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Scarpa Instinct Vsr Climbing Shoe Review

Scarpa Instinct Vsr Climbing Shoe Review

Shoe: Scarpa Instinct Vsr

Size Used: 40 EU (8 ½ US Mens)

Current Period of Usage: 02/25/2017 to Present

Reviewer: Ludovico Scarpulla @ludoscar.bouldering

Scarpa Instinct Vsr: a soft aggressive shoe built steep terrain

The Scarpa Instinct VSR is marketed as a softer, more sensitive take on Scarpa’s famous Instinct VS, a shoe that is, in turn, marketed as slightly softer than the original Instinct slipper.

Looking at the Instinct lineup as a whole, the four shoes included in the line (this is not considering the Instinct J, because of the drastic differences between an aggressive downturned shoe, and a flat lasted beginner’s slipper) are all considered aggressive, performance shoes meant for high end bouldering and sport climbing on slightly overhung to completely horizontal terrain. That being said I do not think that this is the only type of terrain where the Instinct models shine, and users are certainly not confined to caves with these shoes.


super sticky Vibram XS Grip2 Rubber

 Sticky rubber = Happy Climber

Sticky rubber = Happy Climber

One of the most important aspects of the Instinct VSR is the use of Vibram XS Grip2, as opposed to Vibram XS Edge rubber on the sole of other Instinct models. While I personally don’t imagine that different companies produce a better rubber than others, I do think that there is a noticeable difference between a harder rubber meant for edging, and a softer, stickier rubber for overhung terrain. The Vibram XS Grip2 rubber performs excellently on horizontal surfaces, being able to stick to footholds (even occasionally above your head) and give you enough stability to be confident in your next movement. On a slab I would be more comfortable with a harder rubber for micro edges; however, this is exactly why the Instinct VS, or other shoes in the instinct lineup, exist. With that point made, the harder, edgier shoes do have one other advantage that doesn’t necessarily only come into play on slab, being that they are much sturdier. The softer rubber wears down a lot faster on this shoe. Mistakes like foot slips, or simply messing up a smear can take away precious rubber . This means that the Instinct VS has a longer life expectancy than the VSR. So the rubber used on the VSR has a major plus on horizontal climbs. It is not the most comfortable shoe used on the slab wall, however. Whether this affects your purchase or not depends on what you want to use the shoe for. For all day climbing on the slab wall this shoe may not be your favorite, and I would recommend something with a harder, stiffer rubber. This shoe really shines on overhung, horizontal routes. As for the environment you will be using the shoe in I can definitely say that using this shoe enough in a gym will cause it to lose some small amount of rubber, but I don’t think that this shoe will lose some of its advantages because the rubber is a little rough around the edges. As for outside, I have yet to make another trip outdoors and test these out on some real rock, but as soon as I do I will be sure to write a small, mini-review on their performance. 

Deep, Wide Heel Cup. make sure to downsize

The heel cup is an important feature of climbing shoes, and in very rare cases can be what makes a route easier. A shoe whose heel cup continually slips off while climbing is not going to be very fun at all, this can be caused by either bad sizing of the shoe or the simple fact that a shoe’s heel cup is not the correct proportion for your foot. The heel cup on the Instinct VSR, and indeed that of all the Instinct line, is a fairly deep, and kind of wide heel. These proportions mean that downsizing of the shoe is very crucial, and depending on your heel shape and size you may want to opt for something with a narrower heel. As for my foot, the heel cup performs perfectly and the only change I could possibly want to make is to downsize ½ a size more next time. But even with a little bit of air in it the heel on the Instinct VSR performs phenomenally, It is very very easy to have confidence in heel hooks with this shoe, and the rubber is not too thick to lose all sensitivity, but not so thin so as to make heel hooks uncomfortable. I very much enjoy the stability provided while using a heel hook, and this shoe performs excellently, but keep in mind if the heel proportions of this shoe are just not right don’t waste time and money trying to make it work for you.

Well Designed Grippy Toe Patch

The toe patch on the Instinct VSR, which is identical to the Instinct VS, is a heavily textured, and well designed toe patch, that performs very well on toe hooks. The multiple grooves, and even the Scarpa logo help toe hooking on smaller, sharper toe hooks, as well as larger slopey-er ones. Keep in mind that toe patches that have an edge where it was glued to the shoe do peel away gradually, and this is also the case with the VSR and, I am assuming, the VS. This, while it may affect the usable “life time” of the shoe is a simple fix, involving super glue, some sandpaper, and possibly nail clippers: a repair I’ve done without any noticeable impact on the shoe’s performance.

UPDATE 12/21

So I very recently took a climbing trip to Horse Pens 40 where I had the chance to use the
Instinct VSR on some real southern sandstone! The VSR, though it has seen better times
as far as wear and tear, performed excellently. The shoe edged well enough for me to use
those tiny footholds without needing any different shoe, smeared incredibly, and (my
personal favorite aspect) heel and toe hooked perfectly. As far as smearing goes the
rubber, as mentioned before, was very sticky and kicked butt on routes such as God
Module (smear start) or Bumboy (very slopey holds). The heel hook was incredibly
supportive, and I never feared for slicing open either the shoe or my heel on a sharp hook.
The toe rubber, though I currently have the peeling edge taped, did great on toe hooks, and while the sharper edges did punish you for crappy placement they were as sticky as
glue in my unprofessional opinion. Having had the ability to climb outdoors with these
shoes I can definitively say that these shoes check all the boxes I need as far as
performance, comfort, easy on and off, and fit go.

Final Thoughts

                                      Ludo gives this shoe 4 1/2 out of 5 stars overall 

                                     Ludo gives this shoe 4 1/2 out of 5 stars overall 

Overall I think the Instinct VSR is a fantastic shoe whose forte is top-performance on overhanging terrain. If you are more of a slab climber, I’d opt for the VS. Ultimately though, while the overall life expectancy of the shoe leaves something to be desired, the Scarpa Instinct VSR is a high-end performance shoe that stays aggressive over time. This shoe crushes on overhung, horizontal, and other challenging terrain like no other shoe I’ve owned.


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