Scarpa Vapor V Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Supportive, excellent performance in thin cracks
Cons: Not as sensitive as softer shoes, buckles can cause pain in wider cracks
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Our Analysis and Test Results
In the recently updated version, the Vapor V has lost some of the rubber on top of the toe, making it even lower profile for thin cracks. It also lost the "alligator spines" that used to stick out on the heel, a feature we feel detracted from sensitivity and heel hooking. The new heel is also a little narrower than previous incarnations. 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 in the pockets as the Tenaya Tarifa. 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 .5 (purple camalot) sized finger cracks.
Compared to edging machines like the Butora Acro and the Scarpa Instinct VS, the Vapor V feels deficient in the edging metric. 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 security we felt on dime edges while climbing in more sensitive shoes like the Tenaya Tarifa or the La Sportiva Genius.
For crack climbing, the shoes you choose 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 like the Tenaya Tarifa fits into pockets better, and a more sensitive shoe like the La Sportiva Skwama lets 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.
Out of the box, these shoes feel clunky. They are relatively stiff and supportive, especially compared to the softer FiveTen Quantum, 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 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 comfy 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!
With its slight downturn, the Vapor V is ready to handle steep faces and caves. They are supportive for long, off-vertical pitches, but take some breaking in before they feel sensitive. A secret weapon against thin cracks, we recommend these shoes for slicing and dicing up multi-pitch crack climbs, or marathon gym sessions when sensitivity is less important than foot placement and close attention to technique.
If the shoe fits, you'll be wearing it pitch after pitch, increasing its value every day. At $175, the Vapor V is a versatile shoe that climbs most styles after a break-in period and 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 on classics like the Five Ten Anasazi VCS and the La Sportiva Katana. If you're having trouble on the thin finger cracks, these shoes might be the extra something you need to make it to the chains.
— Matt Bento