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Climbing Shoes

Scarpa Instinct, Instinct S

NEW FROM SCARPA THIS SPRING are the Instinct and Instinct S, two edging shoes that make slabs out of gently overhanging terrain.

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$139, $129 | www.scarpa.com | four stars

NEW FROM SCARPA THIS SPRING are the Instinct and Instinct S, two edging shoes that make slabs out of gently overhanging terrain. The shoes are nearly identical, built on the same re-curved last, but the Instinct is a lace-up made of suede, and uses 4mm of the new Vibram XS Grip2 rubber, while the Instinct S is a more sensitive slipper made of stretch-resistant Lorica, and has only 3mm of XS Grip2 underfoot.
I found both models to be confidence-boosting performers, especially on vitreous limestone smears and rounded sandstone edges. The slipper was both a sensitive and powerful edging shoe. The lace-up shoe was great at edging, and was a more reliable heel-hooker. Despite being sized snugly, the slipper often failed on more demanding heel-grappling situations such as The Buddha (V6) at the Gunks.
The lace-up Instinct could be sized small for a performance fit, or go a full size larger for all-day comfort—the shoe manages to more or less retain its vacuum-sealed fit even in a larger size since you can cinch down the laces. The slipper, however, works best when fit super snug. I opted for a tight performance fit, and during a noticeable break-in period I could only wear the Instincts for a couple of burns per day. While the toebox is slightly roomier than in some other Scarpa models, my protruding big toe was scrunched. (I am going to guess that people with toes of more uniform length would really dig the Instinct’s fit.) But after two weeks of wear, the shoes stretched ever so slightly and began feeling perfect.
I have found the recently introduced XS Grip2 to be quite sticky right out of the box. Yet after six months of heavy wear, the rubber has rounded down and now feels glassy and slick, especially in very warm or very cold conditions. Still, after lots of wear, both models have retained their re-curved shape and suction-cup fit—the mark of a well-made shoe.
I preferred the slipper for gym climbing and short, steep sport climbs (I use too many heel hooks in bouldering for the slipper to be my go-to shoe here). The lace-up is better suited to outdoor climbing, and, depending on how you size it, could be used bouldering, sport climbing or multi-pitch trad climbing.

INSTINCT S

• Upper: Lorica.
• 3mm Vibram XS Grip2.
• Sizes: 34-45 (including half sizes).
• Sensitive slipper conducive to gym climbing and sport routes.
INSTINCT (SHOWN HERE)
• Upper: Suede.
• 4 mm Vibram XS Grip2.
• Sizes: 34-45 (including half sizes).
• Powerful edging tool that excels in all mediums.