Bauer isn’t the only company to offer two distinct lines of goaltending equipment, but their new Vapor 2X Pro line is unique in how it attempts to combine the best of both.
It’s actually common to see a differentiation between two lines from the same company, with one version typically featuring a stiffer, straighter “butterfly” pad and the other version a softer, more flexible equivalent, often tagged as more of a “hybrid” offering.
(Why the “parenthesis?” Because we’ve always believed the differences between most lines are more about fit and feel preferences than poorly defined playing style stereotypes).
That’s exactly what Bauer has done with the Supreme 2S Pro and the Vapor 2X Pro line that hits the retail shelves today, but there is one key difference. By incorporating the new core and skin technology they launched with the Supreme 1S OD1N way back in 2016, Bauer is attempting to give goaltenders the best of both worlds in the new 2X Pro, a pad that flexes and bends more like a softer traditional model, but slides and distributes rebounds like a stiffer modern pad.
Add in a re-designed glove that builds on the success of the 2S Pro — but in a complimentary manner, with a different break angle — the long-awaited public debut of Bauer’s True Design custom graphic options, and a variety of other refinements to the blocker and pads, including a bungee toe tie, and the new Vapor 2X Pro line appears to be another nice step — an evolution if you will — in the revolutionary innovations that debuted with OD1N 1S.
The biggest difference in the flexibility profile of the Vapor 2X Pro compared to the Supreme 2S Pro pad is at the boot break, which has more flex and a flatter angle. Bauer is calling the boot break in the 2X Pro their “free-flex 100-degree boot,” and it extends out from the shin in a significantly more perpendicular manner compared to the 2S Pro pad. This allows the Vapor 2X Pro pad to sit on top of the skate more, enhancing that “connected” feeling between the goaltender and the pad that most associate with a traditional, more flexible set up.
That connected feeling from the boot and up into the shin includes being able to wear the 2X Pro pad tighter, so naturally the leg channel is narrower, with Bauer using its flexible Aero Lite material on the outer calf wrap. Combine that with the unique adjustability of their Tune Fit strapping, which allows goalies to attach the elastic calf strap anywhere on the outer wrap, and not only are goaltenders able to easily adjust just how tight they want to wear the pad and how much they want to feel the shin of the pad against their leg, but they can also adjust where on their lower leg they want to feel that connection the most. Add in the three different lengths (Short, Medium and Long) of Fine Tune straps that come with the 2X Pro pad, and ability to tighten or loosen each one where it anchors on the inside edge of the calf wrap, and it’s no wonder early InGoal testers raved about the Vapor 2X Pro pad fit and adjustability.
Of course, it’s also important not to sacrifice mobility for the sake of that connected feeling associated with a traditional, tighter fitting pad, and Bauer has addressed that with a couple of new features in the Vapor 2X Pro pad. The first, and more subtle change from the 1X pad, is the addition of small elastic attachments at the bottom of the inner and outer calf wrap. These provide some flex in this area, making it easier for the skate to get to the ice as the goalie moves or drops to the ice or moves in and out of the butterfly, which not only makes it easier grab a skate edge to push and move, but also takes stress off the ankle, knees and hips.
That theme continues with the addition of an elastic-and-Velcro toe tie that comes in offset position towards the inside edge at the bottom of the pad (it can be custom ordered in a centered position). Continuing along that theme of connected without being restrictive, this bungee-style system has enough flex for the skate to easily get to the ice when a goalie is down in the butterfly (again, making it easier to grab a push edge from your knees), but the elasticity helps pull and rotate the pad back over the middle of the skate when the goalie gets back up. In other words, it enhances that connected feeling, providing the range of motion goaltender used to achieve by tying knots into their lace toe ties without adding the sloppiness of that gap.
The Vapor 2X Pro comes stock with a new bungee style toe tie system, but can still be custom ordered with the elastic CRS lace that debuted on the Supreme 1S OD1N pad, or a traditional skate lace. And if you try the stock new Velcro-and-elastic system and don’t like it, it’s easy to add either style of lace through the same holes in the stock toe bridge at the bottom of the pad.
Moving up the pad, like the boot, the break below the knee is also more flexible, but the 2X Pro probably isn’t best defined as a distinct two-break pad like the 1X Pro pad that preceded it by two years. Rather, the new Dynamic Flex Core has more of a natural curve profile above the knee, and is more flexible top-to-bottom than a straighter Supreme 2S pad. Despite all that, the Vapor 2X Pro pad does have Bauer’s Curv composite material in the thigh rise, same as 2S Pro, which helps maintain the shape, seal the ice, and plays a role creating active rebounds.
The profile of the Vapor 2X Pro pad is noticeably thinner than the Supreme 2S Pro pad, which helped keep our size L test pad (equivalent to a 35 + 1 pad in traditional measurements) just under 5 pounds, but you can now also get 2X Pro with the same thicker profile at the bottom of the shin as the 2S Pro pad by selecting “Thick” for the insert profile on a Pro Custom order.
