Review: La Sportiva TX4

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People often ask which is better – boots or low-cut approach shoes/trail runners – and the answer has always been the same: Horses for courses. However, if I had to pick one shoe for almost all situations it would be the La Sportiva TX4!

Key Information

Price (at time of writing): R3599
Weight:
Roughly 400g per shoe (Size 10 UK)
Upper:
Suede leather, with protective PU rand and rubber toe.

Construction

One of the major benefits of boots is the tough, durable leather uppers that offer great protection against sharp rocks, sticks and general abrasion. The TX4 solidly ticks this box with its sturdy leather uppers, full-length 1.5mm PU TechLite rand and a burly rubber toe guard.

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The tongue is fixed to one side of the inner wall of the shoe, preventing it from creeping to the side and limiting debris from working its way in from the top.

The heel cup and ankle collar are also cleverly designed by making use of precise construction, instead of relying on foam to determine the fit. This ensures the correct fit and excellent performance for much longer, as foam tends to compress over time, losing its shape.

Fit

The fit is snug in the heel, with a wide, roomy toe box, allowing for some swelling when you’re on your feet for the whole day, as well as natural toe movement over technical terrain. The fact that my forefoot and toes were able to move naturally, meant that my feet were a lot less tired at the end of a long day.

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People with narrow feet might feel like they’re swimming in these shoes. Even with wide feet and a high arch, I had to tighten the laces one or two times throughout the day to lock my feet in place. For me, this is a pleasant change to having my small toe crushed, but if you have narrow feet, the Boulder X might be a better fit.

The TX4’s lacing system is also worth mentioning. A loop of cord runs all along the laces and around the back of the heel which does a great job of eliminating any heel-slippage. The laces also extend down to just behind the toes, allowing for a very precise fit.

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Comfort & Support

Historically, sturdy and supportive footwear has always come at the cost of a bit of comfort – not so with the TX4. Over the 6 months of wearing these shoes, I regularly got to the end of a full day of hiking over rough terrain and did not feel an urgent need to get them off my feet.

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As mentioned, the wide toe box allows one’s feet to behave more naturally and more efficiently, but the TX4 also strikes a perfect balance with its mid-sole – soft enough to avoid hot spots, but stiff enough to support a heavy backpack and soak up rough terrain underfoot.

I weigh 86kg and I comfortably carried a 20kg backpack for a full day in these shoes, while still maintaining reasonable sensitivity to move safely over technical terrain.

Another thing I love about these shoes is how the sole is slightly wider than the shoe and angled outward. Many approach shoes narrow where the upper joins the sole, which has a tendency of causing hotspots on the inner edge of one’s foot, as well as increasing the potential of rolling your ankle. With the TX4, the sole extends out from where it joins the upper, which increases stability and spreads impact even more.

Traction

While we’re talking about technical terrain, this shoe excels in scrambling, which is usually a big shortcoming in stiffer, bulkier boots. Technical routes like Table Mountain’s India Venster, Ledges or Hiddingh Ascension were an absolute jol thanks to the extra-grippy “Climbing Zone” under one’s big toe – the softer compound rubber makes for easy edging on smaller footholds.

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The rest of the sole offers fantastic traction on all terrain, including mud. The lugs shed dirt efficiently and the sharp, in-cut section at the front of the heel (“Impact Brake System” as La Sportiva calls it), does a phenomenal job at controlling the descent on loose terrain.

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Durability

The La Sportiva label is synonymous with quality craftsmanship and durability, and the TX4 is no exception. You can venture far off the beaten track without any worries of these shoes letting you down. I’ve done about 120km in this pair on a mix of gravel, sand and mostly rough sandstone and they hardly show any wear.

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A couple of friends have had theirs for longer and used them more extensively, all with the same response: No matter what you throw at these shoes, they just keep going brilliantly. From 5-day kloofing trips, which is definitely not advised for leather shoes, to 10-day solo treks in Patagonia, to daily mountain guiding on Table Mountain, everyone who has a pair, swears by them.

Weight

At roughly 400g per shoe (800g per pair), weight is not a concern at all. Once again, comparing these with boots, you’re getting away with about half the weight of most boots out there.

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Best applications

With an all-rounder like the TX4, it’s really hard to pick a niche, but as far as hiking shoes go, it definitely has a huge advantage on technical terrain. For the Magaliesberg, Table Mountain, Jonkershoek, or some of the rock passes in the Drakensberg, you’re going to struggle to find a better shoe.

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Value

At R3599, this shoe is not cheap. However, if you were to buy entry-level boots for multi-day hikes, and mid-level trail runners for day hikes, you’d end up paying a similar price in total, with neither of those performing as well as the TX4.

As expensive as they are, if they fit your feet, you will not regret buying these shoes.

Conclusion

It’s hard not make a review of the TX4 sound like a fluff piece, but they are just so damn good (and they look great!). A comfortable, durable, supportive approach shoe, equally at home on technical scrambles as it is on multi-day hikes with a heavy pack – one shoe for almost every scenario.

If you hike regularly and demand a lot of your footwear, this will possibly be the best pair of hiking shoes you’ll buy in a long time (maybe ever!).

These shoes were provided for review purposes by Adventure Inc. They are available from specialist outdoor retailers such as Mountain Mail Order and Drifters.

About Arno van der Heever 38 Articles
Co-founder of Hiking South Africa, Arno loves the outdoors and finds joy in sharing it with others. He is a qualified mountain guide, a keen rock climber and has a "thing" for technical backpacks and footwear.

11 Comments

  1. I’m sure they are good shoes…but that weight and price…and leather???
    (I can think of three reasons to stick to my current favorite)

      • Hi Arno, I got stuck with Altra’s after a friend recommended them to me. Wide toe box, good grip, quick drying, lightweight and good price for superior quality, but its just my 2 cents. It could be torture devices for the next hiker 🙂

        • I agree wit Nic! I have the Altra Lone Peak 4 Trail Runners which lasted less than 4 months (Altra replaced them for me), and the Altra Lone Peak 3 Mid Boots, which seem to have survived longer. Due to the wide toe box, they are most comfortable. I wouldn’t try carrying more than 15kg with the boots.

  2. No on the durability front. Mine died in 6 months. They wear through just above the rand near the ball of your foot. I think the rand concentrates the flexing to that one spot and the leather can’t survive. Another friend has the same issue.

    Lovely shoes otherwise, comfortable and grippy.

  3. Hi Arno,

    Nice review. I’m looking to upgrade my trail runners to a hiking shoes (but not boots), for on and off trail Drakensberg hiking with a heavy pack, and the TX4’s are on my short list. Your review has answered many of the questions I had about their suitability for my needs.

    I know these aren’t waterproof, but how did you find them for keeping your feet dry with morning dew, and the odd river crossing, and if they did get wet, how quickly did they dry?

    Also, for summer use, do they breath OK or do they “run hot” with the leather upper?

    Thanks in advance

    Chris

    • The TX4’s handle morning dew quite well, but river crossings have a habit of filling your shoes with water. The odd splash is fine, but once the leather is wet, it takes a a full day to dry in sun.

      It’s hard for me to comment on how hot they are as I’m quite happy in full hiking boots. Obviously, they’ll never be as breathable as mesh-upper trail runners, but I’ve not found them to be overly hot.

  4. I love my TX4s. Had them for over a year. I hike with Scouts and have used them in the Cederberg and on Table Mountain. So grippy.

    The TX4s are now available as a boot! 😃

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