Scarpa Vapour V
The original Vapour V came out in 2010, but the latest version has seen some big changes. This is very much a shoe of two halves, says Rob Greenwood, and not necessarily an improvement on the older models.
"...In fact I'd go as far as to say that this is possibly the most comfortable performance shoe I have ever worn..."
La Sportiva say that the Miura VS is perfect for competitions and for the most demanding climbers, and while I'm sure that this is definitely true, this is much more of an accomplished all-rounder than they give it credit for. I've used the Miuras for nine months on a variety of rock types. Tradding at Gogarth, limestone sport routes, bouldering on grit and a winter's worth of hammer on the wall. You name it, they've done it all.
One reason for this is that despite being a high performance shoe it is actually very comfortable even when worn with a snug fit. In fact I'd go so far as to say that this is possibly the most comfortable performance shoe I have ever worn.
So, is the Miura VS a Velcro version of the classic Miura lace-up (a thoroughbred that has been with us for some time now)? Well it is, but that's not the whole story. The new Velcro version has been 'enriched', as La Sportiva put it, with some innovative technical features. This builds upon the success of the lace-up but also gives the convenience of a quick fit thanks to three Velcro straps.
The Miura is based on a slip last (the last is a piece of 3D foot-shaped plastic that a shoe is built around). It is pointy with a high level of asymmetry (the shoe really emphasizes your big toe) meaning the toes can easily be placed precisely into pockets or onto small edges. All this combined with a down-turned toe means that you can grab edges and pockets with your toes and generate more force through them on steep ground.
Now usually with these toe down type boots, I find that edging power is compromised on vertical walls and slabs. However this was not so with the Miura Velcros, lateral stiffness being very good. I'm not saying this is an out-and-out edging boot, (try the standard Miura lace or new Katana lace instead) but I certainly couldn't blame my shoes for being the limiting factor on edgy routes and problems, as they were very supportive indeed.
The heel of the shoe is very secure and fits my foot perfectly. Combined with the security of three velcro straps that pull the shoe snugly around the foot, as well as a neoprene tongue that sits over the top of the foot (very comfortable!), the Miuras performed magnificently on all heel hooking terrain.
The upper is constructed from one-piece leather that is then lined with Dentex (a synthetic material that minimizes stretch). However the shoe is left unlined under the foot to maximize sensitivity. This does actually work, as the Miuras are a very precise and sensitive shoe. All of this is then finished off with La Sportiva's P3 (Permanent Power) Platform, which is supposed to guarantee the retention of the shoe's shape over time.
So does the P3 platform work? Well to be honest I was sceptical. I usually find that any shoes I have bought with a performance fit eventually bag out and become floppy resulting in them becoming unusable for their intended purpose. However, this has not happened with the Miuras. I am still wearing mine on sport routes and boulder problems that are at my technical and physical limit. They are comfortable but are maintaining their shape and performing admirably.
The Miura VS feature a 4mm Vibram XS Grip sole. This is a new compound from Vibram that is designed to maximize stickiness, giving exceptional grip in every condition. There is definitely no doubt that this rubber is sticky and I found it to be so in all situations. Durability has also been good: I haven't managed to go through the rubber after 9 months of use.
One gripe I have with this shoe is that the stickiness of the velcro does not seem to be lasting very well. Probably four of the six velcro straps no longer work at all on my test pair. This is disappointing as the build quality on the rest of the shoe is second to none. The second thing is the price. A £115 these shoes don't come cheap, but you do get what you pay for and I have had months of intense use out of mine, climbing on average, four or five times a week.
La Sportiva rock shoe sizing is a little odd and a major downsizing is needed from your shoe size. I take a UK 8 (Euro 42) in trainers but tested a UK 51/2 (Euro 38 1/2) in these and once worn in they were actually quite comfortable. The most important thing about a rock shoe is the fit. It must fit you well if it is going to do its job properly. What works for me may not work for you so I would always recommend trying as many different models in a shop as possible, before making a choice.
This is a superb shoe. Great for sport climbing and bouldering, but also brilliant for trad. They excel on steep ground but handle slabs and edges with ease. They are comfortable, precise and sticky and the three velcro straps offer a secure but convenient fit. The only downsides are the price and the Velcro failing, but personally I'd say they're worth it! I know I've said it before but the Miura Velcro really is the most comfortable performance shoe I've ever worn!
MORE INFO ABOUT THE MUIRA VS: On the La Sportiva Website
Kevin Avery is 30 and lives in Wilsden, West Yorkshire. He has climbed obsessively for 15 years now and would like to think of himself as a bit of an all-rounder enjoying all aspects of the sport equally. He is a teacher by trade but also dabbles with writing articles and gear reviews, coaching down the local wall, and even taking the odd photograph when time allows.
Kevin can be regularly found sport climbing on the local limestone, scaring himself on trad, freezing on frigid winter belays and bouldering (or is that blundering?!) on the grit. Highlights include climbing the famous Brandler-Hasse route in the Dolomites (on-sight) last year, the beautiful ice of Repentance-Super in Cogne back in February, linking three big ridges on the Ben in a day, oh and managing to on-sight F7c+ and redpoint F8b.
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