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Scarpa Instinct VS - Women's Review

For hard sport climbing and bouldering, especially when you need to stand on small edges, the Instinct VS is top notch.
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Price:  $185 List | $184.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Durable, great for edging, easy to get on and off
Cons:  Lacks sensitivity for slabs and low angle climbing, not versatile
Manufacturer:   Scarpa
By Jane Jackson ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 21, 2019
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72
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#12 of 18
  • Comfort - 25% 8
  • Sensitivity - 25% 7
  • Edging - 15% 8
  • Cracks - 15% 4
  • Pockets - 15% 8
  • Ease of Use - 5% 8

Our Verdict

The Instincts surprised us by breaking in comfortably, even though they have a toe box that is almost entirely covered in rubber. Their construction caters toward climbers with wide feet, which was a huge plus for our lead tester. The heel cup is one of our favorites for heel hooking, and the bi-tension rand makes them an edging machine. Though not our favorite for crack climbing because of their aggressive shape, the Instincts are some of the most durable shoes we've tested. Overall, we were big fans of these sport climbing and bouldering shoes for a wide range of rock types and climbing styles.


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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Durable, great for edging, easy to get on and offSensitive, great for edging, supportive, comfortable, versatileComfortable, high performance, sticky rubber, easy to put on, good in cracks, versatileComfortable, extremely sensitive, great for smearing and steep climbing, easy to get on and offGood for steep climbing, break in well, conforms to foot shape, comfortable, aggressive shape
Cons Lacks sensitivity for slabs and low angle climbing, not versatileExpensiveStretch out quickly, costly, lack supportExpensive, No-Edge technology could be an acquired tasteExpensive, lacks versatility
Bottom Line For hard sport climbing and bouldering, especially when you need to stand on small edges, the Instinct VS is top notch.The Kataki wins our Editors' Choice Award for their combination of comfort, sensitivity, and edging prowess.The Skwama are impressive in many realms, combining comfort with a high performance fit.If you let them, they may revolutionize your footwork; they'll take some getting used to, but are top notch for steep climbing.The Solution gets our Top Pick for steep climbing and bouldering for their aggressive shape, precision, and comfortable design.
Rating Categories Scarpa Instinct VS - Women's La Sportiva Kataki - Women's La Sportiva Skwama - Women's La Sportiva Futura - Women's Solution
Comfort (25%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
Sensitivity (25%)
10
0
7
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
9
Edging (15%)
10
0
8
10
0
10
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
7
Cracks (15%)
10
0
4
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
5
10
0
7
Pockets (15%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
Ease Of Use (5%)
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
Total Scores (%)
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
Specs Scarpa Instinct VS... La Sportiva Kataki... La Sportiva Skwama... La Sportiva Futura... Solution
Style Velcro Lace Velcro Velcro Velcro
Weight (Per Pair, size 37) .88 lb 1.08 lb 1.00 lb .91 lb 1.06 lb
Width Options Regular Regular Regular Regular Regular
Fit Asymmetrical Asymmetrical Asymmetrical High Asymmetry Asymmetrical
Upper Microsuede Suede leather microfiber Leather/Microfiber Leather/ Synthetic Leather/Lorica
Lining Unlined Pacific Unlined Unlined HF (heel and toe box only)
Sole Rubber Vibram XS Edge, Vibram XS Grip2 Vibram XS Grip2 Vibram XS Grip2 Vibram XSGrip2 Vibram XS Grip2

Our Analysis and Test Results

This shoe is marketed as a sport climbing and bouldering shoe but is surprisingly well-rounded.

Performance Comparison



Delicate footwork in Camp 4. The Instinct held their own on slippery classics  like the Kor Problem.
Delicate footwork in Camp 4. The Instinct held their own on slippery classics, like the Kor Problem.

