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La Sportiva TC Pro Review

Designed for big days on El Cap, this shoe is nearly perfect for long traditional climbs.
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $190 List | $190.00 at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Great edging, solid crack climbing, good all-around shoe
Cons:  Expensive, limited sport/bouldering use
Manufacturer:   La Sportiva
By Matt Bento ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Aug 17, 2017
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80
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#14 of 31
  • Edging - 20% 9
  • Cracks - 20% 9
  • Comfort - 20% 9
  • Pockets - 20% 6
  • Sensitivity - 20% 7

Our Verdict

The La Sportiva TC Pro comes close to living up to the climb-anything-anywhere hype surrounding it. It features phenomenal edging, a flat toe, ankle protection for cracks, decent smearing ability, and an ultra supportive, semi-stiff sole that will keep your feet feeling strong pitch after pitch. This makes this shoe a top contender for the ultimate, single-quiver shoe title. As with any jack-of-all-trades, the TC Pro falls behind many specialized shoes in their respective niches. It doesn't excel in the steep and gymnastic world of high-end sport or bouldering.


Compare to Similar Products

 
This Product
La Sportiva TC Pro
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award    
Price $190.00 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$175.00 at Backcountry
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Pros Great edging, solid crack climbing, good all-around shoeComfortable in cracks, low volume toe fits in thin cracks, great edgingGreat edging, convenient and secure Velcro closure systemGreat precision, aggressive/down turned toe tip, sensitive, great toe and heel hooking, precise fit, comfortable, easy on/offIncredible sensitivity, great edging, durability
Cons Expensive, limited sport/bouldering useHeel cup can feel uncomfortable across the achilles, left some testers with sore archesNot as comfortable in cracks as lace-up modelsNot comfortable for all-day climbing, expensive, not the most versatile, hard to fit, single strap broke prematurelySpecalized use, expensive, might be hard to resole
Bottom Line Designed for big days on El Cap, this shoe is nearly perfect for long traditional climbs.These shoes are high-performing crack climbing machines.This shoe is well-performing all arounder.This shoe is a favorite of many veteran climbers and still feels cutting edge over ten years after its first release.Employing Sportiva's No Edge concept, this is a sensitive shoe that edges incredibly well.
Rating Categories La Sportiva TC Pro La Sportiva Kataki La Sportiva Otaki La Sportiva Solution La Sportiva Futura
Edging (20%)
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
Cracks (20%)
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
Comfort (20%)
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
8
Pockets (20%)
10
0
6
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
9
Sensitivity (20%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
10
Total Scores (%)
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
Specs La Sportiva TC Pro La Sportiva Kataki La Sportiva Otaki La Sportiva Solution La Sportiva Futura
Style Lace Lace Velcro Velcro Velcro
Upper Leather Suede leather / Microfiber Leather/ Microfiber Leather / Lorica Leather/Synthetic Leather
Width Options Regular Regular Regular Regular Regular
Lining Sentex/PU Foam Pacific Pacific HF in toe box and arch area only Unlined
Rubber Type Vibram XS Edge Vibram XS Edge Vibram XS Edge Vibram XS Grip 2 Vibram XS Grip2
Rubber Thickness (millimeters) 4 mm 4 mm 4 mm 4 mm 3 mm

Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


The high-top TC Pro is truly at home while granite crack climbing where its stiff sole makes tiny edges into rests and foot jams into luxury.
The high-top TC Pro is truly at home while granite crack climbing where its stiff sole makes tiny edges into rests and foot jams into luxury.

Edging


The XS Edge rubber used on the TC Pro is, as the name implies, designed for edging. It works phenomenally. 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 they can truly do it all. Only when contrasted to specialized shoes like the La Sportiva Genius or the Miura VS is this model put into perspective. They are amazing edging shoes for being almost entirely flat, but they still fall beneath the upper echelon of edging shoes.

The TC Pro handles all but very thin cracks extremely well.
The TC Pro handles all but very thin cracks extremely well.

Crack Climbing


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 perfectly in 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 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 mean it doesn't fit very well into thin cracks. To charge up cracks sized thin hands and smaller there are a few other models that will let you get more shoe inside the crack (and more grip), such as the La Sportiva Skwama or the Editors' Choice-winning Kataki. For anything wider than thin hands, however, the TC Pro can't be beaten.

The down turn of the Katana Lace VS. the flatter fit of the TC Pro.
The down turn of the Katana Lace VS. the flatter fit of the TC Pro.

Pockets


Just looking at the TC Pro's pointed toe suggests that it will do well in pockets at some angle. The steeper you get, however, the worse it performs. That's because the flat toe, which is so amazing on edges and in cracks, is an ineffective design for pulling your lower body in on overhanging terrain. The TC Pros are still great for vertical pockets, but for steep limestone cranking we recommend the Tenaya Tarifa, with its pointy toes and excellent edging abilities. The La Sportiva Miura, which provides more than a little inspiration for the design of the TC Pro, has a down-turned enough toe to perform on overhanging climbs where the TC Pro can't. Try the Miura, or the slightly more aggressive La Sportiva Katana Lace if you're a crack climber that wants to hook steep pockets too.

Testing the TC Pro at the Owens River Gorge  Bishop  CA.
Testing the TC Pro at the Owens River Gorge, Bishop, CA.

Sensitivity


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. The Butora Altura, in contrast, is a rival crack shoe with 7 mm of rubber. This compromise between protection and performance means that the TC Pro actually offers impressive sensitivity for such a stiff shoe. Softer designs can still provide much higher levels of sensitivity, but after you get accustomed to the TC Pros stiffness it's possible to detect tiny rock features. You won't feel everything in, but with careful technique you can learn to trust them.

Comfort


After enough pitches, any 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 has 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 sizes down to a 43 for a performance fit in TC Pros. This shoe is very comfortable, but it isn't the most comfortable shoe ever made. Still, on pitch 23 it manages to feel very much like it did on pitch one.

A little Red Rocking in the TC Pro
A little Red Rocking in the TC Pro

The sole offers tons of support that helps stave off fatigue, and the shoe 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 initially feel 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, and those that do, don't begin to feel it until the daily pitch count climbs into the double digits.

Value


The TC Pro is a shoe that's worth saving your lunch money. And with it priced just under two hundred you just might have to. Concerning durability, the 4 mm rubber will usually outlast the rand, which tends to peel on the sides. This generally doesn't affect performance, however, many TC Pro wearers preemptively glue the rand down to prevent peeling. The leather uppers hold up well to significant use. We can't say the same about the laces though. If you expect to do a lot of crack climbing, also expect to replace a laces frequently.

Dave in the TC Pro on Cathedral Peak  Toulomne  YNP  CA.
Dave in the TC Pro on Cathedral Peak, Toulomne, YNP, CA.

The fact that they can be utilized for general climbing in addition to being crack specialists increases their value significantly in our book. It might be hard to justify if you don't climb that often, but maybe they will inspire you to get out more. The Butora Altura has a similar design but costs $30 less. The Altura isn't as comfy out of the box and requires a long break-in period, but they are considerably more durable and thus an even better value than the price difference indicates.

Conclusion


The TC Pro has a serious fan club but is also not without detractors. Some of these detractors are just grumpy contrarians, but criticism about limited durability and Achilles pain do seem warranted. Nevertheless, the TC Pro is easily one of the most popular shoes at granite climbing areas of the American West and it's easy to understand why. Its excellent balance of comfort, edging performance, and sensitivity remains 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.


Matt Bento