They may not look like it — no fancy embossed plastic logos, no titanium toe sliders — but this understated pair of boots is just as protective as any of the flashy dirt boots out there, while being all-day comfortable on virtually any bike, in any weather and lasting literally forever. Find out why in this Aerostich Combat Touring Boots review.
So I’ve owned these for a year now. Showing them to my girlfriend the other day, I was emphasizing how understated, yet fancy they were. “See that interior? It’s white leather!” She was suitably impressed, as all girlfriends are by bike gear, but asked why the white leather interior was unmarked. I’ve worn these things off-road, in the rain, through the city and in the hottest possible weather, eliciting the most possible foot sweat and, honestly, I didn’t have an answer for her.
Where more modern-styled boots are all plastic armor, ankle hinges and metal inserts, these Combats do without any of the above, instead opting for good old-fashioned quality.
What do you really need from a boot? It turns out that hinges and magnesium and other assorted marketing claims are largely hullabaloo. Instead, what protects your feet and ankles is a good, solid sole, strong toe and heal boxes, good ankle support and decent impact protection. You probably also want stuff like arch support, ankle support and shin protection.
These aren’t the kind of boots you wear every day. You’re not going to throw them on to go get groceries. I’m writing this review from Paso Robles, three-and-a-half hours north of my home in Hollywood. Two hours of that ride was during a torrential downpour. Know what wasn’t wet? My feet. My feet were also as well-supported as possible, the boots gripped even slick wet pavement with authority and I felt extremely well protected throughout.
Despite their lack of ridiculous scoops and vents and aluminum mesh inserts, the Combats have worked equally well in 100-degree deserts. Off-road, on-road, in town and everywhere in between. I’ve got a ton of boots and, if I need a pair to work across multiple environments, these are the ones I go for.
Extraordinary safety. As much foot protection as a hard-shelled off-road boot in an understated package.
Excellent comfort. A year in, I’m only about halfway through the break-in process, but man, are these things comfy.
Designed to take orthopedic inserts. Need more arch support? Or a super cushioned heel? These are specifically designed to accept those inserts in your own size. Lifetime quality also means tailoring them to your own needs.
100% weatherproof. I haven’t treated these with any lotion or wax or whatever and they’ve never let so much as a drop of water through. Even in multi-hour storms.
Secure footing. I’ve opted for the wedge sole and I can put my foot down on anything and be totally secure in my footing. Wet manhole covers, sand, gravel, whatever… it works.
Replaceable soles. Wear them out? Any cobbler or Aerostich itself will replace them.
Strong buckles. The single set of metal-and-plastic buckles on each boot are easy to adjust, easy to close and totally secure.
While they’ll just about work on most sport bikes, they’re not ideal for cramped ergos.
There’s little ankle impact protection. I’ve actually fallen pretty hard in these with no problem, but I’m never going to trust them quite as much as I will my Tech 10s.
Comfort takes time. Like most other Aerostich products, lifetime quality equals big break in requirements. It was three months before these felt good, but man have they felt good since.
Annoying laces. The “Speed Lace” system is a pain. I ditched the binders in favor of just tying the laces, but they still get stuck on the Velcro every single time.
Do you like your feet or want to show off? I rode in these for 3.5 hours yesterday, will do so again tomorrow, then plan to do 8 hours in them the next day. And the day after that. They’re the only boots I’d feel comfortable doing so in. On-road or off-road. These are the absolute best boots you can buy.