Switchback Travel | La Sportiva TX4 Review (2023)

La Sportiva TX4

Weight:1 lb 4.8 oz.
Exclusive:Vibram Mega Grip Traverse
What we like:More durability and protection than the TX3 for just $5 more.
What we don't do:The leather shrinks when wet and the toe box will be too wide for some.
Check out the Women's La Sportiva TX4Check out the men's La Sportiva TX4


La Sportiva's popular TX series ranges from the minimalist TX2 approach shoe to the mid-height TXS hiking boots. For the past few seasons, I've been enjoying my TX3 mid: an approach shoe with a great combination of breathability, support and performance on both trail and rock. But after experiencing durability issues with the mesh upper, I decided to give the leather TX4 a try. Since making the switch, I've been impressed: the added protection, longevity and waterproofing of the TX4 are worth the small weight penalty. Below we break down the TX4's overall performance. To see how it stacks up, check out our articles onbetter approach shoes,the best hiking shoes, andthe best hiking shoes for women.

Table of Contents

  • Walking show
  • Encryption performance
  • Waterproofing and Breathability
  • Weight
  • Build quality and durability
  • Customization and Dimensioning
  • What we like/dislike
  • Comparison table
  • The competition



TheLa Sportiva TX4provides an impressive combination of support, protection and traction on the trail, making it one of our favorite approach shoes for hiking. I debuted the TX4 on a four-day, 35-mile Grand Canyon backpacking trip where we encountered everything from mud and packed dirt to slush, ice, and snow. With the same Vibram Megagrip Traverse rubber sole as the TX3—a very sticky rubber with dots in the forefoot and sharper lugs in the heel—it felt secure on all the terrain we encountered. In fact, the TX4 seemed to outperform many of the lightweight hiking shoes my group members were wearing, especially in terms of traction.Switchback Travel | La Sportiva TX4 Review (1)

While the stiff, climbing-specific sole often gives them awayapproach shoesReputed to be more unforgiving on the trail than lightweight hikers, the TX4 offers a nice balance of stiffness and flexibility. Compared to its thick, brick-like soleFive Ten Tennie Guide, the TX4 allows for a noticeably more natural bounce in every step. At the start of our hike, my pair of TX4s didn't break in at all, but the leather upper quickly adjusted to my foot during our first 10 miles. Even with a 40-pound load on my back, I didn't experience chafing or hot spots, and I appreciated the light cushioning underfoot. Plus, the leather upper gives a tangible boost in protection - especially compared to popular mesh approach shoes and lightweight hikers. The Grand Canyon was littered with rocks and spiky plants along the trail, but the skin of the TX4 protected my foot where the mesh of the TX3 would have fallen.Switchback Travel | La Sportiva TX4 Review (2)

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With a leather upper, stiff and sticky sole, and generous shelf along the base of the foot,La Sportiva TX4also excels at technical rock. While scrambling the low grade 5 approach to Monkey Face at Smith Rock, I was able to perch on small edges and smear the slab with confidence. In fact, I've found that the smooth piece of rubber under the toe imparts traction and precision that rivals that of a climbing shoe. Additionally, the comfortable leather upper kept my foot from swimming inside the shoe, allowing me to step on my feet and stick my foot into cracks with precision.

Compared to the TX3's mesh upper or its canvas upperEvolv Cruzer Psyche, the TX4 leather greatly enhances the climbing ability of the shoe by adding protection, stiffness and a snug fit. In comparison, the leather Five Ten Guide Tennie offers a slightly tighter fit and a more streamlined toe box for technical precision, but these climbing-specific features detract from comfort and protection on the trail.Switchback Travel | La Sportiva TX4 Review (3)

