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Scarpa Vapor V Review

This medium stiff shoe is great for the all day tradster if it's not sized too tightly.
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Price:  $175 List | $131.21 at Backcountry
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
Manufacturer:   Scarpa
By Matt Bento ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Aug 6, 2019
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72
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#21 of 31
  • Edging - 20% 7
  • Cracks - 20% 8
  • Comfort - 20% 9
  • Pockets - 20% 6
  • Sensitivity - 20% 6

Our Verdict

The Scarpa Vapor V is a workhorse. Size these shoes tight, and they edge well and excel at bouldering and sport climbing. Size them bigger, and it's game for all-day multi-pitch action, stiff enough to provide support for the long haul. We know one person that owns this shoe in three sizes: tight for hard climbing, bigger for multi-pitch free climbing, and roomy for El Cap in a day missions. The Bi-tension rand creates a feel and performance similar to the classic La Sportiva Katana Lace, but with a slightly more narrow fit, particularly in the heel cup.


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Scarpa Vapor V
Awards  Editors' Choice Award    
Price $131.21 at Backcountry
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$175.00 at Backcountry
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Supportive, excellent performance in thin cracksComfortable in cracks, low volume toe fits in thin cracks, great edgingGreat edging, convenient and secure Velcro closure systemGreat precision, aggressive/down turned toe tip, sensitive, great toe and heel hooking, precise fit, comfortable, easy on/offIncredible sensitivity, great edging, durability
Cons Not as sensitive as softer shoes, buckles can cause pain in wider cracksHeel cup can feel uncomfortable across the achilles, left some testers with sore archesNot as comfortable in cracks as lace-up modelsNot comfortable for all-day climbing, expensive, not the most versatile, hard to fit, single strap broke prematurelySpecalized use, expensive, might be hard to resole
Bottom Line This medium stiff shoe is great for the all day tradster if it's not sized too tightly.These shoes are high-performing crack climbing machines.This shoe is well-performing all arounder.This shoe is a favorite of many veteran climbers and still feels cutting edge over ten years after its first release.Employing Sportiva's No Edge concept, this is a sensitive shoe that edges incredibly well.
Rating Categories Scarpa Vapor V La Sportiva Kataki La Sportiva Otaki La Sportiva Solution La Sportiva Futura
Edging (20%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
Cracks (20%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
Comfort (20%)
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
8
Pockets (20%)
10
0
6
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
9
Sensitivity (20%)
10
0
6
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
10
Total Scores (%)
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
Specs Scarpa Vapor V La Sportiva Kataki La Sportiva Otaki La Sportiva Solution La Sportiva Futura
Style Velcro Lace Velcro Velcro Velcro
Upper Suede/Microsuede Suede leather / Microfiber Leather/ Microfiber Leather / Lorica Leather/Synthetic Leather
Width Options Regular Regular Regular Regular Regular
Lining Unlined Pacific Pacific HF in toe box and arch area only Unlined
Rubber Type Vibram XS Edge Vibram XS Edge Vibram XS Edge Vibram XS Grip 2 Vibram XS Grip2
Rubber Thickness (millimeters) 4 mm 4 mm 4 mm 4 mm 3 mm

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.

Performance Comparison



The latest version of the classic Vapor V is finely tuned for edging and climbing thin cracks.
The latest version of the classic Vapor V is finely tuned for edging and climbing thin cracks.

Edging


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.

Though not as sensitive as the Sportiva Kataki  these shoes provide a great edging platform  even adequate for the Buttermilks.
Though not as sensitive as the Sportiva Kataki, these shoes provide a great edging platform, even adequate for the Buttermilks.

Crack Climbing


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.

Pockets


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.

These shoes have a wider fit and are comfy for are day trad adventures  but pointier shoes like the Tarifa are more appropriate for toe-ing into pockets.
These shoes have a wider fit and are comfy for are day trad adventures, but pointier shoes like the Tarifa are more appropriate for toe-ing into pockets.

Sensitivity


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.

These shoes are ready for miles of holdless slab climbing once you break them in.
These shoes are ready for miles of holdless slab climbing once you break them in.

Comfort


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!

Pull em' on and leave em' on. If sized properly  the Vapors are great for all day multi-pitch action.
Pull em' on and leave em' on. If sized properly, the Vapors are great for all day multi-pitch action.

Best Applications


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.

Value


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).

Slabby dabby doo...not everyone is crazy about slabs  but our slab happy testers are more than psyched to stroll up these holdless wonders all day in the Vapors.
Slabby dabby doo...not everyone is crazy about slabs, but our slab happy testers are more than psyched to stroll up these holdless wonders all day in the Vapors.

Conclusion


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