Scarpa Instinct Lace Review – Climbed & Tested

The Scarpa instinct lace featured image

Stop your search for your next climbing shoe–Scarpa has something very special for you.

Today we’ll look at one of my favorite models: The Scarpa Instinct Lace.

Let’s get into the Scarpa Instinct Lace review…

Scarpa Instinct Lace Review – A Complete Climbing Shoe Review

The Scarpa Instinct Lace was created after seeing the success of the Instinct VS and S models.

The precise lace-up results in a better fit and increased tension throughout the midsole, making for an excellent all-purpose shoe that can excel at sports climbing, trad climbs, and bouldering while still being relatively comfortable.

The Instinct Lace has long been my favorite shoe. I liked the VS (velcro) version and found that the lace added everything else I needed without taking away from what made the shoe great. The extra tension provided by lacing up adds more security when heel-hooking, as well as feeling more natural due to a custom fit.

Because the shoes age gracefully, you can get a lot of wear out of them. This means that even when they’re old, you can still do hard edging moves. In general, the shoes work well on most terrain, though they are best suited to hard vertical and slightly overhanging routes.

There are only a couple of downsides to the Scarpa Instinct Lace shoes, which I’ll come to later in this review.

The Scarpa Instinct Lace Toe Box

The Scarpa Instinct Lace review Toe Box

The toe is the best part of this shoe. Although it shares the same last with other Instinct models (S, VS, and new SR), laces enable amazing tension from the point of the big toe all through mid-sole and into heel/ankle, letting climbers to utilize tiny footholds to their fullest potential.

The downturned shape of the shoes helps you to get more out of your feet on the overhanging ground. They are not as aggressively downturned as some other models, but they still compare favorably to shoes like the La Sportiva Skwama or 5.10 Anasazi Pro.

The toe of this shoe is excellent for limestone and slate-style footholds, where a good edge can mean the difference between success and failure.

Like all performance shoes, they will be aggressive but the toe box is much roomier than other comparable options on the market. You can wear them for long periods of time without discomfort.

For every reaction, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Unfortunately, this also applies to shoes; the laces take up extra space on the top of the shoe which makes them notoriously bad at toe-hooking compared to other Instinct range shoes.

Although they will still adhere on deep toe hooks or where the angle lots of contact, they often fail to grip on technical toe hooks.

The Scarpa Instinct Lace Heel

Although the heel has good support from the velcro strap, it is a weaker aspect of the shoe in comparison to Scarpa’s other products.

The heel on the lace operates quite well; it is wide with a separate rubber strip wrapping round the back of the ankle and heel, which increases its overall volume. This can be an advantage when sitting on a heel (for instance, when resting on steep ground or mantling a good hold) but also problematic if trying to heel hook a small area.

So there are both pros and cons to this feature.

With the laces adding extra security, heel hooks feel strong and secure with little slippage. Although not a highlight of this shoe, if you know how to use your heel and lock into your hips correctly, these shoes will work well for you – giving you the opportunity to focus on their strengths in the toe area.

Rubber of The Scarpa Instinct Lace

close up of Scarpa instinct climbing shoe

The Instinct Lace uses Vibram XS Edge, a firmer rubber typically used in edging shoes by brands such as Scarpa and La Sportiva. Hard-wearing and direct, it gives the shoe fantastic edging qualities.

Although this shoe isn’t as innovative or sensitive as Scarpa’s Chimera or Drago, it still smears really well. In fact, it performs just as well on friction-dependent moves.

The ideal shoe for those who want a firmer grip but don’t want to lose performance on tough terrain or small spaces. You can trust it indoors too, but this shoe is designed primarily for outdoor use.

The rubber is durable and the shoes will last you a while, but they can be stiff and insensitive to your footwork for some time. If you want a shoe that you can really feel working with your feet, try something supersoft like the Drago or 5.10 Hiangle.

How The Scarpa Instinct Lace Fit

Unlike other performance shoes, this shoe is sized comfortably and doesn’t require much breaking in (which can usually take around a month or 8-10 uses). I found that it was one of my most comfortable shoes after some time.

The lace closure system is usually a great fit for most feet, and even though some people see laces as annoying, they’re versatile and comfortable. You won’t have to mess around tying and untying them anyway since they’re not really suited for indoor bouldering.

Although these shoes fit most people with narrower feet best, they still pinch a little bit – especially where the laces tighten around the middle.

If you’re wondering how much to size down, typically people only go down one size from their street shoe in Instincts. I went down a half size and found that to be the perfect fit.

Value For Money

The Scarpa Instinct Lace is a great value-for-money shoe. It’s one of the cheapest shoes on the market and it performs really well in edging and smearing, so it can be used for both indoor and outdoor climbing; although as I’ve said before I prefer this as an indoor bouldering shoe.

It isn’t as high-end as some of its competition in terms of comfort or sensitivity, but at this price point, you can’t expect perfection.

Scarpa Instinct Lace – Verdict

The Scarpa Instinct Lace is a shoe that can help intermediate climbers take their skills to the next level – especially when it comes to sport climbing 7s (5.12s) or bouldering V6 and above.

These shoes are fairly priced, considering their top-level performance and durability. They don’t costs as much as some of the other high-end options out there, but they still offer great value.

I highly recommend these shoes to any experienced climber who wants a shoe that can do everything. As mentioned, I’ve loved these shoes for several years. I still use them occasionally for hard vertical walls or whenever I need a crucial edge.

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