In June of 2022, the International Trail Running Association (ITRA) released a survey of 9,514 runners in 104 countries that revealed the most worn brands and trends among trail runners. In that survey, La Sportiva ranked as the 3rd most worn brand (Salomon was 1st and Hoka was 2nd). For some, this is no surprise. For others, like myself, it made me wonder why I hadn’t ever tried a pair!
The La Sportiva Jackal II BOA is a great option for runners who value performance and style. The shoe is visually stunning, with a blue and yellow color scheme that looks fast and ready to eat up the trails. There is currently only a single color and the blue and yellow combo – while not my favorite – looks pretty classic and sleek. It just looks like it was made for eating up dirt – no doubt about it.
Fit & Construction:
Construction-wise, the Jackal II BOA is an impressively durable shoe. The upper is made from a breathable mesh material with TPU overlays for durability. Though this has only been tested in winter temperatures thus far, it seems like it will keep feet cool and dry.
The stretchy Spiyralift tongue and collar fit high upon the foot and covers the ankle. I have definitely banged my ankles when trail running, so a little added protection is welcome. If you aren’t used to this, it may take some getting used to – but it is flexible enough that its not constricting. It also makes it less likely (and almost impossible) for debris from the trail to meander inside your shoes.
While there is a standard La Sportiva Jackal II with traditional lacing – the obvious difference between the two is the BOA Fit System. Instead of tying the shoes per usual, the utilization of two knobs allow for easy and precise adjustments to the fit.
This is the first BOA shoe I have tried and I will say that its a really nice option. I am one who is constantly working on the fit in my shoes. Often, I feel initially that I need a tighter fit, but then have to adjust within a few miles because my feet are not liking things. Then, after more miles it feels too loose and I’m back to the start again.
And wouldn’t you know it – this is what happened on my first run in these. Within 3/4 mile, my feet were starting to feel crummy and constricted. A quick stop and loosening of the BOA immediately fixed this. Within another 1/4 mile I felt I could use them a little tighter. With a quick 10 second pit-stop I was able to dial it tighter just a click or two and was set for the rest of the 7 miler. God knows this would have been a lot more frustrating with standard laces!
For those of you who may be n00bs like I am, the process is quite simple – just twist to tighten. If you need loosening, gently pull the knob out and adjust. Wham, bam and you are back on the trail.
When it comes to performance, I feel that the Jackal II Boa delivers. The shoe is pretty comfortable – even with a lower stack height – and the footbed is supportive. Combining the midsole with the upper and you get a really snug fit. Luckily it’s not too restrictive, but its a shoe that is likely to keep you feeling locked in. If you don’t like feeling like the foot is wrapped tight on you, just know you are more likely to get that sensation here by design. I think that those with wider feet should probably skew towards the non-BOA version.
The midsole provides excellent cushioning and responsiveness, making each step feel effortless. I found the shoes to offer impressive stability, and though I don’t generally run in crazy terrain – I have felt confident and secure on my runs. They aren’t super bouncy and you can definitely feel some firmness and structure necessary to absorb sharp obstacles. Thus, this is a great feel for someone who is a similar trail runner to me (i.e. trail runs usually in the 6-15 mile range), but those who go the loooong distance time and time again may perhaps prefer something just a little more supple.
That being said, I was surprised at how much I personally enjoyed the ride and found it a nice middle ground of firm ground feel and responsiveness.
The outsole is made from a combination of sticky rubber and lugs, providing excellent traction on any surface. La Sportiva has roots in the rock climbing world, so its no surprise that their outsole is up to the challenge. The lugs are 3.5mm and cover the vast majority of the bottom.
It’s also a bit of an upgrade from even the standard Jackal II. This BOA version has a white rubber compound, which is the stickiest compound they make. This is designed to make the BOA version more adept in technical terrain.
Overall, the La Sportiva Jackal II BOA is a more advanced and feature-packed running shoe compared to the original Jackal. It has an improved closure system, a more durable and breathable upper, a more technical and aggressive outsole for better traction, and additional cushioning and support.
The original Jackal II may be a better choice for runners who prefer a lighter shoe (the BOA is ~ an ounce heavier) and a more affordable price point, but this upgraded version is definitely that – an upgrade. It may be a stretch for someone who is just running standard trails, but if you have mountain running or hiking plans (or just want a nicely constructed trail shoe) this is a great option.