Ahead of trying the Teton Grand Traverse—10 summits, nearly 18 miles and over 12,000 feet of elevation gain—I knew I needed to up my approach-shoe game: the clunkers I was using at the time weren’t going to cut it. I looked up what shoe Nick Elson used when he set the disgustingly quick FKT in 2016, completing the Traverse, trailhead to trailhead, in 6 hours 30 minutes 49 seconds.
His shoe of choice? La Sportiva’s TX2. So, I figured I’d give them a try.
The TX2 is a super-light, high-performance approacher, capable of climbing technical rock, but also carrying you nimbly over anything you encounter before or after. I was disconcerted on my maiden voyage in the TX2s: I’d never worn an approach shoe so light, and running in them seemed too easy. Each one weighs only 9.8 ounces. That being said, if you want to log 100-mile trail-running weeks, no climbing involved, this clearly isn’t the shoe for you. But for a 10-mile approach to get to the base of a climb fast? Money.
If you’re not interested in the TX2s for all-day mountain adventures in which you’ll also be climbing in them, but rather just using them to reach the base of a multipitch, the packability of the TX2s is one of their biggest advantages. La Sportiva’s proprietary C2 ComboCord—an elastic band that fits into a groove behind the heel and attaches to two points on the side of the heel—allows the TX2s to nest together. The ComboCords snug the TX2s into a small enough bundle that they are barely noticeable if you hang them off your harness (or, at the very least, less noticeable than any other approach shoes we’ve used).
My foremost concern after seeing how well they were for running and hiking was whether their lightness came at the expense of their climbing capabilities. On that first outing and then on others around Colorado and Wyoming, those fears were allayed each and every time.
Out in the Tetons the TX2s were like a secret weapon.They edge phenomenally for an approach shoe, and smear well, too (there is a “climbing zone” under the toe and enough— but not too much—flexibility through the sole). These climb better than some actual climbing shoes I’ve worn.
The uppers are made of knit polyester, meaning they dry quicker than a leather or canvas approach if you slosh through puddles or streams.
One obvious drawback of the TX2s—a result of their lightweight construction—is that they are less durable than other approach shoes on the market. Between the mesh material and thinner soles, they wear pretty quickly. But so long as you know this going in, it’s a non-issue, as their performance remains outstanding. For shoes with similar performance but a longer lifespan, check out La Sportiva’s slightly beefier TX3s or TX4s.
Size-wise, I went up half a size from my street shoe. At $130, the TX2s are quite affordable for a top-end approach shoe. If you’re looking to be light and fast, these are the ticket.
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