Bauer Vapor 1X: traditional flex, feel with modern speed, rebounds
The new Bauer Vapor 1X OD1N launches at retail stores on June 2, replacing the company’s old Reactor line with their latest take on the lightweight, fast-sliding, long-rebound-producing C.O.R.Tech skin technology that allowed the Supreme 1S OD1N pad to make huge inroads last season.
For those still somehow unfamiliar with the OD1N technology, read the complete breakdown of how the Bauer’s goaltending gurus re-invented pad technology from the April edition. For those eager to jump right into Vapor 1X, the short version: Bauer spent four years developing a five-layer waterproof skin that is thermo-moulded into a shaped, one-piece outer layer that wraps around the pad. This C.O.R.Tech skin reduces weight, produces more active rebounds and slides better than traditional materials.
The fruits of that labor have been on display in the NHL since 2016 on Henrik Lundqvist, Frederik Andersen, Devan Dubnyk and Andrei Vasilevsky, to name a few currently wearing the Bauer Supreme 1S OD1N. All lauded the Supreme pads for how light they were, and how the longer rebounds bought them more time to recover, while the faster sliding made that recovery process noticeably quicker.
So what is new with the Bauer Vapor 1X OD1N pad?
The answer has two parts.
- Primarily, Bauer designed the Vapor pad as a more “reactive” counterpart to Supreme: to be more flexible and fit a bit tighter, moving with the legs of more active, dynamic, athletic goalies.
By achieving this “softer” fit and flex while still using a thin core and the new C.O.R.Tech skin, the Vapor 1X should in theory still produce the same active rebounds as the Supreme 1S (we’ll let you know for sure once we test it more), avoiding one of the problems with past attempts at “softer,” more flexible pads: short, softer rebounds. And by incorporating a modern core and Curv composite, it should hold it’s shape rather than shrink.
- In the process, Bauer continued to answer some questions that arose as more goalies got into the Supreme 1S OD1N, making running-change improvements now included on new 1S pads too.
The increased flexibility in Vapor 1X starts with a noticeably deeper channel in the boot break compared to the Supreme 1S (left), which allows for a deeper compression:
It’s not gonna fold like an old-school stuffed pad but the Vapor 1X is also noticeably more flexible at breaks above and below the knee compared to the Supreme 1S, and that’s not the only change.
Bauer has also introduced what they call a “Tapered Flex Core” in the Vapor 1X.
In essence, the core narrows from the inside edge to the outside edge, maintaining a nice wide, stable landing area on that inner edge, but reducing weight and adding flex by thinning it out towards the outer edge.
It doesn’t jump out when you first see the pad, in part because the angled outer roll makes it harder to tell where the core ends and the skin begins, but as this illustration from Bauer (right) shows, the core tapers towards the outer edge, which improves flexibility and further reduces weight.
Weight isn’t an issue with the Vapor 1X. Our size Large (equivalent to a 35+1) pad weighed in at 4 pounds, 10 ounces.
Since goaltenders that prefer a more flexible pad also tend to like a tighter fit, the leg channel on the Vapor 1X is five inches wide, or one inch tighter than the Supreme 1S pad.
The calf wrap itself is also softer and more flexible, with Bauer’s AEROLITE technology on the outside of the calf wing and their new Transfer Mesh on the inside (you can see it on the right side of this photo on the left). This breathable fabric has been combined with Bauer’s 37.5® Technology to increase air flow and accelerate sweat evaporation in the leg channel.
On the back face of the pad, or the shin area, Bauer stuck with the softer-feel theme by using AX SUEDE™ QUATTRO, a Nash-like material that also provides a little extra grip, which suits active goalies that want that pad to move with their leg a little more.
Bauer also adjusted the calf strapping system in the Vapor 1X.
Where the Supreme 1S pad used a Custom Rotation System (CRS) that included a neoprene style wrap around the top of the calf, the Vapor 1X pad comes with what Bauer has labeled it’s Tune Fit Strapping System.
Similar to the Y-strap system first seen with Brian’s Smart Strap set up, the Bauer Tune Fit Strapping System provides easier adjustability by using adjustable Velcro attachments on both ends at the “top of the Y” where they attach along the inside edge of the calf wrap.
This “Tune Fit” strap runs through a Velcro attachment at the other end of the “Y,” sliding around easily for quick positional adjustments anywhere on a wide patch of Velcro on the outside of the calf wrap, making it easy to find the fit your prefer and make on-the-fly adjustments easily to optimize balance and rotation into the butterfly. Each set of pads comes with three lengths of the “Tune Fit Strap:” small, medium and large for further customizability.
As you can see in the photo below, the kneestack, or landing gear, is also new.
In addition using AX SUEDE™ QUATTRO landing area, which should soften up and provide a little “stickiness,” the outer knee flap is attached permanently on the Vapor 1X, rather than removable like it was on the Supreme 1S, though there is still plenty of room for extra Velcro on the outer calf wrap for anyone that wants to run the elastic knee strap down there “Carey Price style.”