Comfort


Our wide-footed lead tester found the Scarpa Instincts to fit incredibly well, despite being marketed as a low-volume shoe. In comparison to other women's specific Scarpa models, the Instincts are the most comfortable fit for ladies with a wider toe box. The heel also fit our foot like a glove and was one of our favorite features of these shoes. The soft, yet durable pull-tap on the top of these shoes, plus the stretchy sleeve that replaces a tongue make the Instincts easy to get on, an added plus for aggressive shoes that require removal after lead burns.

The stretchy sleeve and suede uppers made the Instinct surprisingly comfortable.
The stretchy sleeve and suede uppers made the Instinct surprisingly comfortable.

Sensitivity


Though they are fairly stiff, for an aggressive sport climbing and bouldering shoe, the Instincts can smear impressively, due to their Vibram XS Grip 2 rubber soles. This rubber is softer and stickier than the XS Edge featured on the men's model. Though they felt decent on smears and small holds, we definitely did not use the Instincts as our go-to for slabs and vertical climbing.

We loved the heel of the Scarpa Instinct VS.
We loved the heel of the Scarpa Instinct VS.

Edging


Here, the Instincts really shine. The combination of the bi-tension rand and the Flexan midsole makes for a stable and active fit from heel to toe. The powerful, yet flexible midsole provides enough stiffness to hold an edge while remaining comfortable. We found the Instincts to be a nice middle ground between a flat, stiff shoe ideal for vertical climbing and an aggressively downturned, softer shoe for the steeps. The Instinct is able to do both — making it a great shoe for technical, yet slightly steep climbing.

The Instincts hold their own on techy granite edges.
The Instincts hold their own on techy granite edges.

Crack Climbing


Their aggressive shape and stiff sole made the Instincts low on the list when it came to crack climbing. Their stiffness makes them both painful and difficult to use in most cracks and they seemed a bit too bulky to fit into finger cracks, where a more aggressive shoe can sometimes work as an advantage. Additionally, we found the Instincts to work best when sized tight, which added to our discomfort when wedging them into cracks.

Pockets


Like most shoes that excel in the precision edging world, the Instincts hold their own when it comes to pocket climbing as well. Their stiff sole and downturned shape pull you into the wall as they toe-in on the lip of small pockets. The rubber on top of the toe box allows for scumming and toe hooking in large pockets, while their locker heel cup makes for an impressive heel hooking shoe as well. We employed all of these tricks when scrapping our way up steep pocketed lines in the Instincts.

The Instincts are high-performance  all arounders.
The Instincts are high-performance, all arounders.

Ease of Use


As mentioned above, the design of the Instinct allows for quick and easy changeovers in between burns. These shoes have pull tabs on both the top of the foot and the heel, which helps a ton when sized small. The stretchy material that covers the top of the foot makes them painless to get on and off. And with only one Velcro strap to secure them, it is super easy to both put on and adjust these shoes.

A large suede pull tab and a Velcro strap make the Instinct an easy shoe to get on and off.
A large suede pull tab and a Velcro strap make the Instinct an easy shoe to get on and off.

Value


With a price tag that lands them in the middle of the pack in terms of high-performance shoes, we can't say that the Instincts are a bargain. These shoes, like most high-end models, cost a pretty penny. On the plus side, the Instincts are some of the most durable shoes we've tested, with a reinforced rubber toe box, a sturdy suede pull tab, and an overall tight design. We were impressed by the fact that the Instincts remained new-looking even after weeks of use.

Conclusion


The Instinct is a great all-arounder, with an aggressive shape to hold its own on steep terrain and a stiff sole that excels on small edges. These shoes are incredibly well-made and built to last, which adds to their overall value. They break in quickly, fit a wide foot comfortably, and have a heel cup that fits better than most shoes in this review. The XS Grip 2 rubber soles are sticky and soft - able to smear into small holds. These features place the Instinct up there with our award-winning models.

From steep climbs to techy slabs  the Instinct holds its own.
From steep climbs to techy slabs, the Instinct holds its own.


Jane Jackson