Making the transition to using one-piece composite hockey sticks can be tricky for longtime players who are used to the reliable “feel” of a traditional wooden twig, and suspicious about whether the new generation of sticks really lives up to all the hype. It was easy for me to fall in love with the Easton Synergy EQ50 when I reviewed it, since it’s a top-of-the-line stick used by the likes of NHL stars like Zdeno Chara and Mike Cammalleri. But I was curious to see how a more affordable “regular Joe” option would fare, so a few months ago I picked up a Bauer Vapor X:20 Stick’um at a local hockey store.
You can get the Bauer Vapor X:20 Stick’um from Hockey Monkey for $59.98 in their Clearance Section, or save even more by ordering 2- or 3-packs, which offer steeper discounts. Total Hockey also carries the X:20, at a slightly higher price ($64.99), but with a broader selection of blade patterns and flex ratings.
Bauer divides their line of sticks between the Supreme and Vapor series, with the Supremes geared more towards heavy shooters and one-time artists, while the Vapor is designed “for playmakers looking for a responsive stick with unmatched balance and feel,” in Bauer’s words. The X:20 is an entry-level model (with the X:40 & X:50 moving up the line from there, and the X:60 topping the class), but it provides a surprising level of performance.
Check here for a complete comparison of the Bauer Vapor line of hockey sticks, from X:15 to X:60.
The first thing you notice is that the shaft has a natural contour to it (their double-concave design), and the Stick’Um coating provides stability for that lower hand as you play the puck. What Bauer calls its Low Kick technology is how the flex point of the shaft rides lower towards the blade, which lets the stick do some of the work for you, smoothly receiving pucks from the forehand or backhand, and providing a little bit of supportive whip when passing the puck or firing a wrist shot (not near as much as the Easton Synergy EQ50, but remember, we’re talking about more of an entry-level stick here). Overall, the “feel” is particularly impressive here, with my only quibble being that I prefer the balance to be a little more blade-heavy.
Simply put, the Bauer Vapor X:20 Stick’um is a fine, affordable option for players focused more on puck-handling, passing and wrist shots than a booming slapper (and let’s face it, there are a lot of guys out there who need to let go of the idea that you’re the next Shea Weber – sorry, bub). Now that they’re on clearance at Hockey Monkey, they make a great way for a wooden-stick devotee to try a sample of 21st-century hockey technology.
Trust me, once you do, you won’t want to go back.
Don’t just take my word for it, I’ve also included this video review from Icewarehouse.com: