I’ve been wearing La Sportiva’s TX4 GTX approach boot for the last 24 months and have completed dozens of routes in Snowdonia including:
- Crib Goch and Snowdon.
- Watkin Path and South Ridge Circular.
- Tryfan’s North Ridge.
- Bristly Ridge.
- +Dozens of scrambling routes at grade 1 and 2 plus a couple at grade 3.
In short, La Sportiva TX4 GTX has given me the confidence on the rock that I simply wouldn’t have with a regular hiking boot and after two years of hard use, no part of the boot has failed.
The TX4 comes as a shoe or as a mid-boot, go for the GTX version if you want the waterproof Gore-Tex liner which is great, while it lasts.
Me on Notch Arete wearing my La Sportiva TX4 boots.
What is the TX4 For?
La Sportiva’s TX4 is approach footwear; this means that it isn’t a general hiking boot and it isn’t a dedicated climbing shoe.
It fills the niche between the two and is popular with scramblers and also climbers who wear them on technical approaches to their routes.
If you currently own a regular hiking boot but now find yourself spending more time on rock rather than mud and grass, then the TX4 could be for you. It provides the user with the comfort of a hiking boot yet with the grip and confidence you can expect from a rock climbing shoe.
Not sure whether you want climbing, approach or general hiking footwear?
Look at the tread of these three:
TX2: The TX2 tread has no heel, a climbing zone and shallow rounded lugs all over, making it perfect for difficult rock scrambles but very poor on steep wet grass and mud.
TX4: The TX4 has a heel, a climbing zone and shallow rounded lugs at the front and shaped lugs at the rear, making it perfect for general scrambling, okay at descending on grass/mud but poor at ascending steep grass/mud.
I found the TX4 tight when I tried it on in the shop, and the assistant advised going up half a size as apparently “everyone says they’re a bit tight”.
I chose an 11.5 instead of my usual 11, and while it was tight at first, it didn’t take long to wear in, and after a few scrambles, it fitted snugly.
Overall, I would say that they fitted well but over the two years I was using them, I found the uppers stretched a bit which isn’t surprising as I often went out in the rain.
Pro tip: Based on my experience, I recommend going up half a size and if you can, try them on in a shop first. (Just to note that several other reviewers claim that this boot has a wide box at the front and they chose a smaller size.)
The Sole and Tread
The soles of the TX4 are made by Vibram, the leading manufacturer of soles for climbers, hikers and walkers.
I found that the rounded lugs gave me plenty of grip on a variety of hard surfaces from gritty sandstone to shiny quartz.
Also, the lugs shed mud quickly, and I can’t recall ever having an issue with dirt or grass getting stuck in the tread – this is something newbie scramblers will appreciate as regular hiking boots often have a deep tread which picks up all sorts of organic material that could cause a traction issue on rock.
As with many approach shoes, they don’t perform as well on slopes with wet grass. The tread is primarily designed for rock and hard surfaces and in my opinion, it isn’t deep enough to provide good, reliable traction when going up hills with wet grass.
At the toe, there is a climbing zone, which is a smooth area of rubber for maximising traction on narrow footholds; again, this will help scramblers and climbers alike and is rarely found on regular hiking footwear.
The sole is moderately firm but not overly rigid and perfect for scrambling and hopping over rocks.
Pro tip: As with most approach/scrambling footwear, the lugs aren’t as deep and hard as those on regular boots, so they won’t provide the best grip on wet grass and they won’t last as long. Given that these boots provide excellent grip on hard surfaces, they are best worn on approaches to climbs and scrambling routes rather than for general use. In other words, I would wear these on the Snowdon Horseshoe or in the Glyderau but I would wear my old leather hiking boots for a trek in the Chilterns where there’s lots of rolling grassy hills and steep muddy paths.
The shallow rounded lugs and “climbing zone” at the toe provide plenty of traction on rock, less so on wet grass and mud.
Rand and Toe Protection
Both the shoe and mid-boot versions of the TX4 have a rand that protects the sides of the feet from sharp edges.
At the toe, the external rubber is also slightly thicker and made from a different material that offers even more protection.
Overall, I haven’t had any significant issues with the rand or toe protector, and there are no signs of wear and tear, even after 24 months.
When on loose scree, I could feel the sharp edges on the sides of my feet much more than when I’m wearing my regular leather hiking boots but it wasn’t painful.
Pro tip: The rubber rand and toe protector don’t offer as much protection as thick leather boots, but they’re lighter and absolutely fine for approaches and general scrambling.
