There’s nothing quite like the pleasure of slipping your feet into a new pair of motorcycle boots. The leather is supple and fresh, the lining plush and pong free, and there isn’t a spec of dirt on them.
Make the right purchase and your feet will stay warm, dry, comfortable and protected for thousands of joyous miles of riding. However, get it wrong and new boots can quickly turn into something more akin to medieval torture devices, squeezing and rubbing your feet painfully, and exposing them to the elements.
In this test we focused on touring boots. This type of footwear is fantastic for covering long distances, weekend rides and commuting. You may even stray down the odd green lane once in a while wearing them, although touring boots, unlike adventure boots, are predominantly designed for road use.
So, without further ado, here are eight of the best touring boots available to buy now.
Daytona Road Star GTX – £419.99
The Road Star GTX sits close to top of the food chain in the touring boot world. Handmade in Germany, it oozes quality straight out of the box. This should come as no surprise from a manufacturer that takes six to eight weeks to make a pair of boots.
At £419.99, it’s the most expensive boot in our test, but there’s a reason it has proved so popular with riders over the years. If you’re willing to splash the cash, you’ll be buying into thousands of miles of comfort and protection on the road, backed-up by a two-year Gore-Tex waterproofing warranty and a one-year manufacturer warranty.
Talking of waterproofing, the Road Star GTX passed our test with flying colours, with the inside of the boot remaining completely dry. This is thanks to the hydrophobic cowhide and Gore-Tex membrane used to make the boot, as well as the high-quality finish that left no room for water to seep through seams or zips.
Safety comes in the form of plastic ankle and shin protectors along with a solid heel cup and toe box. There is a steel rod running the length off the boot, as well as a plastic reinforced inner sole. This allows enough flexibility to feel comfortable walking around off the bike, while providing enough rigidity to reassure me the boot would perform in the event of an accident.
The two-zip fastening system ensures the boot is easy to slip on and off and features a nice chunky zip which can be gripped with even the thickest of winter gloves.
This is an extremely comfortable boot with a plush inner liner that helps keep your feet warm on cold days. It also features a suede cuff at the top for added comfort. It’s a nice touch and reflects the high-end nature of the boot. Adjustability at the calf means you can tailor the fit around your leg.
A non-slip rubber sole felt solid on the foot pegs and offered enough grip to feel confident walking around in the rain.
Much like many of the boots in this test, there is nothing flashy about the Road Star GTX. It simply looks like a high-quality item, from the neat stitching around the subtle gear shifter pad, to the textile reinforcement around the heel for added abrasion resistance.
In a line: Long distance comfort and protection – top quality at a price to match.
REV’IT! Gravel OutDry £189.99
REV’IT! has a knack of making stylishly desirable motorcycle gear that performs to a high standard. With the Gravel OutDry, the Dutch manufacturer continues this trend with a boot that feels good, although its looks are an acquired taste. It’s not quite my style but I’m sure there are others out there who will like it.
Slipping it on for the first time, it’s immediately obvious that this boot means business. It’s one of the most rigid pieces of footwear in this test, offering good levels of protection.
The Gravel OutDry features a shin guard, ankle guard, heel cup and toe box – areas that are reinforced for added protection. The boot is made from full-grain cowhide leather and suede, with a laminated OutDry waterproof layer bonded to the outer fabric. This stops water getting in and in fact, the Gravel OutDry passed our waterproofing test without a hitch.
I like the rubber outer sole with its chunky grip that looks similar to a walking boot. However, the rigidity of the Gravel OutDry means it isn’t the most comfortable of boots to walk any distance in. If you spend a lot of time on foot during your motorcycle adventures, this may not be the boot for you.
Inside, the lining isn’t the thickest on test but feels comfortable and REV’IT! has also added a mesh liner around the top of the boot to wick away sweat for added comfort.
Perhaps due to the stiffness of the boot, it isn’t the easiest to slip on or off. It was good to see a big, chunky zip at the side opening, but alongside this is a huge amount of Velcro running the length of the boot. It feels secure when closed, but it is noisy to rip open and I fear in time it could get clogged up with mud and crud.
Despite this, there’s no doubting the Gravel OutDry is a well-made piece of quality footwear at a competitive price, that is styled differently to much of the competition.
In a line: Protective multi-season boot at a good price.
SIDI Aria Gore £219.99
Not all of us ride throughout the winter in the UK, which means we don’t all necessarily need a touring boot that will keep our feet warm during ice, snow and plummeting temperatures.
