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Trail • March 30, 2023

La Sportiva Jackal II and Jackal II Boa Review: Trim and Technical

La sportiva Jackal II - BOA shoe on mess with a green forest background

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What You Need To Know


Jackal II: 9.7 oz. (275 g) for a US M9, 8.6 oz. (245 g) for a US W7

Jackal II Boa: 10.5 oz. (300 g) for a US M9, 9.5 oz. (270 g) for a US W7

Stack Height / Drop

Jackal II: 29 mm in heel, 22 mm in toe (7 mm drop)

Jackal II Boa: 29 mm in heel, 22 mm in toe (7 mm drop)

Best For

Technical mountain ascents

Key Features

Dual Boa closure, sandwich mesh upper, Frixion XF 2.0 outsole with 3.5 mm lugs

On The Run

🟢 Excellent lockdown

🔴 Not exactly cushioned

🔴 Quite a bit of toe-crunching


Jackal II: $165

Jackal II Boa: $185

The Intro

TAYLOR: True passion is incredible to behold. It can paint the extremes of just about any everyday thing. Whether it’s bringing someone to happy tears or driving them nuts, it’s not really debatable that passion moves people.

In an industry where money seems to override everything, it’s refreshing to feel passion still oozing from some companies in the running world. One of the prime examples is La Sportiva — talk about living, eating, breathing, and wiping your butt kind of passion for the mountains. Every single piece of gear is oriented toward movement in steep terrain.

So far, our experiences with La Sportiva have mostly been rather firm and slim shoes that provide protection and security for hitting even the most technical of terrain. This isn’t too much of a surprise, seeing as most of La Sportiva’s fandom comes from Europe. Most recently, we’ve had some great experiences in the La Sportiva Cyklon and Cyklon Cross GTX. Both are among the best fitting and most technically performing mountain running shoes to date — they even compare closely to the infamous Speedland SL:HSV.

Following the same vein, the La Sportiva Jackal II and Jackal II Boa want nothing more than singletrack going toward the sky. The overall stature is pretty much the same on both shoes, with a 29/22mm stack height, identical midsoles, and a Frixion XF 2.0 rubber outsole. However, the changes are immediately apparent in the upper. It’s very easy to see where the Boa version is different, and the Jackal II’s adjustments mainly come toward the heel to create a better fit and utilize more recycled materials.

Honestly, the minimal adjustments both excite me and make me want to yawn, but there’s good reason for both.

The Good

TAYLOR: From a strict performance perspective, I can’t deny that the Jackal II and Jackal II Boa are upgrades over the originals. That said, they won’t feel too much different underfoot.

The biggest changes lie in the upper, both in the La Sportiva Jackal II and the Jackal II Boa. A lighter, more flexible sandwich mesh, tongue, and more cushion around the heel collar combine with a lacing chain to make the necessary adjustments for a shoe that is meant for going longer in technical terrain. It also feels nicer on foot. When comfort and performance go up, who can complain?

As much as I like the Jackal II update, the Jackal II Boa takes the update to the next level. It uses some of the same sandwich mesh and adjustments in the upper for an excellent fit. The more traditional half-gusseted tongue gets replaced with a vented, stretchy, neoprene-type material that extends up and around the heel collar to create a gaiter. This gaiter, paired with the dual Boa system, takes the fit from good to great — not that it should be a surprise. The La Sportiva and Boa relationship is a solid one, as we’ve seen time, time, and time again.

The Jackal II Boa’s fit is slimmer than either Cyklon model from toe to heel. It is one of those next-to-skin type experiences where the shoe itself feels like an extension of your foot. For better and for worse, the fit is similar to the Naked Sports T/R.

The adjustable nature of the shoe makes it highly adaptable to speed and terrain. The dials control chords that are connected to a couple of broad straps — one that wraps from the midfoot over the top portion of your midfoot and the other that slings over the lower part. This wrap is what really makes the difference for a Boa-fitted shoe. These hug the foot perfectly and can squeeze without making your toes feel like they’re going to fall off. I find it helpful to have a relaxed fit for the way up the mountain. Then, with a couple of clicks, in seconds, I’m optimally fitted to crush the downhill.

Another positive of the Jackal II Boa is the integrated booty that runs the length of the shoe and comes up to just below the ankle bones. It easily keeps debris at bay while offering extra comfort and subtle support for the ankle. This is especially welcome given just how narrow the Jackal II’s base is. Thankfully, the heel cup is stout, and the collar is softer. The contrast is a little weird at first, but it turned out to be a good thing.

