La Sportiva Jackal II BOA Review

This week, the well cushioned La Sportiva Jackal ll BOA gets our review. The La Sportiva Jackal is designed for longer distance trail races. What La Sportiva wanted to create was a shoe that had the added cushioning and underfoot protection required for running ultramarathon distance races on trails without losing the stability and feel for the ground required to effectively negotiate steep and technical ground. The original La Sportiva Jackal went some way to achieving this goal in my opinion. These attributes also made the Jackal a very versatile shoe, capable of being used as an everyday training shoe for mixed terrain including some tarmac.

The durability and cushioning level made the Jackal a great shoe for road to trail use in the UK if you like a more responsive ride. The advantage that a more responsive ride gives you is that your feet ‘know’ they have touched the floor. Provided that you have some space in the shoes, your feet can function as intended. They can spread out on impact to absorb shock and stabilise you, then spring you into your next stride. This makes you feel nimble and able to change direction easily to avoid obstacles or leap them as you encounter them on the trails. You tend to run with a better more upright posture and a quicker cadence. Soft running shoes take away all this function and although they can feel comfortable, you don’t get the same performance in my view.

I have worn through two pairs of the original La Sportiva Jackal. That is to say that I have run them to the point where they feel a little too flat. In my experience La Sportiva shoes are very durable and both these shoes have no damage to the uppers and the outsoles still have plenty of life. How long they lasted as functional running shoes is difficult to work out as I don’t log my miles in each shoe. What I can say is that they do last a lot longer than soft midsole shoes. EVA midsoles get more flexible and gradually softer as you run in them. They mould to your gait and foot shape. After a few months of running in them I find that they become incredibly comfortable compared with shoes that have soft or bouncy midsoles with rockers that feel like they take away feel for the terrain and control my gait more.

So full disclosure, I am a responsive shoe fan! The ride of the Jackal feels snappy and responsive to me. The vast majority of running shoes on the market feel far too soft to me and I struggle to run in them. Everyone’s gait and running style is different though. If you like the most softly cushioned shoes I would suggest that the La Sportiva Jackal might be a bit too firm. Bear in mind your perceptions of what is ‘soft’ and ‘firm’ underfoot changes depending on what you have been wearing before.


I was very keen to try the Jackal II having enjoyed running in the original version so much. In particular the BOA version. Having used the La Sportiva Cyklon ( and La Sportiva Cyklon Cross ( which both have BOA fastening I have become a fan of this type of shoe fastening. Essentially the BOA lacing system has a dial at the side of the shoe that pulls in some plastic cords. These cords are threaded through flaps on top of the shoe. These flaps are pulling in and wrap the upper around your foot. The advantage that this system has is that it doesn’t put pressure on the top of the foot as it pulls the upper in around the shoe. I find that I don’t feel the upper as much and my feet are allowed to flex inside the shoes much easier than they can in a shoe that is fastened up by laces. The BOA is also unaffected by mud, grit, snow etc. To tighten the shoes you push the dials in and turn the dial. To undo the BOA you pop out the dial and it frees up the cord. This makes it easy to adjust your shoes mid-run if required. Whilst clocking up my review miles I found that you can use the BOA with gloves or mittens on. There are also no issues with muddy or wet laces. There are two dials on the LA Sportiva Jackal II. So, you can tighten up the forefoot and the midfoot separately.

I found that the fit at he heel wasn’t as snug as it felt in the laced version. This is exactly how it feels in the Cyklon and Cyklon Cross and as with these shoes I didn’t experience any slippage at the heel. The heel cup is constructed of a half plastic heel cup which gives the shoes a stable feel. The inside of the heel cup is lightly padded will increased padding just above where the heel bone would sit. This makes it feel like the heel cup is hugging your foot. The Jackal II BOA has a built-in gaiter made of a stretch jersey material. This stretches over the ankle and increases the feeling of security. It also prevents debris like grit and mud from getting into the shoes.

If you have run the night before through the mud and the shoes are still wet and caked with mud then it’s a bit of a pain to pull them on and mess with the laces. Your hands get covered in mud, the laces don’t tie as they are still covered in mud and the shoes feel wet and horrible. I found that with the La Sportiva Jackal that I could slip my foot into the shoes, turn the BOA dials and be away. Although the shoes are still wet and horrible the comfort that the gaiter gives and the ease in putting the shoes on makes it less noticeable. Although the same is true of the LA Sportiva Cyklon, the Jackal II BOA has a much softer more pliable gaiter that is much easier to slip your foot into.

