A Ninja's Review: Vapor Glove 4

03 October 2022

When the Vapor Glove 4 landed, we wanted to see how it would perform under pressure. And who better to put it to the test than Ninja Warrior veteran, Fred Dorrington.





To bring you up to speed on Fred’s Ninja Warrior credentials:


Fred has competed on 6 series of Ninja Warrior to date, as well as countless local competitions too. First was UK Season 3 where he placed 3rd wearing La Sportiva Approach Boots: “Vibram rubber, very sticky and great confidence but a bit heavy and overkill for the course.”


Second was Australia Season 1 where he placed "Furthest Fastest" (Overall Top) wearing OLLO ZERO parkour shoes: “Soft rubber, drop heel, light shoe but lacked stability and snug fit.”


Third was Australia Season 2 where I placed 6th overall wearing New Balance Zante Fresh Foam: “Great shoe, the clear ninja shoe of choice for its soft, sticky rubber and light weight, however they have a really thick heal and lots of foam around the soul which makes them unstable, and not very nimble.”


Fourth was in Vietnam Season 4, where he placed 5th wearing the New Balance Zantes again. Fifth was Australia Season 3, where he placed in the Top 20 wearing the Merrell Vapor Glove 3: “Though not as good a result, the shoes performed better than any others (I got the MegaWall, the right shoe is key).”


Sixth was Vietnam Season 5, where he placed in the Top 10 again with the Vapor Glove 3.


He’s tried and competed at the top end of the competition, on many courses, with a variety of shoes. Whilst he notes that shoes alone don't determine the result, they are incredibly important for many obstacles and also a competitors’ confidence while running the course.



Here are his thoughts on the Vapor Glove 4 (as well as the Vapor Glove 3), compared to other shoes in this space:




I've trialed the Vapor Glove 3s on slack lines, logs, poles, run multiple courses and competitions with them and train in them too. Overall compared with the New Balance Zante they are lighter, more snug, nimble and tackier with the Vibram which is key. They have a better surface area with the toe cap and side wrapping, and the big factor is the near zero heal (similar to the OLLO ZERO) with 6.5mm which allows for better control and contact with obstacles. This greatly improves the feel and response to the course.




After some initial runs and a few ninja sessions where I was able to trial them on various obstacles, I immediately noticed the upgrades from the Vapor Glove 3.


Firstly, they are a slightly tighter fit, (note: I wear them barefoot and I come from rock climbing where tight-fitting footwear with minimal slip is preferred). When running obstacles, pressure is everything; especially when you’re smearing on smooth boards, Plexiglass, walls etc.


I noticed the power band that runs behind the heel, draws the heel forward, which may attribute to the slighter firmer fit.


With the power band, I also noticed that the heel feels a lot firmer. The Vapor Glove 3 was a little shy here and I found that sometimes they felt like they may slip off. I even considered punching some holes through the back-heel section and run the laces through to help firm things up – though this is not essential on the Vapor Glove 4. The next-generation Vapor Glove has improved on this with a firmer and slightly higher heel cut.


The new tread pattern provides less surface area for contact on smooth surfaces; HOWEVER, this provides more pressure per individual tread. Having done an initial tack test on glass they are very similar in friction to the Vapor Glove 3 on the ball of the foot.


The heel area feels harder, and also a lot narrower, which provides a more rounded fit to the heel. After initial testing, they appear a little more sensitive, though possibly slightly less stable that the Vapor Glove 3. I do feel that the 4 is more robust than its predecessor.


Using them on obstacles was just as effective and I'm keen to test further though with the contact. Overall, they feel as grippy as the Vapor Glove 3.




The Vapor Glove series (both 3 and 4) are incredible shoes. Light, nimble, super adjustable, grippy and provide an amazing amount of sensitivity to ground and obstacles.


I feel in a short space of time, the 4's have become my go-to, with a number of welcome updates from the Vapor Glove 3. Will definitely be recommending them to my fellow Ninjas!


Follow Fred's journey @Fred.Dorrington.



Photo credit @Fred.Dorrington