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Author: Bryn Davies

There’s a huge variety of adventure motorcycle boots on the market, and when it comes to choosing which one is best for you, it’s often a lot easier said than done. However, with a few key considerations, you’ll be able to make the decision a whole lot easier.

When it comes to buying adventure motorcycle boots and you’re standing in the store with a sales rep explaining why this one is better than that, there is one crucial factor to consider above all else. And that is how they fit your feet. Everyone’s feet are different in terms of shape and size, and there’s no one-size-fits-all option. As well as that, most manufacturer sizing will differ depending on where they are in the world and the type of last they use. For example, Northern European manufacturers tend to make wider fitting boots than Southern Europeans.

With this in mind, when you are deciding on an adventure boot, the best way to do it is to make a list of all of the features that you consider essential. Once you’ve got that, try on each boot that meets that criteria, then buy the one that’s the most comfortable. Trust me, when you’ve spent nine hours in the saddle in ill-fitting boots, you’ll wish you heeded this advice.

Adventure boots in action

So, what features do you need to look for? Well, it depends on the type of riding you’re going to be doing. Adventure biking today typically encompasses two main styles. There’s the on-road tourer who does big miles in the day and likes to see the sights along the way on foot. Then there’s the adventure rider who seeks out the dirt. The one who dabbles in the dark art of green laning or enjoys bog snorkling in the Congo. These two riding styles require their boots to have different qualities.

First of all, you’re going to have to consider how much protection you’re going to need. Obviously, all motorcycle boots should offer protection of some form in the event of an accident, but adventure boots that are ready to tackle the trails should go over and above that. Typically, you’ll see this in a stiffer sole, more rigid ankle and a beefier shin guard. They’ll be hard to bend, will protect your ankle from rolling on uneven terrain, and offer good protection if you drop your bike on your leg.

The tradeoff for this, however, is that these chunky, stiff boots tend to be less comfortable than lighter, softer and usually more road-biased adventure touring boots. This is where you’ll have to decide what’s more important to you – top protection, or all-day riding and walking comfort?

adventure motorcycle boots

Secondly, should your boots be waterproof? It might sound like a silly question, but if your plans involve lots of river crossings, deep puddles or riding in countries where it’s incredibly warm and dry, you’ll probably get on better without the inclusion of a waterproof lining. A waterproof membrane, for example Gore-Tex, will stop water coming in, but it also stops it from escaping. So, if liquid ingresses over the lip of the boot, it’s going to stay there ‘till you shake it out.

Similarly, waterproof membranes make motorcycle boots noticeably warmer, no matter how ‘breathable’ they claim to be. In my experience, if you’re going to be riding on tarmac, make sure your boots are well waterproofed (unless you’re in a country where rain is unlikely).

Whether you prefer buckles or a zipped calf opening, the type of padding used within and, of course, the looks and styling of a boot are all personal preference.

How to buy motorcycle boots

Sidi Adventure 2 Review

Gravity dictates that your feet swell during the day, more so on hot days, and in some cases they can swell by over one shoe size, though half a size is more common. It’s best, then, to go shopping for bike boots in the afternoon rather than the morning. It’s also advisable to bring along the type of socks you usually wear when riding.

When choosing a boot, go by fit rather than size on the box. Take time to stand up and walk around the shop, and if they have a bike in store, see if you can try them in situ so that you can get a feel for the controls.

Anatomy of a motorcycle boot

Adventure bike boot

1. Height ­

The higher the boot the heavier and, generally speaking, the more uncomfortable it’s going to be. On the flip side, high-rising boots offer a lot more protection to the shins from flying debris and, providing the waterproof lining extends up the wall of the boot, you’ll be able to go paddling in deeper bogs and puddles without getting your feet wet.

2. Shin guards and ankle inserts ­

These will provide support and protection against impacts from flying debris, or if you fall and the bike lands on you. The more protection your boot has, the less comfortable it’s going to be, but it’s important to find the golden middle ground for the type of riding you’re going to be doing.

3. Clasps/buckles ­

Adjustable, quick-release clasps can be a godsend when they’re well built, or a frustrating pain in the arse if their quality lets them down. Should be easy to secure, and positioned so as not to dig in.

4. Heel cup ­

The heel cup, essentially, is a piece of moulded plastic that has been placed between the inner and outer of the boot. Its job is to keep the foot in place and prevent it from lifting when walking. If it fails to do this then you can expect an increased likelihood of blisters when walking, and a decrease in control when on the bike.

5. Cushioning ­

Most boots will feature a layer of EVA or Polyurethane between the sole and footbed to provide additional shock absorption and help cut out vibrations from the bike. You’ll also find extra padding and cushioning through the ankles to provide extra comfort.

6. Midsole ­

The lateral stiffness and flexibility of a boot is determined by the type of midsole used in construction. Sandwiched between the footbed and sole unit, the more flexible the midsole, the more comfortable the boot is in use. However, if you’re paddling over uneven terrain, or if you have an accident, a stiffer boot will provide better protection from twists.

You can test the flexibility of a motorcycle boot yourself by taking hold of the heel and toe and twisting it in opposite directions. A stiffer midsole won’t budge.

7. Sole ­

A deeper, more aggressive tread is best if you intend on doing any off-roading, and essential when taking on any snow or mud. Equally, a smoother tread is better for riding on the road, as there will be a larger surface area in contact with the tarmac. Consider the sole of your boots as if they’re tyres on a bike. If you’re predominantly riding on road, you wouldn’t put knobblies on your wheels, and vice-versa. The sole can be glued or stitched to the upper, and a combination of both is ideal.

8. Gear shifter pads ­

Most motorcycle boots will have these, and for good reason. They serve to protect the leather of your footwear from abrasion caused by the gear lever during up-shifts. They should be placed in the correct position so that they sit underneath the gear lever in use, and equally, don’t dig into the top of your foot when you walk.

9. Toe box ­

Most motorcycle boots will have these, and for good reason. They serve to protect the leather of your footwear from abrasion caused by the gear lever during up-shifts. They should be placed in the correct position so that they sit underneath the gear lever in use, and equally, don’t dig into the top of your foot when you walk.