As you can see in the photo on the right, the Vapor 1X kneestack also features and 45-degree cutout on the top inside corner, which we first saw Ben Scrivens use while with the Edmonton Oilers, and something Lundqvist later added to his Supreme 1S pads with the New York Rangers.
Designed to reduce interference between the top corners of the kneestack while skating and down in the butterfly to help the tops of the pads close, this angled landing gear comes stock with the Vapor 1X pads, but it’s definitely not the biggest improvement in the knee stack compared to the Supreme 1S.
No, the biggest improvement is how firmly the Vapor 1X knee stack is integrated with the inside edge of the pad. One of the concerns with the Supreme 1S OD1N pad – and it was one we heard right up to the NHL – was how loose the knee stack was, which could create a lag between a goalie’s knees hitting the ice and the pad following suit. It could also affect ice seal, which is one reason goalies like Mike McKenna, who is now in the American Hockey League Conference Final with the Syracuse Crunch, said it was important to take some time to dial the Supreme 1S pads in, and others felt it was important to strap the knee stack tighter around the leg.
Whereas the Supreme 1S knee stack was sewn into the outer fabric layer on the back of the pad, allowing it to move easily, the Vapor 1X knee appears to be stitched right into the pad (see photo below), and while some may wonder if it still might get a bit floppy as it breaks in, it also appears possible to tighten it:
Again, we’ll have to test it to see, but it certainly seems to be a notable improvement that should also improve how well the Vapor 1X pad seals the ice. So too should a flush inside edge.
After strangely offsetting the inside edge of the Supreme 1S pad, the new Vapor 1X pad features a flatter, more fixed inner edge that should improve both balance and ice seal when goalies are down on their knees.
Like the bottom of the knee stack that connects to the ice, this section is made of a harder version of the engineered C.O.R.Tech skin. It feels almost like plastic and contributes to the Supreme 1S pad sliding better than any we’ve tested, with goaltenders from beer league to the National Hockey League saying they had to adjust their pushes to avoid sliding through their angles at first. As McKenna also pointed out at the time, that’s a good thing once you do adjust because it means you are getting into those positions faster and with less effort and exertion.
So are there any concerns having a more firmly fixed knee stack and inside edge will slow down the sliding? It might seem a natural trade off for the expectation of a better seal, which means more of the pad is connecting with the ice when you slide. But if Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk is any indication, that won’t be a problem with the new pads.
You see, Dubnyk quietly had the Vapor 1X OD1N backing on his Supreme 1S OD1N pads all season:
Dubnyk, who did keep a square knee stack on his set up, raved about how well the new pads slid, calling it a “massive difference” compared to his old NXG pads, and he did so with a Vapor 1X backing (if you look closely at the video below you might see the subtle difference compared to James Reimer’s pads):
The other big difference in the Vapor 1X, and it is one that has become a running change on all new Supreme 1S pads as well, is along the top edge of the pad.
Where the Supreme originally attached the top of the moulded C.O.R.Tech skin to the core of the pad with a binding along the back edge (pad on the left in the photo above), the new Vapor 1X (and all future Supreme 1S pads) now features a binding that runs right over the top edge of the pad (right pad above). In addition to thinning out the top of the pad even more, this change reduces come of the wrinkling that was occurring in the new skin at the top of the pad and eliminates the small cosmetic “burn” holes on the inside corners caused by friction of the pads rubbing together at the top as goalies dropped to the ice.
The new Vapor 1X OD1N pad also features raised logos that can be customized with colors rather than the sticker-style logos used on the Supreme 1S line, but while it will be possible to order small logos with team orders for the lower price point Vapor X900 pad we’re still a year away from truly being able to take advantage of what should be relatively unlimited custom options thanks to digitally printed graphics.
Among the other things worth noting, is the Vapor 1X OD1N pad comes with a new offset toe tie that can’t be repositioned towards the middle of the pad (though we’re not sure why’d you want to anyway), and as some of you may have already noticed, there is no bootstrap on the pads. But don’t worry, each set comes with a CRS bootstrap and there are flaps tucked into the pad that can easily be pulled out to add it.
Like the Supreme 1S, each set of Vapor 1X OD1N pads comes with a pro level set of knee protection.
The new Vapor 1X kneepads, which are also available to purchase separately, feature a strap at the top that can attach directly into the Vapor pants, a main protection piece featuring Curv composite, Transfer Mesh with 37.5® Technology on the inside, and neoprene style straps around the back of the legs that let you dial in the fit of the flexible segmented upper and lower wraparound attachments.
Add it all up, and the new Bauer Vapor 1X OD1N pad shows a lot of promise as a product designed to deliver the flexible fit and feel of a softer pad with the sliding and active rebound benefits of one of the game’s most modern pads.
~ Stay tuned to InGoal Magazine and our social media channels for updates and videos on how it performs on the ice, and check out our separate overview of the new Vapor 1X gloves, including a 60-degree break on the trapper and a lower hand position on the blocker.