A great approach cum hiking boot that is super comfortable and perfect for technical approaches and summer scrambling.
La Sportiva have come a long way since the eponymous Kendo climbing boots of the 1980’s. They produce a full range of hiking and mountaineering boots as well as approach climbing shoes. All are popular and although I’ve never really got on with the climbing shoes (Richie has and won’t wear anything else) I’ve had some great adventures in the iconic Trango Alp EVO’s and plenty of friends have worn the Nepal boots for well over a decade. So a well established pedigree ensures the new range of TX approach shoes have been well designed and suitable for all manner of approaches, from the super-light TX2 through to the technical function of the TX4 and 5″
I don’t often wear a boot in the UK mountains, I can often be wearing running shoes and particularly the running shoes with integrated gaiters. There are, however, occasions when a boot is crucial – wet ground, snowy ground and technical scrambles all require a boot for safety and comfort.
The La Sportiva TX5 GTX have proved to be a neat boot that has performed really well in test, I’m not wearing them for general crag approaches but for mountain approaches and mountaineering they have been excellent. The fit is very much ‘performance’ I had to replace the original UK 8 (which is my standard trainer size) with a UK8.5 as they were quite tight with anything other than the thinnest socks. The 8.5 has been much better and I can get a more normal medium weight hiking sock on for those autumn conditions. The fit has been very good for technical mountaineering and scrambling. An interesting feature is the small loop located at the back of the heel. This is connected to the lace loop at the ankle and is designed to adjust the support for steep ground, so keep it loose for approach, pull the loop at the back as you tackle that steep rocky ground and then loosen off again on the descent. So, this would work fine but I soon forgot all about it and have hardly used it since. This hasn’t made any difference to the performance though, but I suppose it’s a neat idea and could be deployed if I found myself on more technical rock climbing territory.
The uppers are made of Nubuck so look great and have a conventional hiking boot look, so think approach shoe disguised as a hiking boot. Waterproofing is provided by GoreTex Extended Comfort and the TX5 have been waterproof in all the wet weather conditions I’ve worn them in. The fabric cuff provides extra amounts of comfort around the ankles, which is great on those longer days or when backpacking. I also like the low cut of the heel cuff which as a runner with often sore Achilles is a godsend. The fabric extends into the bellows tongue which makes for more comfort. the lacing is wide so will accommodate a variety of foot styles ( as long as you get the original length right). The actual laces are round, which is annoying as the boot kept loosening off for a while. La Sportiva should adopt more of their running shoe lacing into the boots as this would help keep laces tighter for longer.
The sole unit of the TX5 is a good comprise between a lightweight approach shoe and a hiking boot. It’s often at the end of a long day when I appreciate a more supportive boot as this is the time I’m most likely to go over on my spindly climber ankles. The TX5 are light enough (the CGR scales weighed them in at 542g (per boot) and the stated weight is 525g, but do remember stated weights are often for a size UK8) to feel approach shoe like at the beginning of the day and then offer a hiking boot level of comfort at the end. The Vibram sole is very sticky and grippy (with the usual warning about not being grippy at all on wet, mossy or muddy rock) the lugs worked well in grassy descents and muddy terrain and the midsole unit is a combination of EVA with the STB inserts which a stiffeners added down the sides of the boot offered security when contouring.
I found the heel particularly nice on the downhill strike and the tougher toe box made the occasional toe stubbing bearable and not painful – which it always is on the last part of the day with tired legs. The sole is finished off with a 4mm Ortholite insole (Ortholite are becoming the benchmark insole/footbed these days just as Vibram is the go to sole material). The La Sportiva TX5 is also a fully randed boot which helps with the styling and the water resistance on wet ground – I found the boot kept my feet dry in all conditions except when water leaked in through the top – which of course, is my own stupid fault!!
In conclusion, I have found the La Sportiva TX5 GTX a great, lightweight boot that has performed really well in a good variety of conditions. I have found them particularly good in technical mountain terrain and for scrambling they have been superb. I can easily see these being great for Alpine hikes during the summer and late Spring as well as early Autumn and for Via Ferrata routes they would be perfect. The performance fit means it would be wise to try them on at a physical retailer and I found that they worked better for me a half size up from my normal size. The materials and build quality is great and I’ve been wearing then all autumn, mainly for hiking but I have found myself in the odd scrambling situation and they have performed well. I would not hesitate to use them on the most demanding and technical of rock scrambles and not doubt I will in the near future.
The La Sportiva TX5 GTX come in the colour Chocolate/Avacado (dark brown) in the UK. They also come in a great range of sizes from Eur 40 right through to Eur 47 in half sizes.
SRP: £180 and available direct from La Sportiva and specialist retailers.
Dave Sarkar has tested and reviewed climbing, mountaineering and outdoor equipment for over 10 years. When not travelling and writing he can be found working as a qualified MIA both in the UK and Internationally: working as a mountaineering instructor and expedition leader for his company Wild Spaces.
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