The La Sportiva Jackal II BOA ($185) is a performance-focused “slipper” with innovative dual BOA Fit System lacing to further raise the bar on the already popular La Sportiva Jackal line.
In the three years since the original La Sportiva Jackal was first released in the U.S. market and subsequently reviewed here at iRunFar — here’s our La Sportiva Jackal review — the designers have created two paths forward for this all-day, most terrain, workhorse of a mountain running shoe. One is a slightly streamlined and improved version of itself, the La Sportiva Jackal II, and the other is the La Sportiva Jackal II BOA, which is something of a departure and which we review in this article.
The La Sportiva Jackal II BOA is slightly heavier than the other versions, due to the BOA Fit System lacing, and has an actual weight of 10.5 ounces (297 grams) for a U.S. men’s size 9. The shoe retains the 7-millimeter drop but increases the stack height slightly, which La Sportiva claims to be 29 millimeters and 22 millimeters from heel to toe. These changes did not change my perception of the performance of the shoe, and my body continues to do well with the 7-millimeter drop and above.
Keep in mind that La Sportiva tends to run a half to a full size smaller than other shoes. Notably, they also offer “in between” sizing. This means that they offer a Euro 41.5, which is a U.S. men’s 8.5 and women’s 9.5, whereas the Euro 42 is a U.S. men’s 9 and women’s 10. I wear a Euro 41/U.S. women’s 9.5 in La Sportiva but a U.S. women’s 8.5 in Salomon and a U.S. women’s 9 in some other brands. Hopefully this helps you dial in your preferred fit.
La Sportiva Jackal II BOA Upper
The completely reinvented upper of the La Sportiva Jackal II BOA belies its heritage. The fully integrated dual BOA Fit System lacing changes the look completely and allows for very precise dialing in of the fit all around, including at the forefoot, midfoot, and heel.
A quick “push in” and rotational clicks of the dial clockwise tightens the fit, and a pull/pop up and roll of the dial counterclockwise loosens it quickly. I’ve had the opportunity to test BOA’s lacing system on occasion since 2013, and I’m exceptionally impressed with the reliability and functional improvements that have been made over the decade. The company has already employed this system in the La Sportiva Cyklon — read iRunFar’s La Sportiva Cyklon review — with great success, and it’s a very performance-enhancing addition to the La Sportiva Jackal II BOA as well.
This lacing system has never failed with mud, cold, heat, dust, and water, and the user experience continues to be smoother and more streamlined. I haven’t had any issues catching the protruding dials on rocks or branches, nor have I found them to be obtrusive during scrambles, but that would be the only concern for failure in the back of my mind.
The semi-curved last allows ample room for my relatively long third through fifth toes, but the overall fit is lower volume, really making the foot “at one” with the shoe — especially compared to the regular, non-BOA La Sportiva Jackal II version which is more voluminous and accommodating through the forefoot and midfoot overall, yet retains a slightly stiffer structure with the overlays. I appreciate the company targeting a wider range of runners with these options.
Recycled sandwich mesh in the forefoot and peeking out medially has thin, no-sew Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) overlays to help provide a bit of structure that runs directly into the substantially thick TPU toe cap, with added traction bumps, which improve durability and scrambling ability.
Instead of a traditional “tongue,” a larger pore mesh Ariaprene fabric forms a continuous layer beneath the BOA lacing system and wraps up to form a high gaiter-like ankle collar, with ribbing that snugs up against the ankle. This layer provides ample protection for the two multi-layer microfiber straps that lock the foot into place via the BOA Fit System, while also keeping debris out of the shoe at the ankle.
I found this construction to be very breathable and quick drying, even in 90-degree-Fahrenheit temperatures, but the larger pores also mean a fair amount of dirt/dust works in through the material itself, making for extra dirty feet. In spite of this, I have had zero issues with blisters or hot spots, even after six to seven hours of moving through mountainous terrain. I don’t usually prefer integrated shoe gaiters as they tend to apply too much friction and pressure to my anterior tendons, but with quarter-crew socks warding off chafing, my tendons were completely unbothered and I was able to leave my usual gaiters at home.
The heel counter is semi-rigid at the base but becomes unusually flexible — much more so than the regular, non-BOA La Sportiva Jackal II version — moving upward, which is an unnerving feeling in a mountain running shoe. I found this decreased structure less effective at making my heel truly feel locked in, but even with some movement there, once the rest of the shoe was tightened down, no hot spots formed. It’s little things like this that make me nervous for how the shoe might perform over 50 to 100 miles, but for anything up to 50 kilometers, I’d feel very confident. The ability to preferentially tighten or loosen the two zones with the dual BOA dials makes all other aspects of fit adjustment really efficient.