Waterproofing and Breathability

With a leather upper, the TX4 provides plenty of water resistance without compromising on breathability. Although the shoe does not incorporate a waterproof membrane like the Salewa Mountain Trainer GTX orLa Sportiva'sTX4 Mid GTX, I've worn it through miles of snow and next to water and came away impressed. Water quickly soaks into the leather instead of seeping out, and during a particularly snowy hike to the rim of the Grand Canyon, my feet stayed dry until the snow was so deep that it entered the shoe by my ankle. Under repeated exposure to wet conditions, I expect the TX4 to get wet and weighed down by the weight of the water, but you can always improve the waterproofing capabilities of a leather shoe with treatments from brands like Sno-Seal or Nikwax (although these will negatively affect breathing).Switchback Travel | La Sportiva TX4 Review (4)

Waterproofing and breathability are where the TX3 mesh and TX4 leather differ the most. The TX3 offers excellent breathability for hot summer days, but is not waterproof at all. On the other hand, the TX4 provides solid water protection—perfect for hiking in wet brush or snowfields—but less ventilation. That said, unlike Gore-Tex and other synthetic waterproof membranes, leather naturally breathes. In fact, while hiking in 60 degree sunny conditions in the Grand Canyon, my feet never sweated. With both shoes in my arsenal, I'll opt for the TX3 when I want comfort on a hot day and the forecast is clear, but mostly I turn to the TX4 for the world's best combination of waterproofing and breathability.Switchback Travel | La Sportiva TX4 Review (5)

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My pair of TX4s (women's size 8) weighed 1lb 7.6oz on my scale (2.8oz heavier than the advertised weight), which is decent forapproach shoewhich balances hiking and climbing abilities. By comparison, my same-sized TX3s weigh 1 pound 6.7 ounces on my scale, which means the TX4 adds significant strength, water resistance, protection, and climbing performance for a negligible weight penalty of just 0.9 ounces. I even find the TX4 light enough to climb on meharness, especially if I need support and protection for the approach or descent (like for steep canyon approaches on Red Rock or glacier travel on the Bugaboos). If I'm climbing in an area with easy access (think Squamish or Tuolumne), I'd prefer a lighter design like Sportiva's TX2 (1 pound 2.6 ounces on my scale) or the Evolv Cruzer Psyche (1 pound 0.8 ounces).Switchback Travel | La Sportiva TX4 Review (6)

Build quality and durability

With a chunky leather upper, generous rand wrap and sturdy Vibram sole, the TX4 is an impressively well-built and durable shoe that's meant to last. I've punched holes in the mesh uppers on three pairs of TX3s over the past two years, assuming the TX4 (which I'd never tried) was too heavy and bulky for my climbing style. However, now that I've tried it, there's no going back. The TX4's leather upper offers much more durability with a negligible increase in cost and weight (less than an ounce and $5). Additionally, like the Five Ten Guide Tennie, the TX4 doesn't lose its shape when wet, which is a common complaint with leather approach shoes (theLa Sportiva Boulder X, specifically). Overall, the La Sportiva TX4 is a neat shoe that will stand the test of time.Switchback Travel | La Sportiva TX4 Review (7)

Customization and Dimensioning

If you've tried any shoe in the TX line, you know the drill: both the sizing and fit of these shoes are unique. For starters, most people find them to run big, so if you're on the fence, we recommend going down a half size from your regular size. I have the TX2, TX3 and TX4 and wear a size 8 in all three instead of my usual 8.5. Second, both the TX3 and TX4 have a wide front end designed to increase both comfort and stability, which is unusual from La Sportiva. As someone who has an especially wide foot, I really like the fit of these shoes. However, if you have a narrow or small foot, you'll probably find the TX4 too roomy. In the end, if this is your first pair of shoes from the TX line, we recommend you try before you buy, or at least buy from an online marketplace with a lenient return and exchange policy.Switchback Travel | La Sportiva TX4 Review (8)

