When Scarpa wanted a pair of the newly updated Vapour V shoes put through their paces, I slapped the name in to Google to see what kind of shoe we were talking about.
The Scarpa website told me:
"If you're after one shoe for indoor climbing, bouldering, sport climbing and even multipitch traditional climbing then the Vapour V is the shoe to choose."
I thought - "Yes, that's me." And so with this all around usage in mind I opted for a snug but quite comfy fit (not excruciatingly tight) and have taken these shoes on all of the above terrain from ten pitch mountain routes to five move indoor boulder problems.
So, what kind of shoe are they?
They are a quite wide fitting twin-fastening velcro shoe. They have a reasonably stiff sole, but not uber stiff. They have a very slight down-turn, but when on the foot they feel virtually flat. They are very comfortable but also quite supportive. They really are a 'middle of the road' shoe.
The first strength of these shoes that I noticed as soon as I put my feet on the rock was the rubber. The Vibram XS Edge rubber is one of Vibram's top rubber compounds, and is developed as a durable rubber suited to edging (they also do XS Grip2 - a smearing compound).
I found that the XS Edge rubber was supportive, quite stiff - giving support on edges, but I also couldn't fault the stickiness on small sloping holds. Overall I found that the durability and support of the sole meant reasonably good edging, even though the relaxed fit of the shoe gave all day comfort - an winning combination.
The second major strength of these shoes was the build quality. They are really well made, the rubber is durable, the uppers are very comfortable and well put together, and the overall feel of the shoe is of high quality.
Giving good all round performance does mean that there has to be some sacrifice in certain areas. For me the weakness of these shoes was on sensitivity. The stiff and supportive sole did very well on all hold types, but I did lose some of the feedback from the smaller sloping holds that you get from a slightly softer shoe, and also from a more snug or performance fitting upper.
The loss of feedback was pretty minor, but if I was to set out on a E9 gritstone slab, or a 9a slate edging test-piece I would go for a pair of shoes specific to that task, but for an all around shoe - and I still climbed as hard as my arms would let me in these Vapour Vs - they were spot on.
Fit and Price
The Vapour Vs have a wide fit, and are extremely comfortable straight out of the box - I haven't had to break them in at all. Personally I went 1 full size down from my street shoe size, and found the shoes snug enough for hard climbing, but not uncomfortable. Those wanting to do mainly long routes could go just 1/2 a size down.
The heel was very well designed and snug fitting, and felt good on heel hooks.
I have very narrow feet and did find a little bagginess in the upper, and had to pull the velcro very tight, but even though the shoes were clearly a bit too wide for me, they still performed well, and were comfortable. For most day to day climbing they are now my go to shoe.
The RRP of £114.99 sets them at the higher price end for rock shoes, but this is in line with other top models from top brands. These aren't £50 bargain boots, but, as they say, you get what you pay for and I thought they were worth a top end price.
Brilliantly comfortable, surprisingly able on hard climbing, good rubber on edges, slight loss of sensitivity on tiny smears, long lasting rubber and uppers, really well made, quite wide fitting.
If that sounds like the shoe for you, then I'd say - go get them!
What Scarpa Say:
The Scarpa Vapour was an instant hit when we launched it back in 2010 we felt it was time for an update. Still utilising Scarpa's Slingshot-Power™ system the overall last and end use remain the same; a comfortable shoe that is surprisingly capable (Dave Macleod has climbed E10 in his!). To improve the Vapour V we’ve changed the aesthetics, added a rubber toe patch and improved the heel fit to make our most popular velcro shoe even better.
If you're after one shoe for indoor climbing, bouldering, sport climbing and even multipitch traditional climbing then the Vapour V is the shoe to choose.
We've kept the popular and high performing Vibram XS Edge rubber.
- MORE INFO: Scarpa Website