La Sportiva Vapor Float — Quiver Ski Of The Week

Post by blogger | December 27, 2016      
Santa gave us snow for Christmas!

Santa gave us snow for Christmas and I spent the holidays gliding right through it on my La Sportiva Vapor Floats.

It’s been frigid here in western Colorado and recent storms have given us a snowpack of deep cold smoke powder. These conditions don’t happen often enough and I admit, sometimes I get a bit nervous before I make my first turn down a steep slope deep with powder. Will I sail through it, or do a face-plant plop and wallow in the bottomless fluff like a drowning rat fighting for air?

Friday: a pure white bowl is below us. I look down at my fat La Sportiva Vapor Floats, click into downhill mode and jump in. I sit back a bit to keep the tips up, then adjust my stance and the Vapor Floats do the rest. I toy around with wiggle turns and wide sweeping arcs. So effortless and so fun! Surfy play in deep soft snow, there are few things so exhilarating and the Vapor Floats let me fly.

Vapor Floats are light, 1160g for 166cm length. With true featherweight feel on the uphills, we happily do lap after lap.

This ski is a specialty piece of equipment made for powder days. It is not designed for hardpack which is to be expected for a ski so light and wide. If your quiver needs a deep snow backcountry ski, La Sportiva Vapor Float is worth a try.

Length: 166cm
Dimensions: 136/117/126
Tip rocker: 420mm
Tail rocker: 355mm
Radius: 26m
Weight: 1160g
Construction: Carbon torsion box
Top sheet: Polyamide
Core: Kevlar weave composite
Laminate layers: Prepreg carbon nanotube
Reinforcement: Carbon fiber
Base: P-Tex 6000 factory handwaxed
Edge: 2.2mm Steel
Available lengths: 166cm, 178cm, 189cm
MSRP: $1300

Shop for La Sportiva skis here.


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32 Responses to “La Sportiva Vapor Float — Quiver Ski Of The Week”

  1. Kristian December 28th, 2016 6:46 pm

    La Sportiva’s crazy light carbon nanotube Svelte 96mm, Nano 103mm, and Float 117mm all have pretty good performance.

    An 85mm model would be the perfect compliment and completion to this line.

    (Ski Trab (I own 4 pair) are great but are entirely different from how awesome an 85mm carbon nanotube La Sportiva USA ski would be.)

  2. See December 28th, 2016 9:04 pm

    A short skinny ski is already light, but high speed on ice needs to be damp. How good are these honey comb core skis on ice?

  3. See December 28th, 2016 9:19 pm

    And how durable?

  4. Kristian December 29th, 2016 6:08 am

    See – you are correct, they will not be Kastle MX88 Piste Rockets, but I have had surprisingly good results on resort boilerplate ice with the Sveltes. For me, the La Sportiva carbon nano series hit the sweet spot of light weight and shape. That’s why I am hoping that they will complete the carbon nano line with a narrower ski for longer tours, steep scary, and spring conditions.

  5. Lou Dawson 2 December 29th, 2016 9:22 am

    Svelte is pretty amazing, definitely the sweet spot in this lineup. The Vapor did have some durability issues in first manufacturing run. Light skis don’t have to be fragile, plenty of heavier skis have had durability problems over the years… it’s all about how the ski is designed and engineered, and manufactured, weight is just one factor out of hundreds.

    See, as Lisa mentioned, Float is not a piste ski. I tested even though this pair is too short for me. Definitely a quiver ski. Even the Svelte, while fine for powder laps and survivable on hard pack, will be left at home when I go to Europe this winter.

    Kristian, I’d like to see something in the ~88 mm width as well. Thought the narrower the ski is you get a diminishing return in terms of weight savings vs expense and performance compromise. My Volkl VTA 88 at 1134 grams per ski is amazing, if something was a bit lighter but didn’t ski as well I’d not prefer it.


  6. atfred December 29th, 2016 9:50 am

    +1 Lou. My 87 cham’s work great in just about anything except really deep snow (97 better for that), and they excel in the skin track. They are what I’m planning to take to Europe for touring in the spring – great versatility.

  7. Lou Dawson 2 December 29th, 2016 10:43 am


  8. Rod Georgiu December 29th, 2016 11:10 am

    Atfred, and what do you do in spring glop?

  9. Lou Dawson 2 December 29th, 2016 11:13 am

    I’ll be interested in what Atfred does in spring glop. Me, I sit in the gasthaus drinking a nice crisp weissbier. Lou

  10. PeteH December 29th, 2016 11:16 am

    I think in light inter-mountain snow you can probably get away with a skinnier ski than you can here in the northwest, where for an everyday touring ski 97 is the minimum I’d recommend.

