La Sportiva TX Guide Review: The Most Runnable Approach Shoe

The La Sportiva TX Guide is at home on both flat terrain and near-vertical crags. It’s a great choice for fast-and-light hikers on technical terrain.

As the horizontal world of running and the vertical world of climbing start to blend, there is a gap in technical footwear suitable for these hybrid adventures. You either lean toward a trail-running shoe that runs better but lags in climbing ability, or you go with an approach shoe that climbs well but offers a less-than-desirable ride while running.

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Of all the companies situated to make a first-class hybrid running approach shoe, La Sportiva comes to mind first.

It already produces some of the world’s best rock climbing, approach, and running shoes. Imagine if the running and climbing teams at La Sportiva collaborated on a shoe that runs like the Bushido, climbs like the Solution, and scrambles like the TX4! Every athlete who moves fast in the mountains would own a pair.

While La Sportiva’s latest approach shoe isn’t quite as dreamy as my imaginary perfect shoe, it’s a step closer.

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La Sportiva TX Guide Review

Targeted for mountain guides and climbers who want a nimble, comfortable approach shoe that’s adept at moving fast horizontally and vertically, the TX Guide falls in La Sportiva’s Traverse X approach shoe line.

Despite its classification as an approach shoe, it’s strikingly similar to some of La Sportiva’s best trail-running shoes. It has the same dual-density compressed EVA that’s found in the Bushido II and Kaptiva. It rocks an Ortholite insole also found in the trail-running shoes.

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An up-close look at the protective toe rand on the TX Guide

The midsole is rather firm with little flex thanks to a rigid TPU Torsion Shank. This works well carrying heavy loads through talus fields, but not as well on a smooth running surface. Despite the firm undertone, it’s rather comfortable with hints of a trail-running shoe.

Although I didn’t get to spend an extended amount of time in the shoe, I got the sense it would ripen with time, losing some of its rigidity, ultimately running a bit smoother.

The outsole has a dual compound Vibram Megagrip under the forefoot and IdroGrip rubber with La Sportiva’s Impact Braking System in the heel. The combo handles loose rock and dirt terrain better than all the other approach shoes in the TX line.

If I were judging it as a pure runner, it’s not on par with pure trail-running shoes. However, as a dual-duty running approach shoe, it’s the best I’ve tested.

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A comparison of the TX Guide outsole against the TX4 outsole.

Climbing, Running Shoe Gray Area

In terms of climbing ability, it also falls in the gray area between a true approach shoe and a trail-running shoe. It’s much better than any trail-running shoe I’ve used, but it’s not quite as good as an approach shoe.

Outfitted with a full rubber toe rand and a generous climbing zone that extends a good distance down the big toe (even more so than it’s TX siblings), the TX Guide has plenty of edging power.

The asymmetrical lacing system extends down toward the toes for a more dialed-in precision fit while climbing.

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A look at the asymmetrical lacing system more commonly seen on approach shoes

If you want a shoe that both runs and climbs well, the TX Guide is the best shoe I’ve seen. It combines the nimbleness and comfortable feeling of a trail-running shoe with the sticky-soled edging ability of an approach shoe. The La Sportiva TX Guide will be available in late winter 2020 and will retail for $159.


Cory Smith is a Santa Barbara, California-based athlete, online running coach, and freelance journalist specializing in running- and climbing-related content and gear review. He draws from over 25 years as an elite runner and rock climber for ideas, inspiration, and expertise. 

His work has been featured in Outside Magazine, Trail Runner, GearJunkie, Gear Patrol, Philadelphia Magazine, and Gear Institute. Check out his portfolio at www.storiesbycory.com.