Robust overlays through the midfoot and a toe solid toe cap provide really nice structure, which benefits both overall fit and durability.

Underfoot, a compression-molded EVA foam (the same as the original Jackal) and Infinittoo inserts give a very protected and semi-stable ride. It’s firm and moderately stacked (29/22 mm, 7 mm drop), which is where the protection comes from. There’s no doubt that, as long as the upper stands strong, this shoe will be a technical terrain companion for a very long time, 500-600 miles plus.

Equally as tough is the Frixion XT 2.0 outsole. It’s one of the few outsoles in the Grade A category for both grip and durability. The full rubber coverage and 3.5 mm diamond-shaped lugs do a great job on just about any terrain and condition, but the best case scenario is on the drier, rocky technical stuff. That’s where this shoe is meant to be.

Shop La Sportiva Jackal II - Men Shop La Sportiva Jackal II - Women Shop La Sportiva Jackal II Boa - Men Shop La Sportiva Jackal II Boa - Women

The Bad

TAYLOR: With so much in common, the Jackal II and Jackal II Boa tend to share the same set of negatives.

Since the midsole is exactly the same, let’s start there. Admittedly, my experience with every high-tech trail midsole under the sun might have jaded me, but this midsole doesn’t seem to offer much performance. It’s durable and protective, but that’s kind of it. To call it any kind of cushion would be more than a little misleading. In truth, it feels quite firm and blocky at times, especially on smooth terrain. However, it’s right at home when rumbling up a peak or navigating a bit of scrambling.

Another feature that might limit your miles in the Jackal II and Jackal II Boa is the width. Both shoes are skinny from tip to tail. Sure, it helps with lockdown, but it also makes for a pair of shoes that I couldn’t spend hours in. Runs over an hour gave me some forefoot discomfort both laterally and between the toes because they felt crunched. The Boa version is slightly slimmer, too. There’s not much stretch to the mesh, so the slip-on feel is how it will pretty much always be.

If you have a skin-n-bone foot, you may be able to forget everything I just said.

The overall width of the midsole mirrors the upper. It’s slim and easy to dance with but could cause some scares for your ankles. There’s not a lot of stability in the back half. Where most trail shoes are similar in width to the forefoot, the Jackal II is not. If you’re heavy on the heels at all, this one could get wild.

The grip is always positive on La Sportiva shoes; as mentioned, the lugs are 3.5mm. Unfortunately, that means they’re not quite toothy enough to tackle deep mud, snow, or really sloppy conditions.

Sizing is also a perennial issue with La Sportiva for the American audience. Both shoes run about a half to a full-size short. The good news is that La Sportiva does have quarter sizes for some of the most popular feet. It’s confusing at first, but can help to find you the perfect fit.

Shop La Sportiva Jackal II - Men Shop La Sportiva Jackal II - Women Shop La Sportiva Jackal II Boa - Men Shop La Sportiva Jackal II Boa - Women

La Sportiva Jackal II and Jackal II Boa Conclusion

TAYLOR: Summertime. Above treeline. Rocks and steep terrain and blue skies galore. If you want a protective and technically proficient shoe to reach the peak, the La Sportiva Jackal II and Jackal II Boa would be excellent options.

La Sportiva’s combination of a comfortable, secure upper with great grip and a dual Boa closure makes for one mean technical terrain shoe. Of course, you have to be alright with a firm, slim fit. On the bright side, firm and slim mean even more security and protection.

If you’re wondering whether or not to spend the extra $20 on the Boa version, you’ll have to consider just how badly you want to go from good to great in the security department. Don’t forget about the added overall comfort in the tongue wraps.

You can pick up the La Sportiva Jackal II and Jackal II Boa for $165 and $185, respectively, from the La Sportiva website using the buttons below.

Shop The Shoe


Shop La Sportiva Jackal II Men
Shop La Sportiva Jackal II Women
Shop La Sportiva Jackal II Boa Men
Shop La Sportiva Jackal II Boa Women

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Taylor Bodin
Lead Trail Reviewer
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Taylor Bodin is a trail and ultra runner living in Estes Park, Colo., with his wife and daughters. Trail running is pretty much the only hobby he can manage right now and loves it. Every so often, he will pop off a race or FKT attempt because competition is pure and the original motivator for him getting into running anyways. When not running, Taylor is a 1st grade teacher, running coach (track & field, Cross Country, and Trail/Ultra athletes), and volunteers at his church.

All-time favorite shoes: Hoka Tecton X, Speedland SL:PDX, Merrell MTL Long Sky 2.

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  • 13:40

  • 7:42

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