Unsure What to Look for When Shopping For New Boots?
You're in the right place.
Our motorcycle boots guide will help you find the right pair of boots for your needs, style, and budget.
Why We Created This Guide
The idea that special footwear is needed when riding a motorcycle is often a great debate among riders. There are those riders who will proudly proclaim that they have been riding for decades in their trusty sneakers and have never had an issue. But those are the fortunate few of the over 8 million riders in the United States.
In many cases, riders have experienced issues such as a twisted ankle, a foot sliding on loose gravel or debris, or some other incident that could be attributed to a poor choice in footwear. Most of these issues don’t result in a major injury or accident but they could have easily been avoided by the riders wearing proper footwear.
And then there are the more serious accidents or events that leave both bikes and bodies with a great deal of damage…
We all take good health and mobility for granted but the 26 bones, 33 joints, and over 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments that make up the human foot and the ankle are rather delicate. So why not wear the proper footwear to provide protection and comfort for the type of riding that you will be doing?
Before going any further, I want to confirm that there is no magic motorcycle boot out there that is perfect for every rider. Nothing is a one size fits all when it comes to the human body, personal riding style, different types of riders and personal preference. But by answering a few simple questions about those factors, riders can determine which riding boot will best meet their needs.
To help you along in your search for your perfect riding boots we will cover some basic information and help you determine the correct answers to the questions that will determine which boot style is best for you. We worked with major brands, motorcycle experts and our comprehensive library of riding boot reviews to provide you with the most current and complete information available when making your choice on how to spend your hard-earned money.
Motorcycle Boot Brands
Most riders don’t realize just how many motorcycle boot brands exist. There are traditional boot makers who also make riding boots and there are also specialty brands that focus on motorcycle boots exclusively. We've reviewed a lot of motorcycle boots over the years and below we have listed all the brands we've covered. Simply click on the link to see all the reviews we have conducted for each brand.
Baffin Bates Footwear Black Brand Cortech Fly Street Forma Boots Fox Racing FXR Highway 21 Motorfist MSR O'Neal Motocross One Industries Puma Boots Stylmartin Boots Thor Motocross Troy Lee Designs
Troy Lee Designs
Quality Riding Boots Give You Proper Foot, Ankle, & Toe Protection
Some might argue that motorcycle boots do the same thing that any pair of shoes: they protect your feet. But that is only half of the truth. Motorcycle boots are designed to provide a great deal of protection against the two most common injuries that a rider suffers in an accident: impact and abrasion.
Impact injuries can be as simple as a rock or other debris flying up and hitting a rider's foot or a tree branch smacking an ankle. More serious impact injuries occur during an accident when a rider hits the ground or another object (such as a car).
Proper riding boots provide multiple layers of material, padding, and armor to reduce the damage that the impact does to a rider's foot, ankle and leg.
Less severe abrasion injuries can occur when a rider dumps a bike and a foot or ankle is scuffed along the asphalt. More serious abrasion occurs when a rider is thrown from the bike and slides across the asphalt as a high rate of speed.
There have been many studies done to understand abrasion injuries and how to prevent them. These studies have determined that riders lose 1 millimeter of skin for every mile per hour over 30 that they were traveling. Some quick math lets you know that a slide at 45 mph is going to cost you about half an inch of skin.
In the instance of abrasion, many riders are quick to say that they are always wearing long pants and socks for added protection but that is no match for asphalt. If your pant leg doesn’t slide up your leg, it will quickly disintegrate anyway and provide you no real protection.
Riding boots provide roughly 1 millimeter to almost 3 millimeters of leather or man-made material for protection as well as other armor and padding material.
Ergonomics & Comfort
In addition to these two main safety features, riding boots provide a rigid sole with good grip for stopping and launching. This enhanced grip can also be a factor when shifting or braking as the motorcycle boot helps to keep your foot securely on the peg.
Comfort is also a concern, though maybe not to the extent of safety. Being uncomfortable can be a distraction that can compound other issues and result in an accident. Riders can also select boots that are designed to provide added comfort in specific environments such as extreme heat or cold.
Other weather-related benefits include waterproof boots for wet riding conditions and boots that facilitate wicking of moisture away from the skin in hot or humid conditions.
Riders all accept that there is a certain level of risk when on a motorcycle, but a smart rider will take every precaution which includes wearing the proper gear. Motorcycle boots are designed specifically for riding and offer the best protection and in most cases the greatest comfort available to a rider.
Adventure & Touring Boots
Adventure and touring boots are a hybrid that offers riders the comfort needed for long rides but also the protection needed to venture off the beaten path to do some exploring. They are a little taller than some boots and provide impact protection throughout the foot and lower leg area. In general, they are a little bit more durable than a simple cruising style boot.
Increased height and the design offers superior ankle protection compared to short boots.
The best “all arounders” and generally the best “on foot” as well.
Generally good weatherproofing
Bulkier than other types of boots
Can be more expensive than simpler types of boots
Aesthetically obvious that it's a motorcycle boot
Cruiser & V-Twin Boots
The cruiser style of motorcycle boot is focused on blending a comfortable upright position and safety. Cruising is about being relaxed, sitting upright or even with a slight lean back and positioning your feet straight down below your knees. These boots offer riders a nice 90-degree ankle position but also provide safety features and good ankle support.
