I’ve always equated rock-shoe performance with pain—the more a model hurts, the better it climbs. My mind was set on this point until Heinz Mariacher, who has been designing rock shoes for over 30 years, decided to take matters into his own hands by
redesigning the Vapor V. His goal, he says, was to create a performance shoe with “instant comfort.”
I’ll go ahead and say it: The Vapor Vs, right out of the box, are the most comfortable climbing shoes I’ve ever worn. When they arrived I tugged them on and strolled through the Rock and Ice offices annoying the editors with phrases like, “Look, no deadspace!” But the real test was yet to come.
Over the next four months I used the Vapor Vs as my “hard sending” shoes. And then a funny thing happened. The shoes were so comfy I began wearing them for everything, from bouldering on the granite of Squamish and Leavenworth, to clipping bolts on the “rhino” stone of Little Si, Washington, to pinching tufas in Mallorca. In every discipline, and on every rock type, the Vapor Vs excelled.
An almost flat toe box and “bi-tension randing” that Scarpa bills as the opposite of a slingshot rand—driving your heel back rather than your toes
forward—contribute to the V’s comfort and make it adept at smearing and technical climbing despite being slightly downturned. The Vapor V also uses a thin “Flexan” mid-sole that, being accustomed to the stiff-as-a-board Boostics, I found took me a few outings to get used to. Once I adapted, however, I liked the extra sensitivity. I will say that in caves or anything 45 degrees and steeper, I still prefer the more rigid, downturned Boostics.
Ultimately, the Vapor V is a formidable tool. I’d call it an “advanced allarounder,” but that doesn’t quite do justice to a shoe that is comfortable yet precise and powerful. Magic slippers is closer to right.
- High-performance all-purpose shoe.
- “Instant comfort” fit.
- Soft to medium flex.
- Reverse slingshot rand drives heel back.
- 4 mm Vibram XS Edge rubber.
- 36-45 (half sizes).
ABOUT THE RATING:
Five stars for being, hands down, the most comfortable performance shoes I’ve worn.