David Hutchison | Jan 22, 2019 | 0
Bauer Vapor 2X Pro Stick Review
Composite Stick Aims for Foam-Core Feel
When Bauer developed their new 2X Pro goalie stick to replace the 1X Pro model that preceded it, the goal was simple, if not easy: create a composite stick that had the feel – but not the heavier weight — of traditional foam core sticks still being used by several NHL goalies.
The company, and more importantly, goaltenders were satisfied with the feel of the 1X Pro model, and the way their use of balsa wood in the core mimicked the “dampening” of puck impact on a foam core stick. But the 1X Pro model weighed in at 795 grams, which doesn’t sound that heavy until you consider that last year’s 2S Pro stick debuted at 625 grams.
So, Bauer set out to find a balance between the two and, in their words “try to satisfy the [Henrik] Lundqvist crowd” that still wanted that foam core dampening in a lighter stick.
Considering Lundqvist himself switched to the composite 2X Pro stick last season, something he’d been hesitant to try in the past, the feel part of the project was a success. As for the weight question, the new Bauer 2X Pro goal stick weighs in at just 665 grams.
Bauer, which has led the way in composite goal sticks as the first company to eliminate foam core and switch exclusively to composite at retail, achieved that improved feel and dampening in the 2X Pro goalie stick through new blends of technologies in the paddle and blade.
They used what they’ve called Advanced Carbon Layering (ACL) in the paddle, a composite construction that allows them to maintain durability while still using less material. The blade of the new 2X Pro uses what Bauer calls Assymetrical TeXtreme Construction (TeXtreme is a line of carbon fiber fabrics developed by a Sweden-based company and used in everything from Formula 1, to surf boards, bicycles, boats, and even advanced aerospace applications). It allowed them to keep weight down in the blade, which improves balance – InGoal measured the balance point on a 26-inch paddle less than eight inches below the paddle-shaft intersection, about three-quarters of an inch lower than the 2S Pro stick – and an AERO FOAM 3 core improves the dampening.
So, how does all that technology talk translate in terms of feel?
Admittedly, InGoal is still in the early stages in terms of being able to get the Bauer 2X Pro stick into the hands of a variety of ages and skill levels from minor hockey to Jr to beer league, but beyond the obvious comments about how light the stick is, the early feedback seemed to match the company claims in terms feel: a softer touch and less vibration on low shots without sacrificing the steering control goalies have to come to count on in composite. The dampening may not feel quite as soft as the 1X Pro stick that preceded it, but it’s not far off, and worth it to reduce the weight by 130 grams, or more than 16 percent, compared to that previous model.
Again, testing will be expanded and feedback updated, but most agree the flex profile felt similar to a 2S Pro stick, which had more flex than past models and made it easier to elevate passes.
Bauer also upgraded its custom process with the new 2X Pro stick, and the biggest improvement might be the fact you can design one of your own and buy a single stick.
That’s right, goalies can order one custom 2X Pro Stick, eliminating the old need to commit to several sticks with your first purchase, or test out a single off the rack before ordering multiple sticks to get your preferred color, pattern and shoulder shape (not to mention getting your own name on your custom stick, which let’s face it, remains one of cooler parts of playing goal).
InGoal found the customizer simple and easy to use, whether on a computer or phone, and three-dimensional imaging allows you to rotate the stick for a full view. It had close-ups from various angles, including an overhead among multiple angles of the blade that changed when you select a different curve. There are four pattern options (but sorry only the P31 curve is available for full right goalies), and Bauer does a really nice job of describing the differences between them in terms of lie, length, curve location, and how it fits specific stances and styles.
Overall, the Bauer 2X Pro seems to have found a nice balance between the traditional feel goaltenders like in the 1X Pro and the lightweight they loved in the 2S Pro stick.
Is it identical to the feel of a foam core? No, but it’s close enough to get a traditionalist like Lundqvist to switch. Linus Ullmark of the Buffalo Sabres switched to a 2X Pro too.
“I’m using probably the stiffest 2X Pro out there,” Ullmark explained in a direct message to InGoal this summer. “I came from the CCM Premier series and those sticks ere both heavier and stiffer, so I had to increase the stiffness everywhere in the 2X. I liked the lightness of the stick most of all, and that it was kind of a soft touch when handling the puck.”
Ullmark’s comments about the 2X Pro match the softer feel claims, but also gives us a nice excuse to show off his unique tape job, which he explained to us during the season:
Ulllmark creates those signature black markings by rubbing a puck over the white tape.
“I used to tape my sticks normal and then I figured I wanted to do something that only I have,” Ullmark said. “Then I saw one guy in Sweden, an old goalie, he was using a puck to rub it, so it thought ‘well I should probably do the same thing,’and I did it on top of the blade too.”
Ullmark researched old NHL books back in his native Sweden, looking at pictures of Dominik Hasek, Ed Belfour and Patrick Roy to make sure none of them had a similar pattern.
“I looked at their tape jobs and no one had it so I was pumped,” he said.
Ullmark rubs the same pattern into the heel of his stick front and back, and also rubs the puck across the top and bottom of the blade. He said the tape sticks a little better on the bottom as a result, but discovered an even bigger benefit from having a black edge on top.
“When I go out to play the puck or the puck is in close, I can see my blade at all times,” Ullmark said. “When you’re out in the white ice, a white blade can be hard to see, but this is easy.”
~ Look for more insights on how Ullmark tapes his 2X Pro stick soon.