Where does the Vapor Pro 2 fit in Nike's lineup? It carries the Vapor name, but costs a lot less than the 11, so is it a takedown? Is it another top-end option? What is going on here?
At least in soccer, Nike has historically designed their "Pro" to be a simplified and lower-priced version of the more expensive "Elite" models. The Pros sacrifice ground-breaking tech but not overall quality. Look at Nike's Vapor Pro 2 in a similar light.
The original Vapor Pro wasn't anything like the top-end React Vapor NXT, but its performance was still very much top-end. That's the case again on the Pro 2; it's not inferior to the Vapor 11, just different.
It's no secret that professional players preferred the original Vapor Pro to the more technologically advanced NXT. That's because the Pro fit more naturally and comfortably and was much more similar to the Vapor X that both shoes replaced. It's the same story this time; Khachanov and Rublev have switched to the Pro 2 instead of the Vapor 11.
After an extensive playtest of the Nike Vapor Pro 2, here is what we've got to say.
The Vapor Pro 2 fits true to size. Much like the original Pro it replaces, it's slightly narrow in the toe box, especially on the lateral side. At first, I thought it would be a little too tight for my pinky toe, so I almost went up a half size, but I'm glad that I didn't because after only a bit of break-in, the upper had softened up, and I felt none of that initial pressure.
The midfoot is right around a standard width, maybe just a touch on the narrower side, so you feel snug without any uncomfortable squeezing.
The heel is cut higher than average without intruding on the ankle's movement. In general, this fit is what I would call extremely natural, nothing fancy, just a very standard cut that is made to fit the widest variety of foot types.
That typifies what's going on here with the Vapor Pro 2. A Nike shoe of this quality at this price is sure to turn a lot of eyes, so instead of giving it a quirky cut that only works for specific foot types, Nike has decided to make it usable for as many people as possible. I would only avoid it if you have a very wide forefoot.
The Nike Vapor name is synonymous with comfort and a natural feel, and I'm happy to report that the Vapor Pro 2 is true to its history. Much like with the fit, Nike has gone simple but effective.
The upper is not quite as buttery soft as the super thin one on the Vapor 11, but the mesh is noticeably thicker, which makes it feel more plush. It also shapes to the foot much better than the stiffer textile of the original Vapor Pro, which tended to flex awkwardly and leave some weird pressure in parts of the forefoot. It is almost as flexible as the upper on the 11, and after the slightest break-in period, you'll feel no pressure points.
Whereas the Vapor 11 is minimalist in its padding, there is quite a bit more on the Pro, especially in the heel and tongue areas. The 11's more minimalist approach is great if it fits your foot and gives the shoe a premium look, but having a moor "poofy" tongue allows players to crank down on the laces without fear of lace bite.
The extra padding in the heel is also ideal for comfort. There is more padding between any potential imperfections in the heel and the unforgiving plastic of a heel counter.
Once again, the best word to describe the midsole and outsole is "natural." Whereas the Vapor 11's sole is quite rigid, it is softer on the Pro 2. The foam itself feels less snappy and more plush, which allows the zoom pockets in the forefoot and heel to be much more pronounced when you step in the shoe.
Everything about the Pro 2's comfort is geared toward making it feel as natural as possible; if we are to give the Vapor Pro line an identity at this point, that must be it.
Support and Lockdown
Lockdown on the Vapor Pro 2 is excellent and, honestly, much better than it is on the Vapor 11.
I much prefer the lacing system here because of how much tighter you can crank it down with the thicker tongue. It's more effective at compressing the whole upper down on your foot. Also, because the heel is more padded, there is more material to keep you locked in. I didn't love the Vapor 11's heel lock because of how minimalist the padding is, and it's much better on the Pro 2.
Still, compared to the rest of the industry, lockdown could be better. There are some gaps between the foot and the upper, but that's a price you'll usually have to pay when going for such a natural-feeling shoe.
From a support standpoint, because this upper is denser and more robust than the one on the Vapor 11, you get much less rollover. I never had any issues with the shoe's pushback during hard lateral movement, but remember that there is very little technology to enhance support. This is a bare-bones piece of footwear; it's meant to complement the foot's natural motion rather than try to lock it into place with fancy tech.
Stability and Movement
The outsole is noticeably softer than the Vapor 11's, so it might not feel like as much of a tank, but I had no issues with stability.
That's because it is still very low to the ground, and there might be more squish than on the 11, but still much less than on many other shoes. It's got that super "grounded" feel of classic Vapors, and that's what gives these shoes their excellent stability.
I found it to be slightly bouncier than the Vapor 11, or any other Vapor to date, for that matter. I've never felt the Zoom units as much as I do on the Pro 2, and I liked the little bit of energy return that they offer.
It is slightly grippier than the Vapor 11 when you slide. The two shoes have a similar tread, but the Pro 2 doesn't have the same swoosh-designed air pocket going through the middle of the sole, which is important in making that shoe slide for days. Still, like a good ol' Nike Vapor, it's elite at sliding, just a notch under its more expensive sibling.
What it loses in sliding, it makes up for in durability. The Vapor 11 might have some cool-looking rubber around the shoe, but that rubber is soft and doesn't do a great job of protecting the upper during the slide. The Vapor Pro 2's rubber is much more robust, and I haven't noticed any drastic wear after almost 10 hours on the court.
It also has the same lacing protection design on the medial side as the Vapor 11. The highest lace loop is one of the primary wear zones on the trailing foot during a slide, but you don't need to worry about busting through lace after lace with this shoe.
Finally, like its more expensive sibling, the outsole is bulletproof. Because it's a stiffer material than the industry average, you won't burn through it quickly.
Who is it for?
I want to emphasize a point: this isn't a shoe that tech nerds will get super excited about. There is little fanciness going on in the Vapor Pro 2; less than on the 11, less than on other Nike shoes, and less than on most other flagship offerings throughout the industry. But that's the beauty of the Nike Vapor Pro 2. It's not meant to push the industry needle but rather be an option for those players who value a comfortable and natural response above all else.
Professional players like it so much because they don't have time to get used to a super techy shoe's quirks. They want to slip into something and instantly feel like they can move however they please. That's what you get with the Vapor Pro 2; it's the definition of no-nonsense.
I don't have much else to say about the Vapor Pro 2. It's a simple shoe with a modern and sleek design that represents the best value for money out there, and it's one of my current go-to options, along with the K-Swiss Ultrashot 3.