The La Sportiva TX2 is the best approach shoe we've ever put on! Stop reading and go buy these right now! Or keep reading to find out if these lightweight, comfortable shoes that climb and hike equally well are right for you. Seriously though, it's rare that our testers have such a unanimously favorable endorsement of a product with zero caveats. We've tested 10 pairs of approach shoes, and the TX2s are the best for Sierra scrambles, lugging a big pack of cams up to the Cliffs of Insanity, and can even do some moderate technical climbing. These shoes are part of Sportivas impressive TX line, and the burlier La Sportiva TX4 is a previous Editors' Choice award winner for its comfort and durability. The TX2 is more than just a lighter version of the TX4, and unless your getting approach shoe for standing in aiders, toiling for days on a big wall, we suggest the TX2.
La Sportiva TX2 Review
Cons: Synthetic uppers not as durable as leather
Manufacturer: La Sportiva
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The La Sportiva TX2 knocks it outta the park in all our metrics, really raising the bar for what we expect from an approach shoe. While the Five Ten Guide Tennie, La Sportiva Boulder X, and the La Sportiva TX4 are made from more durable leather and better for wall climbing, we know that the majority of climbers are using their approach shoes to access and descend, and the TX2s are more than up to the task, and are much lighter and more breathable than the aforementioned shoes. They aren't quite as light as the Evolv Cruzer Psyche, but they are significantly more comfortable and supportive, and only 3 ounces heavier. These shoes climb better than almost every other shoe in our review, and only the Guide Tennie can handle technical terrain as well as the TX2.
These shoes have a snugger fit than the TX4s, and the tongue is sewn to the inside of the shoe all the way up the medial side of the foot. When we crank down the laces, we get a tight, stable fit that feels very similar to a climbing shoe.
The laces on the TX2 go all the way down the toe so you can get a tight fit when it's time for some technical edging. In a men's size 9.5, our lead tester's usual street shoe size, his toe sits perfectly at the end of the shoe for edging, but the shoe isn't so tight that it makes hiking uncomfortable. Maybe the leather uppers on the TX4 stretches more than the Synthetic TX2, whatever the case, TX2 edges better than the TX4, and almost as well as our top pick for climbing, the Five Ten Guide Tennie.
The Vibram Megagrip sole is plenty sticky, and our testers had a lot of fun pushing the limits of what they could climb in an approach shoe, smearing and stemming up granite climbs, some even in the 5.10 range. These shoes have a similar tread pattern to the TX4s and feature a smooth lugless area at the end of the toe for maximizing rubber to rock contact. When wearing TX2s to the crag, all warm-ups got done in the TX2s.
The low-profile toe can weasel easily into cracks down to tight red Camalots, or about 2 inches. Since these shoes can get so snug with the laces cranked down, we felt super secure in hand cracks; our feet didn't roll around inside the shoe like it does in the Evolv Zender. If you find yourself climbing lots of cracks in your approach shoes, you may want to choose a tougher leather shoe. Fortunately, this shoe is also available in a leather version.
The TX2s have all the comfort of their big brother's but have a very breathable knitted up that don't stretch, keep your feet cooler, and keep the foot stank down. The ankle is lined with a soft, almost fleece like material. This not only feels great, but it also creates a dirt-proof seal around our ankles, keeping the dirt and fine sand found on many High Sierra descents out of the shoe. These shoes also fit well in "lazy mode" around camp; even with the laces completely loose, the shoe stayed on remarkably well.
This shoe offers an incredible amount of support, especially considering its light weight. Without a heavy pack, they kept our testers' feet fresh for miles. Carry around 40lbs we didn't notice a difference between these shoes and the TX4s. The TX4s are more supportive, but unless you're carrying massive haul bags deep into the Paine, the TX2s have plenty of support for most climbers.
Weight & Packability
These shoes are a super light 20oz, one of the lightest shoes in our review. They feature what Sportiva calls the "C2 Combo Cord System". The Combo Cord is an elastic cord that wraps around the heel of both shoes, held in place by a little groove. Put the shoes together upper to upper, heel to toe, and you can secure the shoes together in a tight package. Gimmicky? Maybe, but if you like to climb multi-pitch routes without a cumbersome backpack, you'll be climbing with shoes hanging from your harness for the descent. The cord system keeps the shoes in a compact configuration, and they balance well with a water bottle hanging for the other side of the harness. And if you don't mind climbing with a pack on, these low profile shoes take up a minimal amount of space in a pack, slightly less than a Nalgene bottle.
These shoes dominate long approaches, scrambling, and easy technical climbing. The knit weave isn't as water resistant as leather (Sportiva does make a TX2 in leather), but it dries faster; it's not the best choice if post holing is on the agenda, but no approach shoe is built for that. A leather shoe like the TX4 is going to last longer if you're climbing multiple walls in a season, but one trip up the Captain shouldn't destroy these shoes. Since these shoes are lower profile than the bulkier TX4, they don't seem out of place around town, plus they are available in six colors, plus another two in the leather versions.
A pair of these shoes will set you back $130. That's a little less than the TX4 and around $20 more than our burly Best Buy Award Winner, the La Sportiva Boulder X. The lightweight options from Evolv are under $100, but we feel that the TX2s are much more durable and comfortable, and the extra dollars are absolutely worth it.
A good approach shoe can turn a long slog to the cliff into an enjoyable walk in the woods. Our lead tester guided for an entire summer in a blown out pair of guide tennies, shouldering heavy packs and putting lots of miles over four months, leaving him hobbling for most of the fall. Don't fool around with your feet! Even these lightweight shoes have plenty of support, so even the most weight-conscious climbers have no excuse not to treat their feet nice. Calls us short-sighted, but right now we can't imagine a better approach shoe than the TX2, and we're happy to Award it the Editors' Choice.
— Matt Bento