As an alpine rock climber and climbing guide, my feet frequent a great deal of trail, rocks, and snow—especially during the summer months. I took on the La Sportiva TX3 as my faithful companion throughout a season of testing, from high-mileage link-up days in North Carolina’s Linville Gorge, to guiding at Devils Tower, to glacier approaches in the Bugaboos and ridge scrambles in BC’s Tantalus range. The shoes certainly got the runaround on all sorts of terrain, and in general performed very well. Below I break down the La Sportiva TX3’s climbing performance, hiking comfort, weight, durability, fit, and more. To see how the TX3 stacks up, see our articles on the best approach shoes and hiking shoes.



Climbing performance is important to me as I am often on 5th-class terrain in my approach shoes. While on a climb of Alpha Peak in the Tantalus range, a low-5th-class scramble with a short 5.8 section, I did not bring climbing shoes and had no difficulty perching on small holds in my La Sportiva TX3s. The sole boasts a smooth area of sticky rubber under the toes for smearing on rock, and the wide base that slightly protrudes from the mesh upper allows for very solid edging. Additionally, the tight fit of the heel and midsole on the TX3 provides the snug security needed on technical rock.
La Sportiva TX3 (edging)


On the trail, the TX3 certainly is one of the most comfortable and high-performance approach shoes I have ever worn. The round lugs of the Vibram Megagrip sole cling to both rock and snow, and the in-cut heel helps immensely with downhill braking on loose ground. I walked confidently on both wet and dry slab and on steep snow in these shoes, very rarely slipping. I love the wide toe box of the TX3, giving my wide feet room to breathe and space to travel while on the downhill. 
La Sportiva TX3 (tread)

Hiking into the Bugaboos, I carried a 60-pound pack and found the cushioning and support of the TX3 more than sufficient under a large load. Although it lacks ankle support, the wide foot bed and supportive outsole make a solid platform underfoot. The quick-drying, polyester mesh upper allows for a great deal of airflow—despite hot summer temperatures at Devils Tower and in BC, my feet did not sweat excessively.

Snow Travel

La Sportiva TX3 (snow climbing)

In the age of fast and light, more and more climbers are bringing lightweight shoes into the alpine, employing the approach shoe/aluminum crampon combination for snow and glacier travel. I used my TX3s exclusively for approaches while in the Bugaboos this summer. The sole provides very stable traction on snow—better than that of the dotted Stealth rubber on the Five Ten Guide Tennies. The manner in which the sole protrudes from the upper uniquely allows for secure side stepping and kicking steps, and the beefy heel digs in well while descending slopes.

Unfortunately, the shape of the TX3’s toe box made for a strange and unideal fit with my Petzl Leopard aluminum crampons. Given its almost entirely mesh upper, the TX3 is quite bendy and was unstable under tension in the crampon. Additionally, this upper is extremely permeable, resulting in wet feet in soft snow. La Sportiva makes a beefed-up version of the shoe called the TX4 (more on this below), which would definitely be a better option in the mountains. In a pinch, however, the TX3 gets the job done.


The TX3 clocks in at 1 pound 4 ounces for a pair of the women’s model, which is a pretty middle-of-the-road weight for an approach shoe. This makes the TX3 suitable for dangling on your harness up a climb or stuffing into a backpack on a longer ascent. Because the uppers are made of mesh, they will not hold water and thus not take on weight. However, if you’re just looking for a shoe to perform light duty on the trail that you’ll be carrying up climbs with you, the lighter version of these shoes (La Sportiva’s TX2) might be a better option.
La Sportiva TX3 (on a harness)

Durability and Construction

After a very full spring and summer, my La Sportiva TX3s have seen more than 100 days of use and are still alive and kicking. The sole is in excellent condition, and for the most part the mesh is intact, mitigated by the air-injected rubber rand that wraps completely around the shoe. However, parts of the mesh upper have started to grow thin, as I would have expected as a tradeoff in this non-leather shoe. The majority of the damage that my shoes have sustained is a result of shoving them into cracks and general abrasion while on the trail. Additionally, I have a small bunion on my right foot that has worn away the mesh; this rarely occurs with my shoes, so either my bunion is growing or the TX3 is somewhat lacking in durability. 

