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Vibram Shoes The Scarpa Instinct VS: An outlet sale Review

nless you’re totally new to the sport, you’re likely at least somewhat familiar with the Instinct VS. Since its introduction years ago, this classic shoe from Scarpa remains incredibly popular at crags, boulders, and gyms just about everywhere. A unique combination of features makes the Instinct VS suited for a wide range of climbing styles, all at the highest level.

The shoe sports a moderate level of downturn and asymmetry, a split sole construction, and Vibram XS Edge rubber. Its toe box is covered in texturized rubber for secure toe hooking, and its heel cup is enveloped in Vibram XS Grip 2 for extra sticky heel hooks. The shoe has glove-like slipper fit that can be adjusted with a robust velcro strap for extra tensioning.

I’ve been testing out the Instinct VS in the gym and at crags and boulders in Squamish for the past couple of months. It’s not a shoe model that I’ve worn in the past but after this testing period, its now one that I will continue to wear into the future. I found the Instinct VS to edge exceptionally well, which is quite the feat for a flexible, split sole shoe.

While the shoe is bendy through the midfoot due to its split sole design, its toe box is very rigid. Along with the XS Edge rubber, this rigidity allows you to stand on dime edges with confidence. Its a perfect shoe for boulders and shorter routes that demand precise footwork on small edges or granite crystals. For marathon edgy pitches or multi-pitches, the Instinct VS’s flexibility makes it a tad fatiguing – a stiffer, edging-focused shoe would be a wiser choice.

The Instinct VS also performs equally well on overhanging terrain. Although the toe box is stiff, the shoe’s downturn, asymmetry, and split sole allows you to engage your toes and bend your foot downwards to toe-in on far away holds and maintain tension on overhangs. In my opinion, this is what makes the shoe special. It features a rare combination of enough stiffness to edge well but also enough flexibility to perform on steep terrain.

And despite the high performance, the Instinct VS is a surprisingly comfortable shoe, especially so for those with medium-wide feet. The shoe features Scarpa’s Bi-Tension system, a supportive arch of material that stretches from the tip of the shoe down its sides, distributing weight away from the ends of the toes to the entire foot. This allows for a high performance fit without the need to mash your toes or crush your Achilles.

The Instinct VS would not be my first choice for smeary, slabby terrain. It’s rigidity makes it a tad insensitive for reading delicate, subtle textures. This is not to say the shoe can’t smear though. It’s flexibility through the midfoot allows for a high degree of smearing ability on low-angle features or volumes indoors. If you enjoy the Instinct VS but want better slab performance, check out the Instinct VSR, a more sensitive version of the shoe that uses Vibram XS Grip 2 rubber.

I’d also say it’s also not an ideal shoe for crack climbing, but it really wasn’t designed to be. Its relatively high-volume toe box makes thin jams difficult and uncomfortable. I should note that I sized my pair for sport and boulder performance, so it’s possible that a slightly up-sized pair would perform slightly better on cracks.

Overall, if you’re looking for a comfortable shoe that edges with ease on vert, claws in and maintains tension on the steep, and heels and toe hooks with confidence, you will not be disappointed by the deservedly classic Scarpa Instinct VS.

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