Hands-on Gear Review

La Sportiva TX4 Review

Top Pick Award
Price:  $140 List | $112.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Awesome balance of hiking and climbing abilities
Cons:  Relatively heavy and bulky
Bottom line:  This is the best do-it-all approach shoe.
Editors' Rating:   
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Weight per pair (size 9.5):  26.2oz
Upper Material:  Leather
Lining Material:  Non-slip mesh
Manufacturer:   La Sportiva

Our Verdict

The La Sportiva TX4 takes home this season's Top Pick for Heavy Loads and Big Walls. While it doesn't climb as well as the Five Ten Guide Tennie and weighs more than the Evolv Cruzer Psyche, this fully leather tank of a shoe had our testers crushing their way up talus fields. Before we knew it, we were making light work of low fifth and fourth class scrambles and standing comfortably in our aiders for hours. There are some folks out there who will buy a shoe for every foreseeable application, from easy climbing to a dedicated descent shoe, but for those in the market for the near-perfect quiver of one, the TX4 is the approach shoe you've been looking for.


RELATED REVIEW: The 10 Best Climbing Approach Shoes for Men


Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Matt Bento

Last Updated:
Saturday
November 25, 2017

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The heaviest shoe in La Sportiva's Traverse X series, the TX4 is a great hiking shoe that happens to climb exceptionally well. The wider-than-average-Sportiva toe box makes for a comfortable approach to your next adventure, be it deep in the backcountry or just a stroll through the woods to the sport crag. Thanks to some sticky Vibram rubber and just enough stiffness, the TX4 can still handle some low angle slabbage and easy crack climbing should it stand between you and the technical climbing.

Performance Comparison


This shoe has a well designed  highly adjustable lacing system.
This shoe has a well designed, highly adjustable lacing system.

Climbing Ability


Our testers are psyched that a comfortable hiking shoer can still climb almost as well as the stiffer, narrower La Sportiva Boulder X, and the venerable but less supportive Five Ten Guide Tennie. The TX4 performs just as well on the rock as the lighter Arc'teryx Acrux SL, while being much more supportive for carrying heavy loads and hiking long miles in the backcountry.


Edging


The sensitive "climbing zone" located at the toe of the TX4 makes it easier to feel smaller edges down to a quarter of an inch, and the shoe is just stiff enough to make use of them. This model doesn't edge as well as the more rigid Boulder X or our Top Pick For Climbing, the Five Ten Guide Tennie, but we felt more secure edging in these than the Scarpa Gecko and the Five Ten Access.

Even though this shoe is a supportive hiker  it still edges surprisingly well.
Even though this shoe is a supportive hiker, it still edges surprisingly well.

Smearing


The TX4 smears at least as well as the other sticky rubber shoes in our selection, except for the Five Ten Guide Tennie, with its super sticky Stealth C4 rubber. Due to the TX4's hiking comfort, this shoe was our lead tester's favorite shoe for scrambling easy routes in Tuolumne Meadows, the TX4 handled low fifth class slabs with ease, while still offering loads of support and traction for bombing down hills on the way to the next objective.

Durable leather uppers keep this shoe from falling apart in cracks.
Durable leather uppers keep this shoe from falling apart in cracks.

Crack Climbing


In hand cracks and flares, the TX4 doesn't perform as well as the super stiff Guide Tennie or the Boulder X. But, it's still stiff enough to stand on as you shove your leather protected dogs in low angle cracks from two inches on up. Plus, the tongue is padded and will keep your feet comfy, even after hundreds of feet of crack torquing. The Evolv Cruzer Psyche and the Arc'teryx Acrux SL are lower volume shoes with narrower profiles, so they fit into tighter cracks, but they don't have durable leather uppers like those on the TX4.

The TX4 feels secure on low angle slabs.
The TX4 feels secure on low angle slabs.

Hiking Comfort


Nabbing a perfect ten in this metric, the TX4 is our tester's favorite shoe for long approaches with heavy packs. The lacing system offers the same heel wrap around style as the La Sportiva Mythos climbing shoe and theLa Sportiva Boulder X.


The result is a highly adjustable system that allows you to dial in the tightness of this shoe easily, all the way down to the toe. This means you can cinch it down for more security when venturing into technical terrain, but still keep things loose higher up on the shoe if you've got high arches and high volume feet. We enjoyed the full toe box at the end of long hiking days when our feet started to swell and found the more comfortable that narrow Boulder X. The Traverse injected MEMlex midsole kept our testers stable and comfortable as we descended hundreds of feet of talus and scree in the Sierra. A visual inspection of the sole reveals the fattest lugs of any shoe in this review, providing superior traction in slippery mud and ball bearing-like gravel.

These fat lugs have great traction on dirt and mud.
These fat lugs have great traction on dirt and mud.

