REVIEWER: GILES PENFOLD
THE JACK(AL) OF ALL TRADES
REMEMBER WHEN MARTY FROM BACK TO THE FUTURE II WAS STOKED AS HIS SELF-TYING SHOES WRAPPED ABOUT HIS FEEL?
I felt the same when I first unboxed a pair of the Jackall II BOA’s, twisting my fingers to tighten the dials on their new lacing system.
The La Sportiva Jackal II BOA is a new addition to the range, adding panache(!) and exciting new features as compared to its predecessor, the Jackal I. I’ve owned a pair of this original model and thrashed them around for a while now, so I was eager to find out how the latest changes faired on my feet.
THE LOW DOWN
GREAT FOR: Technical terrain, medium to long distances
NOT SO GREAT FOR: Short distances, speed work
TEST CONDITIONS: Rocky, dry, technical terrain
TESTER: Giles Penfold
TESTER MECHANICS: Neutral
The new model is high-performance designed specifically for sky races and off-road technical terrain spanning medium to long distances. Born from the collaboration between La Sportiva and BOA Technologies, the shoe embodies a fusion of stability, precision and a secure yet comfortable fit.
For context, I mainly tested these shoes on long trail runs (2hrs+) as well as throwing in a few faster hill sessions into the mix. The majority of the terrain was quite rocky and technical, and I was pleasantly surprised as to how they held up. Zero foot issues and slippage combined with relatively dry feet proved themselves early on.
Weighing in at 300g, this is about the standard for a solid trail shoe, and goes without saying that the BOA lacing system adds a little extra weight: a compromise which is well worth it in the scheme of things. Needless to say, if this were a track shoe (captain obvious to the rescue), or even a fast short distance trail shoe, its heft would be concerning. Good thing it’s the opposite – a work horse shoe designed to attack rugged landscapes.
The BOA lacing system looks cutting edge, and I eventually found myself questioning how it would perform on the trails. I put 250km into this particular pair and can honestly say the lacing system is more than mere eye candy. Their simplicity and ease of use is impressive, and serves as quite the paradox compared to its high tech futuristic appearance.
Some direction for users: to tighten the shoes, you simply push the dials and twist them in a clockwise direction. Seeing as La Sportivas usually run quite snug (Helios model excepted), I opted to keep the laces loose most of the time. When approaching a downhill, I’d quickly tighten them in a fraction of a second and go bombs away with confidence, in place of toe carnage.
In terms of drop, the shoe’s 7mm remains the same as previous models, with a moderate stack height of 29-22mm. This gives it enough protection to take on technical terrain but also doesn’t numb things to the point where your feet have no idea what’s beneath them. Its 3.5mm diamond shaped lugs feel tough and are convincingly cut out for dry, rocky conditions. I’ve been flogging these through seriously arid, rugged terrain and few other shoes I’ve used would better suit this landscape.
The outsole also features La Sportiva’s signature FriXion XF 2.0 rubber, which is their stickiest and grippiest compound. The trade-off is presumed to be lower durability but so far, the sole on my pair has shown only trace amounts of wear and tear. As long as the upper holds up, expect these to last anywhere between 800km and 1000km. Solid.
The midsole is a combination of EVA and Infinitoo PU inserts, giving it that long distance cushion and trail stability. I found it quite firm, which inherently means it isn’t as pliable and responsive as other models – makes a lot of sense for a long distance technical cleat though. Compared to its original version, the Jackal II BOA has a more flexible and breathable upper that uses recycled fabrics. Big thumbs up there.
The built-in gaiter also does a great job at keeping out debris, offering subtle support to the ankle. I initially saw this as an unnecessary feature but the more I used them, the more I enjoyed this feature.
Overall, La Sportiva have nailed the updated features on the Jackal II BOA. Its traction and fit are of the highest calibre, and alongside its long distance cushion, the shoe is an excellent option for the most technical of trails.
RRP: $319.95 AUD
CONDITIONS: Shoes provided for testing by La Sportiva