A really excellent approach shoe that excels in every area – perfect for accessing crags, edging ridges, tackling technical scrambles and simply walking trails.
Gear loops make it easy to attach onto a harness
Anti-rubbing loops at the toe and overlap tongue for maximum bandaging of the foot
Fit can be small and slightly snug
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Combining the light feel and tight-fitting capability of a high-performance rock climbing shoe with the desired stiffness and extra protection of a decent approach shoe, the La Sportiva TX Guide Leather is proving a popular choice for outdoor users who care about weight and performance.
Keen technical fans will note that the climbing-inspired protective edge is made of lightweight PU-TECH Lite material. Uneven and rocky terrain is easily tackled thanks to the double Eva midsole with shock-absorbing compression on the heel and stabilizer on the forefoot. This is also co-molded with a TPU layer that acts as a stabilizer at the climbing zone, and a medial shank and rock-guard layer on the forefoot. Similar to the Scarpa Crux, the TX Guides use Vibram MegaGrip but alongside an Idrogrip sole to provide both grip during climbing and durability and confidence when you need to brake going downhill.
The TX Guides certainly pack a punch – and as an approach shoe (What are approach shoes?) that combines technology with low weight and high comfort, it seems to be the ideal shoe to take you in pursuit of those high-octane adventures. If you're unsure if this is the type of shoe you need, check out Approach shoes vs. hiking shoes.
• RRP: $150 (US) / £140 (UK) / €185.90 (EU)
• Weight (average, per shoe): Men’s 387g / 13.65oz ; Women’s 330g / 11.6oz
• Materials: Ortholite Approach last; breathable non-slip mesh lining; water repellent nubuck leather upper; dual-compound Vibram MegaGrip and IdroGrip tread sole, with a climbing zone at the toe and Impact Brake System blocks at the rear
• Colors: Men’s Carbon & yellow / Clay & kale; Women’s: Clay& Kale, Carbon & Yellow / Cloud & LovePotion
• Compatibility: Hiking, climbing, scrambling, fastpacking
On the trails
We found it seriously hard to fault the La Sportiva TX Guides, which have to be a serious contender for the best approach shoes for climbing and mountaineering guides and weekend warriors alike. Here's how they performed in the field:
The TX Guide is available in leather – a natural, breathable material. There is another model within the range that uses knitted material and mesh and so offers more in the way of breathability, but the Guide Leather is a gutsier shoe that allows ample airflow whilst also providing nearly peerless toughness.
Worn during the heat of the summer, these shoes allowed my feet to breathe and, due to their slightly narrow fit, I was also inclined to wear thinner rather than bulkier socks, and this helped with the overall comfort.
Keeping technical approaches at the forefront of its suitability, the lightweight, alpine design means aspirant mountain enthusiasts concerned with ‘fast and light’ movement aren’t weighed down by a bulky, heavy approach shoe. The choice in picking up a pair of TX Guide is for its versatility – the idea being they should be as well suited for walking between mountain huts as they are for a quick walk after work or scrambling (What is scrambling in hiking?).
The Traverse X (TX) series from La Sportiva takes the best bits from various mountain footwear, and combines them to deliver outstanding performance, with features that include shock absorption, active fit and flexibility (derived from mountain running shoes), durability and protection (as you’d typically require in a mountaineering boot) and lacing and grip inspired by climbing shoes.
These are thoughtful, considerate touches that show that La Sportiva has really thought about what the end user might want to use the approach shoes for, and understands the varied challenges presented by the environments people play in.
I noticed the Impact Brake System blocks at the rear and the climbing zone at the toe helped with the overall feel of the shoe and gave me the cushioning I was after, particularly on a day cragging with long and rocky approaches.
Initially I thought this was a narrow fitting shoe, but once I had worn it in, the leather seemed to yield and become a little more flexible and comfortable.
Anti-rubbing loops at the toe and an overlapping tongue mean that the shoe won’t cause hotspots, and this results in a bandaging, wrap-around-style that improves comfort levels.
The asymmetrical and advanced lacing system make it easy to do up these shoes, yet the thinness of the laces often mean those who are a little lax may find they come easily undone. Having owned a pair of TX2’s before, however, I remembered this and how important it is to do the laces up tightly to ensure your shoes are held in place.
The TX Guides feature a combination of materials – including nubuck and naturally water repellent leather – capable of coping with rough terrain. These kept my feet relatively dry in wet and muddy conditions, and the nubuck was easy to clean with a stiff brush.
The TX Guide Leather combines a premium appearance and performance in it’s use of split leather suede for greater adaptability, and nubuck for abrasion resistance. These shoes feel less prone to holes created by general wear and tear, or caused by scrambling over ultra-sharp granite rocks and gritstone boulders.
Sizing can be hit and miss with approach shoes, but the TX2 Guides felt the closest to a true-fitting shoe. I’ve worn a lot of La Sportiva shoes before, and knew that they often come in small – but these were true to size and felt like they gave my feet enough room even on a hot summer’s day when my feet were slightly swollen.
A former brand ambassador for Merrell and current Ordnance Survey #GetOutside Champion, Jessie Leong’s lifelong outdoor odyssey began with Duke of Edinburgh’s Award walks in the Peak District. This segued into long hill hikes in the Yorkshire Dales, multi-day treks in the Lake District, scrambles in North Wales and adventures scaling alpine pinnacles. When not walking, she can be found rock climbing, wild swimming, cycling, photographing, filmmaking, writing and modelling. Jessie’s most recent claim to fame is playing a Miss World contestant in the 2020 feature film Misbehaviour.