Support


When you're carrying big loads into the backcountry, to the base of El Cap, or for guiding, support is key, and the TX4 offers loads of it.


The stiff midsole isn't as supportive as the La Sportiva Boulder X, but it comes in at a very close second. Combined with its hiking comfort, we feel this is the best approach shoe for carrying heavy loads into the backcountry, and if it still doesn't have enough support for you, you may need to be wearing a heavier hiking boot. The TX4 is more supportive than the Five Ten Guide Tennie, The Arc'teryx Acrux SL and the Scarpa Gecko, and also features a more full fit than these models.

Weight & Packability


If the TX4 has a weakness, its weight, and bulkiness, earning it a middle of the road score in this metric. Weighing in at 26.2 oz, this shoe is not as comfortable or light on the back of our harnesses as the ultralight Evolv Cruzer Psyche or the low profile Arc'teryx Acrux SL, our Top Pick For Lightweight Shoe.


However, the comfortable and supportive TX4 is still lighter than less supportive options like the Scarpa Gecko and the Five Ten Guide Tennie. Easily clipable loops on the heel of these shoes make for secure clipping when it's time to rope up and put on actual climbing shoes. We had some questions about the durability of the pull tabs, as they are apart of the ankle lacing system and stretched out the more we used them, but after hundreds of times of pulling them off and on, the pull tabs haven't broken.

The TX4s have clip-in loops so you can put them on the back of your harness during a multi-pitch.
The TX4s have clip-in loops so you can put them on the back of your harness during a multi-pitch.

Best Applications


If you're going for a quiver of one, hands down, this TX4 is the one. While the Five Ten Guide Tennie is a better climber, and the Arc'teryx Acrux SL is great for going fast and light, none can keep your feet as comfy and supported on long approaches with heavy loads. All while still inspiring confidence when it's time to step out of your aiders and bust a free move. We also loved climbing easy warm-ups, scrambling in the Buttermilks, and hiking all around the Sierra in these awesome shoes. Friends and acquaintances alike would always comment on their own positive experiences with the La Sportiva Traverse Line.

Value


At $140, the TX4 sits solidly in the middle of the approach shoe price range, but we believe that this versatile, durable, all leather shoe is a killer value. It kept our tester's feet comfy after long slogs and hours standing in aiders so that they could use their feet for nobler pursuits, like free climbing. If you're looking to save a few bucks and still want a great approach shoe, take a look at our Best Buy Award Winner, the La Sportiva Boulder X.

A good approach shoe can smear and edge way better than your average hiking shoe.
A good approach shoe can smear and edge way better than your average hiking shoe.

Conclusion


With so many quality manufacturers out there, sometimes we find ourselves splitting hairs to choose the best. Not so when it comes to the La Sportiva TX4, which is why we awarded it our Top Pick for Heavy Loads. We feel this shoe easily stands with the best, most versatile approach shoe of the bunch. Friends and acquaintances alike would always comment on their own positive experiences with the La Sportiva Traverse Line.
Matt Bento

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: January 7, 2018
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
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 (5.0)

100% of 1 reviewers recommend it
 
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2 Total Ratings
5 star: 100%  (2)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
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   Jan 7, 2018 - 01:09am
J.E. · Other · Olympic Peninsula
This is a review for the TX4 Mid GTX, which is mostly identical to the TX4 with just some gore-tex and extra-tall uppers. This is the first version on my review which will get updated as I put more miles on them for reviewing long-term durability.

Traction, traction, and even more traction on top of spare traction. Did I mention traction? Ok, good. When it comes to slick roots, slimy logs, snoty rock slabs, and even freshly-waxed floors at the grocery store, these boots just absolutely stick to surfaces like crazy glue. Wet or dry, doesn't really feel like much difference either way. When combined with the ultra-light weight, unmatched comfort, and great lacing system, there really isn't anything to complain about, but I will try my best. It's easy to see why OGL rates the TX series of shoes so highly above everything else in their review lineup.

It is unfortunate though that such a perfect shoe for even casual hiking use, goes unnoticed by the mass market of people looking for hiking shoes and boots. The TX series is usually hidden in the approach shoe and boot category of reviews and online stores. I have no problem at all in saying the TX4 mid is vastly better in every metric to the top-sellers of mid-cut hiking boots, for which I have tried just about most of them. Even the uber-popular Salomon X-Ultra Mid boots don't come close to the comfort, durability, and performance of the TX4 mid GTX. They have a slight edge in weighing several ounces less, and a bit cheaper, but that's it. I even think the TX4 mid is way more comfortable than the highly-rated Salomon Quest 4D boots.