  11. Atfred December 29th, 2016 1:53 pm

    Spring goop does require more work, though not as bad as nasty wind crust! I try to stay centered, hands in front, look where I want to go, and turn both feet together – hopefully in the same direction! The big rocker tip and short turning radius and tapered tails of the cham sure seem to help , as does lots of old school up and down!

  12. Hannes Boshoff January 8th, 2017 10:49 pm

    I would love to know where this ski sits in your Weight vs Surface ratings?

  13. Lou Dawson 2 January 9th, 2017 8:34 am

    Hannes, I thought that was in there, if not I’ll get to it within a few days. We are in Utah at the OR trade show so our productivity is slower than usual, what with travel time etc. Lou

  14. Lou Dawson 2 January 9th, 2017 6:01 pm

    Added the Float to chart. It’s the winner of course. Nice to see the envelope pushed.

  15. Hannes Boshoff January 10th, 2017 3:55 pm

    Thanks Lou!

  16. Ed Rundle February 28th, 2017 10:01 pm

    Just spent my ninth day out on my 189cm floats in NW pow. If I were to compare my 183cm SKILOGIX Yetis to a corvette, I’d have to compare the Floats to a Formula One car! From the Yeti’s 105 underfoot to the
    Float’s 117, stability increases like with the F1 car’s awesome wheel base. Carbon layers in a ski make for a lively, responsive ski. Nanotubes seem to go well beyond basic carbon. Formula One cars must have awesome brakes too and the 189 has a big brake (That extra 6cm is all in the tail) in the rear along with a big brake up front. They make big turns with snappy transitions or really short turns two ways. Weight forward, on edge, tip brakes and pulls me into as tight a turn as I want. Weight mid to tail and ski flatter results in awesome slarve with braking power. The longer length is much less tiring for my legs on the down and the Floats may be the lightest of the two pair for the up! (Have to keep ’em clear of snow for that though). Love my Floats!

  17. Ed Rundle March 8th, 2017 8:57 pm

    Nobody caught See’s incorrect assumption: The nano construction does not have a honeycomb core like the old Hexcels. The nanotubes are actually the structure of the carbon molecules. BTW the Hexcel Sundance (a very soft ski with lots of torsional stiffness) was the best performing ski on ice that I ever skied. Not racing fast, just medium speed turns. But it was far better than any stiff ski!

  18. See March 8th, 2017 9:41 pm

    Ed, you’re right that I was making an assumption. So what exactly is the Nano’s “Kevlar weave composite” core? I’m assuming it’s something like this .

  19. See March 9th, 2017 6:46 pm

    And, re. the nanotubes in the Nano: I think what they do is toughen up the carbon prepreg so the manufacturer can get away without a glass layer or a thick plastic cap to protect the carbon fiber, thus saving weight. Carbon composites are stiff and light but easily damaged. I think the nanotubes are tiny (duh) particles in the resin matrix of the prepreg that increase toughness.

    Have I ever actually seen a Nano ski in real life? Nope. Am I just speculating about it’s construction, etc.? You bet. But I appreciate it when people who know about this stuff correct my incorrect assumptions. And Hexcel skis always appealed to the geek in me, although I never owned a pair. Kind of like when Exxon made a bike frame (Graftek).

  20. Kristian March 9th, 2017 9:22 pm

    I have seen the insides of the Vapor Sveltes (same ski family).

    Last week, I noticed that one ski tip was mushroom opened a bit from an impact. Looked like many thin black layers.

    Lathered in some epoxy, covered with masking tape, used a wood handscrew clamp to get the right angle, and next morning 30 seconds of trimming excess.

    Now have the Vapor Floats, but waiting on ATK Raider 14 bindings.

  21. See March 10th, 2017 9:14 am

    Thanks Kristian. I’m curious if you find voids in the core (honeycomb cells?) when you drill the new skis, and what the drill dust looks like. Not that any of this matters much if the skis work. Those Floats look great, tip taper and all.

