About a year ago, I participated in an adventure training course run by iRide Adventure, as part of my personal quest to be competent in all styles of riding. At the start of the day, the instructor gave us a lecture on the importance of the correct riding gear, particularly boots. That was reinforced later when I was riding over rocks and my motorcycle slipped and landed on my leg, trapping me underneath it. Fortunately, though I was wearing short road riding boots, there was no lasting damage, other than a bruised ego.
That experience, and stories of people snapping ankles and breaking legs prompted me to acquire a pair of Forma Adventure Boots, albeit second hand from a fellow motorcycle enthusiast who realised that he needed a larger boot size after wearing them two or three times.
They come with three replaceable, adjustable plastic buckles, a Velcro strap, a plastic gear pad protector, and a thick, double density compound rubber anti-slip sole developed for adventure/enduro/ATV-quad bikes. They provide both shin and ankle protection with thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) plastic protections. TPU is said to offer both abrasion and chemical resistance and is relatively tough.
On the inside is a waterproof and breathable Forma Drytex tubular lining, soft polymer padding with memory foam, an antibacterial replaceable footbed with Air Pump System which ‘controls’ how air circulates within the boot, and what Forma calls a PP Mid Dual Flex with antishock EVA midsole. EVA is a foam used in sneakers and running shoes to improve shock absorption.
I had been eyeing the Forma boots for some time because of the styling, with full-grain oiled Nabuck leather on the upper, particularly the brown ones, which is what I got. They also come in black but there is something about the brown that gives it a vintage look. They retail for R6,000.
Another brand I was considering was the Alpinestars Corozal Drystar leather boots, also in brown, which is an adventure touring boot made with full-grain oiled leather with an extended polyutherane-coated leather gaiter, a rear gaiter with a rubber insert and lightweight microfibre made front and rear bellow, which combined are designed to keep out excessive water and dirt, ensure flexibility and comfort, while being durable and abrasion resistant.
For protection against the wear and tear of changing gears, there is a ‘technical textured’ TPU shift pad with foam padding beneath it and for protection TPU has been used in the shin and calf plates. For grip, the sole is made from a vulcanised rubber compound that is exclusive to Alpinestars. To ensure movement, support, comfort and protection of the ankles, the boots have a biomechanical lateral flexi-blade system, TPU double density ankle protectors and soft foam surrounding the ankles.
To close, it has 2 polymer buckles and a Velcro upper closure flap to fit around the calf. The toe box and heel counter reinforcement and there is a Drystar breathable membrane that is layered between the inner and the upper. The EVA foot bed is anatomical, moulding itself to your foot shape, as the Formas do. The Alpinestars Corozal Drystar leather boots retail at R8,300..
The third boot I was considering is the Italian-made Gaerne Dakar boot made from full-grain oil tanned leather with a Gore-Tex waterproof liner for the moments when you are riding through a stream or dealing with a highveld rainstorm on the highways and byways.
It has two replaceable aluminium buckles, adjustable ratchet straps and velcro ensuring that whatever your calf size it closes and fits comfortably, aided by the extensive internal padding. The inner calf guard is made from suede, the shin guard from plastic PU, and the large heel counter and the heel and toe reinforcement from plastic.
For comfort on the motorcycle, it has a slim toe box which one really appreciates after you have tried to change gears wearing boots that are too high or too wide. And for ease of walking off the motorcycle, the sole is lugged (heeled with space between midsole and the ground) and has welt stitching.
The Gaerne Dakars retail at R6,610 and come in black or brown.
When riding off-road, the risks of breaking, snapping or injuring your ankles are amplified, even at the slower speeds required to navigate differing and difficult terrain. These boots help reduce that risk.