Other versions of La Sportiva TX

We tested the women's version of the TX4 and the shoe is also available in amale versionat the same price and with almost the same construction. As for La Sportiva's growing TX range, models range from a very light approach shoe (TX2) to a stout backpacking boot (TXS). The TX3 and TX4 are the most similar in this group, with the only major difference being the upper construction. For $5 less, thegrid TX3it gives you added breathability and a slight drop in weight, but you sacrifice water resistance, durability, protection and a precise fit. The TX4 also comes in mid-rise Gore-Tex construction, weighing in at 2 pounds for the pair and retailing for $190. Rounding out the collection, the TX2 is the lightest and least durable approach shoe of the bunch, and the TX Guide is designed specifically for technical tackles with a light, responsive and sticky design (more on this model below).Switchback Travel | La Sportiva TX4 Review (9)

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What we like

  • Unlike most approach shoes, the TX4 performs remarkably well for both hiking and climbing.
  • The leather upper is waterproof without sacrificing breathability too much.
  • Compared to the TX3, you get more strength and protection without adding too much weight.

What we don't do

  • The slightly large and wide toe box — built for comfort and stability — can be too roomy for those with low volume or narrow feet.
  • Leather can become wet and heavy and warped with prolonged exposure to rain or snow. You can apply waterproofing products, but keep in mind that they will affect breathing.
  • This shoe isn't fully waterproof, although La Sportiva makes a TX4 GTX for $190.

Switchback Travel | La Sportiva TX4 Review (10)

Comparison table

La Sportiva TX4$1401 lb 4.8 oz.SkinVibram Mega Grip TraverseNo
La Sportiva TX3$1351 lb. 4 oz.GridVibram Mega Grip TraverseNo
La Sportiva TX Driver$1591 lb 5.5 oz.GridVibram MegagripNo
Five Ten Tennie Guide$1201 lb 6.6 oz.SkinStealth C-4No
Arc'teryx Konseal FL2$1451 lb 3.6 oz.Ripstop meshVibram MegagripNot available)
Salewa Mtn Trainer 2 GTX$2001 lb 11.9 oz.SkinVibram Mtn Trainer EvoYes

The competition

The La Sportiva TX4 is impressiveapproach shoewhich combines strength, protection and performance in a light and comfortable construction. We've worn over 10 different models of approach shoes over the years and the TX4 is hands-down our favorite of all time. But despite the high praise, the TX4 won't work for everyone, and there are several worthy contenders. As we mentioned above, theTX3 from the Sportiva rangeoffers similar comfort and grip and boost breathability for a slightly lower weight (0.8 oz lighter per pair) and price. For those with particularly sweaty feet or hot summer goals, the mesh TX3 is a great choice. But with much better durability, protection and water resistance (and a negligible $5 price increase), we think the TX4 is the better all-rounder.

A more recent addition to the TX range,La Sportiva TX Guidesockets as a capable partner for technical approaches. For about $20 more than the TX4, the Guide is slightly heavier (1 lb 5.5 oz) but more responsive, grippier and softer, which combines excellent trail comfort and climbing ability. Other differences include a narrower last (especially in the toe box) and the mesh upper isn't as durable or form-fitting as the TX4's leather construction. Overall, the TX4 retains its place as our favorite general approach shoe, but the Guide model is an interesting alternative if you're more inclined to long days of technical mountain hiking.Switchback Travel | La Sportiva TX4 Review (11)

Similar to the TX4, the Five Ten Guide Tennie is a leather approach shoe with impressive durability and climbing performance that's $20 cheaper than the Sportiva (see our detailed review here). The leather upper is thicker than the TX4 and with a stiff sole, narrow toe box and smooth platform (similar to a climbing shoe), the Guide Tennie is arguably the best climbing shoe. That said, I found the Five Ten to be prohibitively stiff and clumsy on the trail, and the shoe's low-ankle design sacrifices comfort and protection. Additionally, while the rubber sole excels on rock, it loses traction in snow, mud and wet leaves. TheTennis guideit has a devoted following among climbers and shaves about an ounce per pair, but the TX4 is more comfortable, hikes better, and gets the nod from us as our favorite leather approach shoe.

