La Sportiva’s TC Pro: Worth the Dough?
When it comes to the TC Pro, there is really only one question to ask: “can I afford to buy these shoes?” To this question, I will pose another: “can I afford not to?” While the TC Pro requires little in the way of an introduction, allow me to give the Fringe’s Folly version. La Sportiva = top 1 or 2 climbing shoe companies in the world. TC Pro = designed by top 1 or 2 trad climbers in the world. Hence, TC Pro = Probably the top 1 or 2 trad shoes money can buy.
Now, I know a logician might find the argument fallacious, but probability is a matter of statistics, not logic, and the conclusion is probably true. From a statistical standpoint, the TC Pro makes sense. Statistically speaking (compared to every other climbing shoe I’ve ever worn) it does the following: 1) edges better than any other shoe out there, 2) performs as well or better in cracks than most shoes, 3) resists a beating and wear and tear better than most shoes, 4) protects against anklebiting offwidths better than any other shoe I’ve ever tried.
“But my fat american foot doesn’t fit in those skinny euro shoes”, you say… Well, neither does mine. I haven’t been able to wear La Sportivas for the past 10 years – but somehow, this shoe breaks their mold a little. It is still narrow, compared to Five Tens, but the TC Pro felt comfortably tight, as glovelike as any laceup I’ve worn before. I got mine in a “comfortable” size, and they not only perform as well as comparable “tight” shoes on vertical and gently overhung boulder problems, but they also stay on my feet all day long without any discomfort or pain.
I was dubious about the TC Pros faceclimbing from the getgo. People swear by them, but out of the box they felt clunky, insensitive, and awkward. It took me all of two moves to change my mind. Starting a 500 foot line of crimpers, edges, and grainy patina in Cochise Stronghold, I found myself trusting the shoes’ incredible edge right off the deck. Over the course of the afternoon which involved sustained 20mph+ winds for 5 pitches of techy face climbing, the shoes performed magically. By the end of the day, I was standing on microscopic nubs and tiny edges effortlessly. Usually I can stand on those features, but I’m using a lot of energy and foot and leg muscles to do so. Not the case in the TC Pros.
Returning to the original question: yes, the price tag is a bit out of this universe. $190, last I checked. That said, a resole only costs $45 dollars, and your shoes come back feeling better than new (if you send them to my favorite resoler: Rock and Resole). The leather is bombproof, and if you put a couple of pieces of climbing tape over the tongue of the shoe and the laces, these puppies will withstand plenty of time in the creek as well.
While I am generally skeptical of top dollar items, the TC Pro proves to be an exception. Opening your wallet for these may make you wince at first, but when you join the growing masses of dirtbags purists and salty oldtimers (okay, probably more like yuppies, gymrats, and wide-eyed newbies) wearing the TC Pros, you’ll be glad you did. And realistically, they aren’t THAT much more expensive than top competitors. $50 is only about 60 PBRs, which most of us can probably afford not to buy and consume, anyway.