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Gear Review: La Sportiva TX3 Hiking Shoes

La Sportiva TX3

La Sportiva TX3

Hiking/Approach Shoes
La Sportiva TX3
$135, 1 lb. 9 oz. (men’s Euro42/US 9)
Sizes: Euro men’s 38-47.5, women’s 36-43
moosejaw.com

If a shoe manufacturer asked me to design my ideal, low-cut hiking shoe, I’d say it should be lightweight, with good flex yet enough cushion and support for rugged dayhikes and ultralight backpacking. I’d want it supremely breathable, reasonably armored against abusive terrain, and to have an outsole that grips any surface. I’m still waiting for a shoe manufacturer to ask me. But La Sportiva seems to have read my mind with the TX3. That shoe jumped to the top of my list after several dayhikes, including a 16-hour, August ultra-hike of the 32-mile, 10,000-vertical-foot, nine-summit Pemi Loop in New Hampshire’s rocky and wet White Mountains, and a 27-mile, 16-hour traverse of western Maine’s Mahoosuc Range.

I also wore these shoes on various dayhikes from Wachusett Mountain in central Massachusetts to Idaho’s City of Rocks and on a 14-mile, 3,000-foot dayhike of 11,049-foot Telescope Peak in Death Valley National Park. Why do I like these shoes so much? In short, the TX3 hits every bullet on that wish list I just laid out.

La Sportiva TX3

La Sportiva TX3

In a striking departure from traditional approach-style shoes with leather uppers, the TX3’s quick-drying, polyester mesh uppers and lining breathe so well that, despite me perspiring enough that my T-shirt was soaked on the Pemi Loop (where the weather ranged from fog and light rain showers to sunshine, warm temps, and high humidity), my socks hardly got damp. (I had brought a second pair of socks in case the first got too sweaty on such a long day, but I never used them.) Even though we hiked Telescope Peak at a strong pace—up seven miles and 3,000 feet in under three hours, and down in a bit over two hours—my feet stayed dry. And when we hung out on the summit for an hour, I didn’t even think to remove my shoes to cool my feet, as I’d normally do, because my feet felt fine. Nor are they “cold” shoes: On Telescope Peak in May, we started out in temps below freezing, and my feet never felt cold.

An air-injected rubber rand that wraps completely around the shoe guards the mesh from damage; it suffered none. And while the uppers obviously are not waterproof—thus making them very breathable—light showers never made them wet faster than they dried out as I walked. The compression-molded EVA midsole provides an excellent balance between cushioning and good flex for a nimble feel that allows a fast, natural stride: My feet felt great even at the end of long hikes (I did use a supportive, custom insole on our 32-mile dayhike, the Enertor Performance Insoles, which I like.)

The Vibram Mega-Grip outsole—with round lugs, a smooth area of sticky rubber under the toes for smearing on rock, and an in-cut heel for downhill braking on loose surfaces like scree and dirt—blew me away with its grip on rocky trails and dirt whether the granite was wet or dry. Not until the last few hours of that 32-mile dayhike, on rocky trails that were slick from rain for hours, did I actually slip on loose stones and land (softly) on my butt. It was noticeable for the fact that I hadn’t done it all day.

 


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La Sportiva TX3

La Sportiva TX3

The low-profile lacing system is simple and secure, never loosening up, and gives a fit and sensitivity I like for hiking and scrambling in rugged terrain. The fit is comfortably snug in the heel and midfoot, with extra room in the toes without feeling boxy. The shoe wrapped my foot so well that on the Pemi Loop—a distance for which I normally resort to preventive measures like pre-taping my heels to avoid blisters (and I’m not surprised if I get one nonetheless, given the mileage)—I didn’t use tape until about halfway through the hike. I suffered no more than one hot spot and one blister on the side of a toe that I think had nothing to do with the shoe’s fit. Lastly, Ortholite insoles provide odor control.

Once in a while, a gear maker comes out with a product designed exactly the way I’d do it. La Sportiva’s TX3 is that kind of shoe, ideal for dayhiking in any terrain, ultralight backpacking, scrambling, and low-grade technical climbing. The line includes the lighter TX2 ($125, 1 lb. 4 oz.), with collapsible uppers for easy packing, and the TX4 ($135, 1 lb. 12 oz.), similar to the TX3 but with nubuck leather uppers for added durability.

BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog by clicking this link to purchase the men’s or women’s La Sportiva TX3 shoes at moosejaw.com or rei.com.

 

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See all of my reviews of hiking shoes, approach shoes, and backpacking boots, plus all of my reviews of hiking gear and backpacking gear at The Big Outside.

NOTE: I tested gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See categorized menus of all of my gear reviews at The Big Outside.

—Michael Lanza

 

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About The Author

Michael Lanza

A former field editor and primary gear reviewer for Backpacker Magazine, Michael Lanza created The Big Outside to share stories and images from his many backpacking, hiking, and other outdoor adventures, as well as expert tips and gear reviews to help readers plan and pull off their own great adventures.

9 Comments

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  1. Avatar

    Hi Michael, thanks for the review – it was incredibly helpful! I received a pair of La Sportiva TX3 approach shoes for Christmas last year, and have been loving them myself.

