Scarpa Vapor Review

scarpa-vaporAs anyone knows who visits this site regularly, I’m generally not a fan of stiff shoes. I like to be able to feel what I’m standing on, which means more to me than any added support from a stiffer shoe. So it was with some skepticism that I decided to check out the redesigned Scarpa Vapor, which was touted as being one of the stiffer shoes in their line up. What I found surprised me, as this is the best trad climbing shoe I’ve worn in a long time.

On a trip to Indian Creek this spring, the shoes were sitting at the bottom of my pack for the first couple of pitches. I hadn’t jammed splitters in a while, and my feet were killing me, so I decided to see how these would feel. To my delight and amazement, they were incredible. The toe is low profile enough to jam into thin cracks, and the construction makes it very comfortable, even when torquing in the usually exquisitely-toe-crunching ringlock/thin hands size. I was sold, and happily wore them the rest of the trip, leaving my usual Creek shoes feeling a little neglected.

On the techy, European-like limestone of Lime Kiln Canyon, I could smear with confidence, which made my fantasy of being on the cover of the Petzl catalog feel all the more real. Anyone who’s climbed there knows it’s all about the footwork, and the shoes were more than up to the task. My last venue for testing them out was on the featured granite of Lover’s Leap. Some of the cruxes there involving smearing your feet up on blank granite while reaching high to the next incut dike, and while they were adequate, this was the one area that I wished they were more sensitive, and found a softer shoe more to my liking. (I’m also smearing-impaired, so take that for what it’s worth.)

As expected with the stiffer midsole and XS Edge rubber, they are very supportive on small holds, but I found them to be more sensitive than similar shoes like the Katana Lace, and much more pliable than the stiffer-than-steel Five Ten Verdon’s. They’re comfortable enough to leave on for several pitches at a time, thanks to the single piece synthetic upper, which uses minimal stitching to help eliminate hot spots.

After using these shoes extensively the last couple of months, my only criticism is that I’ve worn through the rubber pretty quickly, which was a bit surprising for the usually quite durable XS Edge. It’s possible that because it’s only 3.5mm, instead of the typical 4mm found on most edging shoes, there wasn’t as much to begin with. Or maybe I just climbed a lot.

Regardless, I’ll certainly be resoling them, and I love knowing that I have a go-to trad shoe for years to come. Anyone interested in a comfortable all-around shoe for trad climbing and technical sport routes should give these a look.

Fit: I typically wear a 45 in Scarpa’s and that’s what I wear in these (street shoe is a 12). Another friend with wider feet said his felt small at first, but my narrow feet didn’t notice that.

Retail: $159
Sole: 3.5mm Vibram XS Edge
Upper: Suede & Microsuede
Ideal use: Trad climbing, techy sport routes
Sizes: 36-45

Disclaimer: Wait! Before you go handing over your credit card number, ask yourself, do you really need to buy more new stuff? If so, this product is worth a look. In the spirit of full disclosure, it was provided to for the purpose of reviewing. Don’t worry, though, our integrity can’t be bought!

Locals Corner

Bulldog Creek Dog Walk (IV WI 4+)

Hayden Carpenter and Tom Bohanon recently repeated an obscure ice climb on the south side of Mt Sopris. Given a brief mention in Jack Robert’s ice guide, Bulldog Creek Walk is described as being 100 meters of WI 4. What they found was seven pitches of ice in a remote setting that makes for one […]

Connect with Us

Real Time Web Analytics