La Sportiva TX2 Evo Review
By Graham Johnson
A few years ago, I wrote a review of the first generation TX2—that pair have finally walked their last kilometre. They lasted a surprisingly long time for such a lightweight shoe. I was a fan of the original TX2 approach shoe—giving them 3 1/2 stars. The TX2 models have recently been revamped and I opted to bin my old ones and pick up a pair of the new model. The redesigned TX2 is a different shoe with the same name—the new TX2 comes in a mesh/synthetic upper (TX2 Evo) and a slightly cheaper and heavier leather version (TX2 Evo Leather). After opting for the mesh version in the originals, I went with the leather for my new shoes. At 295g with a full leather upper I thought that these would be good approach shoes that could also look presentable on the streets, as well as being more durable and more wet-resistant.
While the two versions of the TX2 share a basic form and sole, they are fairly different shoes and both differ significantly from the original. The TX2 Evo is most similar to the original, in that it has a stretch knit material upper with a new stretchy ‘gasket’ to seal around your ankle to prevent stones from getting in. The Evo Leather has a different lacing system, a nubuck leather upper and no ‘gasket’. My reasoning was that while the original was very durable—the leather upper would be even better and possibly a bit more supportive/protective for scrambling over rough talus.
A word about sizing: I wear a 43 comfortably in most Sportiva boots/shoes, but these felt tight in the store so I went up a half size. They subsequently stretched out, so I wish I'd stuck with the 43.
While the original was a slim shoe, seemingly focused more on climbing and scrambling performance than walking any significant distance, the new ones are much beefier—with a significant midsole and TPU shank that only slightly detracts from their climbing performance. Chunkier without being chunky. These have been quite pleasant to walk in for many kilometres, over all sorts of terrain. They edge and smear reasonably well when off trail and the thicker midsole cushions the foot against sharp rocks that you would have felt with the originals. I've used these for both actually approaching climbs and long walks with (and without) backpacks on and off trail—basically as light tramping boots with no performance issues.
The Vibram sole with diamond-shaped lugs is adequately sticky for good purchase on rocks without getting worn down too excessively by normal walking and gives better traction than the original dot-style lugs. After almost a year of heavy use—including a fair bit of city walking—the sole is in great shape. If the rest of the shoe wasn’t falling apart, I would expect them to last a few more years—more on that below.
‘Those shoes are looking kinda busted’ is the comment I've been getting most about these shoes recently. In the last few months, the midsole of one foot has started to peel away from the upper. It's not a big deal, yet. There are a few bits of loose stitching here and there, but nothing untoward for the amount of use they've gotten. The little tabs that allow you to pull the bungee cord out (a feature to let you fasten the shoes together and hang from a harness) have fallen off a long time ago—making it hard/almost impossible to get the bungee out. The nice-looking leather does not retain its aesthetic for very long, especially after it gets wet. Predictably, they do a better job of keeping snow, mud, water out than their mesh counterparts, but they are by no means waterproof. Even water resistant might be a stretch. I haven't had any wear issues with the leather itself, despite lots of jamming and general use.
So, they perform reasonably well—good even. And now to my biggest and most significant complaint: the lacing system. The lacing system on the TX2 Evo Leather is terrible. There's really no other appropriate word for it. The laces are threaded in such a way that is complicated to explain, but I will try. Essentially, there is one very long lace per shoe and that lace is daisy-chained so that the travel of one part of the lace provides the loop for another part of the lace to run through. When new, this is fine. However, it creates wear points on the lace, which causes it to break fairly quickly. Once broken, the whole system falls apart—including the loop at the back that you may have hung your shoes from (it’s unlikely to pull all the way through, but still...). So just replace the lace you say? An extra-long lace is required and possibly a special tool like a knitting needle—as it looks like a real pain to re-lace. I'm still waiting to hear back from La Sportiva on what size lace to get.
Ironically, one of the features that La Sportiva promotes is that both models are resolable—great idea—but based on my experience, the rest of the shoe is going to fall apart long before they need to be resoled. I wonder if I can keep the sole and get new uppers? Once I get some new laces, I'll be dropping these off at my local gear consignment shop—and picking up a pair of Scarpas.
2 stars - These are mostly good shoes and if it weren't for the poor designed lacing system, I would have given them a higher rating. The normal TX2 Evo has a different lacing system, but shares the same platform as the leather—I suspect these would be great.