La Sportiva TX Guide Review
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La Sportiva TX Guide
|Price||$134.19 at REI|
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|$119.19 at REI|
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|$119.19 at REI|
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$148.95 at Amazon
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|Pros||Stiff for edging and standing in aiders, light weight, excellent climbing ability, good hiking support||Awesome balance of hiking and climbing abilities, great support||Excellent for climbing, light and compact, comfortable||Precise feel for climbing, supportive, durable||Comfortable for running and hiking, lightweight, versatile|
|Cons||Narrow fit is a problem for wide-footed users, major durability concerns||Relatively heavy and bulky||Not the best for long distance hiking, not much support||Heavy, thin sole makes hiking less comfortable, stiff leather upper||Poor 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 climbs||This model combines high performance with the ability to handle big loads||These shoes climb great, hike pretty well, and disappear into a pack while climbing||A great all-round approach shoe that is supportive and great for climbing and comes at an attractive price||Basically 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%)|
|Hiking Comfort (25%)|
|Weight and Packability (15%)|
|Construction Quality (15%)|
|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)|
|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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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