It’s hot. Your feet are a stinking, sweaty mess inside plastic riding boots that don’t breathe. Your girlfriend just said you smell like asiago cheese mixed with Gruyère. When you did that creek crossing last week, the boots took on a bunch of water and never dried out. Now, they’re simmering in a molding cheese stew. Time for some new boots. And this time, don’t cheap out.
We all want to save money, and the sport of ADV riding can really add up with gear, bikes, and bike modifications. You might think you can get by wearing steel-toed boots from that construction job you took last summer to save up for a new bike. Or that the leather numbers you wear while urban-riding your scrambler will do.
No, and no.
Reasons to Invest in Good ADV Riding Boots
If you’re so inclined, there are plenty of gory images online showing what happens to a foot not properly encased in solid boots after a motorcycle accident. In many cases, what might have been a quick dab to the dirt resulted in a broken toe or ankle, even causing a crash. A relatively benign injury can turn much more serious if your foot is crushed or burned by your bike.
ADV riding boots need more features than other riding boots. For one, you want them to protect you from air-borne rocks and other road debris while also bracing against impacts, obstacles, and hits from tree branches and low brush. You’ll want something that guards against burning yourself on an exhaust pipe or other hot areas on the bike. Aside from exterior protection, you’ll want to keep your feet warm, dry, and odor-free. Good ADV boots will do all of this, and if you can afford to spend more, do, as one pair will last years, if not your entire riding life.
Key Features to Look for in ADV Riding Boots
Make sure the boots are tall enough to allow torsional and lateral movement with reinforcement in ankles, shins, and toes. Check if the soles flex too much while standing on the pegs. And, when sitting, do the boots bend comfortably? Are they low-profile enough not to catch on obstacles? Are the boots made from excellent waterproof materials while also allowing for breathability? Can you walk in them for some amount of time during off-bike excursions?
In your search, you’ll find ADV boots are a cross between enduro/motocross design and touring; in other words, full-on protection while also providing good flex. Purpose-built riding boots will have abrasion- and heat-resistant materials. The soles will bend some yet be rugged enough to stand on pegs without being uncomfortable for the sole of your foot. The taller design of ADV boots ensures your ankle and foot won’t overextend.
A toe-shifter panel is also a necessity. I wore Blundstones when I first started riding and told myself I couldn’t afford good boots. The top of my left toe always had a metallic sheen from shifting and eventually created a weak spot in the leather. The $200 shoes became my yard work/painting footwear from then on.
You might find your new boots are too thick or tall in the toe to get under the shift lever. Test them before riding; there is little more dangerous than a jammed foot on a motorcycle.
My Experience on the Value of Good ADV Riding Boots
I once had to walk five miles out of the desert in my riding boots. Because they were ADV specific, there was enough flex to make the walk comfortable, and I had no blisters. When I used to run hard case panniers on my GS, I lost count of how many times those aluminum boxes rode up the back of my leg. ADV-specific boots have kept me from messing up my Achilles tendon and prevented other (much worse) injuries. In Russia, I noticed my Sidi Adventure Gore-Tex boots were delaminating in the heel, which was disappointing since they cost almost $500. Then I remembered I’d ridden in them for over 600 days through every type of road and weather condition imaginable. Buy the best boots you can afford and do what you can to ensure they last. Part of that is keeping the insides happy, clean, and not festering.
Now that you have a comprehensive overview of the importance of solid riding boots, below are six adventure riding boots for the upcoming summer season. I’ve chosen all boots off the Revzilla website. In my experience, the company excels at customer service. There are no restocking fees, they have a near 100-percent refund guarantee (some items, like helmets, may not apply), and Revzilla’s selection on anything moto-gear-related is outstanding. Again, this is from experience and not an endorsement.
1.Gaerne G-Adventure $260
This full-grain oiled leather boot is waterproof and breathable, using the Gaerne Drytech membrane. Designed specifically for adventure touring, dual-sport, and/or ATV riders, this boot’s construction is a go-to option for comfort and long-lasting wear. Decent quality versus protection in this price range.
