Scarpa Instinct V, VS, VSR and S climbing shoes

Scarpa Instinct climbing shoes review

The Scarpa Instinct line is a collection of high-performance climbing shoes that cater to a wide range of climbers, from beginners to professionals. Each model in the Instinct series—Instinct, Instinct VS, Instinct VSR, and Instinct S—has been designed with specific features to address different climbing needs, preferences, and styles. In this review, we’ll delve into the differences among these models to help climbers choose the right shoe for their next ascent.

Scarpa Instinct

The original Scarpa Instinct serves as the foundation of the series, offering a versatile design that balances sensitivity and power. It’s an all-around shoe that performs well in various climbing scenarios, including bouldering, sport climbing, and trad climbing. Scarpa places this as a more of a sport climbing shoe. The Instinct features a moderately downturned shape that provides precision on small holds without sacrificing comfort for longer climbs. Its Vibram XS Edge rubber outsole offers excellent edging capabilities and durability.

Scarpa Instinct VS

Building on the success of the original, the Instinct VS introduces a more aggressive downturn and a single Velcro strap closure for a snugger fit and enhanced precision. This model is particularly suited for boulderers and sport climbers who demand extra power and sensitivity for steep routes. The Instinct VS also features Vibram XS Edge rubber but with a slightly thicker outsole to increase support on tiny edges. The addition of a rubber toe patch improves toe hooking performance, making it a formidable choice for technical overhangs.

>>Read our in-depth review of the Scarpa Instinct VS climbing shoes here<<


Scarpa Instinct VSR

The Instinct VSR is a variation of the Instinct VS, designed with a softer rubber compound—Vibram XS Grip2—for climbers who prioritize sensitivity and grip over sheer edging power. This model is ideal for those tackling modern style comp boulders or slick, overhanging routes where maximum friction is key. The VSR retains the aggressive downturn and Velcro closure of the VS but offers a slightly different experience on the rock, with enhanced performance on smears and volume climbing.


Scarpa Instinct S

The Instinct S diverges from its siblings by adopting a slipper design, eliminating the need for Velcro straps or laces. This model is the softest and most sensitive in the series, designed for climbers who value comfort and ease of movement above all. The Instinct S excels in gym climbing and technical bouldering, where the ability to feel and react to the rock (or plastic) is paramount. It features the same Vibram XS Grip2 rubber as the VSR, offering exceptional grip and sensitivity.


The differences between the Instinct shoes:

FeatureInstinctInstinct VSInstinct VSRInstinct S
ClosureLace-upSingle VelcroSingle VelcroSlip-on
RubberVibram XS EdgeVibram XS EdgeVibram XS Grip2Vibram XS Grip2
SensitivityBalancedLess sensitiveHighHighest
Toe HookingGoodExcellentExcellentGood
Best ForVersatile climbsSteep routesSlick, overhangsGym, technical



The Scarpa Instinct series offers a range of options to suit different climbing styles and preferences. Whether you’re looking for an all-around performer (Instinct), a precision powerhouse (Instinct VS), a sensitive grip master (Instinct VSR), or a comfortable slipper (Instinct S), there’s an Instinct model designed for your needs. When choosing between these shoes, consider the type of climbing you do most, your preference for sensitivity versus power, and the fit that feels best for your feet. With the right pair of Scarpa Instincts, you’ll be well-equipped to tackle your next climbing challenge.

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