Boa began as the sparkle in the eye of a Southern California surfer and entrepreneur named Gary Hammerslag (pictured below). In the 1990s, when Hammerslag moved his family to Steamboat Springs, Colorado, he experienced firsthand the shortcomings of traditional laces on snowboard boots and hockey skates. “They don’t stay tied, they don’t give you the ability to adjust tightness, and they create pressure points,” laments Gary.
So Gary set to work on what soon became the first Boa prototypes. With a boot in hand, he visited various snowboard boot companies to see if there’d be a market for his creation.
By 2001, snowboarding powerhouse brands K2 and Vans had recognized the performance benefits of Boa, and they launched the first-ever boots featuring the system.
The validation of K2 and Vans ignited snowboard boot design. The next year, DC Snowboarding integrated the system into its boots. Soon other brands – including some in Japan, Korea, and Europe – did as well, launching Boa into a progressive orbit.
Soon, leading companies in other categories took note of Boa. By the mid 2000’s the Boa Closure System appeared on footwear in golf, cycling, trail running, to name a few categories.
Athlete successes attracted the attention of others as well. In 2006, Boa ascended the podium of the Tour de France for the first time (we did it again in 2008, with Carlos Sastre). In 2010, over 30 Tour riders chose Boa. In 2011, over 40 riders, including two-time champion Alberto Contador, rode Boa across the French countryside and over the Alps on their way to Paris.
Also in 2006, The North Face athlete and renowned endurance athlete Dean Karnazes completed 50 marathons in 50 U.S. states in 50 days wearing only Boa. After completing his remarkable feat in Central Park at the New York City Marathon, he ran 950 miles, across 1/3 of the country – again, in Boa. Dean continues to choose Boa to this day and, in 2011 ran the entre width of the United States.
Boa has continued to be a top choice of the world’s top snowboarders. K2-sponsored Gretchen Bleiler took Olympic silver in 2008 and X games gold in Boa. DC’s Travis Rice rides the DC Status boot with Boa. The Boa Snowboard Team, featuring Vans’ Eric Willett and Flow’s Brandon Reis, features some of the sport’s youngest stars rocking the Boa Closure System.
At the same time, non-athletic footwear companies began to take notice of the Boa Closure System. By 2009 Boa partnered with Bata Industrials, a leading utility and safety shoe brand in Europe. Just two years later, iconic U.S.-based work boot brand Red Wing introduced several boots with the Boa Closure System. We feel Boa’s growing popularity in this area speaks well of the system’s durability.
In the late 2000’s the potential of the Boa Closure System beyond footwear sparked the launch of several new applications of the system. Leading moto-ski-bike protection company Knox introduced the Handroid, a road racing and touring glove featuring Boa.
In 2011, Boa launched a medical division to address the growing interest by many brace companies to find a higher-performance alternative to traditional hook-and-lace closures and adjustments.
As Boa looks ahead into 2012, there is great excitement around our offices in Denver and Steamboat (Colorado), Chiba (Japan), Hong Kong, and China. We regularly receive phone calls, emails, or Facebook posts that begin, “Your system would be great on …” It seems there’s a new idea for application of the Boa Closure System every day. It’s this enthusiasm and passion for innovation that revs us up every day – and hints that we’re beginning something meaningful here.
Dare we say, the beginning of a revolution?