Depending on where you live, trail running can consist of 80% dirt and 20% road or 20% dirt and 80% road. That varying mixture of trail-to-road is just what The North Face Sentinel BOA trail running shoes were built for: real-world trail running.

Features of The North Face Sentinel Boa:

  • Mapped multi-weave mesh uppers for supreme breathability
  • C-delta metatarsal fit system
  • Micro-adjustable BOA lacing system
  • Semi-curve lasted
  • Low-profile ultrATAC carbon rubber outsole
  • Weight: 12.2 oz (pair)
  • MSRP: $130

The North Face Sentinel BOA Review

While the Boa system may not be for everyone, there’s no question the simplicity and ease-of-use provided by this little dial. Quick on/off and even pressure throughout the stride are all great features of the Boa lacing system. Some improvements have been made for this year’s Boa with a quieter engagement and quicker pulling system–both appreciated improvements.

The North Face Sentinel Boa has been my trusted companion on snow-covered trails, mud, dirt, loose terrain and miles of pavement. Throughout the review, I’ve been extremely-impressed with the uppers on the Sentinel. The mesh provides excellent breathability while still kicking in just the right amount of support.

It’s a well-known fact that I have very flat feet (if you’ve read my other trail running shoes reviews, that is), so the included Ortholite insoles were swapped out for the Sole Dean Karnazes insoles for a time and then switched back to the Ortholite insoles and simple Dr. Scholls arch supports. I had excellent luck with the Sole insoles, but the addition of the neoprene arch supports took up too much volume and caused pressure points. Keep that in mind if you’re in my same situation.

Dial ’em in with the Boa ratchet.

The low-profile treads are great for trail/road crossover duty, but they do meet their match when the trails get loose and technical. One of the greatest features of this shoe is the overall trail protection. I think they nailed it with the Sentinel’s midsole and protective plate as it offers just the right amount of trail feel yet still providing solid intrusion protection.

The exoskeleton heelcage (dubbed Thrust Chassis) provides excellent support and the overall stride of the Sentinel is great. I did find the heel to ride a little harshly on pavement. I’m not a real heel-striker, but when I landed moderately on the heel, it didn’t seem very cushioning at all–very race car-esque. Forefoot cushioning is great, however on both road and trail.

The semi-curved last provides a true-to-size fit for me. I’m typically a size 10 and these fit perfectly.

Good Sentinel Boa

  • Improved Boa ratchets quietly and cradles the foot well
  • Lightweight
  • Supreme breathability
  • Excellent trail traction despite a low-profile lug pattern
  • Just the right balance between forefoot protection and trail feel
  • Very stable platform
  • Good-looking design, in my opinion

Bad Sentinel BOA

  • Firm heel cushioning upon initial impact (heel-strikers beware)
  • Boa system is a bit bulky and the laces get squeaky over time
  • Housing of the Boa system catches on jeans
  • Open area in heel can attract mud

Bottom Line: The North Face Sentinel Boa

Lightweight and breathable, the new North Face Sentinel Boa trail running shoes have kick-butt uppers combined with racecar-esque outsoles. Heel cushioning is firm, but forefoot cushioning and stability is just right.

Buy Now: Search for North Face Shoes at REI

About Author

A native of the Pacific Northwest, Jason quickly developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 -- sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.


  1. Pingback: The North Face Single-Track Trail Running Shoes Review -

  2. i cant find them in any local stores to try them on, but i tried The North Face Single-Track shoes and was very impressed. since i don’t know how Sentinel BOA feels on my feet, would you tell if they give the same super comfort as Single-Track shoes. thank you.

  3. Arman… the Sentinel and Single-Track are both on different lasts and feel completely different. If you really liked the Single-Track, I’d say go with that option. The Sentinel Boa is a great shoe, but it is a little less cushiony in the heel area. Other than that, both are great. But, I personally prefer the Single-Track.

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