The La Sportiva TX4 mid GTX is part of the TX approach shoe line of La Sportiva. With the minimalist TX2 at the one end and the heavier TX5 at the other end of the spectrum. The TX4 promises a compromise of lightweight hiking boots and sturdy approach shoes. Knowing La Sportiva makes high quality gear, expectations were high. For this La Sportiva TX4 mid GTX review, we put the hiking boots to the test in the South American Andes on several treks.
Features & specifications of La Sportiva TX4 mid GTX
The La Sportiva TX4 mid GTX are approach shoes which according to La Sportiva is ‘designed for technical approach routes, via ferrata and hiking even with fully loaded backpacks. Lightweight and comfortable, the boot is ideal for hikers and mountain lovers’.
Quite an allrounder if it is capable on all these terrains for all these purposes. To see if the TX4 mid GTX meets this daring and bold statement, we’ll have a look at the specifications first.
Uppers: Suede leather + protective 1,5 mm PU TechLite rand and toe cap
Lining: Gore-Tex® Extended Comfort
Midsole: Shock absorbing, injected EVA
Footbed: Ortholite: Approach 4 mm
Sole: Vibram Mega-Grip with Impact Brake System and climbing zone at the toe
Sizes: 37-47.5 including half sizes
Patent: Mythos lacing system
Weight: 485 gr half pair, size 42
source: La sportiva
Technical approach & via ferrata
For technical approach routes and via ferrata a shoe must have characteristics of a climbing shoe. A sticky rubber outsole, rand and toe cup and a snug fit for the feet.
The Vibram Mega-Grip with Impact Brake System combined with a PU TechLite toe box and rand, it has a few of these necessary characteristics. On the outsole at the toe it says ‘climbing zone’ to emphasize it has climbing capabilities. Even the asymmetrical lacing is the same as the mythical climbing shoe La Sportiva Mythos.
For multi day hiking with a fully loaded backpack, hiking boots must be comfortable up- and downhill, provide stability in lateral-, longitudinal and torsional directions, have good arch support, be as lightweight as possible without losing stability and be waterproof.
Due to the Gore-tex Extended Comfort lining, the hiking boots should be waterproof. The Vibrant outsole, the Ortholite insole and shock absorbing midsole should provide sufficient stability in all directions. As well as good performance hiking up- and downhill. As for comfort, the Ortholite insole and suede leather mid cut uppers of the shoe assure for a comfortable fit. With just under a kilogram for a pair of size 42, the shoes are very lightweight for hiking boots. So much so, that it’s hard to believe they will provide sufficient stability for the ankles
The numbers add up
In theory, the specifications confirm the statement from La Sportiva about the capabilities on all terrains. Pretty impressive stuff right!? Let’s see in this long term review if they hold their own in practice.
Why I bought La Sportiva TX4 mid GTX
For my one year hike and bike trip in South America I was looking for lightweight, waterproof and stylish enough hiking boots to use as casual shoes as well. On top of that, ankle support had to be on it, for I tend to twist my ankle a few times per hike. I started my quest armed with this list of criteria:
- Ankle stability
- Can wear them as day to day shoes
- Sort of stylish
Classical hiking boots are usually quite heavy, not very stylish and are a pain to walk with in urban areas. For that reason classical hiking boots were crossed off my list from the start.
I looked into trail running shoes as my next choice. They met all my criteria except one. Trail running shoes don’t provide the ankle stability as a mid cut boot will.
I started to look in the approach shoes category to wear as hiking boots, hoping to find a pair of shoes that would fully comply with my list. I found some interesting options as hiking boots.
|Shoe||Price||Available (US)||Available (EU)|
|La Sportiva Boulder X||$120||Backcountry||Bergfreunde|
|Five Ten Guide Tennie||$119.95||Backcountry||Bergfreunde|
I tried a few of them in the store. I chose the La Sportiva TX4 mid GTX approach shoes for apparent reasons. They simply matched every criteria on my list.
Field testing the La Sportiva TX4 mid GTX approach shoes
As I mentioned before, I bought new hiking boots for our hike and bike adventure in South America. We are cycling the length of the Andes from Colombia to Argentina. As a break from cycling, we hiked some of the most beautiful hikes in the world. The Santa Cruz trek Huayhuash trek Peru, Los Nevados Colombia, Ausangate trek Peru, Cajas National Park Ecuador and so on.
Up to this day, I’ve hiked a bit shy of 400 kilometers in the Andes on the La Sportiva TX4 mid GTX approach shoes. The terrain is rough, steep, rocky, sandy, dry, wet and very challenging. We’ve had snow, hail, rain and ice on the trails. And of course, perfect conditions with clear blue skies and perfect hiking temperatures. The perfect environment for a long term review of La Sportiva TX4 mid GTX .
One hike, the Huayhuash trek Peru, was a nine day self supported trek. We hiked 120 kilometers. Everyday we had to hike over a mountain pass of which some were over 5000m. Some of the inclines were crazy steep up- and downhill.
At one point, we scrambled up with a fifteen kilogram weighing backpack for more than one hundred meters. One downhill section of three kilometers, we went down more than a 1000 altimeters. It was tough going, but totally worth it!
