Saturday, September 22, 2012

What Kind of Boots to Wear Motorcycle Touring

 When Mary Ann and I went out west this summer, one of my last minute decisions was to wear hiking boots instead of motorcycle boots, to save space.  Otherwise I would have to bring along a pair of hiking boots in my luggage, a huge space waster.

Normally, I ride with motorcycle boots, and I don't usually bother with hiking boots.  I used to pack along a pair of running shoes for comfortable walking after I found a place for the night.  This time, I wore hiking boots while riding and packed along a pair of sandals that were for walking.

There are many issues to consider when gearing up for a motorcycle ride, the first being safety. I have never crashed wearing hiking boots or motorcycle boots, so I don't know  the difference.  My motorcycle boots are not really expensive, so I am not sure how good they would be in a crash.  But I know that they are uncomfortable to walk in.  When I was young, I could walk long distances in flip flops.  Not any more.  I need comfortable shoes, my motorcycle boots hurt to walk further than the length of a parking lot.

A few years ago, I bought a pair of hiking boots that proved to be very comfortable. At first I wore them for walks in the winter slush, and then used running shoes in the summer.  Eventually I found the hiking boots were so comfortable, I wore them all summer as well. Not just for hiking, mostly for walking in the city. They had begun to replace the running shoes. But the boots were bulkier than running shoes, because they came up to my ankle.

On this trip out west, I wanted to bring along my comfortable hiking/walking boots, but they were gong to take up a lot of space, so I started wondering if I could forget about the motorcycle boots and just wear the hiking boots.  Motorcycle boots are about 3" higher than my hiking boots, and motorcycle boots use no laces, so they can't get caught.  Otherwise I saw no advantages to the leather motorcycle boots.  Maybe they are safer, but I have no proof of that.  But I have proof that hiking boots are more comfortable.

My Vulcan has a heel and toe shifter that is easier to use with hiking boots than a toe shifter.  Mary Ann's Burgman has no shifter at all, and you could probably ride it with stilletto heels if you felt like it.  Mary Ann normally rides it with hiking boots.  Her hiking boots are about 1" higher than my hiking boots, so are a little more protective.  And there is very little on the Burgman to snag laces on, so no worries there.

I don't want to make this sound like a product endorsement, because I don't really know what's available on the market.  Anyway, I have an old pair of Keen Targhee II light hiking boots (not the low-cut shoes), which cost about $140 a few years ago.  Before the trip, I bought a new pair of laces for them, as the old ones were shredding.  Then I wore Keen  boots for the entire trip, except when I was wearing my sandals that I also brought along. We never had a crash, so not much to say about safety.  However, this was not one of my higher speed runs either, so maybe I was about as safe overall.  The boots were comfortable, and once I even wore them wading in the Pacific.  We were at a rocky beach that hurt my bare feet so much that I simply put my Keen boots on to go wading.  They took a few days to dry out, but we weren't actually travelling by motorcycle during that time, so it wasn't an inconvenience.  If I had my sandals with me at the rocky beach, I would have worn those instead, as they are better designed for wading.

When we got back from the trip, the Keen Targhee boots were just about worn out. I had come to really like them, so I went back to the same store to buy another pair.  Luckily, they still had a pair for sale my size, but not the same color, and with no reflective threads.

Picture: (1) My Keen Targhees under water at Powell River. (2) A dog belonging to one of my relatives, not sure what the dogs name was any more, there were too many dogs to remember.  The dog is wondering where I'm going in my hiking boots.


  1. Yes, safety is one of the main reason why sometimes you have to stick with motorcycle boots. Sometimes bringing another pair of footwear is a waste of time.

  2. Well, I see this is getting to be an old thread, but what the heck. I found it because I was trying to find what kind of footwear would be best while touring on a motorcycle.
    Last year I managed to get in two trips. Both times I wore my old, above the ankle, hiking boots. My main problem with the hiking boots is that no matter how well I tuck in the laces, after a few hours on the highway, at least one works its way out.
    I have had a lace loop around the brake pedal and almost dropped the bike when coming to a stop. Not funny! Unless you're just watching. Then its funny as hell! Hahaha!!!
    Anyhow, I was looking for a boot that's comfortable to walk in and ride in, and no LACES! I'm leaning towards a harness boot, mainly because I like the look and I'll just have to tough out the walking around part, or pack a pair of tenny's for walking.


    1. Since that trip, I made another trip to the east coast with Keen Gypsum hiking boots (slighly more protective than the discontinues Targhees). And both my current pairs of motorcycle (not hiking) boots are lace-up types. I have done a bit of research on lace tying and now my laces do not come undone or snag on anything. But it takes a bit longer to do up the boots than with zippers or velcro.


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