Pros and Cons of BOA Laces

Fly fishing boots are in the middle of something like a revolution. For two hundred years, the biggest advancement the humble boot made was from a rubber sole to a felt one. Most boots were made of leather or a synthetic substitute, right up to about 1999. All of a sudden, the changes that took hiking by storm in the 1980s (lighter cloth, engineered flex points, a return to certain kinds of rubber soles) hit the wading boot market.
korkerspredator.jpgRecently the Korkers company became the first fly-fishing manufacturer to stick the BOA lacing system on a wading boot, specifically the ‘Predator’ model. The BOA system was designed as a snowboard binding. It consists of a very small metal wire which takes the place of laces. To tighten, you twist a cylindrical hub (kind of like a capstan for you sailing types). Because the wire runs through small tubes instead of grommets or eyelets, tightening the “laces” applies even pressure across the whole binding instead of pinching over your mid-foot.
Having field tested the BOA system, I can say that it certainly works as advertised, but it may not be enough of an improvement to make up for the hassle. The problem is, it takes longer to twist the hub (for me, around 10-12 twists on a size 10 Predator) than it does to tie shoelaces. While the binding is comfortable once it’s tightened, I’m not sure it’s an improvement over well-fitted laces. On the other hand, the system has one huge advantage: at the end of the day, you push a button and the hub releases; the whole boot opens like a snowboard boot. That means you can avoid the indignity of the one-footed hop trying to yank off a wet wading boot. You can also avoid trying to tie wet, frozen laces in winter-time; in fact, you don’t even need to take off your gloves to work the hub and tighten everything up.
Moreover, fitting boots is notoriously difficult. I didn’t notice much difference in fit between the Predator and a laced boot, but my wife, Lauren, really preferred the Korkers and swore they were more comfortable.
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  • As an employee of Korkers and a fan of Boa, I just wanted to point out a few benefits that you did not mention in your review. While I agree that you need to turn the dial several times, it is a one handed adjustment…meaning you can do both boots at the same time. This cuts the lace up time in half and is faster than tying two sets of traditional laces. It also gives you the ability to hold your rod and tighten your boots while wading which is a nice feature because boots tend to loosen when wet.
    Maybe I’m biased….but Korkers ARE THE MOST COMFORTABLE BOOTS ON THE MARKET!!

  • Nick

    I have the Boas on a pair of North Face hiking boots
    I have to say I love them (and am dispaoonted NF no longer offer them) and wish I’d paid the extra for them on my Korkers
    Next time!

  • Richard Kula

    My son and I each have Korkers boots with Boa lacing systems and we love them. They are literally the most comfortable boots I have ever worn and I have owned many pairs. They stay comfortable even after eight or nine hours of standing on rocks.
    The ability to tighten a shoe with one had without leaving the river is a big plus. (Wading boots always need to be re-tightened once your in the water).
    When the Korkers Guide boot (w/ Boa)was introduced in 2007, I bought a pair and since, have convinced three other fishing buddies to convert to them and they all love their Korkers w/ Boa lacing.
    I liked the lacing system so much I went to the Boa site to see what other companies use the system. Just this week bought a pair of North Face hikers because they used the Boa lacing. We love these boots!