Unveiling Scarpa’s Vapor Lace: The Climbing Shoe of Choice
When it comes to rock climbing, having the right gear can make all the difference between success and failure. One crucial piece of equipment for any climber is their climbing shoes. Scarpa, a renowned name in the climbing world, has consistently delivered exceptional climbing shoes, and their Vapor Lace model is no exception. In this article, we will delve into the features and performance of Scarpa’s Vapor Lace, exploring its pros and cons to help you make an informed decision for your next climbing adventure.
The Vapor Lace: An Edging Machine
The Scarpa Vapor Lace is renowned for being one of the brand’s stiffest and most supportive climbing shoes. It excels in precision and grip, making it an ideal choice for edging. Here are some key features that set the Vapor Lace apart:
Tensioned Heel for Achilles Comfort
One standout feature of the Vapor Lace is its tensioned heel, designed to disperse pressure away from the Achilles tendon. This innovative design ensures comfort during long climbs and minimizes the risk of injury.
Dual-Density Rubber Toe Patch
The dual-density rubber toe patch provides an impressive combination of precision, grip, and malleability. It’s perfect for crack climbing and excels in toe hooks and heel-toe cams, making it a versatile choice for various climbing techniques.
Welded TPU Construction
Scarpa’s Vapor Lace boasts a welded TPU construction, ensuring the shoe maintains its shape and performance throughout its lifespan. You can trust this shoe to perform consistently climb after climb.
Vibram’s XS Edge Rubber
The Vapor Lace features a full-length sole with 3.5 mm of Vibram’s stiff XS Edge rubber. This rubber compound provides excellent friction on a variety of surfaces, giving you the confidence to tackle challenging routes.
Pros of the Vapor Lace
- Supportive on Small Foot Holds: The Vapor Lace excels on small footholds, providing the stability you need for intricate climbs.
- Stiffness Reduces Foot Fatigue: The shoe’s stiffness is a boon on long multi-pitch climbs, reducing fatigue and allowing you to stay focused.
- Protective Toe Patch: The toe patch not only offers protection for crack climbing but also delivers exceptional stickiness for toe hooks and heel-toe cams.
- “PAF” Heel System: Scarpa’s Pressure Absorbing Fit (PAF) heel system takes the pressure off the Achilles while micro edging, enhancing overall comfort.
- Light and Airy: Despite its stiffness, the Vapor Lace feels light and airy, especially with the newly breathable tongue.
Cons of the Vapor Lace
- High-Volume Toe Profile: The high-volume toe profile can be a drawback when attempting to fit into thin cracks.
- Difficulty on Marginal Footholds: Due to its stiffness, the Vapor Lace may struggle to grip marginal footholds on steep terrain.
- Oddly Long Laces: Some climbers find the shoelaces to be longer than expected, which can be a minor inconvenience.
Our Thoughts on the Vapor Lace
In our assessment, the updated Vapor Lace proves to be a valuable tool for climbers tackling vertical or slightly off-vertical routes with micro edges, foot jams, toe hooks, and heel-toe cams. While it maintains Scarpa’s trademark stiffness, it offers a touch more flexibility than other edging shoes on the market. The soft M50 rubber toe patch adds protection and technical advantages, making it a go-to choice for granite and multi-pitch climbing.
Size Reviewed: 41
Weight: 230g; 8.1oz (1/2 pair size 40)
A Climber’s Perspective
To gain a deeper understanding of the Vapor Lace’s performance, we followed a climber’s journey with these shoes. Over two months, the climber primarily engaged in granite crack and face climbing, occasionally venturing onto limestone, quartzite, and gneiss terrains. The Vapor Lace was pitted against Scarpa’s Katana Lace, a competitor in the edging shoe category.
The Challenge of Thin Cracks
One notable difference between the two shoes became apparent during finger crack climbs. The Vapor Lace’s taller toe profile made it challenging to fit into cracks ranging from 0.2 to 0.4 sizes. However, the story evolved when the terrain shifted.
Shining on Diverse Terrains
As the climber tackled steep corners, roof cracks, offwidths, techy faces, and pitches with side-to-side crack switches, the Vapor Lace came into its own. Its ingenious toe patch, featuring a combination of stiff and soft rubber, provided confidence in various situations, from balancey crack switches to heel-toe cams. It even offered protection during hand cracks, although its increased volume posed a challenge in thin cracks.
Despite its stiffness, the Vapor Lace surprised with its sensitivity, thanks to the 3.5 mm XS Edge sole. This thinner sole allowed the climber to feel and adjust to micro edges effectively, especially on sloping nubs and dimples.
Why the Vapor Lace Stood Strong
The climber’s experience on a challenging route, Thin Red Line, revealed the Vapor Lace’s strengths. Despite initially planning to use only the Katana Lace for its downturn and small edge advantages, the climber stuck with the Vapor Lace throughout. The shoes excelled in edging, smedging, and maintaining confidence on various pitches.
Scarpa’s Pressure Absorbing Fit (PAF) played a crucial role in ensuring comfort during nine pitches of off-vertical techy granite climbing. While the climber didn’t redpoint a particularly challenging pitch, the Vapor Lace wasn’t the limiting factor. It proved itself in edging, smearing, and hooking.
In conclusion, Scarpa’s updated Vapor Lace climbing shoe is a versatile and reliable choice for climbers tackling a wide range of terrains. While it may have limitations in thin cracks, its exceptional edging capabilities, innovative toe patch, and surprising sensitivity make it a valuable addition to any climber’s gear collection.
If you’re seeking a climbing shoe that provides support, precision, and durability, the Vapor Lace is a worthy contender. Its ability to excel in a variety of climbing scenarios makes it a valuable tool for both seasoned climbers and those looking to up their game.
- What makes the Scarpa Vapor Lace stand out among climbing shoes? The Scarpa Vapor Lace is known for its stiffness, precision, and innovative dual-density rubber toe patch, which enhances grip and protection during climbing.
- Is the Vapor Lace suitable for crack climbing? Yes, the Vapor Lace is suitable for crack climbing, thanks to its protective toe patch and overall performance. However, it may struggle in very thin cracks due to its high-volume toe profile.
- How does the Vapor Lace compare to Scarpa’s other climbing shoe models? The Vapor Lace offers a unique combination of stiffness and sensitivity, making it a versatile choice. It falls somewhere between Scarpa’s edging shoes and softer models in terms of performance.
- Can the Vapor Lace handle multi-pitch climbs? Yes, the Vapor Lace is well-suited for multi-pitch climbs, thanks to its Pressure Absorbing Fit (PAF) heel system, which enhances comfort during long climbs.
- What is the price range for the Scarpa Vapor Lace climbing shoe? The Scarpa Vapor Lace is priced at approximately $195, making it a mid-range option for climbers looking for a balance of performance and value.