BOA Fit System and trail running shoes can go hand-in-hand, but not always is the execution as good as it is with the new La Sportiva Jackal II BOA. With its wrap design and dual BOA dials, the Jackal II BOA is the best dial-a-fit trail runner I’ve tested, so let’s dive in.
La Sportiva Jackal II BOA Features:
- SpiyralFit tongue and collar construction made from Ariaprene
- EVA with Infinitoo™ PU inserts with rock-shield midsole
- Integrated BOA Fit System with two, one-directional dials
- Ortholite® Hybrid Mountain Running® Ergonomic 4 mm insoles
- FriXion® XF 2.0 White outsole with Impact Brake System (3.5mm lugs)
- 7mm drop (29mm heel with 22mm forefoot)
- Weight: 11.9 oz (each, size 12/45.5)
- MSRP: $185
Fit and function like trail slippers
On the heels of reviewing the Hoka Challenger 7’s, the La Sportiva Jackal II BOA’s felt miniscule. With a straight-cut midsole and seemingly low-profile design, I felt I was stepping into a set of trail slippers. As it turns out, that lower-profile design and overall fit has been fantastic for technical trails and even a little road running (where necessary).
Ditching laces in favor of the BOA Fit System is a great thing, when done right. My most recent experience was not awesome, so I was stoked to slip into the Jackal II’s and find them to feel and fit great right out the chute. With dual dials, it’s easy to isolate the fit as needed and dial them down for a more responsive experience. The combination of the SpiyralFit tongue (think burrito wrap) and BOA really pulls the uppers around your feet for a supportive and cohesive feel. It’s always nice to not have to deal with laces and the ease-of-adjustments is awesome. Of course, I’d love to have bi-directional dials to refine fit both tighter and looser, but a quick pop is all that’s needed.
While the combination of the wrap design and BOA is really good, I still can’t get my heel locked into the heel cup. I’m picky and it’s minimal, but noticeable. I’d like to think that placing the uppermost dial just a half inch further rearward could alleviate my issues. This small amount of slippage didn’t detract from the rest of the shoe’s performance.
Digging in further, it’s time to lay out the details of how these shoes perform on the local trails. Immediately, they offer a close-to-trail feel that I haven’t had in awhile. The midsole and outsole don’t taper outward, but mimic the uppers for a narrow footprint. There’s no way around the fact that these feel decidedly traditional on the trail. A 7mm drop and a flat outsole remind me of the best shoes of yesteryear. I don’t mean that in a bad way, but they feel very traditional — much like your favorite slippers.
While the easy on/off and the close-to-trail feel do make them slipper-like, the the EVA midsoles with Infinitoo PU inserts provide more cushioning than I thought they would. With a 29mm heel stack height, these are definitely not low-profile (in spite of how they feel). If these shoes had a superpower, it would be the metered cushioning and rebound of the midsole. Not only have I comfortably run on all the local trails, I also ventured onto some pavement approaches, with more tarmac miles than dirt while visiting family in Pipestone, MN. While the Jackal II BOA is decidedly a trail runner, they hold their own on hardpack and even pavement.
Traction is capable and consistent across all terrain. I felt confident everywhere and only lost grip on loose, rocky trails. Stability is also a strong suit of these shoes. Off camber corners and undulating terrain doesn’t faze these shoes. The unique wrap design of the uppers cradles my feet and provides excellent support for my low arches. However, that same wrap does cause added warmth on longer, hotter trail runs. The uppers are perforated and ventilated, but more airflow would be appreciated. They do an amazing job of keeping trail scree outside the shoe as well.
I do typically prefer a little more rockered outsole, but the traditional stride delivers a consistent feel that I could run in for hours. To further help extend those miles, I’d say these offer Goldilocks-level trail feel. They dampen sharp rocks while still allowing you to feel connected with the trail. Lastly, one of the beauties of the BOA Fit System is the ability to snug them down ahead of long descents. I would typically tighten up the top dial ahead of a long descent to keep my feet securely in place.
Fit: I usually wear 11.5 trail running shoes (occasionally 11’s) with my regular-width feet and low arches, but had to go with a size 12. So, be prepared to size up a half size from your regular.
- Easiest on/off ever
- Mid-run adjustments are easy
- SpiyralFit tongue not only wraps your foot, but keeps scree out
- Stable and comfortable
- Excellent trail feel that I’d call “just right”
- Can even run on the road without feeling clunky
- Support and cushioning has performed beyond expectation
- Great rebound with every step
- Heel lock could be more snug
- I would appreciate a little rocker to the outsole for a smoother stride
- Airflow is good, but they do run a little warm
The Bottom Line: La Sportiva Jackal II BOA
With a glove-like fit and excellent traction, the Jackal II BOA delivers fantastic support and a perfect trail feel. Admittedly, they do feel a little dainty compared to most of the shoes I’ve tested lately, but don’t be fooled — they offer excellent cushion and rebound for the longest runs. A couple of tweaks to the upper BOA dial placement would make these even better for me.
Buy Now: Available from REI