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Are motocross boots overkill for your adventure?

The short answer is, yes. The long answer is, opinions may vary.

Chances are if you disagree with me, you are a more hard-core rider than I am. I ride big-bore BMWs off-road in rocky terrain, in the mud and sand when I have to, and on forest service roads that get me away from the main highway. But I leave demanding single-track and boulder hopping to the lighter bikes and the skilled riders who can maneuver a heavy, big cc motorcycle in technical terrain like it was an extension of their limbs. It’s just not my style of riding, although I am constantly impressed by those whose it is.

Still, I wanted to give motocross boots a try because of their protection. I see a lot of adventurers wearing hard-core boots, so I wanted to see what it was all about. It was an expensive lesson in what works and what I am comfortable in.

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Six months ago I bought a pair of Gaerne SG-10s, based upon great reviews and that claimed “best comfort” for a motocross boot. While the latter proved to be true, more so what I found was that motocross style boots are too bulky for my kind of riding. They’re heavier weight than the “adventure style boots” that have hit the market in the past few years. When comparing 5 pounds per boot to 2.5 pounds per boot, it might not seem like a lot, but after a few hours of wear your feet may beg to differ. Luckily the options for motorcycle footwear are growing and manufacturers are listening to new demands. Every year, new adventure boots hit the market, whether they are original designs or re-vamping old styles with new and lighter materials.

One may argue that the protection is worth the weight. I would not disagree with them unless it hindered performance. For me, it did. More than once I found myself floundering for the gear shifter, or not able to move my feet in time away from a falling bike. When I ride, I like to feel the dexterity of my feet while shifting and have the agility to move out of the way of a 500lb motorcycle plunging toward the ground (which has been known to happen on occasion). Maybe with more time I could learn to work with them, but six months is long enough to decide whether I like it or not.

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While the Gaerne’s were comfortable for a motocross style boot, they are a stiff boot and they leave a lot to be desired when walking for any length of distance. If I know I am going to do anything off the bike, then I bring my Sidi On-Roads. Age and use have made the leather of those boots soft and the soles worn down, and thus the most comfortable pair of boots I own. Unfortunately, there is little protection and waning life left in them and would not consider them for long distance or long duration travel.

140615_Panama_4078The final deterrent for me considering taking a pair of motocross boots: they are not waterproof. Unless you are solely riding in the Atacama Desert, which receives less than 0.5” of rainfall each year, you are bound to encounter rain or river crossings. Where I live in Central America receives an annual average rainfall of 75” per year, so I must take this into consideration. Riding in wet gear is not nearly as bothersome as riding in wet boots. Soggy socks and clammy feet are so uncomfortable that I tear off my boots and drain my socks as soon as I get to a stopping point. There are alternatives such as Gore-Tex socks, but they don’t help the squish of a wet insole when you step down on it. That and the smell of wet Gore-Tex after a few days of use can get a little strong.

Although motocross boots did not work for me the way I expected, I would still use them for skills practice (I hope to one-day ride a big bike on single track, but that is many lessons away) and day rides when I know I will be on the bike the majority of the time. But if I am going to explore off the bike, I do not even consider taking them. I want a comfortable pair of boots with good protection. Is that too much to ask? It might be so, since I am still on the search for the perfect pair of boots for my motorcycle adventure.

5 Comments

  • John Barnette on Nov 26, 2015 Reply

    Hello Alison,
    I’m enjoying your travels.
    What a life you’re creating!
    I’d like to make a boot suggestion.
    Danner Boots out of Oregon make an amazing boot called the Fort Lewis.
    Quality leather. Gortex lined. Thinsulate lined. Truly waterproof. I stood in an icy creek for an hour years ago when I was working on a commercial and my feet stayed dry and warm. They are tall enough (just below the calf) to provide protection from trail debris and critters. They are every day comfortable. After they break in they fit like your favorite gloves. Somehow, even with the Thinsulate they stay cool enough for all but triple digit days-
    I wear them every time I ride unless it’s a pure Off-Road day on my Husaberg 570. For that I wear my Sidi Crossfires. Also amazing quality boots. But just for riding.
    I wear my Danner’s for everything else motorcycling. When I have no idea what the route is and what I might encounter, I choose them. Absolutely ideal for Adventuring.
    Great protection but with the ability to walk and hike in total comfort. And not look like a storm trooper when away from the bike!
    Mine saved my foot when a car backed out of a blind driveway and t-boned me. The steel shank under foot was bent left to right, but absorbed all the energy that would have certainly crushed my foot.
    I sent them to Danner so they could see how well they held up in this extreme situation.
    Danner offers a rebuilding/resole service. I figured after the boots saved my foot, I owed it to them to rebuild and save them if it could be done.
    They came back good as new! New soles, new steel shanks, all seams restiched.
    Best of all they still fit my feet like gloves. All my years of care and feeding that resulted in the amazing fit and feel of them was intact.
    The bent shank is displayed on the workbench of the Craftsman that rebuilt them.
    Nobody at Danner had ever seen a shank bent that way!
    Have a look at their website. Great boots are one of life’s simple pleasures.
    I hope to live long enough to require ANOTHER rebuild of these perfect boots again, someday well down the trail…
    Keep adventuring. Your stories and photos are excellent.

    Best,
    John

    • Alison DeLapp on Nov 26, 2015 Reply

      Thanks for the recommendation John! I’ll look into those. Sounds like you have put a lot of miles on your boots! Congrats for getting out there as often as you do and putting them through the ringer. Since I posted the article, I bought a pair of Forma Adventures and they are super comfortable. Not sure about the protection just yet, but great for riding and walking around off the bike. I’ll do a review on them eventually. Cheers and happy adventuring!

    • John Barnette on Nov 26, 2015 Reply

      Hey Alison,
      The Forma Adventures look great!
      Thanks for pointing me in their direction.
      They may be the perfect compromise between full Moto boot protection and the walk ability of a hiking boot.
      I look forward to your review.

      Best,
      John

  • Vosperd Ruiter on Jul 26, 2015 Reply

    I agree with you- MX boots would be too heavy for me too. I just did a tour in Botswana and Namibia with my wife on our 1150 GS. And I did this tour wearing my Wolverine Fortis Hiking boots…

    • Alison DeLapp on Jul 27, 2015 Reply

      I have met quite a few adventure riders wearing hiking boots on big trips and it seems to work well for them. I keep looking for a boot that is as comfortable to walk around in off the bike since that is a big part of adventure too. Recently I bought a pair of Forma’s Adventure boots and so far so good. Might be my next pair. Have to use and abuse them a bit first!

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