Shoe Review: La Sportiva Jackal II BOAs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

VITALS
RRP: $319.95 AUD
WEBSITE: lasportiva.com/au
CONDITIONS: Shoes provided for testing by La Sportiva

Shoe Review: The North Face Enduris 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

REVIEWER: GILES PENFOLD

THE ENDURIS 3 ENDURES THE TEST OF TIME

IN NEED OF AN EVERYDAY TRAINER THAT GETS THE JOB DONE JUST ABOUT ANYWHERE? Meet the new Vector Enduris 3.

Hot off the press, this shoe is part of The North Face’s latest line-up, a star studded bunch that was tested at UTMB by top athletes and amateurs alike. I haven’t experienced their shoes until now, but given the brand is synonymous with quality outdoor gear, my expectations are high. I still remember how stoked I was about receiving a TNF jumper hand-me down as a kid…and I’m pretty sure my younger cousin now wears it.

According to their website, this third version of the Vectiv Enduris is all about versatility, balanced stability, cushioning and traction. With this in mind, I went out and pounded the pavement, ran some trails, and heck, even dragged them along to the gym a handful of times.

In terms of feel, I’m a sucker for a more minimalist shoe and the Vectiv Enduris are by no means a barefoot shoe. With that said, I gradually warmed to its generous cushioning. The 31mm/25mm stack height feels really supportive and has a springiness that I’m not used to (plus it doesn’t cook your achilles or calves). I also noticed its generous toe box, something that a lot of brands are starting to catch on to, with this model genuinely letting your feet splay and grip the trails when necessary. It took me a few jogs to get used to the Enduris’ high cushion but once acclimated I actually surprised myself, describing them to a friend as ‘damn comfy’. First box: ticked.

‘How are the Enduris performance-wise?’ the same mate asks me. The short answer? Solid. The longer answer? Solid with a caveat. Let me explain.

As the most approachable and beginner-friendly shoes of the TNF line, their purpose isn’t to be flogged or redline on a speed 25k or 50k trial race. Instead, their objective is as an all-rounder, and who doesn’t love an all-rounder? After a few weeks of becoming acquainted, I found myself nonchalantly wearing this pair all over the shop. If you really want to scream ‘I’m a runner!’ to the world, I suggest wearing the neon colourway to your local gym.

Bonus points if you wear skimpy split shorts as well.

Jokes aside, the Enduris 3 held up just fine during my sets of calf raises, Olympic lifts and plyometrics. Side note: If you’re a more experienced runner looking for a high performance shoe, I’d go for something like the Vectiv Sky or Vectiv Pro (both pairs are carbon plated).

By now, I’ve hopefully insinuated that the versatility on the Enduris 3 is epic! I tested these on slow road runs and also picked up the pace on non-technical trails. For context, the longest trot I took them on was 22k, and by the end of it I felt like I was gliding on clouds (more on this in tech specs below). The verdict though? They held up considerably better than I’d anticipated and felt easy to run in.

Here’s the low-down on the shoe’s tech specifications. First things first, they’re quite light compared to similarly cushioned shoes from competing brands (Men’s 307g, Women’s 257g). The 6mm drop remains the same as previous models of the Enduris, however notable changes include an extra 2mm of stack with a revised EVA formula and a more comfortable overall design. The rockered midsole is definitely a highlight, ‘delivering forward propulsion’ according to TNF. I was initially sceptical about this feature, but found that once I got in the groove on a run, the rocker genuinely did its job, propelling me forward and making things feel easy (also referred to as ‘gliding on clouds’, patent pending).

The outsole carries 3.5mm lugs which held up well on the trail, although I didn’t wear these through particularly muddy terrain. The upper feels roomy and yet, the foot locks in nicely.

Overall, the Enduris 3 is a great all round trainer and runner that won me over. It’s a no frills, dependable shoe that has a strong combination of cushioning, traction and versatility. It’s also the most affordable pick of the Vectiv range, and comes in two striking colourways. An excellent update from The North Face.

THE LOW DOWN

GREAT FOR: Everyday training, terrain variety
NOT SO GREAT FOR: High performance races
TEST CONDITIONS: Hard-packed dirt, paved road, pea gravel
TESTER: Giles Penfold
TESTER MECHANICS: Neutral

VITALS

RRP: $250 AUD
WEBSITE: thenorthface.com.au / thenorthface.co.nz
CONDITIONS: Shoes provided for testing by The North Face