Scott Elite Boa Shoes
The search for the perfect clipless bikepacking shoes might just stop at Scott’s Elite Boa…
It’s tough to find shoes that fill all the needs of a bikepacker. For starters, they have to be sturdy enough for rugged multi-day abuse, yet remain comfortable during all day pedaling affairs. If they are destined for the backcountry, you need shoes with tenacious lugged tread for those unavoidably loose hike-a-bikes. Ideally, they should be comfy enough for shuffling around camp too. We’ve tried a plenty of options from Lake, Shimano, Five Ten, etc. Some are better than others for each of these tasks, and some wear out rather quickly. Others just don’t have the proper fit and when pushed to hiking, they cause heel rub and blistering.
Honestly, until Scott Sports sent their Elite Boa for testing, I’d never personally owned a Scott product, save a pair of ski goggles back in the 90s. I wasn’t actually familiar with their shoes at all. It turns out they have almost a dozen models in their footwear lineup. But even so, I certainly wouldn’t have suspected these particular shoes to tick all the boxes. Given their name, weight and general appearance I expected the Elite Boa to be a stiff, racing or cross-country shoe. However, I was quite surprised. After spending a few months with them, here are some thoughts.
The first time this pair saw dirt was on a three day bikepacking trip. Pretty stupid. If I was smart I’d have allowed time for the shoes to break-in period prior to taking them out on a trip with big mileage days. When I made the decision to risk it, a few fears came to mind. There would be some hike-a-bike on this trip so heel slippage was a concern. But out of the box they fit really well, so that eased my mind. In the end, I had no problems whatsoever, in fact they are probably one of the best clipless hike-a-bike shoes I’ve ever used, right out of the box even. Ultimately, these shoes have been on multi-hour big and steep hikes, with no heel issues at all. The sole is fairly flexible; not too flexible, but just about right, unless you are prone to foot pain, I might guess. The tread is pretty aggressive as well, so hiking up rocky bits is no problem. It also helps that the channel for the SPD is fairly deep and keeps the cleat from grinding away, another problem I had with various shoes.
The Boa ratcheting system uses a dial that controls the single woven steel lace. The lace is routed through three additional semicircle control points which allows the torsion and fit to be controlled fluidly with a single dial. The lace tension is added by turning the dial clockwise in incremental steps; conversely, it’s quickly released by pulling out the dial. The single dial and fluid control comes in especially handy for fine tuning while riding. And surprisingly, the cable routing creates a uniform feel when tightened.
Given that this pair has seen only the spring and summer — granted heavy use for that period — it’s difficult to gauge their performance in colder weather. The upper is made from microfiber and 3d mesh nylon fabrics, which I would presume may leave the toes a little cold in the shoulder seasons. However, after river crossings and downpours they do seem to dry rather well.
- Price: $139.95
- Weight (US 8.5): 370 grapes per shoe
- Place of Manufacture: Vietnam
- Contact: Scott-sports.com
If I had one complaint about the Scott Elite Boa, it would be in the fit department, even though they fit perfectly. After a full season of rugged use and the shoes have fully broken in, the front velcro strap is completely pulled as tight as it allows; right now it’s a non-issue, but I could see this loosening further over time. Overall, I can honestly say that the Scott Elite Boa is best clipless shoe I’ve had to date. The combination of a not too stiff insole with a comfy upper and rugged sticky rubber outsole makes a perfect blend of performance and plush. The shoe has proven durable as well. While most of the photos above were taken after only a couple of months of use, I can say that their current condition is not too different.
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