UPDATE 2018: Since my original review in 2016 I’ve fallen even more in love with these, so much that I have ordered and just received the newest color. Here’s the original review:
Over the last two months I have hiked a few dozen miles and climbed over 4000 feet of technical rock climbing in the new LaSportiva TX2 Approach Shoes and I’m ready to share my opinion on them. For those who aren’t familiar with what an “approach” shoe is I’ll explain. While approach shoes might look like cross training or running shoes the main difference in this category is the use of a climbing shoe type rubber for the out-sole (soft & grippy on smooth rock) and a fit that can be snug enough for technical rock climbing. They differ from climbing shoes by the addition of a mid-sole and foot-bed along with enough support throughout the shoe to allow one to hike (or approach) a technical rock climb in comfort.
Climber ability varies but a rough guideline in my mind is an approach shoe needs to perform well enough to climb 5.6-5.7 terrain comfortably. For my review I pushed them up to 5.9 (Direct finish of Whitney-Gilman Ridge, seconding) and I’ll get into how they fared later in the review. But let’s get some of the basics out of the way.
A LIGHTWEIGHT, FAST-DRAINING, PACKABLE ADVENTURE SHOE WITH GREAT SUPPORT AND A STICKY SOLE.
- One piece (seamless) polyester knit upper for amazing breathability, drainage, and comfort
- Extremely lightweight and packable for harness attachment or throwing in a pack with the C2™ ComboCord
- Uber-sticky Vibram® Mega-Grip™ rubber outsole
- Flared fifth metatarsal area enhances stability and torsional rigidity
- WEIGHT: 9.8 oz/ 280 g
- LAST: Traverse
- CONSTRUCTION: Strobel Lasted
- UPPER: Zone knit polyester mesh / Liquid rubber rands / PU TechLite toe rand
- LINING: Non-slip mesh
- MIDSOLE: Traverse lite injection MEMlex / C2™ ComboCord
- SOLE: Vibram® Mega-Grip™ Traverse-Lite
- SIZES: 38 – 48 (half sizes)
- COLORS: Black/Yellow
With that out of the way let’s take a closer look at some of the characteristics of this shoe that make it stand out in the approach shoe category, starting with the most obvious.
The first thing I noticed when I took them out of the box was how light they were.
The manufacturer specs state “9.8oz” per shoe and my home scale weighed them in at about 10.5oz (size 42). Either way that is about 8-10 ounces lighter per pair than my Five Ten Guide Tennies (review) and my Five Ten Camp Four’s (review). The other unique feature to these shoes is how “pack-able” they are. Not only is the lightweight upper super collapsible but LaSportiva has added this extra elastic band that is stored on the heel and can be deployed over the other shoe to make a neat little package for either storing in a small climbing pack or even clipping to the back of your harness!
So they pack well, and weigh little… but how do they perform when actually on your feet? Let’s start with hiking performance and get into climbing performance in a little bit.
For hiking: The TX2’s use a “Traverse lite injection MEMlex / C2™ ComboCord” mid-sole which provides a firm, cushioned mid-sole that is very lightweight. It is in between the stiffness and torsional rigidity of the old Five Ten Guide Tennies and the new Guide Tennies (for those who have used both). When flexed it stiffens up noticeably at mid-foot. When combined with the Vibram® Mega-Grip™ Traverse-Lite sole there is enough support to keep my feet comfy after a few miles of rough alpine scrambling (a downside of the old Guide Tennies was they were too soft through-out leading to sore feet, an issue that was resolved with the newest model). The TX2 finds a nice balance of soft enough for climbing and stable enough for rough trail.
For Climbing: Two things matter when it comes to how well an approach shoe performs when moving over technical rock. Fit, and friction. Let’s look at fit first:
These shoes fit me like a comfy slipper. My feet are fairly standard US Men’s Size 9, 42 EUR, medium width, slight Morton’s toe, feet. Getting these on takes a little more work than slipping into my Guide Tennies because the heel cup is so precise. Once laced up the heel does not move at all, even when edging on steep rock.
With the addition of a very soft fleece like rand on the inside upper I’ve worn these on a few climbs without socks and they are still ultra-comfy. I especially liked not having to pack sweaty socks in my pack when it was time to change into more aggressive climbing shoes. The lace system allows them to be worn more loosely for a casual approach or cinched snug for performance when roping up.
The LaSportiva TX2 uses Vibram® Mega-Grip™ rubber out-sole. While seeming designed more for adventure racing I’ve found it sufficient for slab climbing up to 5.6 and face/crack climbing up to 5.8. A dedicated “climbing-zone” is a somewhat quirky but effective design.
This is where the shoe design shows its “adventure racing” type appeal. The mesh upper, despite being black (not my first choice on HOT climbing days) is incredibly breathable. I climbed Whitehorse ledge on a humid 85 degree day and while I was a sweaty mess my feet did not feel the burn they would have if I was wearing my much less breathable climbing shoes. The downside (maybe) of such great breath-ablity is the complete lack of water resistance. Yesterday I barely tapped the water while crossing the drainage of an alpine gully in Huntington Ravine and I could feel the water almost immediately. 20 minutes later we arrived at our rope up sport for an alpine ridge climb and the shoe that had taken a bit of water was bone dry. So, water resistant? Not at all. Super quick drying? Yup!
The LaSportiva TX2’s are a nice blend of adventure racing meets climbing performance. This is a great choice for fast-packers, ultra-trail runners, Tough Mudders, traditional/alpine rock climbers, climbing guides, scrambler’s, and more. The design is well thought out and the stitch-work & craftsmanship is what you would expect from the company that brought us the Ganda Guide and Boulder X. If you are in the market for a high performance approach shoe you should take a close look at the LaSportiva TX2, they might be the perfect fit for your next adventure.
Contest & Giveaway:
I’ll be testing more footwear over the summer/fall and the good folks at Friendly Foot have supplied me with a steady flow of the best damn foot-powder in the whole world. Every footwear review will offer a chance to win a bottle of this awesome sauce. For the first time ever I am using Rafflecopter to run the contest. Up to four ways to get entries! Contest ends 7/31/16 12:00am EST. To enter just click the link below!
Disclosure: LaSportiva provided the author with a sample of the TX2’s for review. This post contains affiliate links which help to fund this website.