So, either my footwork was rubbish or maybe it my shoes?
At the time I was climbing in my La Sportivas (a variety) and getting a bit frustrated. Willing to do anything to keep my feet on, I decided to give Scarpa a try for the first time, the womenâ€™s Vapour V.
Spoiler alert: They Worked
Okay, so I might have a tendency to get a little over excited, but I slipped on the Scarpa Vapour V and I found that it was much easier to edge, to heel hook and even to press my toes on distant, small footholds. My core hadn't gotten stronger; my hamstrings certainly hadn't been trained, so it had to be the shoes.
The Scarpa Vapour V are actually a woman's specific shoe boasting to be the best all-round shoe. The Scarpa website describes them as a precise and versatile shoe, which they claim is their best seller.
The Vapour V have ever so slightly downturned toes while the shoe is generally flat, so the result is they can still perform on overhangs and small footholds. What makes the shoes so special, however, is probably their unique randing, which essentially means how they put the rubber on the shoe. They use a Bi-Tension Randing that gathers and pulls from the toes back towards the heel. This technique melds the shoe with the foot, so pressing onto small footholds is more precise.
The Ultra Thin Flexan Support for the footâ€™s arch structures the shoe so they are mostly flat but supportive and flexible enough that you can wear them on longer climbs or for multi-pitch routes, which I found to be true. I wore them all day without a problem.
Equipped with the tried and tested VibramÂ® XS Edge rubber, their stickiness was unrivaled, increasing the ease of switching from straight-up climbing to overhangs without feeling like you have to change shoes.
Put to the test
My opinion? The Vapour V is a pretty stellar all-round shoe. Compared to other all-round shoes on the market, I felt that the Scarpa were more successful for all day wear and performance in any type of climbing. They could be used on difficult overhangs as well as tackle small footholds on a slab.
On my many trips sport climbing to Malham, I found the shoes excellent on the polished and small footholds that otherwise, would've sent me reeling. The shoes more than exceeded my expectations and with trustworthy boots, I could focus on the moves and the climbing, rather than my feet slipping off constantly.
At Raven Tor in the Peak District, I tested them bouldering and found that on the overhanging and small footholds that the toes stuck extremely well. No doubt the result of the unique randing and the downturned toes. Heel-hooking, I expected them to slack as the heel was a little bit loose, but instead they stayed in place, well enough for me to work the moves of the Weedkiller Traverse (7a+) in the cave.
I think the one setback was the fit. I found that 38.5 were the only ones I could put on new, which is my exact street shoe size 38.5.
When my 38.5 arrived they were extremely tight at first, but I found that they stretched very quickly (within 2-3 sessions) and then they were very comfortable. But over time, they continued to stretch and the heel and the arch became loose.
It's important to note, though, that I was still able to use them climbing on the same type of blocks despite being a bit lose, heel hooking was still very solid. For next time though, I think I will buy a half-size down and take a few painful sessions of breaking in to gain the perfect fit.
My suggestion for Sizing: same as regular shoe size or half size down.
- Comfortable: great all-day shoe
- Versatile: good for overhangs, slabs, and technical climbs
- Long-lasting: sturdy and well-wearing
- Perfect for heel hooking
At the risk of sounding like a Scarpa convert, I'll definitely be buying these again, but I'll just make sure to get my right size.
Interested in the Scarpa Vapor V? Check out our online store for pricing and availability.
Alice Hafer is a digital content writer, rock climber and yoga teacher from Florida who now lives in the UK. In her blog, Strength Follows, Alice writes about her experiences training, competing and travelling as a rock climber around the world.