Tommy Caldwell’s Climbing Shoe: The Timeless La Sportiva Pro In-Depth

If a climbing shoe could be a Navy SEAL it would be a TC PRO.

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What are the best climbing shoes ever made? 

Simple. We’ll give you a hint…They are called the La Sportiva TC Pro. 

Alex Honnold wears them. Tommy Caldwell wears them (and created them). Beth Rodden wears them. Even, Adam Ondra sometimes wears them. 

If you are already convinced, you can check our deal finder to find the best prices on TC Pros.

La Sportiva TC Pro. The greatest all-around rock climbing shoe.

We stuff our feet into tiny ballerina slippers on steroids then balance our entire body weight on a sliver of the very front edge of those stinky slippers over and over. 

Climbing a slab, your toes take a beating. 

Hanging in a cave, your feet do more work than you think (see Adam Ondra sending the hardest route in the world for proof)

Jamming up a crack, your entire foot and ankle go deep and get beat.

Point is, our feet are half the battle in climbing and they need the proper armor if you want them to survive to fight another day. 

Arrive, the ultimate climbing shoe. 

The shoe that would be king. 

Brainchild of one of rock climbing’s greatest warriors. 

Big shot caller. 

Vertical Terminator. 

Ultimate of ultimates. 

The La Sportiva TC Pro by Tommy Caldwell. 

What Makes The TC Pro So Great? 

Best All Around Climbing Shoe The La Sportiva TC Pro

They might not be much to look at, but these rock climbing shoes are like the Navy SEALs of climbing shoes. 

If the TC Pro’s were a person, they would be David Goggins.

If they were an animal, they would be a Big Horn Sheep mated with a Saber-Toothed Tiger. 

If they were a rock climber, they would be the illegitimate child of Tommy Mother F*cking Caldwell mated with Alex Honnold, raised by Hazel Findlay and Lynn Hill. 

Too weird? Maybe, but these shoes are on another level. 

The True Story

Tommy Caldwell developed these shoes way back in the early 2000’s. TC stands for Tommy Caldwell, duh.

With this single pair of shoes he established and free climbed both Magic Mushroom and The Dawn Wall.

Anyone who has paid attention to rock climbing for a moderate amount of time knows who Tommy Caldwell is. 

His accomplishments are beyond incredible. 

Remember way back in 2015 when the poop-tube escapades of two shaggy climbers up on El Capitan made international headlines. 

The media got all worked up as these two masters of stone set their sights high. 

See the fantastic documentary, The Dawn Wall, for more detail and enough footage to have your feet sweating through your work shoes. 

The Dawn Wall Documentary Film

Those two port-a-ledge dirtbags were none other than Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgenson.

Over the course of 19 days (and many years from inception to completion), they freed one of the hardest multi-pitch routes in the universe.

You know what shoes both of them wore the entire route? 

That’s, right folks.

The La Sportiva TC Pros! 

That’s right. Those shoes can climb hard-like really hard cracks and red-point 5.14c face climbing. All in a day’s work for the TC Pros! 

If that’s not enough evidence, don’t take our word for it. Here is Caldwell edging the dickens out of the shoes: 

The Way A Climbing Shoe Should Be

The TC Pros provide a rare combination of comfort and precision. 

In climbing, you usually have to sacrifice one for the other. Not with these. 

The myth of tight shoes

Twenty years ago, the prevailing opinion was that the tighter you could get your shoes, the better you would climb. 

Most of us now agree that this, for the most part, is BS. 

Except Adam Ondra, who likes his climbing shoes a full 4 sizes smaller than his street shoes!

The late great John Bachar (If you don’t know who he is, check the link. An original rock warrior whose feats are beyond compare) was a strong opponent of this notion. He said that you would climb better the more comfortable your shoes and feet were. 

Acopa, his climbing shoe brand, was all about comfort and performance. 

So where did this myth come from? 

Some think it was due to the poor craftsmanship of early climbing shoes. Because they didn’t yet have the precision fit of modern shoes, climbers would size-down to get a better feel. 

Today, we have a plethora of incredibly technical shoes to chose from. Why bind your feet when you don’t need too?

Still, you want your shoes to be snug enough for precision so that the sole doesn’t roll over your toe next time you are flagging on a tiny edge trying to clip the second bolt. 

The Best Climbing Shoe Ever Made In The Entire History Of The Vertical Universe?

Sure, there are plenty of sport climbing and bouldering shoes out there that are techy as hell. And for the most part, they work as advertised. 

Some have aggressively downturned toes. Others fit like a glove while some fit like a rock. 

But are any of them The Best?

To be the best you have to be able to do everything everyone else does but better and, critically, more consistently. 

That’s where the TC Pro shines. 

La Sportiva TC Pro, perhaps the best climbing shoe ever made? 

tommy caldwell wearing the best climbing shoes la sportiva tc pro

These shoes can do it all. 

TC Pros work for, well, the pros but they are also some of the best beginner climbing shoes for people who are learning outside instead of the gym. 

Caldwell designed these shoes with outside climbing, and big-long routes specifically, in mind. 

“The La Sportiva designers were shooting for the moon. We wanted make a shoe that was precise enough to stand on the smallest holds imaginable yet comfortable enough to wear all day, […] A shoe that would hold up to the abuse of big wall free climbing and protect my foot and not compromise performance.”

Quote by Tommy Caldwell via

Some might dispute that these are the best shoes ever, that’s ok. They are wrong. Ha!

Still, I haven’t met a single climber that would say these aren’t the best climbing shoes they have ever worn for long trad routes. 

Outside of some mega-mega Indian Creek style climbing, these are truly the best crack climbing shoes you’ll find. 

Pros of the TC Pros:

  • Comfortable from the first lace-up
  • Edge well (thanks to La Sportiva’s proprietary XS-Edge rubber which keeps an edge longer and better than any other rubber)
  • Flexible but supportive mid-sole with patented P3 Permanent Power Platform
  • High ankle for support and extra crack protection
  • Double thickness rand-rubber
  • Moderately light at 8.71 oz. (that’s lighter than the techy La Sportiva Solution)

Precise like a razor. 

Burley like a boot. 

Comfy like a moccasin.

That’s La Sportiva’s TC Pro.

There are hundreds of climbing shoes out there. Each one is designed with a specific purpose in mind. 

Some are great. Some are horrible. 

If you want the best, get the TC Pro. 

In Summary:

What are the best climbing shoes ever made? 

The La Sportiva TC Pro

Why is the La Sportiva TC Pro the best rock climbing shoe?

The best of the best rock shoes should be comfortable enough to wear on multi-pitch and excel on any terrain. The TC Pro gives you the best of all worlds—comfort, support, durability, precise edging, solid crack jamming. 

How to size/fit your TC Pro? 

The La Sportiva TC Pro’s actually don’t stretch much. Having had 3 pairs over the last 8 years, I can say with confidence that these shoes only stretch about 1/2 size at the most. From new, after an entire year climbing and 1 or 2 re-soles, these shoes will remain comfortable and precise.  

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The activities described herein can be dangerous and possess inherent risk. The content provided is not intended as an expert opinion or advice. Seek proper instruction or appropriate medical advice from qualified professionals to learn the necessary skills to participate in any of the activities or regimes described herein. See Disclosure & Disclaimer for more info.

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