Several months ago, Bauer sent Hockey World Blog all three of their top end sticks, including the Bauer Vapor APX, the Total One NXG and the newly released Nexus 1000. Of the three, the APX is the oldest stick, having been released in 2011, but its technology and performance still make it a great option for players today.
Specs: Bauer Vapor APX, 87 flex, PM9 curve, Lie 5
Modifications: Cut approximately one inch from the butt end of the stick
Design and Construction: The Bauer APX has a very aggressive look to it. Mostly red and black in coloring, the stick features some silver and white accenting as well. The fonts used and the lightning-shaped graphics help to contribute to the aggressive look, but Bauer did a good job of giving the stick a great identity without being over the top on the graphics.
Featuring a true one-piece design, slightly smaller and rounded shaft dimensions, and a dual flex profile, the biggest advancement put into the APX was the inclusion of Bauer’s patented dual density blade core–which is intended to help improve balance, power, feel and overall performance. For the APX, Bauer also introduced a new type of resin intended to help reduce overall weight and increase durability. Coming in at 417 grams, the APX is slightly heaver than the Bauer Nexus 1000 (413g) and the Total One NXG (402g). The stick also features a matte finish.
The stick has a very even weight distribution throughout the shaft. Even after cutting an inch off of the butt-end of the stick, it’s still very well balanced throughout with no discernable spots where weight is concentrated. The length of the stick measures 60 inches, which seems to be on the lower end now with many manufacturers opting to create longer sticks. While this isn’t an issue for me at 5’9”, it may present a problem for taller players.
Feel: I’ve had the opportunity to use all three of Bauer’s top-end sticks, including conducting and writing the review for the Nexus 1000, and I think the APX competes well in comparison to those other sticks, but not as well when compared to high-end sticks of some other brands.
As I stated previously, the APX uses a dual density blade core. The top half features Aero Foam II material that provides stiffness to prevent blade torque and decreases weight. The lower half, however, features an aramid reinforced epoxy core used to enhance puck feel on passing and stick handling. Feel for the puck is hands-down better with the APX than with the Nexus, but I would put it slightly below that of the Total One NXG from the few times I’ve tried the Total One. That being said, I’ve also had used both the CCM RBZ and the Reebok 20K extensively, and while the APX offers a much better feel than the RBZ, it’s still behind the 20K.
Overall, the stick and the blade feel good. I think the stick offers a little better feel while stick handling than passing, however. I’ve had one or two flubs where I go to make a pass without realizing that the puck has rolled off my stick. Receiving passes is definitely better, but the stick’s feel certainly shines when you’re stick handling and I think most players will be pleased with the sticks performance in this category.
Shooting and Accuracy: Before writing this review, I really wanted to take my time with the APX in order to formulate concrete opinions about its performance. Unfortunately, I still have mixed feelings in this area.
To be honest, I became frustrated with my accuracy with the APX. I kept feeling like all of my shots were going just left of the target. Even in warm-ups or practices when I took it slow and easy and made sure to keep my head up with my eye on the prize, everything went left and I consistently missed the net– which became annoying when I began missing the net on great scoring opportunities. My slapshots were slightly better, but I still felt like I was having a difficult time controlling my shots and placing them where I wanted them to go. Height-wise everything was fine, I was able to elevate shots when I wanted to or keep them lower. Everything just seemed to keep going left.
In terms of power, I really loved the shooting ability of the APX over the Nexus, and the intelli-sense shot technology helped me get good power on my shots no matter where my hands were placed. Specifically, I remember letting loose a quick, off-balance slapshot from the point during a game once and being impressed with how much power I was actually able to get on the shot despite not being positioned well to really load up the stick on the shot. But when you do have the time to properly load up a slapshot, watch out. This thing can produce good velocity when you get good flex and really lean into your shot.
Same thing on wrist shots. The accuracy may be off some, but I was able to consistently let loose wrist shots with good power and velocity behind them. I was very happy with this part of the stick’s performance.
Durability: When we think durability, we typically focus on whether the stick is going to break on you after just a few games. After all, you don’t want to shell out all of that cash just to have your twig snap right after the warranty ends.
The APX really feels solid on your hands, not flimsy like some other high-end sticks I’ve used. And I can tell you that my APX has taken a few good whacks and blocked a couple shots and come away no worse because of it. The blade has a few scuff marks, and the slash zone has a few minor dings, but most of it is just surface damage to the paint. Overall, the stick doesn’t look bad after nearly three months of steady use.
One thing I did notice recently is a loss in stiffness in the flex profile. Granted, the stick is only an 87 flex, but after cutting it down my flex profile should be in the low-to-mid 90s. More recently, especially on slapshots, the stick began to feel more like an 85-ish flex. While the stick has held up incredibly well from cracking and chipping, I definitely wouldn’t expect to feel a loss in stiffness after only a few months of use.
Overall Impressions: With three distinct and separate stick lines, Bauer has something to offer everyone. I was lucky enough to be able to spend extensive time reviewing both the Nexus 1000 and the APX, and between the two, I like the APX better. Most players looking for something durable that offers all-around performance for many facets of the game will likely be pleased with the APX. Shot power is good, and I was happy with the stick’s ability to generate good power even from off-balance shots. I’ve had some issues with shot accuracy, but my passing was spot on. And while the sticks seems to have lost some stiffness in the time I’ve been using it, the APX has held up incredibly well to blocked shots, slashes and general wear and tear.
Interested in purchasing the Bauer Vapor APX hockey stick or the brand new, limited edition Bauer Vapor APX LE? Head over to Pure Hockey where readers can get a 10% discount off their order by using the coupon code “HOCKEYWORLD”.