Cushioning, the Upper and Breathability
Cushioning under the heel is moderate and as I would expect from an approach shoe while the mid and front areas only have light cushioning. It’s worth remembering that this isn’t a general hiking boot so I wouldn’t expect it to be as heavy or have as much padding.
The boot upper is made from suede leather and mesh, and despite some heavy usage over the last 24 months, there’s no sign of wear and tear problems.
I found them a little hot in the summer but only rarely where they uncomfortable. For me, they provide the perfect balance between protection and breathability, and I certainly wouldn’t want a boot with less protection just for the sake of cooler feet – next time I may get the version without Gore-Tex as I suspect this reduces breathability of the boot.
The lacing system on the TX4 looks flimsy, and I wasn’t sure how long they would last, but to my surprise, after 24 months, there are no issues for me to report here either. Tightening or slacking the laces is easy and I often found myself loosening them off on long approaches and then tightening them up before challenging scrambles.
I liked how the laces went down close to the toes, allowing me to really tighten them up before a challenging scramble.
I initially had concerns that the lacing system might not last, but after 24 months I have no issues to report.
Build Quality/Wear and Tear
Whenever I buy lightweight clothing or shoes, I always worry about the build quality.
Has the manufacturer made a compromise to keep the weight down?
Well, not with this boot.
After 24 months of intensive use, I can only find two very minor issues.
- There is some minor scuffing that has removed two tiny patches of surface material.
- The sole has come away from the heel and the side by a few millimetres, but I don’t think it will get worse anytime soon as it feels like the rest of the sole is secure.
Comfort and Waterproof
I rate the TX4 mid boot very highly for comfort on both long approaches and technical scrambles up to grade 3.
I’ve never had an issue with comfort and the ankle protection is just enough without restricting movement too much.
The TX4 isn’t the most breathable boot but for me, it wasn’t an issue.
The TX4 doesn’t have a waterproof outer layer but does come with the option of a Gore-Tex (GTX) inner sock which will keep your feet dry, even if the boot is soaked.
I wore these boots on Crib Goch in winter conditions with lots of snow melt and while I got soaked and had cold feet, they were bone dry; a testament to the effectiveness of Gore-Tex.
Update: The Gore-Tex failed after the first year but that’s no surprise; it’s done the same in every footwear I’ve owned. Gore-Tex is great, until the day it fails.
Do I Recommend the TX4 Mid Boot GTX?
I 100% recommend this boot for anyone who enjoys grade 1 and 2 scrambling from spring to autumn.
The TX4 provides way more grip on rock compared to general hiking boots and is much lighter too.
These boots have given me the confidence to tackle some hairy grade 2 and even grade 3 scrambles (as you’ll find if you explore my website).
I don’t recommend the TX4 for general hiking, there are other boots that while not as light, do offer better padding and grip on wet grass/mud. The shallower tread on the TX4 also won’t last as long as the tread on regular hiking boots and as such, they are best used on scrambling routes and approaches rather than for general use.
As a scrambling boot, I rate the TX4 9/10.
As an all-round hiking boot, I rate it a lowly 4/10.
Pros and Cons
- Lightweight at (size 11.5)
- Excellent grip on rock, esp when smearing.
- Ideal for grade 1 and 2 scrambling.
- Comfortable, even on longer treks such as the Snowdon Horseshoe.
- Laces that go close ish to the toe.
- Good build quality.
- Gore-Tex liner (option, look for GTX).
- Poor at edging; the TX4 is very flexible.
- Not so good going up wet grassy hills.
- The tread is shallow so it won’t last as long, esp if used as a general-purpose hiking boot.
- The side of the boot still felt a bit thin, despite the rand protection.
While the TX4 fills a niche between a climbing shoe and a hiking boot, there are other options.
If you’re looking for footwear to maximise your traction on rock, consider the TX2 while those who enjoy general hiking will appreciate the comfort, padding and longevity of the TX5.
Update 2023: I recently tried Salewa’s Wildfire 2 shoes and hated them, read my review of the Wildfire 2 shoes here.
Looking for a winter boot? I wear La Sportiva Trango Tech GTX boots in the winter.
I hope you found my long-term-year review of the TX4 boot helpful.
I’m known as the bald scrambler and produce videos and articles about my adventures in the mountains of Snowdonia and beyond.
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About Daniel Woodley
This review of the TX4 Mid GTX boot was created by Daniel Woodley, aka The Bald Scrambler.
From walking along beaches and kayaking down rivers to making his way up mountains and even jumping out of planes, Daniel has a love of the outdoors but scrambling is his real passion.
Daniel Woodley aka The Bald Scrambler