  22. Ed R December 17th, 2018 10:22 pm

    Sorry I’ve been away from this thread for over a year. Answering See’s question – I think it is best to say don’t think of nanotube material as anything like honeycomb. There are no voids you can see like in the link you provided. Nanotubes are on a molecular scale. They are a type of graphene. Think of carbon atoms on each intersection of chicken wire, like the hexes on the top sheet you think represent honeycomb. A flat sheet of graphene is only ONE atom thick. Multiple layers of this create a carbon layer that can be much thinner and lighter for ski construction. Now think of taking a short section of chicken wire and wrapping it into a roll. Voila, nanotubes! The ski construction can be even thinner, lighter and oh so resilient and reactive! Google it for illustrations. HEAD is using flat graphene in their KORE series of skis. HEAD adds other construction specifics that dampen the skis for rougher conditions. The KORE skis are in a whole different LEAGUE of versatile on and off piste all mountain gear. (I demo’d two different KORE widths last year in hardpack conditions. They absolutely blew me away!!)
    Think of carbon layers on steroids (graphene) or on super steroids (nanotubes).
    After two seasons touring powder on the vapor floats I’m afraid all other skiing has become somewhat dull for me. Perhaps like the difference between skydiving and bowling. I’m thinking I’ll soon have a pair of the KORE skis in some width to up my “in area” game!

  23. Kristian December 24th, 2018 2:26 pm

    Ed R – I agree with all that you say. I am a normal athletic build 5′ 10″ and ski the Floats in a 178. I am thrilled with what I am able to do with these skis. There is literally so much more to work with. The very tightest trees and terrain features are easily navigated. Endless instant precise turns and adjustments flow easily together as there is no real side cut trying to takeover. They are 26m radius. Powder is obviously their sweet spot, but they’ll ski windpack and ice well.

  24. Jim Milstein December 24th, 2018 4:30 pm

    Ed R, sky diving and bowling were merged during one of the Dude’s dream sequences in The Big Lebowski.

    I’m skiing this season on Vapor Sveltes. Very light! Otherwise, they just behave like good skis. I paired them with the ATK Trofeo (same as BD Helio 145) to keep the lightness going.

  25. Kristian December 24th, 2018 7:33 pm

    Jim, Brilliant light setup!

  26. Jim Milstein December 24th, 2018 10:04 pm

    Is this the right place for a brief review of the ATK Trofeo? Also known in NA as the BD Helio 145. Yes, it is (I hope).

    The Trofeo is a “race” binding, which means two things: it’s really light, and it has almost no adjustments. I do not care to change release settings and have only one pair of boots; so those parts are okay with me. The part which worried me is that for touring the choice of heel height is either slightly negative or slightly positive. Not interested in negative heel. For positive heel a little alu flap flips over the heel pins. Given the big ankle flexion on modern light AT boots, I have not missed the levels of heel lift most tech bindings offer. Less to fiddle with. This means I never turn the heel tower, only flip the flap over the pins for walking or away for the descent.

    The spring power of the Trofeo toe piece is impressive. Most of the time locking the toe is unnecessary for the uphill. Toe entry is super easy, very positive. And, if you hate plastic parts (I don’t) none can be seen on the Trofeo. 145 g for the binding and another 8 g for the optional crampon hook. 306 g for the pair with hooks. Like ’em.

    Oh, and they are molto carini.

  27. Kristian December 24th, 2018 10:19 pm

    Ha! I have the ATK Trofeo 8 with adjustable plates on two different pair of skis. Agree 100%.

    Also enjoy the convenience of using correctly sized ATK crampons with them. Very easy to slip in and out. Makes any awkward or icy terrain feature easy to power over.

  28. Jim Milstein January 8th, 2019 11:11 pm

    More on the ATK Trofeo. For extended very low angle and slow snow or flat portions of a descent you want to be in walk mode, but how to get there? With Vipecs or the like it’s easy –– flip a lever with your pole. It’s not quite so easy with the Trofeo, but it’s easier than I expected. Since I never turn the heel tower, only flip the alu flap back and forth over the heel pins, the change can be done with a pole and without leaning over: Release the toe; flip the flap; re-enter the toe.

  29. mike January 9th, 2019 9:55 am

    Have to agree Jim on every point love my Trofeos mounted on 89 alptracks. the bindings work flawlessly. Keeps us old guys in the game still do as much vertical as guys half my age .Keep it simple and keep it light. 🙂

  30. Jim Milstein January 9th, 2019 10:06 am

    Keeping old guys and gals in the game, I’m for that! Eventually, I expect to dial it back to light touring, but not yet.

  31. Kristian January 9th, 2019 10:08 am

    Another old guy plus one on the ATK tropheo (trophy).

  32. Jim Milstein January 9th, 2019 10:18 am

    Verified Trofeo release yesterday by slamming a ski into buried wood. A welcome lateral release occurred. I was glad to have the stretchy B&D leashes. Deep snow, steep slope, loose ski uphill behind me out of reach and invisible. Like Theseus in the Labyrinth, follow the curly cable (and pull). Brakes would be useless in that situation. Just saying!

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