Vibram XS Edge (3.5mm) & XS Grip 2 (2mm)

What we like:

One of the most versatile high-performance shoes we’ve tested.

What we don’t:

Roomy toe box isn’t ideal for those with narrow feet.

In the Scarpa Instinct climbing shoe collection includes an lace-up version and two variants of a slipper that are standard, and two different versions of the Velcro slipper. The Instinct VS — the stiffer one of two Velcro models–has been praised by the press since its introduction and I was keen to test it on the technical climbing of the Oregon’s Smith Rock, my home climbing crag. After several months of using it, the Instinct VS on the vertical, tech tuffs of the primary area as well as the smears and cracks in lower gorges, Lower Gorge, I was extremely satisfied. It’s a comfortable, well-rounded shoe that is now my preferred shoe to project a range of trails. Below , we go over its capabilities, sensitivity and shape, rubber, fit and sizing and much more. For a look at how it compares against the competition look at our article about the most comfortable footwear for rock climbing..


A climb in the Scarpa Instinct Vs

The shoe is known as a favorite for climbers who compete professionally The Instinct VS from Scarpa is most comfortable on sport routes that are steep and boulders , both outdoors as well as in gym. However, while it’s true that a lot of the top climbers in the world are wearing the Instinct VS however, we’re not convinced that the description really accurately describes the shoe. In the end, we think it a great all-rounder for sport climbers who are just starting out and those who want to up their level. I’m accustomed to wearing various styles from La Sportiva shoes–namely, the more athletic Miura VS, but the Instinct VS has changed my mind and made me an Scarpa lover.


I tried I tried the Instinct Vs on smooth to lightly overhanging volcanic tuff in the Oregon’s Smith Rock, where technical faces with crimpy, hard-to-hold rock dominates the landscape. I also tried it on Smith’s Lower Gorge, where columnar basalt provides pitches after pitches that involves crack climbing. It also stems and spreading. In both places Instinct VS was proven to be an ideal tool to do the task. It is a great edger at any angle, but remains elastic enough to be able to smear and pull on tiny elements which makes it a great choice for steep terrain and climbing. The shoe is also able to bite into pockets and holds that are small. It actually feels more like a sticker in comparison to other models that use similar rubber, such as that of the la Sportiva Miura V. Finally, the Instinct VS is among the most effective toe-hooking footwear that are available. I actually began to incorporate more of these movements in my climbing due to the shoes’ impressive performance.


As with the majority of downturned, tightly-sized models The Instinct VS isn’t comfortable for climbing cracks. In addition the large toe box, which is large in volume, doesn’t work well in small cracks. However, if it’s properly sized it is Instinct VS’s spacious toe box as well as its large rubber patch make it a good choice for foot jams that aren’t too common encountered on a bouldering or on a route for sport. If you’re looking for a committed climbing shoe for cracks, we’d suggest looking at La Sportiva TC Pro or Otaki. La Sportiva TCR Pro and Otaki.

Shape and Sensitivity

It’s the Scarpa Instinct V has a moderately sloping last that has a medium asymmetry which is ideal for precise feet on very difficult terrain. It is also softer and stiffer than most bouldering-specific shoes, providing more comfort and support, as well as better edging platforms. In general, this design would result in less agility and precision, however The Instinct VS is an exception in this case. Particularly, the half-midsole is stiff only within the toe box which allows the midfoot to remain flat and arrise. This means that the Instinct VS is able to flex to slip and slide better than many rigid footwear, yet it’s sturdy enough to stay strong and precise on steep terrains.


In the case of high-performance footwear stiffness and downturn is a matter of individual preference. For those who have a preference for soft shoes, may be able to find the Instinct VS too stiff and unresponsive, while climbers who are used to a more flatter or more rigid model could enjoy a wonderful entry into the world of athletic shoes. If you’re interested in the Instinct VS but prefer something more supple, Scarpa’s Instinct VSR (with sticky rubber) is a great alternative.


Its Scarpa Instinct makes use of 3.5mm of Vibram’s XS Edge rubber on the upper half of the sole, and 2mm of the soft XS Grip 2 on the heel. My opinion is that this is an outstanding combination. XS Edge offers a strong and dense blend specifically designed to improve the performance of edging. Although most shoes utilize 4mm of rubber, the Instinct’s smaller 3.5mm base offers more flex and sensitivity, without sacrificing durability or stability. Since I’m lighter than many males, I usually like XS Grip 2 as well as similar soft rubber on the forefoot. However, I believe the Instinct VS offers a wonderful alternative with this lighter-than-average construction. Instinct VS’s XS Grip 2 on the heel is more supple and sticky than the XS Edge. It’s a smart design choice that enhances the heel-hooking capability of the shoe. This 2mm-thin layer provides greater comfortable and the ability to feel (and since the rubber on the heel area doesn’t wear out it’s not a huge issue).


The durability and construction

Scarpa never fails to meet the standards in terms of quality design and construction which is why Instinct VS is no exception. Instinct VS has no different. It’s a superbly constructed shoe and durable, right from the stretch-resistant microsuede upper which holds its shape, to the durable XS Edge sole. The pull tab on the top is thought-out and extends from into the box of your toes, making more likely that it will not break away or break over time. Scarpa has also strategically moved stitches away from the pressure point, which results in more comfort and exact feel at the point of the foot.


