La Sportiva TC Pro: A Comfortable High-Top Shoe Designed For Long Climbs
Named after the iconic Tommy Caldwell himself, La Sportiva’s TC Pro shoes have been the gold standard for trad climbing and crack climbing since their conception. The high-top design is reminiscent of climbing shoes from past eras, but the functionality is 100% modern.
If you’re a crack climber, want your ankles to be protected, or are just looking for an all-around comfortable but well-performing climbing shoe, the TC Pro is an excellent option.
As someone with various foot issues (a bunion, plantar fasciitis, and Achilles tendonitis…), comfort is number one when it comes to climbing shoes. I wish I could wear super down-turned, tight, high-performance shoes, but even for sport climbing and bouldering, I need my shoes to be comfortable and supportive.
So when I first tried TC Pros, I knew I had found a shoe that fit all my needs. They’re sensitive enough for smearing yet stiff enough to stand on small edges without hurting my toes. They protect my ankles from the inevitable scratches I used to get while climbing cracks with other shoes. And I can wear them all day long without any pain.
The TC Pros feature a moderate downturn and medium-high asymmetry that adds precision and technical capability without taking away much comfort. You could always downsize for a more precise fit, although most people buy these shoes for all-day comfort instead of technical precision.
While I prioritize comfort, my partner does own multiple pairs of TC Pros, all in different sizes — tighter for hard climbing and looser for long comfortable climbing.
The 4mm Vibram XS Edge rubber strikes a balance of durability with stickiness, and I feel like they do a good job with that balance. The rubber on my shoes tends to last through a year or so of climbing most weekends in the spring, summer, and fall before they need a resole.
The leather upper molds to your feet over time, providing protection and comfort. There is a bit of a break-in period when they feel pretty stiff, in both the sole and the upper, but that quickly goes away after some use. The lace-up closure is easy to adjust and especially helps if you have weirdly shaped feet. The laces are one of the less durable parts of the shoe but are easy to replace if they do break before the rest of the shoe does.
Many people use TC Pros as their all-around or only climbing shoe. While I wouldn’t recommend them as a gym climbing shoe (although I’ve used them for that when I didn’t have anything else on hand), they can pretty much hold their own in any climbing situation.
While they are designed for and acclaimed for crack climbing, trad climbing, and slab climbing, they really can excel at sport climbing and could even be used for bouldering in a pinch. Not that I would recommend them for someone pushing the limits of bouldering.
Regarding rock types, they genuinely excel at granite climbing since the big walls of Yosemite are what prompted this shoe’s creation. I also love them for sandstone cracks in Indian Creek and Basalt columns in the PNW. They are not as great for limestone since the toe doesn’t work well for pockets compared to more aggressive, softer shoes (although they stand well on small edges, so they could work for some limestone climbing!).
If you’re a trad and crack climber looking for a comfortable shoe that still performs well, the TC Pro is your shoe. Yes, they’re expensive, but they last through many resoles if you treat them well. And they’ll be your go-to shoe as soon as you try them on.
From Yosemite big walls to Washington Cascade alpine rock to sandstone in Red Rocks, TC Pros are a shoe that can do pretty much everything. And you’ll be grateful to never have scuffed up ankles from offwidths again!