Scarpa Vapor V Review
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Scarpa Vapor V
|Price||$149.21 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Supportive, excellent performance in thin cracks||Versatile, stiff, durable, comfortable||Extremely precise toe, extra heel sensitivity, comfortable for an aggressive shoe||Comfortable design, respectable edging, low-profile toe, excellent price||Affordable, flat midsole is comfortable all day, well-balanced performance across many areas|
|Cons||Not as sensitive as softer shoes, buckles can cause pain in wider cracks||Expensive, limited sensitivity||Pricey, tall toe box, too narrow for some feet||Mediocre precision, subpar on the steeps, somewhat insensitive||Insensitive, imprecise fit, ineffective design for steep terrain|
|Bottom Line||This medium-stiff shoe is great for the all-day tradster if it's not sized too tightly||This stiff shoe is an all-day workhorse that also performs well on edges and slabs||An ultra-high-end shoe that is designed for performance||Decent overall climbing performance at an affordable price make these a sold choice||An entry-level shoe ideal for beginners that comes at an awesomely low price|
|Rating Categories||Scarpa Vapor V||La Sportiva Katana...||La Sportiva Solutio...||La Sportiva Finale||La Sportiva Tarantu...|
|Steep Terrain (20%)|
|Specs||Scarpa Vapor V||La Sportiva Katana...||La Sportiva Solutio...||La Sportiva Finale||La Sportiva Tarantu...|
|Upper||Suede/Microsuede||Leather / Microfiber||Leather / Microfiber||Eco Leather / microfiber||Leather/Synthetic|
|Lining||Unlined||Pacific (forefoot and back)||Pacific, lycra||Unlined||None|
|Rubber Type||Vibram XS Edge||Vibram XS Edge||Vibram XS Grip2||Vibram XS Edge||FriXion RS|
|Rubber Thickness||4 mm||4 mm||4 mm||5 mm||5 mm|
Our Analysis and Test Results
In the most recent version, the Scarpa Vapor V has lost some of the rubber on top of the toe, making it an even lower profile for thin cracks. It also lost the "alligator spines" that used to stick out on the heel, a feature we feel harmed the sensitivity while heel hooking. The new heel is also a little narrower than previous iterations. This shoe isn't a real stand-out for sensitivity or edging, and it's on the wider side in the toe box, so it's not as at home for pockets. Our testers found that the Vapor V is truly at home in thin cracks, where its low volume toe allows it to gain purchase, even in half-inch width (purple camalot) finger cracks.
Compared to the top-scoring edging shoes, the Vapor V feels a little deficient. Our testers had to press hard in this stiff shoe to feel the edges and trust that they wouldn't pop off. After logging some mileage, we became more used to edging in these shoes, but they still didn't offer the same level of security as we felt on dime edges in our absolute favorite models.
For crack climbing, the shoes you choose can easily make the difference between whipping and clipping the chains, especially when the faces outside the cracks are smooth and devoid of holds, like on desert sandstone or difficult granite cracks. Our lead tester spent a spring at Indian Creek, where the Vapor V was his go-to shoe for thin cracks. These shoes can wiggle into finger cracks like no other, taking the weight off your arms enough to move between finger locks or shove in a cam. The dual velcro straps didn't cause us any pain in cracks hand-sized and wider, but constant foot torquing can damage the buckles. When sized correctly, these shoes can keep you charging up granite splitters for days in relative comfort.
Wide and comfortable, the Vapor V is not our top choice for weaseling into tiny limestone pockets. A pointier shoe can certainly fit into pockets better, and a more sensitive shoe could let you know you've got good purchase. After many pitches, they soften up and can be mashed into pockets easier, but they still don't hold up to the competition. For heel hooks, we were pleased with the lower volume heel in the latest version because it provided clear sensitivity benefits.
Out of the box, these shoes feel clunky. They are relatively stiff and supportive, and this makes it harder to feel micro edges and divots on a slab. After a break-in period, they become more sensitive, and they're great for longer outings where you'll be happy to have some respite for your tired feet and calves. For single pitch techy face climbing, a more sensitive shoe will probably make you feel more secure and less likely to overgrip.
The Vapor V scores well in the comfort metric and were a favorite for all-day climbing among our wider footed testers. The tongue has some padding to keep your dogs from barking in wider hand cracks, but not so much that they instantly turn into a sweaty, disgusting mess. The heel fits snugly without being too tight against the Achilles, and if you do need to give your feet a break at belays, the dual Velcro straps allow for quick and easy on and off. Without the distraction of pain, you can pull and jam your hardest. No excuses!
If the shoe fits properly, you're more likely to wear it pitch after pitch, increasing its value every day. Although the Vapor V is priced near the upper end of the spectrum, it's a versatile shoe that can handle most climbing styles after a break-in period, and it also resoles well (at least once in our experience).
The Vapor V is another quality take on the two dual Velcro climbing shoe, improving upon the features of several other classic models. If you're having trouble on thin finger cracks, these shoes might be the extra something you need to make it to the chains.
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