Classic good looks and excellent protection are the hallmarks of a cruiser-style boot.
Can often pass as "not a motorcycle boot" off the bike
Additional ankle protection and support is always a good thing
Often more expensive than other types of boots
Dirt & Off-Road Boots
These boots are all about protection and durability. Motocross and off-road riding is some of the most demanding on both the rider and his or her gear. The average boot will maybe be called into action to save you from a serious injury once but motocross boots provide that service numerous times on every single ride. Think of these boots as body armor with some comfort features added in as well.
Off-road boots are designed to take abuse again and again.
They aren’t indestructible, but they do offer improved protection over less robust options.
Generally good airflow and long-ride comfort
Styling can be borderline flashy
Street, Sport, & Race Boots
A sport boot is more use and ride style specific than just a short boot. The sport boot often offers a more aggressive foot and ankle position. These boots also tend to offer more protection than the average short boot for both impact and abrasion. And finally, the sport boot is a smaller profile for added comfort when the rider is tucked in an aggressive race posture.
Maximum armor and minimum weight, the name of the game for the sport boot
Less bulky than most other types of boots
Integrated toe, heel, and ankle protectors
Worst "off-bike" walkability
Short boots are not designed for any specific type of riding as much as they are designed for a balance of comfort and safety. These boots offer a rugged sole and a height that normally hits most riders above the ankle but below the calf.
Short boots offer ankle stability and protection as well as solid protection for the foot. Riders can decide how much protection they want as well as the type of material and level of safety provided such as additional armor or padding.
Generally more comfortable than taller styles
Oten somewhat less expensive
Finding the Right Style, Fit, & Material
(& at the right price)
Safety should always be a rider’s first consideration when evaluating motorcycle gear. An important part of the safety factor of motorcycle boots is getting the right boot for the type of riding that you will be doing.
We recommend that all riders, whether you are just starting out or have been riding for years, place safety at the top of their list when looking at new boots. Of course, there’s a lot of other important elements to consider, too: fit, comfort, price, and the type of boots are almost as important.
It would be great if money were no object when buying safety gear but that is not true for most riders. So getting the best motorcycle boot in your price range is always the real goal.
We’re operating under the assumption that you’re relatively new to motorcycles and riding gear. More advanced riders looking for information on the best gear should check out our recommendations for each motorcycle boot type.
Price should never be the driving factor behind any gear purchase but the fact is that we all must live within a budget. When you are looking at purchasing motorcycle boots you should be looking for the best quality boot within your price range.
The material and features of the boots will have some impact on the cost. A durable man-made material is often a good trade-off for the more expensive leather style. Investing a few hundred dollars in a pair of motorcycle boots will get you solid protection for about the same cost as a regular pair of boots. Also, consider that a more casual looking boot can do double duty as you will be able to wear them for riding and at other times as well.
If you are just getting your first pair of motorcycle boots it is also a good idea to remain in the entry level to the middle of the pack price range.
Never having worn motorcycle boots, you don’t know what you don’t know. Get a decent pair but understand that you might have much more information and a long list of must-haves for your next pair of boots after experiencing the first pair for a few months.
And a final note about price, don’t blow your entire gear budget on your first pair of boots. It is also important to have functional gloves, a jacket, and a solid helmet. Get some seat time with all of your basic gear and then start to build out your perfect riding gear package as you can afford it and as you become more certain of your wants and needs.
We’re advocates for riding ATGATT.
Safety is by far the most important feature for motorcycle boots. It’s easy to get caught up in what looks cool or the latest features but in the end, you want to be able to walk away from a wreck or a slide and that’s it.
Stability and durability are two factors that will be important every day on every ride. You will be putting your foot down to stop and you need that good grip, sure footing and stability in your ankle to support the bike and your body. The sole also needs to be durable and rugged enough to take a beating without delamination or cracking.
The other safety features to look for are impact protection and abrasion protection. Padding, double and triple layers of material and armor are all going to absorb impact and keep all of the tiny bones in your feet intact. Leather, Kevlar, Cordura and other man-made textiles are going to provide you with protection from abrasion injuries and loss of skin and muscle. Racing boots have safety standards and long technical codes to express a given level of safety, but for the average rider or a new rider safety is easy to see.
A boot does not need to be heavy to be safe. New textiles are much lighter weight than leather and actually provide better protection. Look for features such as double or triple stitching, padded collar, padding around the ankle, rigid inserts or exterior armor and toe sliders.
Also, make sure that the lacing or closure system is durable and reliable. And finally look for a sole that is durable but also provides the ability to shift and brake easily.
Fit & Comfort
Everyone has worn shoes and boots before and all of that basic fit information carries over to motorcycle boots. But, you also need to think about body position when you are riding and not just about how comfortable a boot feels when you try it on in a store. Ankle position will play a huge role in how comfortable you are wearing your new boots on your bike.
Another factor to consider for rider comfort is the material the boot is made of. Some people love a full leather boot but don’t think about the added heat coming off of the motor. If you are in a warmer climate, take a look at the vented options as this can be a huge benefit and keep you much more comfortable.
Also, remember that natural materials can stretch a little bit as they break in. In an average shoe a little stretching is not an issue but in a motorcycle boot, it can impede shifting or at least make it uncomfortable.