La Sportiva TC Pro Review
Cons: Expensive, limited sport/bouldering use
Manufacturer: La Sportiva
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La Sportiva TC Pro
$164.19 at REI
$164.19 at REI
|$149.25 at Backcountry|
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$96.69 at REI
$66.69 at REI
|Pros||Great edging, solid crack climbing, good all-around shoe||Versatile, stiff, durable, comfortable||Extremely precise toe, extra heel sensitivity, comfortable for an aggressive shoe||Comfortable design, respectable edging, low-profile toe, excellent price||Affordable, flat midsole is comfortable all day, well-balanced performance across many areas|
|Cons||Expensive, limited sport/bouldering use||Expensive, limited sensitivity||Pricey, tall toe box, too narrow for some feet||Mediocre precision, subpar on the steeps, somewhat insensitive||Insensitive, imprecise fit, ineffective design for steep terrain|
|Bottom Line||Designed for big days on big walls, this shoe is nearly perfect for long traditional climbs||This stiff shoe is an all-day workhorse that also performs well on edges and slabs||An ultra-high-end shoe that is designed for performance||Decent overall climbing performance at an affordable price make these a sold choice||An entry-level shoe ideal for beginners that comes at an awesomely low price|
|Rating Categories||La Sportiva TC Pro||La Sportiva Katana...||La Sportiva Solutio...||La Sportiva Finale||La Sportiva Tarantu...|
|Steep Terrain (20%)|
|Specs||La Sportiva TC Pro||La Sportiva Katana...||La Sportiva Solutio...||La Sportiva Finale||La Sportiva Tarantu...|
|Upper||Leather||Leather / Microfiber||Leather / Microfiber||Eco Leather / microfiber||Leather/Synthetic|
|Lining||Sentex/PU Foam||Pacific (forefoot and back)||Pacific, lycra||Unlined||None|
|Rubber Type||Vibram XS Edge||Vibram XS Edge||Vibram XS Grip2||Vibram XS Edge||FriXion RS|
|Rubber Thickness||4 mm||4 mm||4 mm||5 mm||5 mm|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The "TC" in the TC Pro name stands for Tommy Caldwell, an American professional climber who helped design these exceedingly popular shoes. Caldwell has a long list of climbing accomplishments, but he's probably most known for his free climbing prowess on Yosemite's El Capitan. These shoes are built for this purpose with a stiff sole and high-top upper that supply excellent edging performance and extra padding for all-day crack jamming. Although they're exceptional for granite cracks, they're also a solid choice for trad climbing on almost any rock type. That's why these shoes have gained devoted fans all around the world.
Updated TC Pro
The classic TC Pro received a slew of updates with the new version released in 2021. Past TC Pro fans will be happy to hear that almost all of these changes seem to be for the better. Perhaps the most appreciated change is a redesign of the rand. The sides of the shoe now feature a continuous rand that's far less prone to delaminating or peeling. The laces are also a little burlier, so there is less fear about shredding them while crack jamming on coarse rock. La Sportiva removed a small hem on the heel of this shoe. This subtle change helps alleviate pressure and reduce Achilles pain.
On the other hand, we were disappointed to discover that the new TC Pro feels ever so slightly less sensitive. This is especially disappointing because these shoes weren't particularly sensitive to begin with. Aside from this difference, though, we're thrilled with most of the changes to this already fantastic shoe.
Hands-On Review of the TC Pro
The XS Edge rubber used on the TC Pro is, as the name implies, designed for edging. It works phenomenally for this purpose. The pointed toe stands on extremely microscopic features with ease, and both the inside and outside edges feel precise enough for hard face climbing.
Like many top-rated La Sportiva shoes, the TC Pro employs its P3 technology to add support. This design employs a tensioned rand across the heel that runs inside the shoe all the way to the forefoot. The result is a stable platform with considerable stiffness all the way from heel to toe. The downside to this design is additional material between your foot that harms sensitivity. Despite this limited tactile feedback, if you place your feet precisely, the edging performance can be outstanding.
Fish do well in water, and the TC Pro does well in cracks for the same reason: they are meant to be there. The virtually flat toe fits pretty well into cracks, allowing you to crank and jam in all directions with impunity. The forefoot is surprisingly stiff for how sensitive the shoe feels and holds its shape no matter how hard you try to mangle your foot in the wide stuff. With these shoes, your hands will beg for a break long before your feet.
Unfortunately, the toe box is rather tall, which means you can't slide a ton of material into thin cracks. Most people will probably prefer a shoe with a slimmer toe profile to charge up cracks that are thin hands or smaller. For anything wider than thin hands, however, the TC Pro is extremely capable.
Just looking at the pointed toe of the TC Pro suggests that it will do well in pockets at some angle. The steeper you get, however, the worse it performs. That's partially due to the flat toe, which is so amazing on edges and in cracks, but it's an ineffective design for pulling your lower body in on overhanging terrain.
The heel cup is also bulky with a hard rubber spine that reduces sensitivity for heel hooks. The TC Pro is still great for vertical terrain, but for steep cranking or pocketed limestone, we recommend a shoe with a pointier toe and a more aggressive downturn.
This hard man's shoe is extremely supportive, but it still manages to provide some sensitivity. Its 4 millimeters of Vibram XS Edge rubber is slightly more than average but actually pretty modest for a specialized crack shoe. This compromise between protection and performance means that the TC Pro actually offers impressive sensitivity for such a stiff shoe.
Shoes with softer midsoles can still provide much higher levels of sensitivity, but after you get accustomed to the stiffness of the TC Pro, it's possible to detect tiny rock features. You might not be able to feel absolutely everything, but with careful technique, you can learn to trust them.
After enough pitches, any climbing shoe will make you miserable. How long that takes is the measure of how comfortable a shoe is. The TC Pro doesn't baby your foot like some flat shoes. The toe is molded into an asymmetrical point, and if you size it too tight, your toes will curl over slightly. Our lead tester wears a euro 44.5 street shoe but sized down to a 43.5 for a performance fit in TC Pro. At this size, he finds it possible to wear them during massive days with minimal pain.
The sole offers tons of support to stave off fatigue, and the high-top upper protects your foot amazingly in cracks. Both of these aspects of its performance are more important than its comfort out of the box. And out of the box, it can feel rather uncomfortable until the stiff leather uppers have been properly broken in with a few days of climbing. The TC Pro isn't perfect for everyone, especially those with wide or high-volume feet.
The TC Pro is a shoe that's worth saving up your lunch money for. And with its premium price, you just might have to. Past complaints about the rand delaminating or fragile laces are less of a concern in the updated version of this shoe. These durability upgrades enhance the value and make the expensive price tag more justifiable.
The versatility of this shoe is another component of its value. Although it's best-suited for granite crack climbing, it's also exceptional for other styles and rock types. Just keep the angle at vertical or less for the best performance. There are a few other less expensive high-top shoes that are marketed for crack and traditional climbing. Although these models could potentially allow you to save a little money, the TC Pro seems like a similar value due to its superior versatility.
The La Sportiva TC Pro has a serious fan club, but there are also a few detractors. Some of these detractors are just grumpy contrarians, but criticism about limited sensitivity and poor performance on overhanging terrain seem warranted. Nevertheless, the TC Pro is easily one of the most popular shoes in the granite climbing areas of the American West, and it's easy to understand why. Its excellent balance of comfort, edging performance, and sensitivity remain unmatched by its rivals. To get your hands on a pair, you'll have to fork over some serious cash, but we're confident you'll be pleased with what we believe is the Best Shoe for Trad and Crack Climbing.
— Jack Cramer
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