La Sportiva fashioned their TC Pros with a much stiffer sole than those found in both the La Sportiva Katanas and the Miura VSs (the Katanas being the least stiff of the three). The result is a loss of sensitivity (which I’ll talk about in a second), but a very noticeable improvement in edging and smearing performance.
The stiff sole is a serious aid when trying to stick to the thinnest of foot nibs, as it helps hold the weight firmly over the hold instead of squishing all over it.
It also helps tremendously when jamming in cracks, providing a solid platform for otherwise questionable or painful footwork. Although it may seem counterintuitive (since we usually associate smearing performance with thinner, softer rubber) with such a stiff, thick sole, the XS Edge rubber smears quite well. Likewise, it flexes when jamming in cracks with remarkable ease.
But obviously, La Sportiva is still making all those aggressive shoes, so if the TC Pros do so well on varied terrain, where do they fall short?
Well, they really only work about as well as the Katanas on steep, overhanging terrain. They get you through (the edging works pretty well for intense drop-knees), but they don’t excel. The sticky rubber is helpful when you cut feet, but the lack of down-turn does nothing to help you toe back on.
Furthermore, I found that the thick sole, designed for comfort on long routes, decreased the sensitivity markedly. The TC Pros handle tiny holds similarly to the more aggressive Katanas, but you just can’t feel them as well. I found myself looking at my feet much more often than with other shoes because I didn’t trust their feel under my toes. I actually had to look at my foot placements more often to make sure they were where I wanted them. Once placed, however, the TC Pros stay put. Exactly. Even though the TC Pros use the same XS Edge rubber as the Katanas or Solutions, they truly feel stickier, especially on questionable and desperate holds.
Heel and Toe Hooking
The other area of mediocre performance was in the heel- and toe-hook department. I found that for my purposes (climbing moderate routes), the TC Pros got the job done for both heel hooks and toe hooks. However, on very difficult heel hooks, particularly small and insecure ones, I did notice some slight slipping in the heel cup. So as with the overhanging climbing, if you’re looking for something to help you send the next Red River Gorge 5.14, look elsewhere. But for everything else, the TC Pro manages.
A Few Notes on Sizing, Fit
The TC Pro is my first experience with a lace-up shoe; I’ve previously always used Velcro. I’ve heard plenty of people say that laces give you a more dialed fit than Velcro, but I didn’t find this to be the case. Again, it may have to do with my small feet, but I found that the laces cinched down just as well as any Velcro shoe I’ve had. And as with Velcro, over the course of a climbing session, the laces occasionally loosened and needed re-tightening.
The one bonus I gained from the laces, however, came in the break-in process, where it was useful to leave the very toe of the shoe a bit looser. This alleviated some of the discomfort from the brand-new shoes and allowed me to continue climbing in them. That said, the TC Pros are easily the most comfortable shoe I’ve owned, and it took less than a week of dedicated climbing to break them in.
Perhaps the thing that impresses me most about the TC Pro is its adaptability. Although slightly less versatile than, say, the Miuras or the Katanas, the TC Pro seems to work well for all types of feet. I sized my TCs up one size from my aggressive shoes, and they perform fantastically while remaining incredibly comfortable. At the same time, my frequent climbing partners wear TC Pros in size 41 and 43 and have had the same experience. Very few shoes work so well for such a wide audience. Some, like the Evolv Pontas, don’t even cover the same range of sizes for this reason.
The TC Pro is not just for big walls or big names. All of its most-loved features transfer well to the more “normal” climbing scene. The shoe excels at edging, smearing, and anything that has to do with cracks. Its sticky rubber and stiff platform give it even slightly better control than other closely-related shoes like the Miura VS and Katana. However, those shoes do beat it out for sensitivity. Although the TC Pro can manage intense heel hooks, shoes like the Solution and even the Miura VS will certainly outperform it.
But overall, the TC Pro is a great all-around shoe, and even better as an outdoor shoe. Furthermore, it’s not just for large-footed mountain men. It shines on tiny, female feet too.
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