Traction:

Again with the traction? You bet! So they are great going uphill, but even better coming downhill. The heel braking system is just magic on solid and loose ground. Snow, ice, scree, rock, piles of marbles, and really anything you can find out there.

Now, there are some caveats to the traction though. It's really impossible, in my opinion, to make a boot that does perfect on both solid and slick surfaces as well as deep and loose surfaces when pointing uphill. The TX4 will need a bit more of an effort in kick-stepping your toes into the hillside to nail them into loose ground, especially in snow. The climbing zone on the front, which makes for supreme grip on rock, allows for a bit of slipping in stuff like snow and ice. With that said though, the grip gets much better after a couple dozen miles of roughing up the soles. The overall traction becomes much better once the whole sole has been used for a while. This is my exact same experience with even Five Ten S1 rubber shoes, which exhibit the same trait of being slicker when brand new. Same goes for bike tires and car tires which are designed for extra grip. They always need that initial micro-layer to be worn off.

But overall, one thing is for sure, you can always count on the boots getting you back down anything you managed to get up. When coming back down the mountain, they have a very reassuring sound that they make when you step. It's kind of like a hollow thunk that lets you know they are locked in and sticking as well as they can. It's hard to explain, but you will know what I mean when you hear and feel it.

As an additional note, that little pinky-toe thing sticking out the side looks kind of funny. After some good amount of time scrambling up messy sections of basalt rock, I think I can see why they are there. The small extended section of the sole that sticks out the side adds stability to the boots in general hiking use. I also found it to work quite well when traversing a hillside on rock. While you might not be able to stand on a 1/2 inch foothold using just the little section of sole, they do add a lot of grip into cracks and footholds that go halfway under the boot tread. I can jam the small section into little cracks deep in footholds where no shoe or boot really has the right to cram into. This gives a lot of confidence in the boots, especially when carrying a heavy pack.


Comfort:

I can usually find some place inside a pair of boots where I don't find the comfort to be 100%. The TX4 boots actually started out incredibly uncomfortable, and felt like the mid-sections of my feet were being crushed inside a vice. The tightness went away within just several miles of hiking and were quick to conform to my feet. They went from brutally painful to the most comfortable boots I have ever put on my feet within one hike.

The sole is also very cushy for how low to the ground the footbed lies. I love being able to feel the ground and use different parts of my toes to change where the pressure and grip go to the surface. Boots that are too stiff in the sole don't have this luxury. The TX4 has just the right amount of ground feel, but also just the right amount of cushion from having your feet feel like they are walking on spears. I think too many people have unnecessarily weak feet and could stand to use boots and shoes with less isolation from the ground as long as they take the time to build up stronger feet that can take more punishment on their own. Humans managed to evolve without shoes for many thousands of years, so the potential is there for most people, but often under-utilized.

If you are a heel-slammer type of hiker, then you will enjoy the way the heel system works on the TX4. The impact braking system really isn't a gimmick and takes a very good amount of shock away from the hits. I think it's just as good as even the best super-thick soled hiking boots I have used, and better than many others. Very remarkable for a boot with a much thinner sole and tread than others.


Boot Smell:

This is my second pair of TX4 mid boots, and boy, do they stink like new boots out of the box when new. If you like new-boot smell, then go ahead and tie these around your rear-view mirror in your car like one of those pine-tree-shaped chemical scent concentrate things. If you don't like the smell, let them sit in front of a house fan for a few days to air out.


Lacing System:

The lacing system looks goofy and like it would snap in just a couple of miles. So far, I have not had any wear show up on mine, and in all the reviews of the TX series I have read, they hold up longer than the rest of the shoes. Most importantly though, I think the lacing system is genius and does a great job of spreading out the pressure. The boots stay in place when the laces are loose, which is great for casual strolling on flatter trails, and for extra breathing. Then when the boots are clamped down tight for more serious work, they remain as comfortable as they could possibly be given the added pressure. The laces are shorter than many other boots, but I have so far not needed to double knot them to keep the knots tight. The corded system also keeps the sections of laces tight as you pull the laces tight from the toes up the the ankle. The laces don't unravel and loosen easily while working them along.


Waterproofing:

Mine have remained very waterproof in rain, puddles, and streams. Even after getting them dirty and banged up with rock scrambling, the leather beads water off like a pro. I'm not even sure if the gore-tex has been challenged yet, as the water can't even get past the fabric and leather. This is sure to wear off eventually, but I'm hoping a good soaking in Nikwax will restore them to original performance. The nice thing is that there are not many seams on the lower part of the boots, so the full wrap leather should work great for staying dry compared to other boots which have many seams and places where DWR treatments fail quickly.


Weight:

Mine weigh 2.4 lbs for a size 44.5 (11us men's). That's light enough that they really disappear and feel like an extra skin on the feet as opposed to clunky weights.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.


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