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Hands-on Gear Review
La Sportiva TX4 Review
Cons: Relatively heavy and bulky
Bottom line: This is the best do-it-all approach shoe.
The La Sportiva TX4 takes home this season's Editors' Choice Award for being the best all-rounder in the Approach shoe category. 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 8 Best Climbing Approach Shoes for Men
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Editors' Choice Award goes to the product that stands out above the rest, and 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. We feel this shoe easily stands above the rest as 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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