When it comes to optimizing your trail running experience, one factor reigns supreme: the perfect shoe fit. A snug, well-fitting pair of shoes can make all the difference between a lackluster outing and an exhilarating one. But what sets apart a shoe that fits like a dream from the rest? How exactly does better shoe fit translate to better trail performance? The answers to these questions had remained largely elusive—until now.
In early 2023, a team of biomechanists from BOA® Technology’s state-of-the-art Performance Fit Lab in Denver published a study that leveraged new testing methods to unveil the true potential of the perfect fit. In particular, the study broke new ground by taking the rigors of controlled lab testing out on the trail. While previous studies relied on treadmills and motion-capture cameras, BOA researchers ventured into the real world: the unpredictable terrain of actual trail running. There, the trail tests compared the performance of traditional lace-closure shoes against those equipped with the BOA Fit System, which employs a wrap-style closure with an adjustment dial, creating a hug-like fit that improves stability, comfort, and—it turns out—speed.
The study focused on the most optimized integration of the BOA Fit System: the BOA® PerformFit™ Wrap. In addition to allowing trail runners to find fit through the precise micro adjustments of a dial, the BOA PerformFit Wrap reimagines the upper shoe construction to provide a secure wrap over the midfoot, locking the heel back and down.
This innovative technology delivered a multitude of benefits to the runners in the study, which was published as a peer-reviewed white paper in the journal Frontiers in Sport and Active Living. The study’s astounding results included enhanced stability and improved efficiency—outcomes that were expected, based on previous research. However, the real surprise was that the BOA PerformFit Wrap yielded a notable boost in trail running speed over traditional laces.
Here’s How They Did It:
The researchers recruited 30 subjects (15 male, 15 female) to complete a loop multiple times in the rugged trails of Morrison, Colorado, wearing both lace-closure and wrap-closure shoes while connected to inertial measurement unit (IMU) sensors. These three-axis portable sensors, typically employed in aeronautics to check the pitch and rotation of an airplane in flight, gauged the runners’ biomechanics and produced impressive findings: BOA PerformFit Wrap shoes reduced the outward rotation velocity of the foot by up to 5 percent, mitigating the risk of potential ankle injury and providing extra stability (plus added confidence) on the trail.
The researchers also measured heel hold with a sensor that quantifies pressure at 270 locations across the bottom of the foot 100 times each second—“heel hold” is defined as the degree of contact between the runner’s heel and the shoe at the end of each stride. As any seasoned runner knows, a secure and locked-in heel is essential for optimal performance. The study found that the BOA-powered shoes exhibited a 2 percent increase in heel hold, creating more effective energy transfer.
And then came the speed advantage provided by the BOA PerformFit Wrap: Runners wearing wrap-closure shoes ran approximately 1 percent faster, without increases in heart rate or perceived level of exertion. That sounds small, but for elite athletes, that margin could mean clinching a coveted podium finish in an ultramarathon or claiming the FKT on a remote trail. Even average runners will enjoy knowing their shoes make them just a touch faster.
“Our objective is to collaborate with our brand partners and elite athletes to combine rigorous scientific testing, innovative product design, and robust development support, aiming to create high-performance products that seamlessly integrate the BOA Fit System,” says Dan Feeney, PhD, senior director partner of product innovation and development at BOA, and one of the study authors. “The findings from our most recent white paper further reinforce the significant benefits of integrating BOA, particularly the BOA PerformFit Wrap configuration.”
Convinced by the science? Then you’ll want to know how to find shoes with the new BOA PerformFit Wrap system. Designed in single- and dual-dial upper configurations, this next-level closure is now available in top-of-the-line trail running shoes, including the Speedland GS:TAM, La Sportiva Jackal II BOA, and Altra Mont Blanc BOA, with more models on the horizon, like the Scarpa Ribelle Run Kalibra HT set to launch in Spring 2024.
One result is abundantly clear: the BOA PerformFit Wrap has become an absolute must for serious trail runners—not only to elevate performance, but also to inspire unwavering confidence. Just ask BOA athlete and professional ultra trail runner Dylan Bowman, who played a pivotal role in designing the Speedland GS:TAM. “BOA is nonnegotiable at this point—fit is everything,” he says. “I wouldn’t run an ultra in a trail shoe without it.”
BOA® Technology Inc. stands at the forefront of fit solutions, partnering with leading brands to elevate their gear to new heights. Covering a wide range of sports and activities, from snow sports and cycling to hiking, golf, running, workwear, and medical bracing, the BOA Fit System offers micro adjustable precision fit backed by the BOA Lifetime Guarantee. Embrace the future of trail running performance, and embrace the BOA Fit System today.