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Leather approach shoes like the TX4 and Guide Tennie are at the top of the pack in terms of durability and fit, but syntheticsArc’teryx Konseal FL 2it's not far behind. At 1 pound 3.6 ounces, the Konseal FL shaves weight with ripstop mesh and improved climbing-focused construction, making it even more capable on technical rock than the TX4. You don't get the comfortable feel of leather, but the Konseal FL is impressively durable for a mesh shoe (significantly more so than the TX3), and we appreciate how the upper dries quickly and doesn't feel heavy when wet. We'll stick with the TX series for its comfort during long approaches, but the Konseal FL is an interesting choice for weight-conscious missions when breathability and durability are paramount.

Finally, if alpine is more your speed, a hiking-focused approach shoe makes sense for long approaches with a heavy pack. TheSalewa Mountain Trainer 2 GTX—Jackson Hole Mountain Guides' shoe of choice for approaches to the Tetons—is a supportive, protective and durable shoe, built with a waterproof membrane for added confidence. You'll pay a premium in both cost ($200) and weight (1 lb 11.9 oz for the women's version), but we think it's worth it if you're putting in significant mileage. Otherwise, the TX4 is the most well-rounded build for those who do a lot of hiking and scrambling.

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Switchback Travel | La Sportiva TX4 Review? ›

The La Sportiva TX4 Mid GTX is a mid-cut, leather, waterproof, access boot designed to excel in tricky, technical terrain.

Is TX4 waterproof? ›

The La Sportiva TX4 Mid GTX is a mid-cut, leather, waterproof, access boot designed to excel in tricky, technical terrain.

What is the difference between TX5 and Txs? ›

The TXS is cheaper and all synthetic, whereas the TX5 is nubuck leather. I think the 5 is now discontinued. RandyLee wrote: Not the TXS, but I've been wearing the TX Guides lately, I've climbed mid 5.10 choss and gone for a 10-mile run in them, I'm pretty happy and plan for them to basically my everything shoe.

Can you use trail running shoes for walking? ›

The short answer: yes. Running shoes and walking shoes have similar qualities that make them ideal for being active. While running shoes are designed to be durable for the rigorous demands of running, they are excellent as walking shoes, too.

What is the difference between trail running shoes and walking shoes? ›

For shorter walks, carrying lighter loads and where speed is important, trail running shoes offer a balance of cushion and flex. For heavier loads or more challenging terrain, the stiffness and higher support of a walking shoe will often be more comfortable.

Where is the TX4 made? ›

AssemblyCoventry, United Kingdom (Ansty Park plant) Shanghai, China (Geely) Bangkok, Thailand (Asia Cab)
Body and chassis
Body styleFour-door saloon car
LayoutFront-engine, rear-wheel-drive
18 more rows

Can La Sportiva shoes get wet? ›

Unlike most approach shoes, the TX4 performs impressively well both for hiking and climbing. The leather upper is water-resistant without sacrificing much breathability.

How much does a Sportiva TX Guide weigh? ›

This Product
This Product La Sportiva TX GuideScarpa Crux
SpecsLa Sportiva TX GuideScarpa Crux
OutsoleVibram Mega-GripVibram vertical approach
Upper Materialsynthetic TPU, PULeather
Weight (per pair)29.8 oz (size 13)27.2 oz (size 9.5)
13 more rows
Oct 18, 2022

Is it OK to wear trail running shoes on pavement? ›

Because of the softer rubber, wearing trail-running shoes on the road, where they will regularly pound and rub on hard pavement, can wear the soles out more quickly than if you stick to the softer surface of a trail.

Is it OK to run on pavement with trail running shoes? ›

Try to avoid trail running shoes when running on manmade surfaces, like concrete or asphalt. The abrasive pavement can wear down the rubber lugs on the shoe's outsole, which can compromise your grip when you switch back to off-roading.

