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Butora Altura Review

A viable alternative to the TC Pro
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Price:  $160 List | $159.90 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Comfortable, durable, good edging, great ankle protection in wide cracks
Cons:  Long break-in period, can feel insensitive and clunky
Manufacturer:   Butora
By Matt Bento ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Jan 4, 2019
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76
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#17 of 32
  • Edging - 20% 8
  • Cracks - 20% 9
  • Comfort - 20% 9
  • Pockets - 20% 7
  • Sensitivity - 20% 5

Our Verdict

The Altura is Butora's entry into the growing field of high-top shoes designed for trad climbing. While rabid fans of the more popular La Sportiva TC Pro probably won't be switching to these hemp-lined trad climbing machines, folks who just don't vibe with the TC Pro have a comfortable option for long days on the big stone. The Alturas feature a similar amount of ankle protection, a rand that comes up fairly high for a trad shoe, and they're as stiff as a board (without actually being board lasted). The Altura is available in wide (green) and narrow (orange) versions.

Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

This shoe shows plenty of obvious nods to the TC Pro with both its performance and general appearance, so this review will deal mostly with its advantages and shortcomings relative to the TC. In general, shoes of this style are decent for edging, great in wide cracks, and have a flat and comfortable fit.

These shoes smear fairly well after a long break-in period. Out of the box  they're just too stiff.
These shoes smear fairly well after a long break-in period. Out of the box, they're just too stiff.

Performance Comparison


With thick padding behind the tongue and thick sticky rubber soles  these things are ready to take a beating in cracks.
With thick padding behind the tongue and thick sticky rubber soles, these things are ready to take a beating in cracks.

Edging


The Alturas are stiff, even stiffer than the TC Pros. If sized correctly, you can stand on small edges for a long time, which is perfect for hours of low angle climbing in Yosemite Valley, Tuolumne Meadows, or Squamish. If you're used to a softer shoe, then you're going to have an adjustment period to get used to trusting small edges with such thick, clunky shoes. Stick with it, however, and you'll be rewarded with all-day comfort.

It took our testers a little while to get used to having so much rubber between their feet and the rock  but after some adjusting  these shoes are great for edging.
It took our testers a little while to get used to having so much rubber between their feet and the rock, but after some adjusting, these shoes are great for edging.

Comparing the Altura's edging prowess with the TC Pro is difficult because they feel pretty different. The Altura's hemp lining and additional stiffness make it harder to size correctly, and they require a longer break-in period. After a few months climbing in the Altura, we're still breaking them in, and they're still getting better. Butora uses it's proprietary Neo Fuse sticky rubber, and our testers feel like its a touch softer than the Vibram XS edge used on the TC Pro.

Crack Climbing


The plush, padded tongue of the Alura offers excellent protection in cracks hand sized and up. The rand is situated higher up on the sides of the shoe than the TC Pro's, and so far we haven't had any delamination issues like we occasionally have with the TCs.

In thin cracks, the Alturas suffer from the same shortcomings as the TC. The high volume toe is comfortable, but it makes the toe too thick for cracks that are tight hands (#1 Camalot) or smaller.

These shoes are comfy in hand cracks  but the high volume toe doesn't fit in thin cracks as well as the La Sportiva Kataki.
These shoes are comfy in hand cracks, but the high volume toe doesn't fit in thin cracks as well as the La Sportiva Kataki.

Pockets


We'd shy away from using these shoes for climbing pockets because we prefer pointier shoes for places like Wild Iris and Ten Sleep Canyon. The toe box is also tall so it can be hard to wiggle them into horizontal slots. Unless your Alturas get super broken-in, they're going to feel frustratingly clunky for precision pocket climbing.

Sensitivity


Ask us again in a year. Seriously, one fan of the Altura says he thinks they've finally broken in after their third resole. That's probably due to Altura's 7mm of Neo Fuse rubber, which is thickest in our shoe review and 3 full millimeters more than on a TC Pro. While this bids well for the shoe's longevity, it makes them feel insensitive out of the box, and a month later, they're still pretty stiff and clunky. But they do get better.

The break-in time on the TC Pro is shorter, and overall, it feels less stiff and more sensitive. For slabs, it's nice to have a bit of flex in your shoes so you can drop your heels and get lots of rubber on the rock. While the Alturas are starting to soften up, they definitely have not become our go-to slab shoe after a month in. Again, it's all about the long game with these shoes, and the long break-in speaks to a long life.


Comfort


These shoes shine in the comfort metric…eventually. Out of the box, our testers with high arches found the Altura uncomfortable as they molded our tester's feet to their stiff, flat last, and not the other way around. We've heard the same complaints about fresh TC Pros, but they soften up and become comfortable faster than the Alturas. Other testers complained about sharp Achilles pain due to the high-top design. They were able solve this issue by cutting a 1-inch deep V into the back the shoe, but this isn't a solution that most will be excited to employ on a brand new pair of shoes.

If you size these correctly with your foot flat and your toes just kissing the end of the shoe, they will become very comfortable and great for all-day use. The organic hemp lining feels great, and the padding in the tongue is soft, though not as breathable as the TC Pros. Our lead tester wears a US men's 9.5 street shoe and found a size nine about perfect for Alturas.

The lacing system allows you to dial in the fit  but these shoes take some time to get on.
The lacing system allows you to dial in the fit, but these shoes take some time to get on.

Value


These shoes are built like tanks and less expensive than TC Pros. If you don't mind suffering through the long break in period, you'll be rewarded with a very durable shoe that resoles well. We believe the Alturas are an excellent value, something to appreciate in an era where most high-end climbing shoes are approaching the $200 mark.

Sometimes you have to heel hook on trad climbs  right? These aren't the best for heel hooking  but perform way better than a slipper-style shoe.
Sometimes you have to heel hook on trad climbs, right? These aren't the best for heel hooking, but perform way better than a slipper-style shoe.

Conclusion


We'll keep climbing in the Alturas, since the more they break in the better they feel, becoming more precise over time as they soften up. We wanted these to feel like less expensive versions of the TCs. They're not, and don't expect the same fit or performance out of the box. We put these side by side with a brand new pair of TCs, and our lead tester could hop on the techiest of faces and pretty much climbed as confidently as he would with a worn-in pair. Not so with the Alturas. They're going to take some time before they start feeling really good. Just keep that in mind the first time you put a pair on. After a lengthy intro, they're a great alternative to the TC Pro, especially if you're having trouble finding the right fit with the TCs, or you want a very durable shoe for guiding or long, easy climbs.

Matt Bento