They need to be able to look after your feet if you come off and land awkwardly or catch your feet on unseen hazards and they also need to support your feet when you are stood up on the pegs – something you’ll do a lot off-road.
There are two main forms of off-road boots; the more supple and forgiving adventure/touring type boots and the more hardcore off-road enduro or motocross boots. We’re going to look at the softer adventure-style boots here and we’ll look at the MX-style boots at another time.
For on-road adventures, comfort and waterproofing are likely to be the main criteria that affect choice but for off-road forays, it’s likely to be more important to look at sturdiness and feel for the bike’s controls, especially when stood up.
Related: Best adventure motorbike helmets
However, whatever your preference, you need to make sure that the protection the boots offer is up to scratch. Even boots with some off-road ability should have a CE rating like other forms of footwear.
You may also want to be looking for waterproof and breathable membranes, internal and external armour to protect not just the feet but the ankles too and buckles to give a secure but comfortable fit.
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They may look like something from Mad Max: Beyond Asphalt but the predecessors of these won a Recommended triangle from sister magazine RiDE six years ago and there’s no reason to assume the second-generation won’t be as good. Sidi lists them under touring on its website but they are clearly meant for tougher environments than just smooth roads. Formed with microfibre uppers and with a Gore-Tex waterproof and breathable membrane, they have ankle bracing and armour to the shin, the heel and an inner gaiter for comfort.
CE rated: Unknown
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While the Sidi boots took a Recommended triangle in the RiDE test, these boots from Italian manufacturer Forma took the Best Buy award for their performance and value. Another high-leg boot (a shorter version is also available) they feature three buckles to do them up, including one higher up, near the top and plastic protection on the ankle, the side of the foot and a large armour panel on the shin. The upper is oiled leather and they feature a Drytex breathable waterproof membrane for comfort.
Tried and tested by Commercial Content Editor Adam Binnie: "The steampunk Mad Max looks were what initially attracted me to these boots, but I bought them because they are so comfy - better than a lot of my non-motorcycling footwear, in fact.
"The leather is flexible and supportive, and the sole is confidence-inspiringly stiff on the bike, but you can still feel the controls through it, and they're easy to walk in too.
"My favourite features are the way they look and how easy they are to get on and off. You set the length of the straps once and then they just clip together like ski boots.
"They also fit comfortably over or under the bottom of a pair of riding jeans and look great either way too. The waterproof claim holds up well, and I've recommended them to several friends."
CE rated: Yes
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Another tall boot, the TCX Baja is formed in leather on the upper with a Gore-Tex waterproof and breathable membrane to keep feet dry but cool. They use three buckles for a secure fit with elasticated sections around the top for comfort against the shin and calf muscles. There is a large panel of shin armour and there are also reinforcement panels around the toes, heel and malleolus areas. They have replaceable footbeds and the sole features different sections of grip depending on the use.
CE rated: N/A
£ 331.99 (was £399.99) | VIEW OFFER
Alpinestars' tall off-road boot is CE certified and uses a leather and suede outer with Gore-Tex membrane for waterproofing and breathability. It has two buckles and a Velcro-fastened top flap against the calf and shin with padded edges. There is hefty shin armour as well as external ankle and heel protection and an ankle protection system to allow movement but prevent injury. The sole has a steel shank for protection and support when standing and there’s a side vent for cooling airflow.
CE rated: Yes
£159.99 (was £179.99) | VIEW OFFER
Italian manufacturer Gaerne’s lightweight adventure touring boots are formed in full-grain leather outer with the company’s own Drytech waterproof and breathable membrane bonded to the inside of the leather outer and outside the lining. They feature a large shin armour panel and three buckles to fasten, with a Velcro-secured calf/shin flap with a padded edge. There are accordion panels front and back to aid movement and they reportedly come up small with many reviewers ordering a size larger than they usually take.
CE rated: N/A