Slip into something a little more comfortable with the Instinct S!

Not every gear post can be about the latest and greatest shiny new climbing object that may or may not give you that extra boost to climb harder, faster, lighter, stronger, or dumber.  Sometimes you have to realize that some shoes have stuck around the product line for awhile for a reason. So today we visit the Instinct S from Scarpa, with the same last as the now famous Instinct VS, but with a slightly more sensitive feel, and a noticeable lack of a velcro strap — which was intentional because the "S" in "VS" stands for slipper and adding a velcro strap would ruin that line of thought (they may have had other reasons). 

Anytime you're about to get yourself some new rubber-footed climbing socks you should always have in mind what you intend to use them for. For most, the answer would to be move vertically on rock or plastic in the most alpha way possible. But 3/4 of climbers suffer from being gear dorks and are convinced that we need a quiver of shoes. So when it came time to decide what shoe I wanted next, I decided I wanted something great for training/general indoor sessions — which brought me to the Instinct S. It's precise without being highly a-symmetric, downturned but not overly "F**k my toes are downturned," and best of all, easy to get on and off. 

The Instinct line has become pretty popular over the years, and for good reason: they work on almost any terrain and if you're only going to have one shoe, you would be hard pressed to get these shoes out of their comfort zone. For gym climbing, this slipper just felt right at home. 

With a Full 3mm outsole, the Instinct S felt a little stiff at first but after a month or so the rubber started to soften up, and the already sensitive slipper just got that much better.  But because Scarpa kept a full outsole on the shoe you still get a lot of support — something often lost with more sensitive shoes. Another feature the entire Instinct line shares is the bi-tension randing, which helps keep power in the toes — but unlike other randing systems — applies less pressure on the back of your foot.

While we all secretly just want to spend all our days in slippers (cause we know all the elderly people know what's up), not everyone has the foot for a slipper. Sorry if you low-volumed-foot readers have made it this far into my ramblings, but this shoe probably just won't fit right, and you would be better suited in a lace-up. But due to the generous amount of elastic across the top of this shoe, I do feel like it will fit better than other slippers on the market.

But where any slipper is going to let the climber down is in heel hooking. Which sadly, even the Instinct S, which after months of climbing in — and thought that we had come know and trust each other and that they would always have my back when climbing in the gym — would let me down on strenuous heel hooks. Though we have talked about it and come to an understanding that maybe I was asking for more than the shoe could provide, and that it was not its fault. I do want emphasis on the fact that it was not all heel hooks, but only strenuous and overhanging ones that would strain the relationship between climber and shoe. 

Overall, this shoe did exactly what I wanted it to — which is to not hurt my feet while training, but be aggressive and precise enough to not hold me back.

Best For:

  • Gym climbing
  • Training
  • More technical routes that don't require heel hooks


  • Uber comfort for the performance
  • No hassle put-your-foot-in-and-go entry
  • Sensitivity
  • Big ol' patch of rubber for you toehookers out there


  • Won't fit all foot types with the slipper styling
  • Not great for heel hooking