The TX3 is not waterproof, but it is extremely light and breathable and therefore will dry quickly after getting wet. While in the Bugaboos, many days I returned to camp with sopping-wet feet, and the shoes were usually dry by the morning and maintained their fit, unlike a leather model like La Sportiva Boulder X. That said, as much as I love the ventilation of the mesh TX3, I’d more readily reach for its water-resistant counterpart, La Sportiva's TX4, the next time I expect to encounter snow. ​​​​​​
La Sportiva TX3 (carrying pack)

Sizing and Fit

One of the most talked-about aspects of the TX series is the fit—the sizing is quite different than other La Sportiva approach shoes. In general, I would recommend going down a half size (I went from a European 40 to a 39.5), but I also suggest trying these shoes on in person if possible. Once you nail the sizing, you’ll notice that the fit is comfortably snug in the heel and midfoot and roomy in the toe box. This combination suited my wide foot especially well; however, it seems that all foot types would benefit from a secure fit and room for toes to breathe and move on the downhill.

The lacing system is unique even by La Sportiva standards—a combination of metal and cord eyelets. Pulling the heel loop (and moving the knots to secure) causes the lace eyelets to constrict, allowing for an even more secure toe box fit. I worry a bit about the eyelets at the front of the shoe that are constructed solely with cord, as they could quickly wear away the more I jam my feet into cracks. 
La Sportiva TX3 (lacing)

Other Shoes in the La Sportiva TX Line

You can always count on La Sportiva for high-quality and timely innovations in the world of climbing footwear, and the three TX series approach shoes are no exception. The TX2 is the lightest of the family, designed for simple approaches in warm conditions, technical climbing, and carrying on a harness. The TX4 is the burliest, with a durable leather upper and a beefy outsole (for more, see our in-depth TX4 review). The TX3 lies in the middle in terms of weight and durability, with a lightweight synthetic upper similar to the TX2, but the stable sole and Impact Brake System of the TX4, providing stability and comfort on the trail. It’s the most versatile of the bunch—a one-shoe-to-do-it-all sort of model. As I’ve come to expect with middle-ground options, however, at times I found myself wishing I had the La Sportiva TX2 or the TX4 instead. 

What We Like

  • The TX3 is a great combination of lightweight yet supportive—a difficult balance to strike with an approach shoe.
  • Another difficult combination: the TX3 offers a heavy dose of support for hiking on the trail, while still performing very well as a technical rock scrambler.
  • The Vibram Megagrip sole provides excellent traction on all surfaces, including snow.

What We Don’t

  • I found that the mesh upper is lacking in durability: a price to pay for weight-savings and breathability.
  • The fit and sizing of the TX3 means it’s best to try them on before ordering online (or buying from a retailer with a good exchange policy).
  • The laces are quite short, at times challenging to double knot, and often come undone.

La Sportiva TX3 (toe hold)

Comparison Table

Shoe Price Weight Upper Sole Waterproof
La Sportiva TX3 $135 1 lb. 4 oz. Mesh Vibram Megagrip Traverse No
La Sportiva TX4 $140 1 lb. 4.8 oz. Leather Vibram Megagrip Traverse No
Five Ten Guide Tennie $120 1 lb. 6.6 oz. Suede/synthetic Stealth C4 No
Salewa Mountain Trainer GTX  $200 2 lbs. 0.4 oz. Suede Vibram Mtn Trainer Evo Yes
Scarpa Crux $130 1 lb. 6.8 oz. Suede Vibram Megagrip No

The Competition

La Sportiva TX3 (on harness)

The TX3 is a solid all-arounder, merging exceptional comfort with both climbing and hiking performance. Since its debut in 2016, we’ve watched the TX3 gain traction and become one of the most beloved models of approach shoes among climbers. In fact, in our opinion, the only shoe that outperforms the TX3 on both trail and rock is its leather counterpart, the La Sportiva TX4. For everything except hot and dry conditions, the TX4 is worth the slight penalty in ventilation the added boost in protection and durability. Further, the leather upper is snugger-fitting than the mesh of the TX3, meaning you get more precision and security while climbing technical rock.

