Mountain Project Logo

La Sportiva Skwama or Scarpa Instinct VS


Original Post
Christopher Weaver · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2017 · Points: 15

I'm looking for a new climbing shoe that is aggressive yet versatile. I believe I have narrowed it down to these two shoes but would like to know which of the two is best. I cannot determine it myself and I have never climbed in either shoe.

Luke Bertelsen · · Tucson, AZ · Joined Feb 2005 · Points: 2,851

I wouldn't call the Skwama particularly aggressive.  If you like a pliable shoe and you tend to smear vs. edge the Swama is your shoe.  I am almost through my third pair and the thing I love about them is they are a soft shoe (overall, not the rubber), which means they are comfortable to wear on days where I am doing a lot of pitches.  That said, you can cinch them down tight and all of a sudden they feel much more aggressive and you can really pull with your toe.

If they have a drawback it is when you need to actually edge.  The few times I have climbed in them where feet are small and precision is required I find myself wishing I had my Katana Laces or Miura VSs with me.

Brian Abram · · Celo, NC · Joined Oct 2007 · Points: 498

I have worn out a pair of Skwamas and halfway through a second pair, and I've worn two pairs of Instinct VS through multiple resoles and now have the new Instinct Lace. They are completely different shoes. They are each surprisingly versatile, but completely different. The Skwama is much softer up front both in flex and the XSGrip2 rubber that is used. As long as it's not so hot out that the Grip2 melts off holds, the Skwama sticks to shittier smears and crap holds better. The Skwama is also probably better for most folks for gym use. The Instinct VS edges on tiny sharp edges better than the Skwama due to its stiffness and its harder XSEdge rubber. Due to their stiffness, the Instinct VS is probably better for folks who are gonna be on calf-burning pitches for longer, as they offer more support. 

The Instinct VS heel is better for me. The Skwama heel does not fit as snugly on me, and it sometimes will pull halfway off on hard heelhooks.

I used to believe that most rubbers were pretty indistinguishable in practice, but as I've started climbing more bouldery stuff above .12/V6, I definitely experience a difference in performance between XSEdge and XSGrip2

So Skwama a bit better for bad smear/pasty feet climbing and Instinct VS better for micro edges. Either shoe will work as a general workhorse. When sized up, either can be used for cracks also.

Christopher Weaver · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2017 · Points: 15

Awesome information! I really appreciate the input. However; how well does the instincts smear? I know the skwama would be the more capable of the two, but I think I want something stiff, but can smear when need be. I climb in the mura velcros now and those are an awesome shoe! They just seem to lack in certain areas as I progress in my climbing (they can't smear for shit in my opinion). So I think I'm looking for a more stiff shoe but just flexible enough to smear. Feel free to make an more recommendations other than the two shoes above

Brian Abram · · Celo, NC · Joined Oct 2007 · Points: 498

The Instinct VS will be somewhat similar to the Miura VS when it comes to smearing. If your foot is small enough for the bigger lady's sizes, you might try to new Instinct VSR. Same shoe but with XSGrip2 rubber, so they should stick a bit better to smeary holds. The Sportiva Otaki and Kataki are both sort of stiffer Skwamas, both with XSEdge. The Kataki is now my all day trad shoe. Again, both the women's Kataki and Otaki are made with XSGrip2, so those might be considered if you can fit in the bigger lady's sizes. The women's versions of those two shoes is the closest thing you can get to a stiffer Skwama. The biggest women's size for both Sportiva and Scarpa is 43.

All these shoes have been used to climb harder stuff than any of us will ever be on. That does not mean that there aren't still differences that can matter to we mortal users. 

When my Katakis need a resole, I plan to go with XSGrip2

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 190

I was actually surprised at how well Miuras can smear, given the rubber and downturn.  Not something for sustained friction slab, but good for the occasional smear.  What you are looking for is a unicorn; edging and smearing are pretty much inversely proportional, as one relies on stiffness while the other softness, and a shoe can't be both stiff AND soft.  Some shoes are designed to strike a balance ("medium stiff"), but I usually find they're better at one or the other.

