The 2016 Vapor is the 5th high end ski from Radar* and is a completely new shape from the 2014 / 2015 Vapor. Manufactured from 100% carbon laminates and a PVC core, the Lithium Vapor is one of the truly elite skis in the sport today. Radar also makes slightly less exotic versions of the Vapor from the same mold (Graphite Vapor and Alloy Vapor).
If this review had to be one word long that word would be “Refined”. The Vapor is not the fastest or the hardest turning or the most radical anything. It is a remarkable blend of speed and stability and predictability. The Vapor is one of the very best short line skis reviewed to date and is also one of the most user friendly and forgiving skis reviewed to date.
From Second Wake to Ball
Perhaps the one surprising attribute of the Vapor is its stability off the second wake. Typically slower skis are more stable and faster skis are looser at edge change. Skiers on faster skis often find it more difficult to stay connected and maintain rope tension after edge change. The Vapor is a legitimately very fast ski yet is surprisingly stable and tactile at edge change. The result of this stability is that it is easier for the skier to maintain additional connection through and after the edge change. This one attribute greatly helps the skier do what is needed to round more balls.
After edge change the ski easily flows out wide and early in front of the ball. The ski is not over stable but is simply comfortable approaching the ball.
Toe Side (Off Side) Turn
Turns on the Vapor are a decreasing radius arc ending with substantial angle. Turns finish less abruptly and the ski carries more speed back to the inside than the previous Vapor.
Unless the skier does something unwise, the tip of the ski naturally stays down. Turns end with as much angle as anyone could want. Impatient skiers may find that pushing too hard at apex will result in more angle than anticipated but recovery from imprudent maneuvers is another of the Vapor’s strengths.
Heel Side (On Side) Turn
There is no such thing as a truly symmetrical ski or symmetrical skiing. Skiers all do things a little different on On Side vs Off Side. On Side turns on the Vapor are as similar to Toe Side turns as possible.
The previous Vapors turned On Side fast and sharp if the skier kept their weight forward approaching the ball. Skiers should strive to be forward coming into the ball on any ski, but the 2016 Vapor gives the skier more latitude than expected approaching On Side.
Should the skier panic or attempt to “drop the bomb” at apex, the ski will resist stalling and maintain water speed. No ski can make up for all skier mistakes, but the Vapor is extremely forgiving.
From Ball to Second Wake
The tip almost always stays down exiting the ball, and the ski makes ample speed before the wakes.
Most modern skis reward skiers who do not overload from the ball to the wakes. The Vapor is moderately forgiving in this regard.
With almost every ski reviewed to date, there has always been a quirk of the ski that stands out and a recommended focus for the skier to get the most out of the ski. In the case of the 2016 Lithium Vapor, you can forget about the ski and work on your skiing.
What about ski setup? I put the fin where Radar (Chris Rossi) told me and have not moved it. Rossi did recommend I try moving my bindings forward ⅛” and that worked a tiny bit better for my hardest pass. Original Settings 29.75 / 2.460 / 6.960 / 0.748 / 9
*MPD, RS-1, Strada, 2014-2015 Vapor, 2016 Vapor
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