Back in the old days (the 1980s), high top and mid top climbing shoes were plentiful.
Times and styles change, and more nimble and lower profile shoes came to dominate the climbing market. There has been a resurgence of high tops, however, with Acopa, Five Ten, and La Sportiva all peddling mid to high top climbing shoes. La Sportiva’s entrant is the TC Pro.
The TC in the TC Pro stands for Tommy Caldwell, the incredible big wall free climber who helped design the shoe. The goal with the TC Pro was to create the ultimate big wall free climbing shoe, and it is well designed and has lots of bells and whistles. It features light padding over the ankles and above the toes to protect the climber’s feet while in cracks. The TC Pro utilizes La Sportiva’s patented P3â, or permanent power platform, in the midsole. The P3â is designed to help the shoe retain its edging performance as it ages. The TC Pro also utilizes a new rubber compound that is designed to better hold its form when weighted on extremely tiny rock edges. The tongue is made of a foam mesh, and is well ventilated. The upper is made of leather, and is ventilated on the sides. All of the features and the designing input of Tommy Caldwell add up, and the suggested retail price for these climbing shoes is an eye-popping $170.
I sized my TC Pros at US size 8, or European size 40.5. I sized these climbing shoes to be comfortable for longs days of crack climbing. My toes were straight, but the shoes were snug. I used these rock shoes primarily in the Red River Gorge in Kentucky, but also in climbing gyms.
This climbing shoe offers incredible performance. The TC Pros edged as well as any rock shoe I have ever owned. I found that they focused power on my big toe extremely well, and that I could toe into pockets with a precision I have only experienced before with shoes designed for very steep, overhanging climbing. The padding over the toes helped make foot and toe jamming more comfortable, and I found the shoes to be well ventilated.
The biggest advantage of a high or mid top climbing shoe is that the anklebones are protected from scrapes and cuts. This advantage is most noticeable when climbing offwidth cracks, but the trade off can be less comfort and reduced feelings of foot mobility while face climbing. The ankle covering on the TC Pro is brilliantly designed. The light padding rises high enough to keep the anklebones covered, but it is loose enough that mobility is not inhibited. The softness on the inside is an excellent feature that decreases ankle abrasion during long days. I like the Acopa JB, but on one extremely long day of climbing the stiff leather protecting my ankles from the rocks actually gave me bloody abrasions. With the TC Pro, that should not be a problem.
The only problem I had with The TC Pros was, unexpectedly, comfort. They seemed to be a good, comfortable fit when I tried them on, but on the rock it was a different story. Every time I wore the TC Pros, I would end up with serious pain in the arches of my feet. Since I had purchased these very expensive shoes for long days of multi-pitch climbing, this was very upsetting. I tried wearing them around the house in hopes of breaking them in, and I used them at the gym and the crags many times, but it was no use. My feet just do not like the TC Pros. I had a similar problem with the Scarpa Techno, but I had never encountered this issue with La Sportiva shoes before.
If you can afford it and it does not hurt your feet, then the TC Pro is an amazing rock shoe. It out-performed every other climbing shoe designed for multi-pitch trad climbing that I have ever used.
If you would like to read a review of another high top climbing shoe, then click here. For reviews of other rock shoes that are good for long days and traditional routes, just click here and here. If you are interested in reviews of other climbing shoes, you can click here, here, here, here, here, and here. Are you new to climbing and reading this review? If you are, then the TC Pro is not the right rock shoe for you, but you should read this article for advice on finding the right rock shoe and this article reviewing several good climbing shoes for beginners. Have fun climbing!