    That being said, I am traveling to Scotland in September to hike the Speyside Way (which will be my first multi day – long hiking trip) and September is said to be one of Scotland’s wettest months of the year.

    I am slightly nervous that my La Sportiva TX3 shoes won’t keep my feet dry enough. My question for you is, do you feel as though these shoes would be able to withstand the 65 mile trek with chances of possible downpours (when paired with a good pair of hiking socks), or should I be investing in a different shoe?

    Reply
    • Michael Lanza

      Hi Andrew,

      Three years after I first published this review, the TX3 remain one of my favorite hiking shoes, especially for long days in hot, dry weather. However, your concerns are well placed. I’ve done some hiking in Scotland, and it’s one of the wettest and harshest climates I’ve ever hiked in, comparable to Alaska and New Zealand. Even when it’s not raining, you can be hiking through incredible mud and bogs where the earth seems like a giant, waterlogged sponge. The TX3 shoes are not waterproof, of course, so they will certainly not keep your feet dry. While some committed ultralighters advocate wearing neoprene socks with non-waterproof, lightweight shoes such as the TX3 in wet conditions, I personally prefer to go with a waterproof-breathable shoe or boot, and pairing that with more comfortable, wool socks.

      The other concern to consider is that really wet, muddy conditions can quickly put heavy wear on the mesh uppers of shoes like the TX3—they are simply not designed for those conditions. And while the midsole of the TX3 is well armored with a rubber rand, the mesh uppers are susceptible to tears on rocky trails such as you can find in Scotland.

      So there are a few important reasons why I would save my TX3 shoes for dry hikes elsewhere and find some lightweight, waterproof-breathable mid-cut boots for Scotland. Check all these menus of all of my reviews of backpacking boots and hiking shoes at The Big Outside.

      Good luck and have fun on your trip. Thanks for the question.

      Reply
  2. Avatar

    Hi Michael, thank you for your review off the La Sportiva TX3 hiking shoe. In your review you mention that you fitted them with Enertor Performance Insoles; then later in your review you say you put in Ortholite Insoles. Which insoles do you recommend?

    I am planning to use these shoes mainly for wet canyoneering day trips with long walk-ins, and occasionally for multi-day wet canyoneering trips. I am struggling to find a supplier who will ship to South Africa; amazon (via Backcountry.com) does not ship these shoes to South Africa.

    Reply
    • MichaelALanza

      Hi Dennis, the Ortholite insoles come standard in the TX3. They are similar to most insoles in hiking/outdoor shoes: a simple, thin, flexible foam pad, with not much support. The Enertor Performance are after-market insoles purchased separately, and provide substantially more support and cushion than standard insoles. I find that standard insoles are fine for normal hiking circumstances, as long as you have no foot problems that require extra support. I use Enertor or other higher-quality, after-market insoles when I’m putting my feet through an unusual amount of stress, like taking a very long ultra-dayhike.

      Good luck getting the TX3 delivered to you. This is one of the best shoes I’ve ever worn.

      Reply
  3. Avatar

    Hello. Thank you for your great reviews. If possible, can you please comment about the TX3 versus the Arc’teryx Acrux FL (fixed liner, non-GTX) that you also reviewed? What about each after long-term use (if you’ve had the chance)? Thank you!

    Reply
    • MichaelALanza

      Hi Ryan, thanks for the nice compliment. Good question, given that you’re comparing two shoes that are really built for the same purpose: hiking rugged terrain where you need excellent grip and traction and prefer a lightweight shoe.

      The TX3 is possibly the best shoe I’ve used in recent years. I like the outsole, the comfortable fit, and the very breathable uppers–three of my top priorities in hiking and scrambling shoes. Mine are still in good shape. Given the full, wrap-around rubber rand, they’re built to withstand a lot more abuse than many shoes with mesh uppers; however, that mesh will be the weakest part of the shoe, and depending on how and where you use them, I would expect it to start to fray around the collar or on the inner side behind the toes (above the rand), especially for someone with relatively wide feet.

      The Acrux FL breathes well, too, though I think incrementally not quite as well as the mesh TX3. I like the more generous forefoot flex of the TX3, whereas the Acrux FL is slightly stiffer and thus more supportive (but that’s on a scale of low-cut hiking shoes, not “stiff” like you’d see in boots). I believe the uppers of the Acrux FL will survive more abuse than the lighter mesh of the TX3; look at pictures of both shoes and you’ll see the difference in the materials of the uppers.

      I hope that’s helpful. There are incremental differences in the performance aspects you asked about, but those may be significant factors for you, depending on how you plan to use the shoes. Good luck.

      Reply
      • Avatar

        Thank you very much for the extra input!

        Reply
  4. Avatar

    How would you compare these to the Ultra Raptor? I’m on the verge of buying those based partly on your enthusiasm for them.

    Reply
    • Michael Lanza

      Good question. The Ultra Raptor is a great shoe. (I still use mine.) But it’s different from the TX3. To simplify, I would describe the Ultra Raptor as great for someone who wants a light hiking shoe or trail running shoe that performs both jobs well. The TX3 isn’t made for running: It’s a shoe for rugged trails and scrambling that has such excellent support that you can carry a light backpack and/or walk long miles in them. So different purposes, but both good shoes.

      Reply

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