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Alpine, Board, Cycle / January 22, 2016

Boa Technology: How Does It Work?

Written by: Devon Balet

No Outdoor Retailer show would be complete without a visit to Boa Technology. During the four day event, the company offers free retrofitting of their cable lacing system to customers’ shoes. Have you ever wondered about this system, but never had the chance to use it? This post will help shed some light on Boa Technology and their distinctive closure system.

Founded by Gary Hammerslag in Steamboat Springs, CO in 1998, Hammerslag was tired of constantly tying his children’s ice skates and snowboard boots, and needed a solution. He decided to use stainless steels wires to replace the regular laces in boots; the technology then evolved to a reel and steel cable system. His unique lacing system made the painful task of tightening the boots a breeze and kept the footwear from coming undone during physical activities. In 2001, Vans and K2’s snowboard divisions produced Boa Technology’s first boot systems featuring the Boa laces . By 2004, the company moved into the cycling industry, then the golf industry in 2005. In 2011, Boa Technology changed the name of the Boa Lacing System to the Boa Closure System, in response to the use of Boa Technology on non-footwear items such as helmets, packs, medical braces, and other apparel. By 2012, Boa Technology was used on one third of all the snowboard boots produced globally.

With a growing market and the need to broaden their talent pool, Boa Technology relocated from Steamboat Springs to Denver, CO. Denver proved to be a perfect match with a young, athletic, and driven outdoor community. Since their move the company has undergone massive growth, gaining over 40 new employees globally in the last year alone.

I first discovered Boa Technology while working on Vail Mountain as a photographer. I was constantly battling with my boots to keep them tight, or to loosen them for extended periods of standing. The constant tying and untying made the use of Boa Technology a no-brainer. I would get on the lift, boots secure and ready to ride. Once I arrived at my shooting location, I could quickly and easily pop the turn dial free and the boots would instantly loosen. Ready to ride again, I simply pushed the dial into the locking position and cranked it down snug in a matter of 20 seconds.

The system is derived from three simple parts: a dial, lace, and guide. As the company continues to expand and develop the technology further, the individual parts have become much more specific to the use and product. But despite the growth, the system maintains its same three parts.

The dial comes in three different power systems: low, mid, and high power. The product and activity use determine which level of power is needed. The low power systems are designed to be lightweight, low profile, and highly integrated. Their capacity and power complement products that do not require significant lace tension to close, such as those found in low-cut footwear. The mid power system achieves the ideal combination of durability and closure force. Thoroughly field tested with a focus on impact protection, mid power systems are ideal for mid-cut footwear used in extreme environments. High power systems, the strongest Boa Closure System option, is reserved for the stiffest and tallest footwear applications. This system is designed to provide the highest lace tensions via the use of gears. The system also boasts the highest lace capacity, ensuring you have enough lace to get in and out of the product easily.

The second part in the Boa Closure System is the cable. Just like the dial, the cables are available in a range of power levels. The different cables are made to correlate with the dials, requiring different retention strengths. The cables are constructed differently for different applications; for example, a cable used on a fishing gator will not be nylon coated, as the nylon will take on water which will cause it to fail more quickly. Nylon coating is more typically seen in applications where there is a fair amount of dust and dirt, where the nylon acts as a protective coating allowing the cable to move more smoothly through the guides.

The standard, nylon coated steel lace is used in all of the low power reels. The steel core provides exceptional strength and flexibility, while the nylon coating provides wear-resistant characteristics for the most demanding environments. The mid power cables are compatible with their reel platforms, with special construction and coating allowing the lace to withstand the abrasion of dirty environments and thousands of hours of use. The strongest laces are paired with the high power reel systems, composed of aircraft-grade stainless steel. The steel is bundled and compressed, creating increased break strength as well as lace curl reduction. The stainless steel construction lace allows the cable to outlast the life of the boot itself in most environments.

The third and final part of the Boa Closure System are the guides. They can be simple, like the retrofit guides featured at the Outdoor Retailer show, or as complex and integrated as the guides used for specialty shoes. From hidden eye stay guides, web guides, tube guides, and tongue guides, the list keeps going.

For me, the Boa Closure System was the right choice for a quick, easy way to tighten and loosen my snowboarding boots. But what really blew me away was the quality of their customer service. One day while out in the backcountry, I postholed through the snow and the dial on my closure system was sheered off by a rock under the service. A quick call to Boa and I had a new dial and cable within days!

For all the dials produced worldwide, Boa Technology has less than a 1% failure rate. However, it’s important to note the system is designed to fail at the lace; so if the laces snap, simply call their warranty department. No questions asked, Boa will send a kit to replace the lace and dial under their “Dialed in for Life Guarantee,” as well as provide instructions on how to install it. They want to hear about failures in the field in order to work with their engineers and make their products better and stronger.

Boa Technology stands behind their product 100% and supports the outdoor lifestyle their products allow their customers to live.

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about the author

Devon Balet

Born and raised in Colorado and living in the outdoors with a bike between his legs and a camera in hand, Devon discovered mountain biking after he started working at a bike shop at age 14.

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