There are a lot of different boots out there and they definitely all serve different purposes, the problem is which one do you need?
Types Of Motorcycle Boots
The easy answer is if you have plenty of money then buy a separate pair of boots for every type of riding you will do. The problem is some boots a great at protecting you on the bike but not very good if you are walking any distance when you are off your bike.
You might be meeting up with friends in town, you need a good safe pair of boots to get into town but you don’t want to carry another pair of more comfortable boots to change into when you get there.
The manufacturers have realized this and have now come up with a range of boots you can wear on and off your bike.
Short Motorcycle Boots
The first type of boot we will look at is the short motorcycle boots. These are also called motorcycle shoes because they’re similar to your favorite pair of shoes.
The thing that’s great about these is they’re very comfortable, they’re easy to get on and off and they’re comfortably off and on the bikes.
So while they may look like high-end tennis shoes they actually do have some motorcycle-specific things going on inside of them.
There is ankle protection on both sides and a pad over the shifter area. Some boots are perforated to allow air to flow through so for those warm summer days that’s nice.
Most boots have reinforcement over the toe box and the heel cup giving you support and structure around your foot. The bottom line is all of these are designed to give you some level of protection if you crash and that’s definitely one of the biggest reasons to wear motorcycle boots.
You need to be protected so regular trainers obviously aren’t the best thing to use while riding. If you’re currently wearing trainers while riding I would definitely encourage you to go with a proper motorcycle boot.
The Alpinestars has a very sleek European style to them. They have a laser edge sole which is very low-profile, definitely comfortable but a very thin sole so keep that in mind if you’re planning on walking around a lot.
They will not only provide you with better feedback and feel from the controls, but they also do a much better job of protecting you if you happen to crash.
More of the best motorcycle riding shoes here
Next is the TCX X-Street, again more about the style than anything on this boot but you do have some ankle bone protection and some light reinforcement over the heel and the toe box area with a fairly rigid sole.
Remember the stiffness of the soul not only translates to how comfortable it is walking around but stiffness is also important because if you do crash it’s going to prevent your foot from folding in ways it’s not meant to fold.
It’s definitely a little bit more comfortable for walking in so again you’re looking at compromises.
Now, these TCX X-Street boots are actually waterproof, they come in a waterproof or a nonwaterproof version.
If you really need boots to be waterproof whether you’re commuting or long-distance touring or maybe live somewhere where it’s colder you just want a little bit of extra protection from the elements.
Having a low top boot that’s waterproof is going to be less effective as a high top boot that’s waterproof and the reason being is the gaiter on a high top boot prevents water from coming down behind the laces.
The laces only go up so far so if any water splashing up and water comes up inside your feet are getting wet o keep that in mind. A waterproof layer is going to make the boots warmer so for riding in wintertime having a waterproof boot is definitely a bit more comfortable.
Read our article on the best motorcycle shoes for walking
Venting v Waterproofing Your Boots
The SIDI street burner is kind of a unique boot in that it is a low top motorcycle boot but it has a lot of the protective features of a full-on race boot. You have a reinforced heel cup, a toa slider and a techno VR adjustment system which really customizes the instep of the boot.
There is ventilation that you can open and close on the sides and lots of ankle support in this area as well.
So it’s low top, its technical and if you’re a sports guy that’s not necessarily going to the track but you want that kind of aggressive sport look but a low top this is definitely a cool option.
Definitely not something that you typically recommend for just any rider out there but if they’re looking for this specific style then there’s not a whole lot of other options like it.
Cruiser Motorcycle Boots
Moving on to more Cruiser oriented boots or touring boots. You have several different styles and things to consider.
Some boots look more like work boots or combat boots, this is the Tour master coaster boot.
While it has traditional laces up the front it actually gives you a zipper entry on the side. The side entry is something that you’re definitely going to want to consider.
Zippers make it a lot easier to get them on and off quickly, laces obviously take a little bit more time but they allow you to customize the fit a little bit so being able to zip it up makes it a lot easier to slip the boots on and off.
One thing that I will point out is that zippers are just another point of failure. You tend to get into places or situations where you’re encountering a lot of mud or sand or grit a zipper getting dirty is definitely something that you have to watch out for.
To keep them clean you can loob them up with a little bit of soap or wax. A pavement crayon works really well to keep your zippers lubricated and sliding nice and easily.
The field Armor 2 boots are definitely a little bit more on the aggressive side of the styling and they use a buckle closure. I’m a big fan of buckle because they are a lot more resilient when it comes to dealing with mud. I ride dual-sports occasionally and I need a boot that’s going to hold up with that kind of abuse.
It does look a little bit along the lines of a traditional work style boot but what I’ll caution you with on traditional work boots is they might look the part and they come up nice and high but they don’t have things like the armor.
This boot uses D30 armor around the ankles and obviously different boots use different levels of protection and you definitely get what you pay for with motorcycle boots.
Let’s talk about some touring boot options because this is probably the biggest category of motorcycle boots that are going to work for the most amount of riders.
One of the best-selling boots of all time is the tour master solution.
This is the tour master solution 2.0. It’s going to work great for a huge variety of riders no matter what kind of bike you’re on.
It does come in a waterproof version and a vented version and has a waterproof liner if you need a little bit more airflow on your feet while you’re riding.
The waterproof version does have some ankle armor built into it, there are several boots in this category that are just kind of a plain-jane waterproof motorcycle boot. It’s kind of a mid-height, it’s not a super tall boot but it’s not so short that water is going to be coming up over the top of it.
You also have a zippered entry which is the most common type of entry found on most motorcycle boots. There is also a gusset, that’s the waterproof membrane that makes sure water doesn’t get behind the zipper.
This particular boot uses a high pore liner. There are different brands of liners, some of them do a little bit better than others, as far as being breathable.