Is it OK to use trail shoes on the road? ›

Are trail running shoes good for running on pavement? Absolutely. Many companies design their trail running shoes to be good on trails and the surface of the roads. So you can wear trail shoes on the road.

Can you wear trail running shoes as everyday shoes? ›

Reasons Not To Wear Them Everyday

The biggest downside of wearing trail running shoes every day is how fast you'll wear down the lugs, or grip of the shoes. They're mostly meant to be worn on soft ground, asphalt, and other hard surfaces will drastically cut down on the available tread.

What are the 3 types of running shoes? ›

Your choices are road-running, trail-running or cross-training shoes.

Do you want trail running shoes to be tight or loose? ›

A running shoe should fit comfortably, but you shouldn't feel like you are slipping around inside. Just because you want a technical running shoe doesn't mean you need a tight ballet slipper. Look for a snug fit without too much pressure in the heel and midfoot. The toe area should feel uncramped.

Can approach shoes get wet? ›

Approach and hiking shoes are only waterproof if they come with some kind of waterproof lining like Gore-Tex or equivalent. Many approach shoes don't have waterproof linings as climbers generally only rock climb when the weather is fair.

How tight should approach shoes be? ›

Size them to fit nice and snug, and they will climb better. Size them to fit like a hiking shoe, with a bit of room for your toes to move around, and you'll be more comfortable while hiking, especially over long distances.

What are approach shoes used for? ›

Approach shoes are a style of footwear specifically designed for climbers who hike across rocky, technical terrain in order to reach their route. In general, they are stiffer than a hiking shoe or trail runner, snugger for precision on small footholds, and have generous rubber rands for protection.

Do you wear socks with approach shoes? ›

Approach shoes also fit similarly to hiking shoes: they aren't meant to be tight with your toes curled at the end like a climbing shoe and unlike climbing shoes, are worn with socks.

Why is it not allowed to dip leather shoes in water? ›

Avoid using water to clean your leather shoes. Water causes leather to shrink and it may dry the leather out over time, which can make your shoes stiff and wrinkly.

Does moisture ruin shoes? ›

Leaving your lovely running shoes wet for a prolonged period of time leads to water damage, where water and bacteria permeate the shoe deep into the fabric. This leads to the shoe becoming weaker and misshapen, not good for you wearing them the next time!

Is it OK to wear slightly tight shoes? ›

Avoid Tight Fitting Shoes

Tight-fitting shoes are harmful to your feet in several ways, and one of the effects is ingrown toenails. Tight shoes pinch your toes and place too much pressure on them, causing your nails to grow into soft tissue. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes that fit properly.

Should toes be bent in climbing shoes? ›

Two of the biggest factors that will dictate how to fit your climbing shoes, which we will discuss more in-depth shortly, are how downturned and soft your shoes are. However, regardless if you are wearing a flat-lasted shoe or an aggressively downturned monstrosity, your toes should always be curled in climbing shoes.

Do La Sportiva shoes run small? ›

It's quite the contrary: La Sportiva shoes run fairly big, and most users need to downsize from their regular size.

Are approach shoes good for everyday? ›

The Circuit and Session approach shoes fall under the casual lifestyle footwear and are geared more as an everyday shoe that you could wear from the gym to the crag to the bar. The Technician and Mission LT fall under technical performance footwear and are designed for long approaches and difficult terrain.

Can approach shoes be used for walking? ›

Approach shoes typically use a combination of leather, rubber, and synthetic fabrics to create footwear that can handle both approaches walking and climbing on rough terrain. All this has a knock-on impact on the weight of each shoe too.

Why are platform shoes popular now? ›

Platforms are so versatile and easy to wear, with styles ranging from sneakers and boots to sandals and heels. Some of the hottest platform shoes on the market right now are the UGG Classic Ultra Mini Platform boots for $150 and the Steve Madden Lando Leather loafers for $99.95.


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