our testing period. After about five days of use, we noticed that the midsole was delaminating from the toe box in the same place on both shoes. To make sure this wasn't a fluke, we inquired with members of the American Mountain Guides Association and received many reports of similar issues, including sole delamination around the toe and heel.


While the mesh upper and foam midsole can take a beating, this delamination issue is problematic. These shoes aren't cheap, and a delaminated sole in the middle of a multi-day trip or multi-pitch rock climb can be a serious safety concern. That said, most guides we consulted noted that the climbing ability and support that the TX Guide provides is so much better than other approach shoes on the market that they were willing to deal with poor durability, and often received good customer service while exchanging problematic pairs for replacement. Others noted that a preventative treatment of shoe glue or rubber cement around the junctions between the sole, midsole, and toe box prevented delamination early and fixed the problem when it occurred.

la sportiva tx guide approach shoes review - we found bilateral delamination in the midsole underneath the big...
We found bilateral delamination in the midsole underneath the big toe area after only a handful of days into our testing period.
Credit: Jeff Dobronyi

Should You Buy The La Sportiva TX Guide?


The TX Guide climbs almost as well as a climbing shoe, offers stiff support for long days on your feet or standing in aiders, and is relatively comfortable while hiking. It isn't cheap, but it isn't the most expensive shoe on the market either, and for the performance, we think it is a good deal. If you are only going to own one approach shoe for all applications, this is the best choice out there. The major downsides are the delamination issue mentioned above, and the narrow fit that won't work for users with wide feet. So if you have a narrow to average-width foot, and are willing to deal with an occasional delaminated sole, these shoes can't be beaten.

la sportiva tx guide approach shoes review - the la sportiva tx guide is at home on technical terrain and on the...
The La Sportiva TX Guide is at home on technical terrain and on the feet of professional mountain guides around the world.
Credit: Sam Willits

What Other Approach Shoes Should You Consider?


If you are looking for a lightweight approach shoe that can be carried over a multi-pitch route with a minimal amount of bulk, check out the La Sportiva TX2 Evo, which also climbs very well. If you find yourself doing long, rugged approaches to alpine climbs, the La Sportiva TX4 is a more comfortable option. And if you want a low-tech approach shoe for casual cragging approaches, non-technical scrambling, and mountain running, the Scarpa Rapid is a great running shoe/ approach shoe hybrid. For users on a budget, the Scarpa Crux performs almost as well, for slightly less money.

Jeff Dobronyi
 
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