Its Instinct V has a half-midsole that is located within the instep box. This helps distribute the pressure of your feet over the front of the shoe, without restricting the arch’s flexibility. Additionally, a rand extends between the arch and the toe area, providing a slight tension that pulls the toe forward, enhancing its support. Together with Scarpa’s selection to use 3.5mm of rubber for the box in which you put your toe, and a less than 2mm for the heel area, it provides the shoe a unique blend of stiffness and softness which allows it to be able to tackle many climbing styles.

Sizing and Fit

Straight out of the box, first thing I was able to notice concerning Instinct VS Instinct VS was its large toe box. I’m taller than the average and struggle to find climbers’ shoes that are suitable for my. Overall, the broad final makes the Instinct VS better than other high-performance models. However, people with smaller feet may feel it is too big. The heel cup was also too large in my heel, which is narrow. I could feel tiny air pockets in the bottom of my heel, but it didn’t appear to take away from the heel-hooking capabilities of the shoe. If you like the shoe , but the fit isn’t right you might want to try the Instinct VSR, which is a little less popular for women. VSR or the more comfortable Instinct VSR.


I’m wearing I wear the Instinct Vibram VS size 38.5 and it’s a good fit overall. It’s not excessively tight, yet I have plenty of force in my toe. To give you an example I tried on my the Scarpa Vapor V with the exact same dimensions, and it fit just like. I typically wear La Sportiva shoes (Testarossa, Miura VS for men, Miura VS along with Katana Lace) in a size of 37.5 size, and it appears to be the norm for me to take a step up in the full size of Scarpa shoes. It’s important to remember that the soft and soft synthetic microsuede upper will not stretch as far as real leather, which is why the Instinct VS will feel comfy right when you first put it on. In addition, the rand has been made to give the power and precision you need without being an uncomfortable tight fit.

Women’s version of the Scarpa Instinct VS

We tried the men’s version of the Instinct VS in this review, and it is made by Scarpa in a woman-specific version with a similar style. The Instinct VS for women is priced similarly at $185 and features the moderate decline and medium asymmetry as the men’s version. The women’s model is made with the company’s XS Grip 2 rubber (softer and more sticky as compared to XS Edge) at both the heel and forefoot. There are other noticeable differences in color and size: the women’s Instinct VS has blue accents, not orange and has a smaller volume.


What We Love

  • The most adaptable shoes we’ve ever tested. It’s tough enough for edge-cutting yet flexible enough to spread it, which isn’t an easy job.
  • The combination of rubber and plastic provides a remarkable mixture of sensitivity, durability and stiffness. It also provides the ability to stick.
  • High-end construction and build quality.

“What We Never Do”

  • A large toe box isn’t the best option for those who have narrow feet.
  • A poor for everyday wear due to the tight fit and absence in arch-support.
  • Like many of the tightly-shaped downturned shoes Instinct VS is no exception. Instinct VS does not perform well for climbing cracks.


Comparative Table

Scarpa Instinct VS $185 Moderate Synthetic Vibram XS Edge/Grip 2 Velcro slipper
Scarpa Instinct $185 Moderate Synthetic Vibram XS Edge Lace
Scarpa Instinct VSR $185 Moderate Synthetic Vibram XS Grip 2 Velcro slipper
La Sportiva Solution $180 Extreme Leather/synthetic Vibram XS Grip 2 Velcro slipper
Butora Acro $160 Extreme Leather/synthetic NEO Fuse Velcro slipper

The Contest

Eleven time American Bouldering Series champion Alex Puccio is a fan of his Scarpa Instinct VS It’s hard to dispute this kind of track record. If you’re wearing the right shoe it, you’ll struggle to find a better all-arounder in the category of high-performance. There’s certainly an abundance of options in the Instinct range. For instance Instinct’s basic Instinct (lace-up) is made in the same way as the VS and has the same fit, but has an extended 3/4-length midsole instead of half, providing more rigidity and support. We love the lace-up option for granite, which is comparable with the Five Ten Anasazi Lace or the La Sportiva Katana in terms of flexibility and power to edge, but we preference is for the the most difficult climbing and bouldering.


For those who are lighter climbers or looking for a less delicate feeling, Scarpa offers an Instinct VSR model at the same cost that the Instinct VS. Both models are extremely alike, though the VSR has a slightly snazzier toe box as well as soft and more durable XS Grip 2 rubber at both the heel and the toe (the Instinct VS also has XS Edge at the front). It is interesting to note that the VSR is almost identical in design to the women’s VS but testers have observed small differences in comfort and fit. The final decision of choosing the VSR instead of that of the male VS is like selecting female’s La Sportiva Miura VS (with XS Grip 2) in place of that of the male (XS Edge). If you love this Instinct VS but you want some flexibility and greater sensitivity and sensitivity, the VSR is an excellent alternative.

One final option could be La Sportiva’s solution. At first glance they may appear quite similar, but they differ in a number of important ways. For starters, the Solution is a bit narrower in its toe box, which is a great choice for those who have low-volume feet however, many climbers have complained about the uncomfortable heels. The upper of the Solution is made of synthetic leather. It is also more flexible than the synthetic Instinct VS, which results in less discomfort and a more overall fit for those who tend to make your shoes fit snugly. The Solution’s P3 midsole ensures that it will maintain its shape better over time and is particularly useful for climbing with a lot of overhang, but not good news for those looking for shoes that are able to slide and smear. In addition, both the women’s and the men’s Solution are more durable with four millimeters and 4mm of Vibram XS Grip 2 rubber The men’s version has a lighter mixture that consists of Vibram XS Edge and XS Grip 2. In the final analysis, we give the advantage to the Instinct VS because it is a more flexible and well-made shoe. If the volume of the toe box or rubber is an issue it is possible to choose VSR. VSR instead.

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