The upper is the main change between the original Jackal and the Jackal II. Essentially it is lighter and has a snugger feel to it. The upper is a sandwich mesh with TPU overlays around the whole shoe to make it resistant to abrasion from rocks or mud. This makes for a very durable upper. The only downside might be breathability. As the UK hasn’t really warmed up much, I haven’t had any hot days to test this out. There is a reinforced toe bumper right on the end of the toe box to give a bit more protection to the toes. This is very similar to the one used on the current La Sportiva Mutant.

The shoe is made on La Sportiva’s comfort last, which is their most roomy designed to give your feet the room to function and expand when covering long distances. There is less volume in the upper than on the original version and although the Jackal is considered a wide shoe by La Sportiva, I wouldn’t necessarily describe it as a 2E width fitting.

The midsole is a mix of EVA and Infinitoo™ with a rockplate sandwiched between them. Infinitoo™ is a durable PU material, which has a bit of spring and snap. The heel to forefoot drop is 7mm (26mm/19mm). As mentioned previously the ride is firm and responsive. Crucially this type of midsole doesn’t lose it’s spring or stability when you have been running for a long time which is something that often happens with shoes that have a very soft midsole.

The outsole consists of 3.5mm long lugs that are multi directional to provide traction when running up or down hill. The lugs at the heel and down the centre of the outsole are made from La Sportiva’s white cross rubber, which is the rubber that offers the most traction in the wet and is used on the Mutant and Cyklon. The rubber around the edges is a slightly more durable rubber. I found the traction on wet rock and other slippery surfaces to be exceptional. The lugs are a bit short for deep mud but the fit and feeling of security that I get from the shoes means that I find I can slip and slide my way through wet or deep mud without too much of an issue!

Although the midsole is stiffer, giving that good level of stability, the Jackal II BOA doesn’t feel in anyway stiff. I found it easy to skip over roots or boulders. In effect the Jackal II BOA has the same midsole and outsole pattern as the original version. You would expect the ride of the shoe to be same but it’s not. It might be the feel of the BOA fastening and lighter upper that makes the Jackal II BOA feel a much quicker shoe. The original Jackal was great for everyday running. I did use them for hill reps but they didn’t feel lively more safe and secure. The Jackal II BOA feels much faster and much better on steep downhills too. The original La Sportiva Jackal felt like the heel caught on steep descents, making it difficult to land midfoot and smoothly descend. This isn’t the case with the latest version. I would say that it doesn’t feel quite as cushioned on the tarmac. The original version was great on frosty days when the roads where a bit slippery as the outsole gripped well and the cushioning felt good enough to do an hour or so on the road. The Jackal II BOA feels a little firmer and although it would cope with a few miles on the road, which still makes it a good shoe for road to trail or mixed runs that have some trail and some tarmac, I would say that it doesn’t feel quite as comfortable.

Describing the La Sportiva Jackal II BOA as simply an ‘ultramarathon shoe’ is perhaps under-selling the shoe. Ultra shoes tend to be shoes that are designed for plodding along slowly to economically cover huge distances. Although the Jackal II BOA has the capability to do this, it also feels great at much quicker speeds, which makes it very versatile.

In summary the La Sportiva Jackal II BOA is a versatile, durable trail shoe that can be taken up to ultramarathon distances but also manages to feel nimble and quick.

Other Considerations

Scarpa Spin Infinity: Scarpa midsoles have a similar feel. They are firm and responsive and feel better the more you use them. The Spin Infinity has a lower heel to forefoot drop. Here is a link to our review:

Hoka Mafate Speed 4: A softer ride and a rocker. Longer lugs give a better level of grip in the mud. Here is a link to our review:

Altra Lone Peak 7: Broad rounded toe box and zero drop allows a more natural midfoot strike. Similar level of grip and firm midsole. Here is a link to our review:

Inov-8 Trailfly Ultra G 280: Bouncy midsole. Feels like a road shoe with some grip. Here is a link to our review:

New Balance Hierro v7: Softer ride than the Jackal. Available in three width Men’s and two width Women’s. Here is a link to our review:

Saucony Xodus Ultra: 8mm drop generous width to allow for foot expansion in Ultra’s. Here I a link to our review:

Topo Ultraventure 2: A broad rounded toe box. 5mm heel to forefoot. Similar firm and responsive ride. Here is a link to our review:

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