Scarpa Instinct VSR – Our Favourite Shoe

It is easy to declare one bouldering shoe is better than another, but we think we have found the one! The Scarpa Instinct VSR is our chosen shoe for bouldering. We simply love it. There’s no getting around how well it performed under a series of our tests.

Get Scarpa Instinct VSR now!

We are speaking from experience here. We have tried and tested this shoe on multiple terrains and used it extensively inside. In the following article, we will detail the tests we did and why it stood out so well.

Scarpa Instinct VSR – Essential Info

Before we get into the subjective arguments about the Scarpa Instinct VSR we will provide you with some essential info on the shoe. Before buying a bouldering shoe it is necessary to try it on first, as many will feel different to what your are used to. Even so, below you can see the main aspects of the shoe to see if it could fit your needs.
Scarpa Instinct VSR used

  • Downturn: Slight/Medium
  • Material: Microfiber
  • Strap: Velcro
  • Closure: Hook-and-Loop Closure
  • Weight: 460g
  • Sole / Thickness: Vibram XS Grip 2 / 3.5mm
  • Fit: Wide Foot / High Volume
  • Foot Shape: Greek
  • Testing Size: -1 (UK)
  • Gender: Unisex

As you see, there a many interesting facets of this Scarpa Instinct VSR. None more so than the Vibram XS Grip sole, with a thickness of 3.5mm. It makes it a flexible and soft shoe, that provides the ultimate grip.

Many of you will have seen a similar product, the VS, in our list of best bouldering shoes. Although they are very similar, they are not the same. The sole is different, and there is a lower profile of thickness in the middle, meaning it is more flexible.

The Scarpa Instinct VSR Reviewed

In order to make this review authentic, we had to test these shoes for ourselves. What we found was inspiring. We went both outdoors bouldering and indoors bouldering to get a complete overview and full scope of performance.

The Design and Performance of the Scarpa Instinct VSR Shoe

The design of the VSR lends itself to those who prefer flexible, softer shoes. Furthermore, it is also ideal for those lighter climbers out there.

Scarpa Instinct VSR sole

The VSR is a slipper style shoe, that is closed by a single strap. Although some people may have reservations to how the heel would hold up with such a design, we had absolutely no problems whatsoever with slippage, and actually, the heel was one of the strong points of the shoe.

The shoe also has pull on loops, which means when you drop down sizes you can get your feet in there quickly, and also makes taking the shoes off easy!

What’s more, toe-hooking is a dream with the VSR. This is due to the added rubber over the toe and lends extra support for when you need it.

Overall, this shoe is great for shorter sport-climbing routes, or bouldering problems. You can easily take them off between attempts and they are a sensitive, but versatile product.

The Fit of the Scarpa Instinct VSR

The manufacturer says that you can buy this in your street size. For the more experienced boulderer we would recommend that you reduce the size by at least one, if not more. Obviously for the sake of your performance, you need to try on a couple of sizes before you buy.

For reference, our tester (me) used these shoes one size down from the street size. The general rule of thumb is that if you want increased performance, go down a size, if you want more comfort go up a size.

One thing to note is that the Scarpa Instinct VSR does give a little over time and you may notice the shoe gives up to half a size once it is worn in. This is due to the softer rubber the shoes uses.

Bouldering Indoors – Plastic Master

If you are a fan of bouldering indoors then the Scarpa Instinct VSR is for you. Scarpa actually stated that they were developed on the request of elite climbers for indoor bouldering comps.

It performs best on volumes, or Olympic style bouldering. The Vibram XS Grip sole really performs well on plastic and gives you unrivalled grip.

The shoe is also sensitive and you can really get purchase on small holds. We really think this is on of the best shoes for indoors, and should be on the top of the list for boulderers who like the gym.

Bouldering Outdoors – Surfaces It Performs Best On

We tested the Scarpa Instinct VSR on multiple surfaces and found it performed admirably on a few specific ones. Namely, gritstone, granite, and sandstone.

This is due to the texture of the sole and how ‘grippy’ it feels. It lends itself to smears and other forms of friction based climbing. Furthermore, we would say it is not as durable as some shoes, so we would not be spending all day climbing in them.

Overall the Scarpa Instinct VSR Is a Top Choice

Scarpa Instinct VSR shoes

When it comes to bouldering, many things are a matter of opinion. This is no different to bouldering shoes. Even so, we can positively say that the Scarpa Instinct VSR is a top performer.

We particularly like it for indoors bouldering and sport climbing. It is sensitive, flexible, and grips exceptionally well. The soft rubber, does mean that you might have to resole it more often than other shoes, but it is a small price ot pay for sensational performance.

Get Scarpa Instinct VSR now!


We are sure you have many questions pertaining to the Scarpa Instinct VSR shoes. We have collected some of the most frequently asked ones and listed them below for your perusal.

What size down should I go from my street shoes when buying Scarpa Instinct VSR?

When testing the Scarpa Instinct VSR our team found that reducing the size by -1 provided a god fit. Obviously, this is a personal preference, so we would always recommend you test them out yourself.

Are the Scarpa Instinct VSR shoes good for bouldering or climbing?

We would say it performs good for both bouldering and climbing. Naturally, we favour bouldering, but for sport climbing the shoes also provide that little extra to push you over the top.

Should I use this shoe for bouldering indoors or outdoors?

You can use the Scarpa Instinct VSR inside and outside. Outside, they are good on gritstone, granite, and sandstone. Yet the grip they provide indoors make them the plastic masters.