Performance assessment of the La Sportiva TX4 mid GTX
The big question, how did the approach shoes perform in these conditions on this terrain? We’ll, pretty darn good I tell you! The good outweighs the bad by a long shot.
Comfort: The first thing I noticed is how comfortable these approach shoes are. They feel soft on the feet and ankles. I haven’t felt a single pressure point from the sole or the uppers. I always wear thin Merino socks in my hiking boots and even with thin socks it feels like I was wearing thick woolen socks.
On long days of twenty+ kilometers did my feet feel fine. Except for the usual aching sensation you get with every long day on the trail. No blisters, no raw or shaved skin or painful areas on my feet from long downhill sections. So kudos for comfort!
I always wear the boots when we visit a town. Not very comfortable should I wear classical hiking boots. Walking around on the La Sportiva’s, it doesn’t feel any different than wearing sneakers. This is attributed to the uppers of the shoe being soft suede leather and the sole reasonably flexible.
Waterproof: Although there wasn’t any full day of rain, we did encounter snow, hail, rain showers, morning frost and some river crossings on the hikes. A few time the shoes were submerged in water just under the ankle. My feet stayed dry.
The only reason why my feet got a bit wet, was because we hiked two days in 30+ degrees Celsius. In those weather conditions, the breathability is not enough to keep the feet dry.
That has to do with the characteristics of Gore-tex. For it to breath, the outer temperature has to be lower than the inner temperature. Which probably was not the case and so my feet got sweaty wet.
Lightweight: These shoes feel so incredibly light on the feet, it is a relief in comparison to the classical hiking boots I was used to. They feel like my daily worn sneakers back home. Weight really makes a big difference when it comes to comfort whilst hiking, which I didn’t expect beforehand.
Stability: Although the La Sportiva TX4 mid GTX are lightweight, comfortable and mid cut just beneath the ankle bone, they still provide stability. I especially noticed the outstanding longitudinal and torsional stability. This is where the climbing shoe heritage of La Sportiva clearly comes into play.
On the technical terrain, the stability and grip is fantastic. In my opinion, because of the large amount of grip and above mentioned stability, I have had just one moment of ankle twisting in nearly 400 kilometers of hiking. Normally, I twist my ankle a few times on a hike of several days, but not with these shoes. I can’t stress enough how happy I am with that observation.
Grip: The amount of grip the outsole provides is very reassuring. When scrambling and crossing rock fields, I felt very secure and sure footed. I never slipped once. On any terrain with rocks, in my opinion, is where the La Sportiva TX4 mid GTX perform the best. The climbing heritage of La Sportiva is noticeable in these shoes.
Lateral stiffness:I guess comfort always comes at a price. In the case with the La Sportiva tx4 it’s the lateral stiffness. When walking perpendicular to a slope mountain side, the side walls of the shoes tend to give way a bit. It makes your feet slide inside the shoes to the side walls. Although I did have enough grip because of the soles, it does feel uncomfortable. Especially on slippery slopes did it make me feel a bit insecure.
A tight fit: Climbing shoes are designed to be a snug fit on your feet for maximum control. I suppose La Sportiva tried to do that with the tx4 as well. I have narrow feet and before the shoes were broken in, it took some effort to tighten the laces properly. Once the shoes were broken in, it was a lot easier to tighten the laces properly
Laces: Talking of laces, the asymmetrical lacing is in my opinion not a strong point. The laces are difficult to tighten evenly over the uppers of the shoes. It takes some practice and actual quite some pulling to get them the right tension. After two hikes, I always carried spare laces out of fear of breaking the original ones. It never happened though.
Durability of the Vibram outsole: The Vibram Mega Grip outsole is made of sticky, grippy soft rubber. A downside to this, is that the outsole does wear relatively quick. After 400km, the abrasion on the sole is clearly visible on the sides. I reckon the Vibram Mega Grip outsoles won’t last longer than 2000 kilometers. This is however my own estimate and I could be wrong.
Would I buy the La Sportiva TX4 mid GTX as hiking boots again?
I would! They have performed as I hoped they would have. I bought these approach shoes as hiking boots and they are for sure an option for anyone looking for allround, comfortable and lightweight hiking boots. They excel in rocky surroundings and are comfortably worn on multi day hikes in mountainous regions.
I do find that the asymmetrical lacing system is unnecessarily complicated. Furthermore I think that the Vibram outsole might wear out too soon and would need replacing after 2000km. Other than that, I can’t think of any major flaws with these shoes.
Summary of La Sportiva TX4 mid GTX review
The La Sportiva TX4 mid GTX are designed as approach shoes for technical approaches, via ferrata and multi day hikes with loaded backpack. The description fits an all-round hiking boot more than just an approach. Likewise in practice.
The La Sportiva TX4 mid GTX are very comfortable, provide enough stability and ankle support, feel very light on the feet and grip unlike any other classical hiking boot. The few less attractive features like the lacing system and lateral stiffness are easily forgiven.
If you are looking for all-round hiking boots for multi day hikes, carrying a loaded backpack and expect to hike technical terrains including scrambling, than the La Sportiva TX4 mid GTX are your go to boot.