It is no secret that I’m a big fan of the Boa Fit System. What started as a way to more securely and easily lace up a pair of snowboard boots has evolved into the best all-around option for keeping your shoes securely connected to your feet.
Forget about those old, out of date, and problematic traditional laces, as the Boa system is simply faster, more efficient, and better in every way. So much so that over the years, the Fit System has evolved and is now found in running and cycling shoes, hiking and mountaineering boots, and an array of other products.
I’ve recently had the pleasure of running in a new pair of trail shoes from New Balance called the Hierro Boa that implements the lacing system in some innovative ways. Taking cues from the cycling world, the Hierro integrates not just one Boa dial but two—giving users even more fine control over the shoe’s fit and allowing them to customize it exactly to their own preferences.
One of the dials sits higher on the shoe and allows the wearer to adjust the fit around the ankle and over the foot’s top. The second dial sits a bit lower and provides control over how the shoe conforms along the side of the foot and in the toe box.
When used in conjunction with one another, runners gain much more granular control over how the shoes feel on their feet. And since the Boa system is so quick and easy to adjust, you can make changes mid-run without missing much of a beat.
As noted, this dual-dial system is new to running shoes but has been around in the cycling industry for some time. In that sport, riders can even twist the dial in the opposite direction to loosen up the laces, all without having to even get off the bike—provided they’re skilled enough to reach down and adjust on the fly.
New Balance didn’t utilize the bi-direction dial option with the Hierro, still requiring runners to pop up on the dial and release the laces altogether before making their changes. Still, the entire process takes just a couple of seconds and is far faster than messing with standard laces.
Plus, you have the added benefit of once you have your exact fit set, and you click the dial back into place, everything stays exactly the way you set it. No more having your laces come undone or having the shoe loosen up as you run.
Clearly, the Boa integration on the Hierro is top-notch, but how is it a running shoe on its own? As is typical with New Balance, you’ll find a high-quality, well-built shoe here that feels stable on foot and provides great traction on the trail.
The plush cushioning found on the midsole protects the feet, ankles, knees, and legs from the repetitive impact of a run, helping to keep you feeling fresher and less fatigued as a result.
The shoes’ fabrics are also breathable and wicking, helping to keep your feet nice and dry, although it should be pointed out that there isn’t any kind of waterproof lining here, so keep that in mind on rainy runs or stream crossings.
A built-in sock gaiter is a nice touch and keeps dirt and debris from reaching the shoe’s inside, where it can irritate the foot.
The New Balance Hierro Boa has been my spring training shoe this season, and I’ve logged many miles in it. I’ve found it extremely comfortable to wear, with the Boa laces getting much of the credit for that.
The sock gaiter took a bit of getting used to at first, as out of the box, it was kind of tight, which made it difficult to get the shoe on and off. Over time though, it loosened up some, making that less of an issue.
Of course, your mileage may vary some in the comfort department, as everyone’s feet are different, and what feels good on mine may not feel as nice on yours. This is especially true of running shoes, where personal preference plays a major role.
That said, I’m fairly confident that the Hierro Boa will accommodate most runner’s needs nicely.
Out on the trail, the shoe feels great on your foot, providing confidence and control with every step. The Vibram outsole grips the ground nicely, even in wet, slippery conditions. Throughout my several weeks of running in this shoe, we experienced a lot of rain where I live.
The Hierro didn’t seem to mind much at all, running through mud, dirt, and sand, as well as up and down rocky hills, without missing a beat. They even performed well on the road runs, too, although unsurprisingly, they felt heavier and less nimble in that environment.
All told, I probably put somewhere in the neighborhood of about 250+ miles (402 km) on these shoes in preparing for this review. That’s plenty of time to test a shoe and more mileage than I typically do before writing up my thoughts. In fact, a good friend and running partner even remarked that he had never seen me use the same pair of shoes for so long.
That stems from my reluctance to move on to something else, as New Balance has created a real winner here. The level of control over fit is fantastic, and Hierro’s trail performance is excellent too.
In other words, it’s exactly what you want from a running shoe, including being durable and rugged enough to survive lots of punishment. As a retire this shoe to the back of my closet, it still looks brand new and ready to go, even if the level of cushioning has begun to fade.
Having completed my Hierro Boa testing and moved on to a new running shoe recently, I’m already missing this one. On my first run in the pair, my laces came undone about halfway through a six-mile workout.
The level of annoyance that I felt for having to stop and retie those laces was far higher than it deserved to be. But the Boa Fit System has spoiled me for other alternatives, and I now find it tedious to have to deal with “regular old” laces instead.
It’s something I’ll get used to again, of course, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.
Find out more about the New Balance Hierro Boa here.
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