One thing I will caution though, the velcro does tend to wear out over the course of time so after a couple of years of undoing those and doing them up every day velcro eventually does wear out.
Next, we have the TCX Explorer Evo. This boot is one of the boots that uses a genuine gore-tex liner. Gore-tex is the best when it comes to being waterproof but remaining breathable and the TCX Explorer Evo takes it a step further.
It has a mesh panel on the side together with fabric on the front of the boot and at the back.
What that does is for those who hate having sweaty feet but need a waterproof boot, go with something that has gore-tex that has a little bit of breathable material on it.
It allows the perspiration to evaporate out of the boot a little bit better than something that’s a solid leather boot with a none gore-tex liner.
Keep that in mind if you need to have something that’s a little bit breathable but waterproof. Gore-tex is the way to go, then again you are going to pay for it as they are roughly twice as expensive as the Tour Masters. Obviously, budgets are a consideration as well.
Let’s talk about soles because walking around is definitely something that we all do when we get off our bikes, some of us more than others. If you have a destination that requires some walking having a good amount of rubber material on the bottom of the sole is definitely nice.
Some flexibility is good for walking but too much is obviously not as safe for crashing. None of us want to crash but you definitely have to prepare for the worst when you’re talking riding a motorcycle but having a soul that’s really thin is something that you’re going to find on a more sport-oriented boot.
The Sidi Courier Black boots are going to be much stiffer side to side, they are still hinged so you can still walk around in them. They are surprisingly comfortable to walk in for a sport boot, they’re not going to be anything like the touring boots and mainly the reason they’re not as comfortable is that they have that really thin rubber sole.
It gives you really good feedback on the controls of your bike. It has a composite midsole insole on the CD boot which gives you a good amount of compromise between flexibility and structural support for your foot. The CDSDS are the vented version so a lot of perforation.
One thing that I’ll point out is with touring boots a lot of times the challenge is finding a boot that is not waterproof. If you’re looking for a boot that’s vented there are a few options out there but for the most part, touring boots typically have a waterproof liner.
That kind of shifts completely 180 degrees when you look at sport boots. Sport boots are designed more for the racetrack where you’re working hard your feet are getting hot and you just want the heat to get out and if it’s raining your feet are getting wet so it’s typically harder to find a waterproof sport boot.
There are a few out like the Coretech Latigo, its available in waterproof and a perforated air version. This is a much lower price point sport boot, it doesn’t quite have the same level of ankle support as the CDST does but it’s a lot less money and it does have some ankle support in it.
It’s going to give you some stability in the ankle and has replaceable toes sliders. Another thing you’re going to find in a lot of sports boots occasionally dragging their toes so that’s going to protect that part of the foot and the boot.
Most of the boots have some amount of protection over the shins. The Tourmaster solution boots have a plate protecting the chin that does give you some protection.
When you move up to the Sport level boots you get a lot more protection in the shin area which is vulnerable to impact from your footpegs or when your shins hit any hard part of the motorcycle.
As a sport boot gets more expensive it becomes more and more customizable as far as the fit goes. The Coretech Latigo has a simple zipper entry, you slip your foot in, zip it back up and off you go.
With the CDST you have a zippered entry but along with that you also have their cam lock buckle system, so if you’re tucking your leathers into your boots you want to have them adjustability.
This is going to allow for a lot of flexibility for people with bigger calves. They have stretch material at the back of the boot to allow for some flexibility and the cam lock buckles do a great job at securing the closure at the upper portion. You just simply push them down and they clip into place.
The last top-of-the-line sport boot we will discuss here is the Alpinestars. The Alpinestars Super-Tech R once again has the adjustability upper port portion for the calf size, using this adjustment they do something kind of unique though, there is no visible ankle protection but it has ankle protection built-in on the Alpha Stars.
If you pull out the internal bootie of an Alpinestars you start to see the level of protection you’re getting. The outside you have a lot of protection built-in, ankle support and then the internal lacing system which is absolutely fantastic for comfort and custom fit. It gives you a good feeling of security inside the boot so that’s definitely something to look forward to.
Different brands have typically different types of fit, the Europeans typically make boots that are a little bit more on the narrow side, you get to the more American size boots and they typically are a little wider. Some boots like the tourmaster solutions are available in wide sizes so if you actually need a wide sized boot that’s available.
Last but not least I want to talk about off-road boots and dual supporting because that is huge. The CD crossfire 2‘s is one of the best off-road boots money can buy, whether you’re racing any type of off-road racing or if you are an off-road guy that’s doing some exploration. On the sole, you have a set of screws that you can replace with a lug-sole or a supermoto sole.
These types of boots provide you with an amazing amount of support to your ankle and your leg and keep everything in place. The downside to that it’s definitely a lot heavier than any of the other boots we have discussed so far.
The hight end boots start to get a lot stiffer so when you’re walking around a lot more clunky, they might start squeaking depending on which ones you’re using.
The CD crossfire has a hinge system on them so you can actually walk a little bit and get some flexibility but definitely designed for riding and being on the bike.
The CD adventure rain is kind of a cross between a touring boot and an off-road boot. It gives you a lug sole so you can get a better footing and secure grip on the ground if you’re walking and need to push the bike.
They are a little bit better for walking around, a little bit tiny, bit more flexible in terms of walking but a lot lighter in weight. It still uses their cam lock buckles but just two of them versus four with a waterproof liner which you don’t find in off-road boots.
They’re usually just a leather construction combined with the different molded elements for the protection, whereas a touring boot or an adventure touring boot will allow you to pick the waterproof option.
The off-road boots typically do an okay job, you splash through a creek crossing or something like that but you have to hop off the bike in the water or extended periods of rain your feet are definitely going to end up getting wet so keep that in mind.