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Scarpa Vapor V - Women's Review

Received average scores in all rating metrics without impressing us too much in any particular realm
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Price:  $175 List | $174.95 at Backcountry
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Pros:  Well padded tongue, easy to take on and off, breathable
Cons:  Lacks sensitivity, not the best for edging
Manufacturer:   Scarpa
By Jane Jackson ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Jun 6, 2019
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74
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 20
  • Comfort - 25% 6
  • Sensitivity - 25% 7
  • Edging - 15% 7
  • Cracks - 15% 9
  • Pockets - 15% 9
  • Ease of Use - 5% 8

Our Verdict

The Scarpa Vapor V falls into the all-arounder category. Their downturned shape excels in the realm of steep climbing, and they also have a softness underfoot that, if sized bigger, make these shoes great for long days. We wore these shoes on everything from steep limestone sport climbing to smeary sandstone bouldering. If sized up a bit, the Vapor V is excellent for long free climbing routes, where comfort and technical proficiency are key.

The Vapor V is not the most sensitive edging shoe we tested, but over time, we got used to their feel, and felt comfortable on vertical terrain. The updated version of the Vapor V has a tighter heel cup and an upper that is entirely synthetic; this means that the shoe fits more tightly overall and doesn't stretch out as much over time. The heel is a little too small for our foot shape, which makes heel hooking a bit challenging.

Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Scarpa Vapor V is an average performer in all metrics, making it a decent all-around shoe.

Performance Comparison


Heel hooking in the Vapor V on another tough warm up in Siurana  Spain.
Heel hooking in the Vapor V on another tough warm up in Siurana, Spain.

Comfort


Initially, the Vapor V was painful for our wide-footed lead tester. A precaution to those considering buying them, or any Scarpa model - these shoes tend to run small, so going up a half size or full size is not a bad idea. We tested the Vapor V in our normal shoe size and found them to be very, very tight. The synthetic upper, which is a new addition to the updated Vapor, doesn't provide much wiggle room, so don't bank on these puppies stretching out at all.

The padded  mesh tongue on the Vapor V made them a breathable and  over time  comfortable shoe.
The padded, mesh tongue on the Vapor V made them a breathable and, over time, comfortable shoe.

All that aside, the Vapor V is well padded, yet still breathable, making them great for long days and warm weather. The mesh tongue and side vents kept our feet from getting swampy and sweaty in warm weather.

Sensitivity


Sensitivity is not the Vapor V's strong suit. Initially, it was unnerving to stand on small edges and smears since we had a hard time feeling the rock beneath our toes; as they broke in, the Vapors began to feel better. For footwork-intensive climbing like slabs or technical faces, we would recommend something with a bit more sensitivity.

The Vapor V's soles didn't provide the best sensitivity  which was surprising since the Vapors have the same XS Grip2 rubber that almost every other top shoe has.
The Vapor V's soles didn't provide the best sensitivity, which was surprising since the Vapors have the same XS Grip2 rubber that almost every other top shoe has.

Edging


We struggled initially with the Vapor V on edges and small footholds. The shoes felt a bit clunky in the toe box, making it hard to be precise when placing the toe on small holds. It was arduous for the Vapor V to compete with some of the precision masters we've reviewed, which can make footholds out of nothing with their incredible edging prowess.

The Vapors also felt pretty soft underfoot, and this lack of rigidity contributed to the challenges we faced when edging.

It took some getting used to for us to trust the Scarpa Vapor V on tiny edges such as this.
It took some getting used to for us to trust the Scarpa Vapor V on tiny edges such as this.

Crack Climbing


The softness that was an issue (when it came to edging) ended up being an advantage in the realm of crack climbing; when jamming thin finger cracks, these shoes impressed us. The Vapor V has rubber on the top of the toe, which is nice when torquing the toes in small cracks. The softness of the shoe also helps them fit into tight cracks with ease. When it comes to wider cracks - hand size and larger - the double Velcro strap on the Vapor runs the risk of wearing out from repetitive jamming. The buckles also pressed into our feet on hand cracks, causing pain.

Their aggressive shape does not make for the best crack climbing shoe  though the Vapors are soft enough to work in a pinch.
Their aggressive shape does not make for the best crack climbing shoe, though the Vapors are soft enough to work in a pinch.

Pockets


The Vapor V is undoubtedly designed for steep sport climbing. While they function well in other facets of climbing, sport climbing is where they excel, as the slight downturned shape is conducive to steep, pocketed climbing. Though the bulkiness of the toe box was initially an issue when it came to climbing pockets, we got used to the shape over time and were able to toe into pockets just fine.

We found it hard to fit the large toe box of the Vapor V into small pockets.
We found it hard to fit the large toe box of the Vapor V into small pockets.

Ease of Use


With two Velcro straps and a widely adjustable tongue, the Vapor V is easy to get on and off. The adjustability of the tongue was important at first, as the shoes were a tight fit, and the Velcro straps made it straightforward to slip the heels off at belays or in between goes. The Vapor V is one of the easier Velcro models we've tested since they only have two Velcro straps, instead of three.

The Scarpa Vapor V is best used as a sport climbing  bouldering  or gym climbing shoe.
The Scarpa Vapor V is best used as a sport climbing, bouldering, or gym climbing shoe.

Value


If the Vapor V fits your foot comfortably, they could be a great investment. Fairly versatile and well-made, we'd say they're worth the price tag. That said, make sure they fit, since the sizing can be a bit tricky.

Conclusion


Overall, the Scarpa Vapor V is a quality choice for a Velcro, slightly downturned climbing shoe. For gym climbing, steep climbing, or finger cracks, it might be your new best friend. On slabs and technical faces, you may want to look elsewhere for a more sensitive shoe.

Jane Jackson