In Climbing

Disclaimer: We’ve all read those glowing, glossy magazine reviews that insist that some pair of shoes is the greatest thing since the last pair of shoes some company mailed the reviewers for free. (Insert green puke emoji here.) Yes, I did demo two pairs of shoes from Scarpa for free to write this review, but I didn’t get to keep either of them. Thus the positive of trying a free pair of shoes for a few weeks was balanced out my the negative of having to give them back. That’s a long way of saying: This is going to be an honest review.

I’ve worn the VSRs off and on for over a year, so I was intrigued when I heard Scarpa was coming out with a women’s version of the VS–which I’d always thought the VSR was. So I pulled some industry strings to test the shoes side by side, and well…the biggest difference was the color…you know, teal vs. blue…

A brief history of the OG VS vs. VSR. They look almost identical, but the VS has stiffer Vibram XS Edge rubber on the toe, where the VSR is made solely with softer Vibram XS Grip 2. Translation: If you’re super light (aka a small climbing female like myself), the VS feels a bit stiff and blocky when you first put it on, where the VSR has a touch more sensitivity. The reason, so I’ve heard, that the VSR only goes up to Euro size 44, is that the larger sizes of the VS feel almost identical to how the equivalent-size VSR would. 

Now enter the Women’s VS. It’s made with the same “3.5mm 2/3 length XS Edge sole” and “XS Grip 2 heel” as the orange VS, but only goes up to a size 42. However, to me at least, it felt almost identical to the VSR, though potentially ever so slightly stiffer. Again, the biggest difference I noticed was the teal of the Women’s VS vs. the blue of the VSR.

So, if you like the VSR, wear a have size 42 or smaller, and like the “Black/Aqua” color of the Women’s VS better than the “Black/Azure” VSR, you should consider switching over; same goes for VS wearers with small feet who hate orange. Otherwise, if you love your current pair of VSRs or orange happens to be your favorite color, there’s really no reason to change–’cause if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

That said, you should try on all three on April 9, ’cause:

  1. You should always take gear reviews with a grain or two of salt, and try on shoes to see how they fit your unique foot size/shape.
  2. Scarpa is hosting a demo night 5p – 8p Tuesday, April 9, which means you can climb in demo shoes for free like I did to write this gear review. Sadly, you’ll also have to give them back, but hey, free shoes for a night is pretty neat.
  3. Insert your favorite additional reason here (and/or in the comments below).
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Pete Takeda offwidth climbing training