Another popular approach shoe is the Five Ten Guide Tennie, which is known for its exceptional climbing abilities (see our in-depth review here). The Guide Tennie’s snug toe box and stiff, streamlined build make it better on technical terrain than the TX shoes. Shoved in cracks or perched on dime edges, it has the ability to perform almost as well as a dedicated rock climbing shoe. However, you’ll pay the price on the trail, where the Guide Tennie is brick-like and slow to break in. Overall, the TX3 offers much more comfort for hiking, and its mesh upper makes it a better choice for hot summer endeavors. 

Finally, if you’re looking for a shoe that is more hiker than climber, the Salewa Mountain Trainer GTX is a great option. This shoe has a waterproof build with a burly outsole, offering great traction on trail, rock, and snow. Overall, it’s a more supportive, protective, and durable shoe than the TX4, TX3, or Guide Tennie. That said, the downside to this robust construction is a shoe that’s over-built for 5th-class climbing, and at 2 pounds for the women’s version, is too heavy to be toting on your harness. But for long approaches with a heavy pack, the Mountain Trainer GTX can be well worth the tradeoff.

If you’re thinking about buying gear that we’ve reviewed on Switchback Travel, you can help support us in the process. Just click on any of the seller links above, and if you make a purchase, we receive a small percentage of the transaction. The cost of the product is the same to you but this helps us continue to test and write about outdoor gear. Thanks and we appreciate your support!

Depending on the seller, most products ship free in the United States on orders of $50 or more. International shipping availability and rates vary by seller. The pricing information on this page is updated hourly but we are not responsible for inaccuracies.

Best Approach Shoes of 2019

I knew I was officially a climber when I bought my first pair of approach shoes. A climbing-specific style of footwear, approach shoes offer a unique combination of hiking shoes, climbing slippers, and sometimes even mountaineering boots...

La Sportiva TX4 Review

La Sportiva’s popular TX lineup runs the gamut from the minimalist TX2 approach shoe to the mid-height TX5 hiking boot. Over the past few seasons, I’ve enjoyed my middle-of-the-pack TX3...

Best Lightweight Hiking Shoes of 2019

The momentum in hiking footwear is moving away from bulky boots toward lightweight shoes and even trail runners that are faster and more comfortable. You do lose some ankle support when carrying...

Arc'teryx Acrux SL Review

Approaches to the granite spires of Patagonia’s Chaltén Range aren’t child’s play, with dry glaciers, steep snow, tricky moraines, and miles upon miles of hiking. It’s no small ask for an approach shoe to be able to perform well in these...

Best Rock Climbing Shoes of 2019

We love rock climbing shoes, and we bet you do too. The good news for climbers is that there are more quality products and styles to choose from than ever before. Impressive new models such as the La...

Best Hiking Boots of 2019

Hiking boots are critical to your comfort and performance on the trail, but this no longer means a stiff and burly model that will weigh you down. The trend is toward lighter materials that still offer decent support, and waterproof boots...

Five Ten Guide Tennie Review

Five Ten’s Guide Tennie is widely considered to be the first approach shoe ever made, and over 30 years later, it’s still a crowd favorite. The combination of durable materials, lightweight design...

Scarpa Crux Review

Visit any crag across the country, and you’re bound to see Scarpa’s Crux on the feet of multiple climbers. This entry-level approach shoe is a well-built, affordable offering that excels on trail and easy rock. And in early 2018, it got a few...

Best Backpacking Tents of 2019

The ideal backpacking tent is lightweight, spacious, and tough enough to handle any inclement weather that you can throw at it. It’s a big category, but the good news for backpackers is that...