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.
Scarpa Instinct VS - Women's Review
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
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Our Analysis and Test Results
This shoe is marketed as a sport climbing and bouldering shoe but is surprisingly well-rounded.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
— Jane Jackson