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La Sportiva TC Pro Review

La Sportiva TC Pro climbing shoe
Top Pick Award
Price:   $185 List | $184.95 at Amazon
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Pros:  Great edging, Solid crack climbing, Good all-around shoe
Cons:  Expensive, Limited sport/bouldering use
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   La Sportiva
By Thomas Greene ⋅ Review Editor
Wednesday

Our Verdict

The vaunted La Sportiva TC Pro comes close to living up to the rock star, climb-anything-anywhere hype surrounding it. It features phenomenal edging, a flat toe, ankle protection for cracks, decent smearing ability, and an ultra supportive, semi-stiff sole that will keep your feet feeling strong pitch after pitch. This makes this shoe a top contender for the ultimate, single-quiver shoe title.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

As with any jack-of-all-trades, the TC Pro falls behind many specialized shoes in their respective terrains. It doesn't excel in the steep and burly world of high-end sport or bouldering. For either, you'd be better off choosing the Evolv Shaman or La Sportiva Solution. Neither does it feel as versatile as the La Sportiva Katana Lace on a range of rock types. Instead, the TC Pro is an all-around, solid B student, with a peculiar savant-like genius for one subject. The brainchild of Tommy Caldwell is in a class of its own on high-end granite trad climbs. Only in the thinnest of cracks is this shoe less than perfect. If you're hands can handle it, for the most part, these shoes can too. The semi-stiff sole stands in cracks all day without mangling your toes, and will keep your feet from getting tired long after you've forgotten what lap you're on.

Dave in the TC Pro on Cathedral Peak  Toulomne  YNP  CA.
Dave in the TC Pro on Cathedral Peak, Toulomne, YNP, CA.

Performance Comparison


The TC Pro (highlighted in blue) performed exceptionally well across the board, as shown in the overall performance chart below.


Edging


The XS Edge rubber La Sportiva developed for the TC Pro was, as the name implies, designed for edging. It works phenomenally. The pointed toe stands on extremely small features with ease, and both the inside and outside edges feel precise enough for hard face climbing. La Sportiva used their P3 technology to complete the edging package. After wearing the this shoe for long enough, it's easy to be lured into believing they can truly do it all. Only when contrasted to specialized shoes like the La Sportiva Futura, Solution or Miura VS does this shoe get put into perspective. They are truly amazing edging shoes for being almost completely flat, but they still fall beneath the upper echelon of edging shoes.


Crack Climbing


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 perfectly in 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 shape no matter how hard you try to mangle your foot in the wide stuff. Your hands will give in to the cracks long before this shoe does.


Pockets


Just looking at the shape tells you it does well in pockets at some angle. However, the steeper you get, the less it works. The flat toe, so amazing on edges and in cracks, will inspire ballerina like maneuvers to keep your toe in overhanging pockets, and you're still likely to fall out.


The La Sportiva Miura provided more than a little inspiration for the design of the TC Pro, and has a down-turned enough toe to hang in an overhanging world where the TC Pro can't. Try the Miura, or the Katana Lace if you are a crack climber that wants to hook steep pockets too.

Testing the TC Pro at the Owens River Gorge  Bishop  CA.
Testing the TC Pro at the Owens River Gorge, Bishop, CA.

Sensitivity


This hard man's shoe is a little hard but still manages to be on the sensitive side. A very perfect compromise between protection and performance makes this shoe only average when it comes to sensitivity. You won't feel everything in this shoe, but like the Miura, it cranks down on a lot of things you can't even see, so learn to trust them.


Comfort


After enough pitches any shoe can make you miserable, how long that takes is the measure of how comfortable a shoe really is. It doesn't baby your foot like some flat shoes. The toe is still aggressively pointed, and at one size down your toes will be slightly curled over. This shoe is very comfortable, but it isn't the most comfortable shoe ever made. Still, on pitch 23 it manages to feel very much like it did on pitch one.


The sole offers tons of support that helps stave off fatigue, and the shoe protects your foot amazingly in cracks. Both of these aspects of its performance are more important than its comfort out of the box. Only the La Sportiva Mythos and a very well worn-in Miura rival the all-day comfort and climbing ability of the TC Pro.

The down turn of the Katana Lace VS. the flatter fit of the TC Pro.
The down turn of the Katana Lace VS. the flatter fit of the TC Pro.

Best Applications


The TC Pro is a true all-arounder, sport climbing and bouldering surprisingly well. But, even Tommy Caldwell swaps them out for a pair Solutions or the venerable Miura when taking on hard sport. They truly excel at all things trad, and will help keep you psyched on the very big days. Buy them as a quiver of one, for all the climbing you might want to do, or for your big wall plans. Either way, you won't be disappointed.
A little Red Rocking in the TC Pro
A little Red Rocking in the TC Pro

Value


The TC Pro is worth saving your lunch money for. In terms of durability, the 4mm rubber will outlast the rand, which tends to peel, but this doesn't affect performance. The leather upper shows no real signs of wear after significant use. The fact that they can be used for general climbing in addition to being a very specialized shoe increases their value significantly in our book. It might be hard to justify if you don't climb that often, but maybe they will inspire you to get out more.

The TC Pro handles all but very thin cracks extremely well.
The TC Pro handles all but very thin cracks extremely well.

Conclusion


The TC Pro has a serious fan club, but is also not without detractors. This is likely due to the fact that it was talked up so much, people probably thought it would climb for them. When it didn't, folks got grumpy.
The bottom line is: if you're looking for one great shoe to do it all, and perhaps have big wall ambitions, you could do worse. In fact, we give this shoe our Top Pick award for trad and multi-pitch climbing. At the price, you probably couldn't afford another pair of shoes anyway.

Thomas Greene
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