The SIDI Aria Gore, much like the TCX boot in this test, is a three-season boot aimed at bikers who ride in spring, summer and autumn. It will particularly appeal to those who need a cooler boot for riding in hotter temperatures, but who still need the versatility waterproof footwear brings.
It may come as no surprise then that Italian designed SIDI and TCX boots are very similar in design and features. I find the SIDI more comfortable to wear because it is wider at the bridge of my foot, but apart from that it’s hard to differentiate the two.
With an eye on warmer weather, SIDI has foregone the usual full leather construction, which is the norm for touring boots. Instead it has opted for an abrasion resistant Cordura.
The Cordura shell is accompanied by TPU plastic and Technomicro (a kind of synthetic leather) which provides protection at the heel, toe, ankles and shin. However, the shin and ankle protection do not feel quite as solid as some of the other boots on this test. The Aria Gore uses a simple zip and Velcro combination which makes it easy to slip on and off.
SIDI has built a strong reputation for producing top quality motorcycle footwear and the Aria Gore continues that tradition. It is quite a stiff boot which I personally like, but it will take a bit of time breaking in off the bike. That stiffness does bring a reassuring tough feel to the boot though.
With the SIDI being so similar to the TCX in both performance and design, your choice between the two, if you’re looking for a lighter weight touring boot, will inevitably come down to which one fits your foot shape better.
In a line: High quality three-season boot, ideal for warmer weather.
TCX Air tech Gore-Tex £209.99
If you’re lucky enough to spend much of your time riding in hot weather, then the TCX Air Tech GTX could be for you. Similar to the SIDI Aria Gore, it doesn’t use leather as its main construction material, instead it relies on an abrasion resistant Cordura which provides better breathability than a full leather boot.
This will help the boot remain cooler when the temperature rises, but it won’t keep you as comfortable in colder weather. However, as a three-season (spring, summer, and autumn) boot, I’ve no doubt it will perform well. It also easily passed our waterproofness test.
The Air Tech Gore-Tex is relatively stiff in its construction but flexible enough to be comfortable walking around off the bike. It actually felt like one of the lightest boots to wear on test. However, it is rather narrow across the bridge of the foot so you may want to try a size up.
There is protection at the ankle, heel, toe and shin, with the boot feeling solid enough to give you confidence it would protect you in the event of an off.
Like the REV’IT! boot in this test, there is a lot of Velcro running the length of the Air Tech Gore-Tex, which over time may get clogged with road crud, but it is a solid enough fastening, accompanied by a zip with storm flap.
The outer sole is probably the smoothest on test, which may prove slippery on mud, but it should prove grippy enough on the black top.
In a line: Designed to keep your feet cool when the temperature rises.
Icon Patrol 2 – £168
At first glance, your eye can’t help but be drawn to the Boa closure system on the Icon Patrol 2. Instead of traditional laces, zips, or Velcro, under the Boa system you turn a dial to tighten the laces.
If you haven’t used a Boa closure before, it may seem an over-engineered solution to a problem that didn’t need solving. I mean, what’s wrong with a good old-fashioned shoelace? However, once you start using a Boa, you quickly get used to its ease and simplicity of use. Tying a shoelace soon becomes a bothersome chore, sort of.
The Icon Patrol 2 is one of two ankle boots in this test. This means it inevitably compromises on safety because it covers less of your leg and doesn’t have any shin protection. But don’t let this put you off. The Icon Patrol 2 is a cracking little boot. It looks stylish and could easily be mistaken for everyday footwear. This is thanks to its simplicity of design, a coated leather outer, and the use of slimline D30 armour ankle inserts which blend in with the boot.
It’s comfortable to wear on and off the bike, thanks to a padded inner liner which wicks moisture away to help you stay cool and comfortable and it passed the ABR waterproof test with ease.
Instead of a gear shift pad, Icon has used a nine-dot system. I like to see manufacturers trying different things, but this didn’t quite work for me. I felt the gear shifter digging into my foot and I imagine it would only be a matter of time before it damages the boot.
The Icon Patrol 2 is an innovative and good quality product utilising technology to do something a little different. It will no doubt appeal to the urban rider and commuter, but it could also be a solution for the motorcycle tourer riding in hotter climates who doesn’t want a full-length boot.
In a line: Tech-stuffed ankle boot, shame about the lack of shift pad.
