We've already done separate reviews for the Vapor 11 and Vapor Pro 2. In those reviews, we discussed how they stack up in the Vapor line's history and how they compare to their predecessors, but we didn't face them off against each other.
That's what we're doing today.
Both of these shoes are fantastic in their own right, but they differ quite a bit more than you might expect at first glance. We'll cover how they compare in fit, comfort, lockdown, stability, movement, and durability and let you know which could work better for you.
The two shoes fit similarly. They are cut slightly narrower on the lateral side of the toe box (around the pinky toe) and fit true to size in length. If you have a very wide foot, it may be best to avoid them, although it is worth noting that both are wider than their predecessors. Especially the Vapor Pro 2, compared to the original Vapor Pro, it no longer has the same stiff plastic lateral shank. While it wasn't necessarily a narrow shoe, that shank meant the upper had absolutely no give even after break-in.
The most significant difference in fit comes from how the upper interacts with the foot on each shoe. In pretty much all areas on the Vapor Pro, there are features meant to hug the upper closer to the foot — not make it narrower — just more of a uniform wrap throughout. Foam inserts in the heel and a poofy tongue allow you to crank down on the laces, making the upper hug the foot more throughout. The memory foam material between the outer portion of the upper and your foot in the toe box is also a touch thicker, so it almost feels like the foot is cradled in a cocoon.
The Vapor 11 has a thinner upper and a more minimalist design throughout. Instead of having those same thick foam inserts, the heel cup is more raw, and the tongue is a much thinner textile material. The fit is generally roomier — almost a bit more sloppy — which also affects how the shoes compare in lockdown and support.
Lockdown and Support
The Vapor 11's lockdown could be better. This minimalist design lets the foot move naturally in the shoe but also makes for some slippage. The heel section, in particular, has more movement than I would have liked, and the rest of the upper is slightly sloppier than the Pro.
Because of the extra lockdown material on the Vapor Pro 2, you feel significantly more locked into the shoe. The heel cup, in particular, provides some of the best heel-lock on the market, reminiscent of the previous Vapor Pro and the classic Vapors of old. I also really like the poofier tongue because it allows you to synch the laces as tight as you want without worrying about lace bite, and at the end of the day, lace tension is the most important factor for controlling lockdown.
These two Vapors are very comfortable. The uppers are similarly soft and flexible, with few, if any, pressure points throughout. It's hard to pick between the two, but this may make it easier: if you prefer a roomy and natural fit, go for the Vapor 11; if you prefer the feel of foam and extra cushioning around your foot, go for the Vapor Pro 2.
The only significant difference in comfort comes from the outsoles. There is a big difference in the way each outsole flexes. The Vapor 11's is firm and rigid, while the Vapor Pro 2's is noticeably softer and more cushioned.
Also, they both technically have Zoom units in the forefoot and heel, but I only felt them on the Pro 2. That's because the Vapor 11's outsole is so rigid, and that hard durometer overrides whatever bounce the Zoom unit supposedly provides. If you don't like standing on a "hard" platform, you may prefer the Vapor Pro 2.
The different outsoles also have a massive effect on the two shoe's stability. Because the Vapor 11's outsole is so much more rigid, it also feels more stable. Whether or not it's wider is negligible, but it just feels like you have "more shoe" under your foot. You may not have as much lockdown, but your foot sits on a sturdier platform, so it's more stable in the traditional sense.
The Vapor Pro 2 is far from unstable; it's just not quite as stable as the Vapor 11. That softer outsole feels slightly squishier, so you'll feel it flex more under your foot when making lateral cuts. That means it doesn't feel as solid, but it's a sacrifice some will be willing to make since it dampens the harsh feel of lateral transitions.
One thing worth noting is that the Vapor Pro 2 has a lower stack height than the Vapor 11 — it's more "vapor" in that regard. If you like the sensation of stability such a low ride provides, you'll love the Pro, although it has a softer outsole than its predecessor and most Vapors before it.
One question remains: does the sloppier upper affect the Vapor 11's stability? Yes and no. You will never feel extremely locked into the upper on the Vapor 11, but because the outsole is so sturdy, your foot might move around a little bit, but the shoe will not give out.
The Vapor 11's more rigid outsole also makes for more energy return. It's very snappy, so you'll feel that little extra burst during push-off points. Again, the Vapor Pro 2 is still firmer than average, and the Zoom units provide a bit of that same energy return, but it's still less responsive than the Vapor 11.
It's interesting because it almost feels like the upper on the Vapor Pro 2 belongs on the Vapor 11's outsole and vice-versa. Between the two uppers, the Pro's is more responsive, but between the two outsoles, it's the Vapor 11's. Still, the Vapor Pro 2's outsole is relatively more responsive than the Vapor 11's upper, which makes the Pro an overall more reactive shoe. It also helps that the Vapor Pro 2 is about 30 grams lighter in size 9.5 US.
I always like to include a shoe's sliding ability because it is important for modern movement, and both are elite for sliding. The Vapor 11 edges it for me since it slides for longer, and I think that has something to do with the Nike swoosh cut-out going through the middle of the outsole. They are both remarkably consistent throughout the slide, though.
You wouldn't usually associate durability with the Nike Vapor, but that seems to be changing. The Vapor 11 and Vapor Pro 2 are very durable, and it's quite refreshing considering the issue this line has had in the past.
The Vapor 11's outsole is slightly more durable than the Pro's. It's made of a harder and more robust material, so it doesn't shed as much on a hard court. Still, the Vapor Pro 2 has a very durable outsole — I've been using this shoe a lot over the past month, and it's holding up very well.
For the uppers, it's the opposite. The rubber on the Vapor 11 might look more premium, but it's not nearly as robust as the one on the Pro. I tore through the rubber on the medial portion of the toebox very quickly on the Vapor 11, but on the Pro, it's still going strong after more than 20 hours.
Who are they for?
I'm struggling to categorize the Vapor 11 and Pro 2. Are they stability shoes, lightweight speed shoes, something else?
If I had to classify them, they are both natural comfort shoes with a bit of a twist on the Vapor 11. That snappy and rigid outsole gives the shoe an element of stability that you don't usually get from something with such a soft upper, so if you want a very stable shoe in a remarkably comfortable package, the 11 could be perfect for you.
The Vapor Pro is undoubtedly more "classic Vapor." It has a natural feel and flex, and although it is slightly squishier than its predecessor, it still gives you that classic low-to-the-ground ride. If you've used and liked Vapors in the past, I'm sure you'll love the Pro 2. That extra durability certainly doesn't hurt.
I'm a big fan of both of these shoes, but if I had to pick a favourite, that would be the Vapor Pro 2. I put a lot of value on a shoe's lockdown, and it's elite on the Pro. That said, they are both fantastic options and the Vapor 11, in particular, is a massive improvement on its predecessor, the NXT. Remember that you can come into the store to try on both of these shoes or check them out online!