Also, by their nature, aggressive shoes are not versatile.  If you want versatility, get something with a flat last; otherwise, you will be fighting the downturn every time you try to smear or jam.  With strong toes and good footwork, a soft flat shoe (e.g Moccasym/Anasazi, Mythos) can "edge" (or smedge) very well, and is generally a good choice for versatility.  Aggressive shoes are generally more function-specific; do you want to stand on nothing?  Get a stiff, downturned shoe (Miura).  Pull with your feet on overhangs?  Get a soft, downturned shoe.

Brian Abram · · Celo, NC · Joined Oct 2007 · Points: 498

Also don't forget the Solution, even though it's starting to be an older model. They are pretty stiff and downturned, but they have soft XSGrip2 rubber. They can be good for everything except crack climbing

For me, flat shoes like the Anasazi and Mythos do zero things better than an appropriately sized Kataki or Skwama. They are not more comfortable in any meaningful way, they do not smear better, they do not crack climb better. I mean last Wednesday I knocked out 40 pitches of 5.4-5.8 in my Katakis with no discomfort, and at no point did I regret bringing them. Yet for me the slightly downturned Kataki and Skwama are much better than those flat shoes for steep or harder climbing.

Brian Lavett · · Wilsonville · Joined May 2016 · Points: 250

I agree. I haven't found that flat lasted shoes offer any meaningful increases in comfort or performance. I may just not be good enough to notice. Lol. I quit looking for a do it all shoe. I've settled on the Miura VS for a stiff shoe,  and the Genius for a soft and sticky shoe. For the kind of climbing I do, steep sandstone single pitch sport routes, the genius and Miura VS have everything covered. That being said, I'm probably going to grab a pair of skwamas for the gym. They are cheap right now, relatively speaking. Interesting side note: I had an old pair of Miura VS resoled with XS Grip2. They sort of flattened out and became really comfy and stickier. And they still edge reasonably well. 

So I need some help sizing the skwamas. There aren't any gear shops in my home town that carry them. So I can't go try any on. I wear a 45.5 in both the Miura VS and the Genius. I've heard the skwamas run big. Can you guys give me some guidance here? Thanks

Tom Stoltz 1 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 35
Brian Lavett wrote:

I agree. I haven't found that flat lasted shoes offer any meaningful increases in comfort or performance. I may just not be good enough to notice. Lol. I quit looking for a do it all shoe. I've settled on the Miura VS for a stiff shoe,  and the Genius for a soft and sticky shoe. For the kind of climbing I do, steep sandstone single pitch sport routes, the genius and Miura VS have everything covered. That being said, I'm probably going to grab a pair of skwamas for the gym. They are cheap right now, relatively speaking. Interesting side note: I had an old pair of Miura VS resoled with XS Grip2. They sort of flattened out and became really comfy and stickier. And they still edge reasonably well. 

So I need some help sizing the skwamas. There aren't any gear shops in my home town that carry them. So I can't go try any on. I wear a 45.5 in both the Miura VS and the Genius. I've heard the skwamas run big. Can you guys give me some guidance here? Thanks

I wear a 42.5 in most Sportiva shoes including the Miura and Genius and had to size down all the way to 41.5 for the Skwama.  They fit perfect.  Maybe try 44.5. 

Jack Stephenson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2016 · Points: 25
Brian Lavett wrote:So I need some help sizing the skwamas. There aren't any gear shops in my home town that carry them. So I can't go try any on. I wear a 45.5 in both the Miura VS and the Genius. I've heard the skwamas run big. Can you guys give me some guidance here? Thanks

Miura lace 41

miura vs 41.5

katana lace 41.5

skwama 41

Tom Stoltz 1 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 35

Go with the Instinct.  The Instincts are made of synthetic materials (futuristic) while the Skwama is made of leather (outdated technology). Also the leather industry is terrible for the environment and cruel to animals. 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Post a Reply

Log In to Reply