Vapor Lace

Review: Scarpa’s Updated Vapor Lace

The old (left) and the new (right).

Like the Vapor V received last year (2019), Scarpa gave the Vapor Lace a complete redesign for this summer (2020). And while the original was a solid crack climbing shoe the updated Vapor lace is an absolute granite weapon and has overtaken the TC Pro as my personal favorite granite crack shoe!

Specifications & Features:

  • Weight: 258g (one shoe, size 43)
  • Rubber: 5mm Vibram XS Edge
  • Mid-Sole: 1.0mm Flexan
  • Upper: Microsuede
  • Lined: No
  • Last: FRX
  • Shape: Moderately asymmetric w slight downturn
  • Other: D2 Rubber toe cap, Vegan
Vapor Lace Toe
Toe of Scarpa Vapor Lace
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Performance:

Updated Scarpa Vapor Lace
Testing out the updated Vapor Lace on Widowmaker Arete, a cool pseudo alpine climb on the outskirts of Vancouver.

The updated Vapor Lace way outperformed my expectations! On the first day out I was blown away at how confidence inspiring they were. A climb that I typically find tricky seemed easy all of a sudden! But before I get ahead of myself, let’s look at where they fit into the Scarpa line-up.

The Vapor Lace offers a little more performance than the Maestro but a bit less than the Instincts. Built on a similar last as the popular Vapor V, the Lace is of course designed more for crack and trad climbing where the Velcro version is better suited to face climbing.

Vapor Lace
The updated Vapor Lace on the left and a well worn old Vapors on right. The toe on the new Vapor is a bit more blunt with a slightly different profile. Part of the profile difference is the amount of use and I expect the new pair will eventually fatigue and bow up a bit. The blunt toe still scums well in thin cracks though and it’s bit more comfortable, definitely an improvement.

The XS Edge rubber is absolutely amazing for edging and smearing (the same rubber as you find on the TC Pro). A stiffer rubber, this performance comes at the sacrifice of a bit of sensitivity. A reasonable trade-off for a crack shoe, especially when they’re jammed into a tight crack!

Alpine Climbing
Alpine climbing on the west face of Dione in the Tantalus Range.

Scarpa has also used the Vapor Lace to introduce a new technology that they’re calling the D2 Rubber Toe Cap. It’s basically an advanced molding process that seamlessly fuses the stiff sole rubber with the softer rubber over the top of the foot. They say that this provides more performance in a more comfortable shoe. After climbing in a pair for the past couple of months, I tend to agree.

The XS Edge rubber sole combined with a slight downturn in the toe, a shaped flexan midsole and Scarpa’s new D2 rubber toe cap seems to have hit a sweet spot. These shoes are a definite set up in performance over their predecessors and are a bit more comfortable to boot.

Fit & Feel:

I was impressed with how well these shoes fit right out of the box. In the past I’ve had to put a few days on Vapor shoes to get them to relax a bit and really feel good, but not this time. Regardless, fit is a very personal thing. Enough to say the shoes don’t really stretch though they do relax a bit. Pick a fit in-store that you’re happy with. Don’t undersize the shoes and expect them to stretch out.

Vapor Lace
The PAF heel system uses a holes in the heel to indicate the tension: 3 means strong.

Scarpa has also employed their new PAF (pressure absorbing fit) heel system in the updated Vapor Lace. Designed to reduce pressure on the Achilles tendon and avoid compression of the toes into the toe-box. This is achieved by introducing a break in the active rubber rands behind the heel, bridging it with a softer rubber. The system has been developed with three different options from light to strong tension which is indicated by a hole pattern on the side of the heel: 1 = light, 2 = mid & 3 = strong. The Vapor Lace have 3 holes.

Vapor Lace Tongue
The tongue on the updated Vapor Lace shoes likes to curl, a bit annoying when putting them on.

Now that all sounded interesting, but does the PAF system work? Well, there’s a definite improvement in comfort over the Achilles and a better overall heel fit so yes it does!

One annoying thing about my pair of Vapor Lace shoes is a tendency for the tongue to fold. The lightly-padded tongue is not stitched entirely across the width at the toes so if I’m not careful when putting on the shoes the tongue folds at the bottom corners. When this happens I take the shoe off, straiten the tongue and put it back on. Annoying but not critical.

Toe to toe showdown of a couple of granite titans. If you love the TC Pro’s your going to want to check out the new Vapors!

Summary:

Pros: Comfortable, supportive, amazing performance

Cons: The edges of the tongue can fold at the toe making them harder to put on

Overall: An absolute granite weapon, the updated Vapor Lace shoes are comfortable enough for all-day multi-pitch climbing while still offering amazing performance. If you fit the Vapor line of shoes you definitely want a pair!

Blacksheep Adventure Sports was provided with a sample for testing but of course this didn’t influence us in any way.