Climbing shoe review: Scarpa Instinct Vs

Scarpa is an Italian based company that specializes in shoes of all types. Whether it is a climbing shoe, downhill skiing boot, trail running shoe or whatever, it is likely that Scarpa has a pair to offer. A few years ago Scarpa teamed up with hot-shot climbing shoe designer Heinz Mariacher. Mr. Mariacher was one of the designers behind the very popular La Sportiva Solution. So I guess we can all confirm that he knows his stuff.

The Scarpa Instinct Vs is designed for bouldering or steep sport climbing. It is essentially a slipper with one velcro closure to keep the shoe on in even the most powerful heel hooking. The Instinct Vs is a rather stiff shoe compared to, say the Five Ten Dragons or the softer Scarpa Booster S. It also has a slightly harder rubber, the Vibram Xs Edge. Some say it is not as sticky as the Vibram Xs Grip, but I haven’t really noticed a difference in the friction when climbing outside.

What I have noticed, is the edging capability of the harder rubber. You can stand on the smallest of edges and it feels like standing on a ledge (slightly exaggerating). The best part of this is that it feels that you can trust your feet and know that they are doing their part.

Climbing shoe review
Scarpa Instinct Vs, cool colors or what do you think?

Like I said, the shoe is a bit on the stiffer side when it comes to slippers. The sole is 3,5mm thick so it gives nice support when applying power on footholds. When climbing with the Instinct Vs the smaller footholds feel a bit bigger.

Some people choose a climbing shoe pretty much based on how the heel fits. I used to be among them too. Nowadays, I tend to think comfort is equally important. I do have to say, that Scarpa did well on both categories with this shoe. The heel has a suction cup-like fit. And while being an aggressive shoe the comfort is pretty good, too. Once broken in, I can easily wear the Instinct Vs for an hour at a time while bouldering indoors.

If you like your shoes tighter, then maybe a little less. The heel hooking is nice and you can feel what’s happening under the heel when pulling. The heel stays on nicely too, because of the velcro closure.

The toe hooking is easy with these. Scarpa was generous with the rubber on top of the toes. It covers a large area and is thick enough to withstand the abuse. The only downside with my pair was that the toe hooking rubber started to peel off a bit from the top. This happened maybe six months after getting the pair. But you can easily glue it back together if this is an issue.

The breaking in period was a bit longer with these than with the other shoes that I’ve had. But once broken in, it’s a breeze to climb in. After getting a bit softer, the performance gets better on slabs and smearing as well. I took these out on steep bouldering to vertical sport, to small edges and big smearing and they performed well on all types of climbing. So someone could even call these a nice all-round high-end shoe?

All in all, I do think the Scarpa Instinct Vs is an excellently built shoe that will withstand the abuse. You will not waste your money with these, but do try them on before buying. The fit and finish are top-notch and the rubber excels on small footholds and hard edging. These are worth a look for everyone who likes steep climbing.


Related articles:

How to choose a climbing shoe

Climbing shoe review: Scarpa Booster S

Gear review: Friction Labs chalk

Climbing shoe review: Tenaya Oasi

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