Waterproof with leather gaiter
Breathability for cool, dry feet
Three adjustable buckle closures
Gum rubber sole
Leather roll top for even better seal against elements
Three alloy replaceable buckles
Reinforced shift pad
Best boot for: Ideal mix for touring and ADV if you just want one pair of riding boots
2.Forma Adventure Boots $280
Sturdy protection without extreme rigidity, these boots were designed with the ADV rider in mind. Venturing outside the common black-boot look with a brown-leather finish, this riding boot gets my vote for best style. Though I’m a believer in a taller height for ADV boots, Forma also offers a shorter option for those who feel three-quarter-length boots are too restrictive. European-manufactured boots tend to fit on the narrower side, but the Formas are more in line with wider American footwear.
Drytex waterproof to second buckle and oiled leather upper
Aggressive sole pattern, still allowing great walkability
Protection panels are dual stitched to last
TPU protection throughout
Unbreakable/adjustable plastic buckles
Rigid nylon midsole with steel shank
A lot of flexibility
Best boot for:Style versus comfort and functionality
3.Alpinestars Tech 7 $390
Alpinestar offers three Tech 7 options: non-enduro, enduro, and Dry-star. The last two incorporate an enduro-style sole and are not intended to flex like some of the others. However, the dual-hinge system helps with that. The Dry-star is their only waterproof option. These boots tend to run generous in sizing, so you may want to opt for a size smaller than your regular size.
Light, flexible, abrasion-resistant microfiber
Evolutionary TPU shin-plate construction for prevention of frontal hyperextension
Range of fitment features with customizable closures
Honeycomb sculpturing for grip contact with bike
Instep and Achilles accordion flexion zones
Breathable liner with anti-sliding reinforcement in heel
Best boot for:Customizable features
4.Sidi Adventure 2 Gore-Tex $450
Tried and tested, I can vouch for these boots being top-notch in waterproof protection, as well as being solidly built for performance and comfort. As with everything, they have an expiring point, but I’m willing to bet most other options would have cratered long before my Sidis did.
Gore-Tex waterproof 14-inch gaiter goes all the way to the top of the boot
Integrated break point under first bellow allows for natural foot flex
Increased elastication in heel for the same reason
Microfiber materials allow for sweat to evaporate without letting water in
Single-flex system means little to no squeaking while walking
Replaceable buckle system
Removable arch support
Reflective panel above heel for low to light riding
Best boot for: Waterproofing
5.Klim Adventure GTX $450
With an outstanding balance of weather and rider protection combined with comfort, Klim stands by these boots as the perfect go-anywhere addition to your ADV kit. The BOA Fit System offers fine-tuning capabilities to the cam buckle construction. The Adventure GTX’s come with a spare Ortholite insole and half-size fit insert to get that boot fit just right.
Michelin rubber soles
5 mm XRD impact-absorbing foam ankle pucks
5 mm XRD impact-absorbing foam midfoot padding
BOA Fit System main closure to reduce snagging
Antimicrobial gel insole with breathable liner
Designed for over-the-boot riding pants
Best boot for:Visibility with that smart flash of yellow color styling
6.Rev’it Expedition H2O $770
Yes, these boots are significantly more expensive than any other options mentioned in this article, though skiers will know the price tag is run of the mill for all-weather foot protection. As the name suggests, the Expedition H2O boots are meant for four-season comfort. As we see more and more long-distance riders planning trips through wintery locales, Rev’it saw an opportunity to keep these polar explorers warm and dry with bombproof materials. This is probably the most technical ADV riding boot out there. If you avoid riding in snow, like most of us, but love top-notch everything, perhaps this is the only boot that will fill you with Purchaser’s Joy.
Nubuck cowhide leather
Hydratex shell reduces bulk
Vibram soles and rubber abrasion edge
EVA shock-absorbing midsole
External TPU shin plate
Dynamic Support Frame protection for ankles
BOA closure system for ease of foot entry and exit
Best boot for:Four-season riding
What are your favorite riding boots? Tell us in the comments below.
Our No Compromise Clause: We carefully screen all contributors to make sure they are independent and impartial. We never have and never will accept advertorial, and we do not allow advertising to influence our product or destination reviews.