For reasons discussed below, the LaSportiva TX3 has been on my radar since it came out last year. I received a pair for Christmas, and since then have taken them down a handful of technical slot canyons and on some dayhikes. What follows are my first impressions concerning why they promise to be an excellent shoe for canyon backpacking.
Approach shoes have always had a lot going for them, as well as some serious limitations that for backpacking and longer distance hiking were often all but fatal. The most egregious is the narrow toebox, which prior to the TX series was all but universal to the genre. Skinny forefeet creating pressure does indeed make climbing shoes edge well and smear precisely, but I’ve often wondering if the chunkier, more hiking oriented approach shoes didn’t have enough weight and midsole structure that narrow toeboxes weren’t wasted effort. In 2009 and 2010 I spent a lot of time in Montrails Car to Car, a shoe which shared the big rand and runner’s heal of the TX3, but on long days always killed my feet with inadequate forefoot room and harsh midsole.
The TX3s have a significantly wider forefoot than any approach shoe I can recall. Coupled with the burly rand and stout midsole, the feel of the shoe is unique, and in technical terrain confidence inspiring. They’re stiff enough to heel-toe in slots with minimal foot crunch, the rubber is sticky, and the tread just deep enough to grip well in loose dirt (though I would expect it to do poorly in mud. Based on initial outings, the shoe seems tough enough to have a useful service life.
It is worth emphasizing that the TX3 is a stiff shoe. For this reason I think I’ll like it as a backpacking shoe, when I have a heavy or heavyish pack on, and in technical slots where stiffness prevents foot abuse. They seem less desirable as a dayhiking shoe, for the same reason. I’m not sure how many Sportiva will sell to climbers, but for canyon hikers I am optimistic that the TX3 is the best thing to come along in quite some time.