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Scarpa Instinct VS-R | Climbing Shoe Review

By Lyndsey Helvin
Climbing Instructor & Wall Manager

After being out of action for several months due to shoulder surgery the Scarpa VS-R have been my shoe of choice for getting back in the game. Returning to the routine of climbing can be tough, especially when your confidence drops; it’s really important to have a pair of shoes that you trust. I must say the Scarpa VS-R have been the best shoes I have worn to date. Whether smearing on volumes or standing on micro edges, the confidence I have in my feet has been unreal. 

Fit & Usage

With Scarpa I found sticking to my street shoe (trainer) size was a little tight and stiff at first - aren’t all new climbing shoes? - but ultimately the right balance. The micro fibre upper really gives you a snug fit and once worn in I found they formed to my feet without over stretching; every time I put them on they now feel amazing. The toe box seems to mould to your foot shape too, whilst the rubber patch over the toes means they’re awesome on toe hooks/foot cams - loads of grip whilst minimising damage to the top of the shoe.

If you’re going to have a long session it’s easy enough just to slip your heel out and keep the majority of your foot in the shoe to help stay warm. The elasticated upper seems to be spot on but you can also adjust the Velcro strap as required. To be honest, bar engaging in some serious heel hooking, I reckon you could leave them undone and they would still fit fine. As for the heel, well I would say I haven’t used it massively but when I have it has been good; the strip of tough rubber really helps protect against sharp features and there’s minimal dead-space. That said, I think if I had dropped half a size they may perform a little better in this regard, however I’m not sure the rest of my foot could have dealt with the pressure of the downsize. Maybe it’s just the shape of my heel or maybe lace-ups would be better.

Outole: Vibram XS Grip 2

I haven’t worn the original Scarpa Instinct but I understand the rubber is softer on the Instinct VS-R (XS Grip oppose to XS Edge). I really like the feel of this rubber, it gives me such confidence in my feet when on the smallest of holds or smearing on slabs. The only major downside I can see to the softer, grippier rubber is that your shoes potentially won’t last quite as long, but it’s a worthwhile sacrifice for the performance benefits.


Overall if you’re looking for a relatively comfy well-fitting technical shoe I would definitely recommend the Instinct VS-R. Whether you’re an indoor only climber that occasionally ventures outside or a dedicated year-round outdoor climber they’re definitely a shoe to consider. They give me so much confidence in my feet even on the most desperate of footholds, I will certainly be purchasing another pair and recommending them to those after a technical rock shoe. For me they are the perfect shoe!

Purchase the Scarpa Instinct VS-R