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.
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 Innstinc 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.
- 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.
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 absolutley no problems whatsover 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 manufactur 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
When it comes to bouldering, many things are a matter of opinion. This is no different to bouldering shoes. Even so, we can positivley 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 ofter than other shoes, but it is a small price ot pay for sensational performance.