Revolutionizing Ski Boots: A Closer Look at the BOA System

BOA technology revolutionizes ski boots with even tension, stiffer feel, and H-Series dials. Atomic, Fischer, K2, and Salomon lead the game-changing shift.

Revolutionizing Ski Boots: A Closer Look at the BOA System

The introduction of BOA technology to ski boot shells has been making waves in the hard goods market for the 2023/24 ski season. BOA Fit Systems has been around since 2001 and has been utilized in various products like snowboard boots, sneakers, cycling shoes, and helmets. This technology uses a wind-up system that tightens the product with even tension from the twist of a reel, which is typically seen in nylon, plastic, or stainless steel attached to the plastic housing unit.

In snowboard boots and now ski boots, the BOA system offers a stiffer feel while tightening evenly throughout the designated area. The H-Series dials are usually used in snow products and allow for compression even through multiple layers of a boot. Four major brands - Atomic, Fischer, K2, and Salomon - have adapted the BOA system to replace the bottom two buckles of their ski boots, and this change is expected to be a game-changer in the skiing industry.

One of the biggest complaints about the traditional four-buckle ski boot is the bottom two buckles. Many people find that the downward force of the buckles has a crushing effect on their feet, often leaving the boot too loose or completely crushed, especially for those with wider feet or higher insteps. The BOA fit is different since the cable is aligned in a cross pattern over the boot, applying a wrap-like fit to the user's foot. This wrap-effect has a significant impact on people with wider feet or higher insteps, making the boot fit much more comfortably right out of the box.

The cable thickness of the BOA system is significantly larger than what is traditionally seen in snowboard boots or cycling shoes, and it is strong enough to literally retain a lift chair, according to some reports. The added girth also allows the user to crank the BOA system tightly, providing a custom fit that is difficult to achieve with traditional buckles.

However, one of the perceived issues with the BOA system is that there is now a large dial on the ski boot shell, which can be cumbersome and easy to hit. BOA has collaborated with ski manufacturers to create a release system for impact, but when the wheel ejects, all tension in the lower part of the boot is lost. Another point of contention is the lack of individual zones - there is only one dial that replaces two buckles, and some skiers may prefer the option of adjusting buckle tension independently.

In terms of price, the BOA system will increase the cost of the ski boot by $50-$100, and in some cases, a traditional buckle version will still be available. The price points of BOA ski boots will range from $599 (K2) to $1050.

What makes BOA ski boots better?

BOA has teamed up with Atomic, Salomon, K2, and Fischer to design new ski boots featuring their tightening systems over the instep. The aim of this partnership is to make ski boots more supportive, better fitting, and easier to use. The traditional four-buckle overlap boots were seen as problematic because the bottom two buckles do not improve the fit on the forefoot well. The new BOA system (called Fit System H+i1) uses five different contact points to pull the shell around your foot, resulting in a more secure and comfortable wrap around your forefoot that doesn’t over-pressure or pinch. This makes for a better fit in the heel and forefoot than traditional buckle closures. BOA offers an opportunity to get a fit that traditional boots have never been able to provide.

Comparison to Other BOA Products

The new BOA system designed alongside the ski boot manufacturers is different from other BOA products, particularly in the way it tightens and loosens. The new BOA system allows you to dial forward to tighten and dial back to loosen. Every click is .25mm, allowing you to perfectly dial in where you like to be. Additionally, there is a stronger cable (550lb breaking force!) that connects directly to the dial. The new system is durable, and BOA offers a lifetime warranty on the system. With no rivets and the same system across all boot models, replacing the system is a boot fitter’s dream. While BOA offers more adjustment, it is still best to get the best fit right out of the gate.

In conclusion, the BOA system offers a unique and customizable fit that traditional buckles cannot achieve, making it a game-changer for skiers with wider feet or higher insteps. However, the bulky dial on the boot shell and the lack of individual zones may be a turnoff for some skiers. Ultimately, whether BOA technology is of interest to you and adds value to your skiing experience is a personal decision.

Ski Boot Type Price Range Strengths Weaknesses Suggested for
Traditional $200 - $600 Durable, supportive, great for aggressive skiing Can be uncomfortable, difficult to adjust, limited range of motion Advanced skiers
Rear-Entry $100 - $300 Easy to put on and take off, comfortable Limited support and customization, not ideal for aggressive skiing Beginner to intermediate skiers
Full Tilt $500 - $800 Customizable, lightweight, great for freestyle skiing Can be expensive, may lack durability Freestyle skiers
Boa System $300 - $800 Easy to adjust, comfortable, great for quick adjustments May not provide enough support for aggressive skiing, can be expensive Beginner to intermediate skiers, those who value convenience and comfort

A fun fact about the BOA system

the inspiration for the BOA dial actually came from the founder's backyard clothesline. While trying to come up with a better way to tighten his snowboard boots, Gary Hammerslag noticed how the clothesline tightener worked and thought it might be a solution for snowboard boots. He experimented with different materials and designs until he came up with the BOA dial we know today.