The Boa system, feared by many, embraced by many more, is quickly gaining traction as a viable alternative to laces in the snowboard boot world. The latest iteration, the Focus Boa, follows the precedent laid by Burton’s speed lace system and enables the rider to tighten the top and bottom zones of the boot independently of one another; a great option for those with gorilla feet and pinner calves or vice versa.
First off, these boots are really freakin’ stiff. However after 15 plus days on these boots in both resort and backcountry settings, the flex has mellowed out just a touch and is pretty much spot on (in my humble opinion). Definitely not a boot for park rats or rail jockeys; these things are hard chargin’ and happy when going fast, but they’re also super light and surprisingly comfortable.
My first few days on these boots were a little rough—the stiffness made my board feel hyper-responsive and twitchy. But as they began to break in I started to find the sweet spot and have been digging the added response. I find myself going way faster than I usually would through chunder and tracked up snow, due to the increased stability I’m getting from these boots. Sure, there’s some sacrifice for board feel, but depending upon your riding preferences, it’s well worth it.
The Insanos come stock with an Intuition heat moldable liner, allowing for a custom fit right out of the box (more or less—the molding process takes about 30 minutes). Pretty sweet. I have pretty messed up feet and these boots have somehow enabled me to ride all but discomfort free every day…with one small exception: a mystery pressure point on both of my inside ankle bones that has been consistent and worsening, despite my best efforts to trim out any material that could potentially be causing this problem. And it really sucks because these are hands down the most comfortable boots I have ever owned, which speaks volumes given how stiff these suckers are. After several surgeries on the liner, the inner cuff and some random mystery material that binds the tongue to the shell, I’m still left with aching bones at the end of each session.
This boot is probably best fit to a person with a higher volume foot and calf. I have neither and find myself tightening both the upper and lower zones for the first few runs of each day. And despite my complete confidence in the Boa system, there are certain issues that do bug me a bit, such as the aforementioned need to tighten for the first few hours as the Boa settles into place. Part of me wonders if it’s not the plastic sleeve that the Boa runs through that’s causing my mystery ankle pain too.
Bottom line, if you’re looking to drop some semi-serious coin on boots this year ($300) and want a hard-charging boot with tons of response, the Insanos are it.