Scarpa North America Blog

Professional climber Sam Elias reviews the SCARPA Instinct S

May. 13th 2011

I remember seeing the Instinct S for the first time. They were nice; beautifully designed and crafted with the care and attention to detail that is the SCARPA way. However, I clearly recall thinking, “These aren’t for me.”… I believed that I needed more specialized models. But, I was terribly wrong.

I believe that part of a climber’s nature is to be a specialist, a perfectionist of sorts.  I am, in part, the sum of all the body positions and movements that I have done, all the hand holds grabbed and pulled on, all the foot placements used. Thus, while either projecting a route for a red point or attempting an on-sight or flash, I am constantly trying to reduce everything to the bare minimum of the holds and the movement between them in an effort to find something recognizable. In an incessant stream of consciousness:

Where do I go?… How should I grab the holds?… How do I place my feet?… How do I position my body?… How do I move?… Where should I rest?… When should I chalk?…

This mode of action is subtle and is only a part of the experience. As important, are the freestyle improvisations of mind and body forged completely in the present moment that manifests pure belief and intention into action. These different processes combined bring the understanding and belief needed to link movements and sections together, and ultimately (hopefully) the realization of the routes in their entirety.

There is only one variable in our physical connection to the rock – our footwear. Thus, as a specialist, the climber must be prepared for anything; rock type, slabs, overhangs, smearing, pockets, edges, cracks, toe hooks, heel hooks. To the degree of even wearing a different shoe model on each foot, because the situation demands it. I have worn and sent proud lines in nearly every SCARPA shoe model. I would normally walk to the crag with a bag full of different pairs of shoes…until now.

The Instincts have redefined my personal idea of the capabilities of a single shoe model. I have come to trust them for nearly everything, and they are my most utilized boots. They are incredibly versatile and perform to the highest standard at any angle, slab to overhang, and with any foothold type. I did not believe that a single shoe could perform so well in such a variety of situations.

They fit almost perfectly out of the box, and thus require virtually zero break-in time and never any pain. I use the lace up model when I need a little more support, or the precise fit that only laces can offer. They offer me confidence and precision in the most technical terrain. The slipper model provides increased sensitivity, as well as ease of entry and exit. They are on-and-off in an instant, and allow me to feel and grab with my toes.

In addition, the quality of construction and the durability of the rubber and the fabric assure me of maximum performance well after I have taken them out of the box, as well as ensure that the shoes retain their original shape with a consistent fit after much use.

The Instincts are as close as it comes to a shoe that is perfect for nearly every situation. And for any remaining, the rest of the SCARPA line fills in the gaps, just that – perfectly.

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