Hands-on Gear Review

Scarpa Vapor V Review

This medium stiff shoe is great great for the all day tradster if it's not sized too tightly.
Scarpa Vapor V
By: Matt Bento ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Aug 17, 2017
Price:  $165 List  |  $123.71 at Backcountry - 25% Off
Pros:  Supportive, great for thin cracks
Cons:  Not very sensitive, buckles can cause pain in wider cracks
Manufacturer:   Scarpa
72
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#16 of 28
  • Edging - 20% 7
  • Cracks - 20% 8
  • Comfort - 20% 9
  • Pockets - 20% 6
  • Sensitivity - 20% 6
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
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  • 5

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.

In the recently updated version, the Vapor V has sprouted some additional rubber on its upper to aid in toe hooking. This shoe isn't a real stand out for sensitivity or edging, and it's on the wider side, 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.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

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Performance Comparison


The new Vapor V features more rubber on the toe box for toe hooking and crack protection.
The new Vapor V features more rubber on the toe box for toe hooking and crack protection.

Edging


Compared to edging machines like the Butora Acro and the Scarpa Instinct VS, the Vapor V feels deficient in the edging metric. Or 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.

These shoes are stiff and supportive  but our testers found it difficult to feel small edges while climbing in them.
These shoes are stiff and supportive, but our testers found it difficult to feel small edges while climbing in them.

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 a cam in. 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.

The Vapor V is a great shoe for thin crack climbs  but the buckles caused some discomfort in wider hand cracks.
The Vapor V is a great shoe for thin crack climbs, but the buckles caused some discomfort in wider hand cracks.

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.

Our tester powering his way up steep pockets at Wild Iris.
Our tester powering his way up steep pockets at Wild Iris.

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, but for single pitch techy face climbing, a more sensitive shoe will make you feel more secure and less likely to overgrip.

When tiptoeing across slabby terrain  our testers prefer a more sensitive shoe like the La Sportiva Genius or the Five Ten Quantum.
When tiptoeing across slabby terrain, our testers prefer a more sensitive shoe like the La Sportiva Genius or the Five Ten Quantum.

Comfort


The Vapor V score 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!

The well-crafted heel stays in place without causing heel pain or needing to be sized painfully tight.
The well-crafted heel stays in place without causing heel pain or needing to be sized painfully tight.

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 $160, 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).

Good foot work is key on steep climbs. Here our tester is psyched that these shoes fit into the steep pockets.
Good foot work is key on steep climbs. Here our tester is psyched that these shoes fit into the steep pockets.

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 and 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

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Most recent review: August 17, 2017
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