La Sportiva TC Pro Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Great edging, solid crack climbing, good all-around shoe
Cons: Expensive, limited sport/bouldering use
Manufacturer: La Sportiva
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La Sportiva TC Pro
|Price||$190.00 at Backcountry|
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|$195.00 at Backcountry|
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|$129.95 at Amazon|
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|Pros||Great edging, solid crack climbing, good all-around shoe||Versatile, stiff, durable, comfortable||Extremely precise toe, extra heel sensitivity, comfortable for an aggressive shoe||Sensitive, comfortable, great for toe hooking||Extremely sensitive, comfortable right out of the box, solid edging performance|
|Cons||Expensive, limited sport/bouldering use||Expensive, limited sensitivity||Pricey, tall toe box, too narrow for some feet||Expensive, too soft for super technical edging||Really expensive, limited support, low versatility|
|Bottom Line||With this shoe, you can climb pitch after pitch without pain||An awesome shoe for long climbs requiring a variety of crack climbing and edging techniques||A comp-oriented shoe with a plethora of nice features||These supple masterpieces are ready for miles of steep European limestone||A super expensive shoe designed for bouldering and comps|
|Rating Categories||La Sportiva TC Pro||La Sportiva Katana Lace||La Sportiva Solution Comp||Scarpa Drago||Scarpa Chimera|
|Steep Terrain (20%)|
|Specs||La Sportiva TC Pro||La Sportiva Katana...||La Sportiva...||Scarpa Drago||Scarpa Chimera|
|Upper||Leather||Leather/Lorica||Leather / microfiber||Microsuede||Microsuede|
|Lining||Sentex/PU Foam||Pacific (forefoot and back)||Pacific, lycra||Unlined||None|
|Rubber Type||Vibram XS Edge||Vibram XS Edge||Vibram XS Grip2||Vibram XS Grip2||Vibram XS Grip2|
|Rubber Thickness (millimeters)||4 mm||4 mm||4 mm||3.5mm||3.5 mm|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The "TC" in the TC Pro name stands for Tommy Caldwell, an American professional climber who helped design these exceedingly popular shoes. Caldwell has a long list of climbing accomplishments, but he's probably most known for his free climbing prowess on Yosemite's El Capitan. These shoes are built for this purpose with a stiff sole and high-top upper that supply excellent edging performance and extra padding for all-day crack jamming. Although they're exceptional for granite cracks, they're also a solid choice for trad climbing on almost any rock type. That's why these shoes have gained devoted fans all around the world.
The XS Edge rubber used on the TC Pro is, as the name implies, designed for edging. It works phenomenally for this purpose. The pointed toe stands on extremely microscopic features with ease, and both the inside and outside edges feel precise enough for hard face climbing.
La Sportiva used their P3 platform technology to add support and complete the edging package. After wearing this shoe for long enough, it's easy to be lured into believing that they can actually do it all. Only when compared directly to more specialized shoes is this model put into perspective. They are amazing edging shoes for considering that the sole is nearly flat, but they still fall behind the upper echelon of edging shoes.
Fish do well in water, and the TC Pro does well in cracks for the same reason: they are meant to be there. The virtually flat toe fits pretty well into cracks, allowing you to crank and jam in all directions with impunity. The forefoot is surprisingly stiff for how sensitive the shoe feels and holds its shape no matter how hard you try to mangle your foot in the wide stuff. With these shoes, your hands will beg for a break long before your feet.
Unfortunately, the toe box is high volume which means it doesn't fit very well into thin cracks. Most people will probably prefer a shoe with a slimmer toe profile to charge up cracks that are thin hands or smaller. For anything wider than thin hands, however, the TC Pro is extremely capable.
Just looking at the pointed toe of the TC Pro suggests that it will do well in pockets at some angle. The steeper you get, however, the worse it performs. That's partially due to the flat toe, which is so amazing on edges and in cracks, but it's an ineffective design for pulling your lower body in on overhanging terrain.
The heel cup is also bulky with a hard rubber spine that reduces sensitivity for heel hooks. The TC Pro is still great for vertical terrain, but for steep cranking or pocketed limestone, we recommend a shoe with a pointier toe and a more aggressive downturn.
This hard man's shoe is extremely supportive, but it still manages to provide some sensitivity. Its 4 mm of Vibram XS Edge rubber is slightly more than average but actually pretty modest for a specialized crack shoe. This compromise between protection and performance means that the TC Pro actually offers impressive sensitivity for such a stiff shoe.
Shoes with softer midsoles can still provide much higher levels of sensitivity, but after you get accustomed to the stiffness of the TC Pro, it's possible to detect tiny rock features. You might not be able to feel absolutely everything, but with careful technique, you can learn to trust them.
After enough pitches, any climbing shoe will make you miserable. How long that takes is the measure of how comfortable a shoe is. The TC Pro doesn't baby your foot like some flat shoes. The toe is molded into an asymmetrical point, and if you size it too tight, your toes will curl over slightly. Our tester wears a euro 44.5 street shoe, but size down to a 43.5 for a performance fit in TC Pro. This shoe is very comfortable, but it isn't the most comfortable shoe ever made. Still, on pitch 23, it can manage to feel very much like it did on pitch one.
The sole offers tons of support to stave off fatigue, and the high-top upper protects your foot amazingly in cracks. Both of these aspects of its performance are more important than its comfort out of the box. And out of the box, it can feel rather uncomfortable until the stiff leather uppers have been properly broken in with a few days of climbing. The TC Pro isn't perfect for everyone, especially those with wide or high-volume feet. Another occasional complaint is Achilles pain due to the high-top design. Most of our testers don't experience this pain. Among those that do, they usually don't begin to feel Achilles pain until the daily pitch count climbs into the double digits.
The TC Pro is a shoe that's worth saving up your lunch money for. And with its premium price, you just might have to. Concerning durability, the 4 mm rubber will usually outlast the rand, which has a disappointing tendency to peel on the sides. This generally doesn't affect performance; however, many TC Pro wearers chose to preemptively glue the rand down to prevent this peeling. The leather uppers seem to hold up well to significant use, but we can't say the same about the laces. If you expect to do a lot of crack climbing, also expect to replace the laces frequently.
The fact that they can be utilized for general climbing in addition to being crack specialists increases their value significantly in our eyes. It might be hard to justify a diverse shoe quiver if you don't climb that often, but the glory of the TC Pro might inspire you to get out more often. There are a few other less expensive high-top shoes that are marketed for crack and traditional climbing. Although these models could potentially allow you to save a little money, the TC Pro seems like a similar value due to its superior versatility.
The La Sportiva TC Pro has a serious fan club, but there are also a few detractors. Some of these detractors are just grumpy contrarians, but criticism about limited durability and Achilles pain does seem reasonable to many of our testers. Nevertheless, the TC Pro is easily one of the most popular shoes in the granite climbing areas of the American West, and it's easy to understand why. Its excellent balance of comfort, edging performance, and sensitivity remain unmatched by its rivals. To get your hands on a pair, you'll have to fork over some serious cash, but we're confident you'll be pleased with what we believe is the Best Shoe for Trad and Crack Climbing.
— Jack Cramer & Matt Bento