Chicks Gear Review: Scarpa Instinct

Written by: Angela Hawse

It’s ‘Sendtember’, and we are on fire with our Chicks Rocks clinics nearly full to capacity.  The send train is on and we are stoked to be climbing with a bunch of keen women at the Red River Gorge, Keene Valley, Red Rocks and Rifle for the next two months.   When the rubber meets the road what you put on your feet for your vertical endeavors makes all the difference in the world.

SCARPA’s INSTINCT rock shoe is a solid performer that comes in three styles to suit yours.  The INSTINCT VS has been my go to shoe for three seasons.  If I had to choose one pair of rock shoes for the rest of my life, this would be the one.  I’ve crammed my feet into many other models, but always return to this trusted and solid friend.  Like most performance shoes out of the box it’s a bit hateful, but it molds fairly quickly to the shape of your foot and you are soon one with the shoe.  It will perform as aggressively as you want it to, on steep, edgy or overhanging test pieces as well as finger cracks.

Unlike many performance class rock shoes, the SCARPA INSTINCT VS can be your best friend on long routes if you don’t size them too small.  I fit one pair a full size up from my approach shoe and they are perfect for full days.  I never have issues with slippage, rotation or sloppy heels.  The other pair I fit the same as my approach shoe and they are machines.  That being said, I don’t wear uber tight rock shoes, it distracts from my focus too much.  If this resonates with you for an all day fit, the Instinct VS should feel tight when you try them on in your favorite climbing shop, but your toes shouldn’t be bent uncomfortably.  They will mold to your foot after a week of climbing and be perfect.

SCARPA has really made something for everyone with this shoe in three different styles.  A unique feature that they all share is SCARPA’s patent pending Bi-Tension rand.  This innovative use of the rand acts like a reverse slingshot, pulling power from the toes rather than jamming them forward.  The rand anchors under the toe box, giving focused power and a surprising amount of comfort.  Another plus they all share is a minimal amount of rubber compared to many rock shoes, making them quite light.  Asymmetrical toe boxes make these bad boys edging machines and a slightly downturned toe gives them power for pulling.  Below are some of the features that set them apart.


INSTINCT:  This is the classic, traditional lace up version with an all-suede upper.  There will always be something that sets a real leather shoe and laces apart from the rest.  Precision tightening adds torsional rigidity and the support you expect from a lace up.  This is the beefiest and overall most versatile of the three.  The Vibram®XS Edge 4mm sole is super durable, yet sensitive enough for endurance edging, providing unrivaled support for reducing fatigue.  This is Kitty’s go to shoe for sport climbing.


INSTINCT VS:  This slipper-style shoe is just a tad softer than the lace up, with a microsuede upper that has minimal stretch.  Add the single velcro closure over the top to pull it into place and you’ve got a unique combination that does it all with a very light weight and low profile.  The Vibram®XS Edge 3mm rubber sole is sensitive, super sticky and has excellent durability.  As said above, it’s my go to shoe for just about everything.  Micro edges feel like significant features with the B-Tension rand system and they have enough support to reduce fatigue for all day climbing.  The look and feel of this well crafted shoe inspires confidence just putting them on.



INSTINCT S:  This is SCARPA’s softest shoe, with Vibram®XS Grip2 rubber giving them quite a bit more sensitivity than the other two.  The beefy Bi-Tension rubber rand gives this slipper plenty of support, even for small feet.  Like the VS, they have a microsuede upper and fit like a glove with minimal stretch, molding to your foot perfectly after a bit of use.  If you are a slipper fan, you should give this shoe a try.

Google the INSTINCT and you’ll find raving reviews.  Still run and operated by the Parisotto family that started the SCARPA tradition, this is quality Italian footwear from a brand that is unrivaled in mountain footwear.

Angela Hawse has been a Chicks Guide for 16 years and is a new owner of this stoked Sisterhood.  Shes an AMGA/IFMGA licensed Mountain Guide and an Instructor Team Lead for the AMGA.  She proudly represents Marmot, Sterling Rope, SCARPA, Julbo and Metolius Climbing.

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