Speaking of the expanded Pro Custom ordering options, it’s now also possible to order both the Supreme 2S Pro and Vapor 2X Pro with an “extra stiff” thigh flex. It’s also possible to order the Vapor 2X Pro with the straighter, stiff “Powerlite” thigh found on the Supreme line (and vice versa), and well that may run counterintuitive to the idea of Vapor being a flexible pad, some goalies may want to combine the flatter, more flexible boot and tighter-fitting leg channel of the 2X Pro pad with the stiffer, straighter thigh rise of the Supreme line. Now they can.
Regardless of the option a goalie choses, they still get the three performance features that made the original OD1N line stand out: light weight, faster slides and bigger rebounds.
The latter two aren’t always both associated with a flexible pad, but easier sliding make sense as an option most would want, and the same is increasingly true of more active rebounds.
Bauer continues to achieve both through the use of their C.O.R.TECH ST skin, a multi-layer material that is thermos-molded into the shape of a pad and wrapped around the core, rather being stitched into it like a traditional pad. C.O.R.TECH debuted on the Supreme 1S OD1N and has been improved with an updated version (ST, which stands for Super Tough) that launched on the Supreme 2S Pro line last spring and continues on this new Vapor 2X Pro pad.
While we’re still in the early stages of testing with the Vapor 2X Pro pad — and keep an eye out for more feedback as we get on the ice with our diverse list of testers ranging from pee wee to former and current pros — InGoal has gotten our Supreme 2S Pro line into a little less than 200 skates in the past year without any issues with the C.O.R.TECH ST skin, and as we noted in the four month review of that line, Devan Dubnyk wore one set for a full NHL season.
As for the rebounds, while we plan to conduct some slightly more scientific on-ice testing of our own this summer, the anecdotal evidence still matches the original excitement expressed by goalies like Lundqvist and McKenna when they first tried 1S OD1N, with Ullmark citing those same active rebounds for his switch into a Bauer Supreme 2S pad this season. In addition to traveling further, which buys the goaltender more time to recover for a second shot, these hotter rebounds also don’t give opposing forwards as much time to react into tight.
The other property that came out of Bauer’s C.O.R.TECH ST skin was improved sliding that was further enhanced by using a harder version along the inside edge of the calf wrap. While all those elements continue on the Vapor 2X Pro pad, they may even be improved slightly by altering the stitched binding along the inside edge of the pad from below the knee stack to the top of the thigh rise. This exposed binding now starts above the knee, reducing both friction in an area where most of a goalie’s weight sits, and the extra wear that came with it. Bauer also got rid of the exposed stitched binding that ran around the perimeter of the inside edge of the knee stack itself, another high-wear area that’s in contact with the ice while sliding. Both changes should slightly reduce sliding friction, eliminate a place where snow would sometimes collect as the ice broke down in long skates, and improve wear on those edges.
As for the knee block itself, the Vapor 2X Pro picks up right where the 1X left off, with an angled upper corner instead of the traditional square (rectangular to be more accurate) shape. This slightly smaller landing area still works well with Bauer’s high-end knee protection, but some early testers found it a little small with oversized knee protection and had to further tighten the knee strap elastic (easily done) to stay securely on the knee stack. The good news for those that use those extra-large kneepads is you can now order the more traditional rectangular knee in a Vapor 2X Pro pad in Pro Custom, and you also have the option to add what Bauer calls a “Pro Bump,” which keeps the knee block level to the edge, in both the angled and standard knee. Bauer has also increased the options for how to attach the elastic knee strap on the other side by making the outer knee flap both adjustable, with two anchor points, or removable if you’d prefer to attach the strap to the outer calf wrap, a trend made popular by Carey Price. You can get this knee wing fixed on custom orders, which is how it came stock on the Vapor 1X Pro pad, but some goaltenders actually removed it from that model by cutting it off, so adding the removable option to stock 2X Pro pads will be a welcomed additional option. The knee stack is better fixed to the pad, a trend that started in Vapor 1X Pro to eliminate the floppiness that developed in the original Supreme 1S, again making it easier to stay connected to the pad and drive it to the ice. The inside of the knee has been upgraded with Bauer’s soft, durable Quattro Pro material on the landing area. This Quattro Pro material, which was typically used in Bauer’s player gloves and goalie blockers, includes an odor resistant treatment that keeps the material clean and fights against bacterial and fungal growth. It also runs down the center of the leg channel, adding a little grip and enhancing that connected feel. Despite that trend towards “connection,” the 2X Pro comes stock without a boot strap, a trend many goalies have adopted, but an elastic-and-Velcro CRS boot strap is included and easily added via tabs on the pad, and leather-and-buckle boot straps are a custom option.
Of course, how the pad performs isn’t the only exciting part of the Vapor 2X Pro launch. We’ve still got the gloves, and, for the first time, a chance to dress them up like never before.