La Sportiva Jackal II BOA Midsole
The midsole of the La Sportiva Jackal II BOA is the one aspect of the shoe that appears to be unchanged from the original La Sportiva Jackal and Jackal II. Compression-molded EVA makes up the bulk of the midsole, with 10-millimeter at the heel and 5-millimeter at the toe Infinitoo polyurethane inserts to enhance cushioning and 1.5-millimeter dual-density compressed EVA rock guards providing a bit more protection from the terrain.
Though the specifications are consistent across these three shoes, my running experience is not. Interestingly, the La Sportiva Jackal II BOA version feels much more like an agile racing shoe in terms of increased ground feel and responsiveness, but somewhat lacks cushioning and protection on technical terrain comparatively. Although I didn’t end up with any stone bruises in the La Sportiva Jackal II BOA, I prefer to feel all the pokey things less and it does limit the distance I’d likely choose the shoe for. Up to 50k or six to eight hours of less efficient adventuring — no problem. Beyond that distance, the regular, non-BOA La Sportiva Jackal II version somehow feels more protective and cushioned through the midsole and would likely be the better choice for me.
What I appreciate about this midsole is the consistent feel at hour one and hour six of a mountain adventure, even as I surpass 150 total miles in the shoe. The only wear signs in this region are some scuffs and little divots stolen by rocky scrambles. This shoe wants to be a mountain goat, so it will be interesting to note the durability as off-trail adventures continue.
La Sportiva Jackal II BOA Outsole
The La Sportiva Jackal II BOA outsole is visually unchanged from the original La Sportiva Jackal with the same diamond and rectangular lug patterns and spacing, but the lugs are slightly deeper at 3.5 millimeters depth versus 3 millimeters.
I appreciate the retention of the Impact Brake System and how it eases the heel-toe transition with downhills and speed changes over flat ground. Cutouts in the outsole further decrease a bit of weight and allow for effective contouring of the foot over the trail features. The shoe performs a bit better in the sandy-rubble-over-hardpack that is so common to our climbs and descents in the Rocky Mountains, but it’s not enough of a change to be really ground-braking.
They’re still not aggressive enough to cross over into true mud/snow shoes, so for me, they’re squarely in the three-season realm and function best if it’s not exceptionally muddy. However, they are a true trail and mountain running shoe versus a chunkier hiking shoe, which is something I think La Sportiva differentiates between really well in their trail and mountain adventuring footwear line.
There is, however, one very impactful change to the outsole for the La Sportiva Jackal II BOA specifically. Instead of the FriXion Red outsole compound used on the La Sportiva Jackal and La Sportiva Jackal II, the La Sportiva Akasha and La Sportiva Akasha II — see our La Sportiva Akasha II review — and others, the brand pulled out the big sticky traction guns for the La Sportiva Jackal II BOA with the FriXion White compound.
Though this outsole is also present on the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II and the La Sportiva Mutant, I’m not sure that I’ve tested a stickier-acting outsole on a trail running shoe considering how it responds in conjunction with flexible midsole of the Jackal BOA II. It’s pretty incredible to have this kind of traction while scrambling over talus and working up a bouldery incline. These shoes let my feet mold to the surface and give me a great boost in spider-like confidence on slabs, boulders, rocky descents, and hands-on sections.
But, I’ve also never caught my foot on rocks and roots as many times as I have in these particular shoes. When you catch a toe or scuff a lug enjoying the “speedy performance vibe” these shoes give off, be prepared for “all hamstrings and piriformis muscles on deck” moments, or just give in and slide into home plate as I’ve needed to do a few too many times recently and only in these shoes.
Performance on long grassy slopes and mixed alpine environments is also admirable. There’s just enough stiffness — though it feels like less stiffness than the regular, non-BOA La Sportiva Jackal II version — to make prolonged climbs enjoyable without significant foot fatigue. The durability of this outsole is also outstanding. Despite all my efforts to “forcefully smooth” these lugs down a bit, there is no sign of the miles covered, and the traction remains as sticky and amazing as ever.
La Sportiva Jackal II BOA Overall Impressions
The La Sportiva Jackal II BOA is an innovative trail running and mountain running shoe that refines the burly all-day mountain prowess of the Jackal line into a performance-focused, hard-charging running shoe that will have you scampering up and down your adventurous line in the mountains and smoothly rolling the singletrack in between, with a perfectly dialed in fit courtesy of the dual BOA Fit System.
Those who are lighter on their feet than I could likely use this shoe for everything from a vertical kilometer to 50 miles and beyond. For me, I’ll stick with 50k and under and enjoy feeling speedy and agile with the incredible traction and responsive cushioning underfoot.
Call for Comments
- Have you tried the La Sportiva Jackal II BOA? How did you find it?
- How do you feel about the BOA Fit System on this shoe or other models?
[Editor’s Note: If you’re affiliated (i.e., an employee, ambassador, etc.) with a brand, please share your relation in each of your comments on this article. Thanks!]
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