I look at adventure riding footwear as I do multi-surface tires, as products with a wide range of options depending on your intended use. Our ADV tires can have a pavement-friendly street/dirt bias of 90/10, or an aggressive 10/90, with numerous options in between. Likewise, we can wear plastic-clad, apocalypse-ready MX-style boots that make walking a chore. Or lighter, more flexible footwear that still protects our feet and lower legs from mishaps and the elements while allowing a rider to get off the bike and walk up a trail in comfort. Your choice in both boots and tires may come down to whether you consider adventure riding a race through the countryside or a way to immerse yourself in remote scenery that others only glimpse from a distance while also enjoying the pleasures, challenges, and rewards of multi-surface motorcycling. The TCX Baja Gore-Tex model reviewed here delivers both walkable comfort and notable protection features.
TCX, purchased by the Dainese group in 2020, is an Italian company that manufactures a comprehensive line of motorcycle footwear. Originally Oxtar, they changed to TCX after coming head-to-head with Alpinestars due to the pronounced, but not spelled out, “star” in the name. The company makes the majority of its TCX-branded footwear in a modern Romanian facility, where much of the work is performed by hand and sub-assemblies are tested along the way. They also make private label footwear for several well-known brands, including BMW. The videos on their website are worth a look to see just how much effort goes into making a good boot.
Weighing just 4.5 pounds per pair in my US size 8.5 (Euro 42), the Baja GTXs are made from full-grain leather, with an inner-calf suede insert for heat protection. Three aluminum buckles secure them to the foot and lower leg, and the stretchy, padded collar at the top closes with Velcro. The buckles aren’t always easy to close, a problem I’ve found on other boots, but once secured, they stay secured. TCX builds them using their Comfort Fit System, which includes hand-shaping various boot components over a foot mold. They are easily the most comfortable adventure boots my feet have experienced. I’ve worn them for 16 hours at a stretch without feeling desperate to remove them once in camp and have never hesitated to put them on for another day in the saddle. They are also the best-armored boots I’ve worn for walking and hiking, being flexible enough that I walk almost normally in them. Front and rear flex panels make that possible while also facilitating technical riding.
To be sure, the Baja’s comfort should not be confused with lack of protection, despite the bulging shin guard being the only obvious hard part. Like all TCX boots, the Baja Gore-Tex model meets European motorcycle foot safety standard EN 13634:2015, including level 2 for cut resistance of the upper, impact abrasion, and transverse rigidity. This is accomplished using polyurethane inserts at the ankles, heels, and toes. They are further certified for slip resistance, water resistance, and water absorption. And being a Gore-Tex model, they have also passed that company’s stringent guidelines.
The calf-length boots have kept my feet dry when riding in the rain and across creeks. They are not waders, however. The water pouring in over their tops while fording the deeper-than-it-looked Boise River on the Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route (BDR) proved that, though it wasn’t an uncomfortable situation on a hot day. That brings to mind transiting the California desert in 110-degree heat to ride the Utah BDR. After hours on the scorching Interstate 40, my feet were still comfortable by virtue of the boots’ leather skin and Gore-Tex Performance Comfort layer allowing them to breathe. Where the boots meet the pegs—a critical juncture for motorcycle control—TCX fits an outsole stout enough to support miles of standing without causing foot pain, yet with sufficient flexibility and traction to allow comfortable walking and a secure grip on wet foot pegs and slick tarmac. A polyurethane midsole and Ortholite footbed round out the foot support features for both walking and standing. While they may be perceived as too light for some riders, I find them a good balance of weight, comfort, and protection for backcountry exploration.
$370, black only; EU 38–48; US 5–13
Waterproof in normal use
Comfortable for both riding and walking
Soles grip well
Wide range of sizes
Upper cuff can be uncomfortable on bare legs
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