Forma Jasper OutDry – £179.99
Forma has been building a reputation for producing quality motorcycle footwear at a reasonable price since it was formed in 1999. Perhaps its most notable success has been the excellent Forma Adventure, which continues to see riders raving about its good looks and performance.
The Jasper isn’t quite as striking in the looks department, but it’s a nicely styled boot that doesn’t look out of place next to more expensive rivals. It feels like a quality piece of footwear with neat double-stitched seams and a tidy seal between sole and full-grain leather outer.
The Jasper features shin, heel, toe and ankle protection and the boot feels reassuringly stiff enough to provide good protection if the worst happens. The boots are easy to slip on and off, featuring a simple but effective zip and Velcro opening. A padded inner liner makes your feet feel nice and cosy, although the stiffness of the leather means these aren’t the most comfortable of boots to walk around in. I imagine this would improve once they have been fully broken in.
Apart from this, it’s difficult to find fault with the Forma Jasper and I have no doubts about its all-day comfort on the bike.
It also features an OutDry breathable waterproof membrane which helped the boot sail through our waterproofness test.
The fact you can buy such a stylish and competent waterproof touring boot at a penny under £180 is testament to the Forma brand which continues to go from strength to strength.
In a line: Good value all-round touring boot.
Alpinestars Caracal Gore-Tex boot £269.99
The Caracal is a sleek and stylish full leather boot in all black. Personally, I’m not a fan of shouty logos emblazoned across my bike gear, so I was pleased to see Alpinestars opt for a subtle approach on the Caracal.
This is a quality piece of footwear, from its double-stitched seams to its Gore-Tex waterproof liner. They’re flexible enough to make walking around in them an enjoyable experience while feeling rigid enough to reassure that they would offer my feet suitable protection in an accident.
When I slipped the boot on, it immediately felt narrower across the bridge of the foot than some of its rivals. This is something I’ve come to expect from Italian designed footwear and I’d recommend trying on a size larger than usual to see if this fits better. Once on, the Caracal feels snug and comfy, aided by a soft inner lining. It’s a close fit, but not an uncomfortable one. There is some adjustability in the rear calf flap.
Waterproofing comes in the form of a Gore-Tex membrane which proved watertight when we plunged the boot into water. Protection is provided by a shin guard, heel cup, toe box and double density ankle protectors, along with the abrasion resistant leather used to construct the boot. All feel robust and up to job of protecting your feet from crushing and abrasion if you find yourself sliding down the road.
I’ve worn Alpinestars touring boots in all weathers over the past few years and they have never let me down. They also kept my feet in one piece when I recently had a nasty motorbike accident. I’ve no reason to think the Caracal Gore-Tex boot will be any different.
In a line: Classy-looking touring boot – try a size up.
BMW Pro-Touring 2 – £265
My daily ride isn’t a BMW motorcycle, which is probably why I’ve never considered buying the German manufacturer’s clothing. There is no logical reason for this other than I would personally feel a bit odd sporting a big BMW logo while riding my Triumph.
The Pro-Touring 2 may well have just changed my mind. For a start, the logo is so subtly placed on a Velcro flap that you could easily miss it. In fact, this is an incredibly classy looking piece of footwear all-round, more akin to a horse riding boot in style.
It also feels well made, without a single untidy seam or join in sight. The protective heel cup, toe box, ankle and shin guards feel substantial but are subtly integrated into the design so as not to ruin the stylish simplicity of the boot.
It is constructed from hydrophobic, full-grain, soft cowhide leather, with a bonded Gore-Tex membrane. The result is a smooth, quality finish, that is fully waterproof – it passed the ABR test with ease.
The Pro-Touring 2 slips onto your foot with ease and immediately feels comfortable, thanks in part to the soft velour lining. Unusually, the single zip and Velcro opening is on the outside of the boot rather than the inside.
The boot has quite a pronounced heel on the rubber-treaded sole which felt fine on the foot pegs and didn’t hinder movement when changing gear. BMW says the sole is oil and fuel resistant. While, we didn’t create an oil spill for this test, it felt grippy on the road and on the pegs.
The boot’s soft-leather construction makes it a pleasure to wear and I would quite happily ride for days on end, or spend an afternoon sightseeing on foot, while wearing the BMW Pro-Touring 2 boot. Now I just need to save up for that 1250 GS to go with it.
In a line: Quality BMW branded boot that oozes style.