Battle Ready: Aerostich Combat Tour Boots
The comfort of the boot is as good as the comfort of any motorcycle-specific boot I've worn. The laces give a secure fit (will your boots stay on your feet in a crash? Engineer-style boots will probably fly off your feet on impact like they were shot out of a cannon), and the support from the stiff structure of the boot is great. I wear all my footwear with arch supports, so I don't know how good the built-in arch supports work. Walking around is much easier than in a pair of motocross boots, but they aren't exactly ballet slippers, either. (Note: I am not admitting to ever wearing ballet slippers, not that there's anything wrong with that.)
The boots aren't ideal for hot weather; the tall, thick black leather traps heat, although wearing socks made from wicking material helps. In cold weather, the unlined boots require a layer or two of insulation to keep your feet comfortable; read our story on rain riding and cold weather attire for more information on that subject.
Speaking of riding in the rain, these boots are water-resistant rather than waterproof. I asked Andy about that; he rides a lot in the rain, so why wouldn't his favorite boots be waterproof?
The problem is that a waterproof boot basically uses plastic bags in between the outer shell and liner to encase your feet. No matter how "breathable" the Gore-tex or Sympatex people claim their products are, you still get sweaty feet; they just don't have the same feel as plain leather boots. Instead, Andy describes himself as "old school", preferring to use a good leather waterproofing product like Hubbard's Shoe Grease or Tectron DWR once or twice a year.
My experience is that even untreated, these boots can go all day in a light rain, but a heavy soaking will get through the seams and into the leather in 20 or 30 minutes. Treated with waterproofing, the boots are much better, although I'd recommend using a Gore-tex sock liner or another product designed to keep your feet dry inside non-waterproof boots if you are faced with an extended rain ride or swamp exploration.
As an off-road boot, these work very well, too. Obviously, they don't offer the support and protection motocross boots do, but for light trail riding, which is what I do when I do my dirt-riding, I think these are very good. They are tall enough to protect your calf from burns or angry footpegs, and stiff and heavy enough for recalcitrant kickstarters. They also give your legs good support for
standing on the pegs. The cleated soles don't work as well for sliding around turns as the wedge soles would, but for messing around in the dirt, I think these boots are all you need. They are certainly better than the linesman's or engineer's boots guys wore 30 years ago.
The brilliance of the Combat Lights is not that they are the best boot for any given situation, but that they are ideal for so many different ones. You can ride on a dirt trail, hike around your campsite, then hit the pavement the next day for 500 miles on hardball. They are weather-resistant enough for a wide range of conditions, and durable enough to last for years and years. I think the best part is that they age so well, becoming more comfortable as they "learn" the contours of your feet. Can you say all that about your motocross boots? Or your favorite pair of roadracing boots?
Andy's most excellent boot isn't for everybody and I noted a few flaws; the long break-in, lack of insulation, and big, stiff toes that don't work with a lot of modern sportbikes. However, if your riding is on a cruiser, tourer, adventure tourer or older standard, these boots will keep your tootsies protected and comfy for many years, and you will cry when your wife finally makes you throw them away.
Aerostich Combat Light: $247, in black only, choice of wedge or cleated sole, in medium width, sizes 7, 8, 9, 9.5, 10, 11, 12, 12.5, 13.5, 14.
Aerostich Combat Tourer: $257, in black only, choice of wedge or cleated sole, in medium width, sizes 7, 8, 9, 9.5, 10, 11, 12, 12.5, 13.5, 14.