RIDING BOOT BUYER’S GUIDE – UNDER $150
There really should be no question that a helmet and eye protection are the most important pieces of safety equipment you can wear when riding an ATV or driving a UTV. It is easier to worry less about boots since we shouldn’t be putting our feet down, right? Wrong. We dress for when things go wrong, and sturdy boots that cover and protect the ankles are a vital part of our safety gear. You probably have a smartphone, right? We like to call boots “smart gear.” There is a dizzying array of boots to choose from, and the price range is huge. If you look at top ATV motocross racers, you will see that every one of those riders is wearing top-flight, expensive but fully featured motocross boots. For the average rider, the choice is a little muddier. Average riders definitely still need boots but might not be in the market for those over $500. For this guide, we set an upper limit of $150, and, frankly, we were as interested to see what kind of value this segment offers as we think you will be. There are some very nice boots under that price point.
Just like with helmets and other protective gear, you do get what you pay for. Make no mistake, more expensive boots will offer more support, protection and comfort, and generally they are made of materials that will last longer. On the other hand, there are intelligent choices for those with a smaller budget. We haven’t included every boot at this price point. Answer, Chaparral (Ocelot brand) and MSR all have boots in this range, but they couldn’t make our deadline.
Description: AXO’s Drone boot is an attractive, substantial-looking and -feeling product for the price of $110 for the adult model. According to the tag inside, it contains no leather, though the synthetic material does look and feel like leather. There is a generous quantity of plastic in areas that are high wear or where additional protection is needed. The rubber sole (smooth sole only) is sewed on with a steel cap at the front. The inside of the boot has full-coverage padding that is deepest at the ankle area. Sizing felt correct. The straps for the buckles are easy to adjust, but the buckles themselves take some work. Once locked, they take a firm jerk to pop free. The buckles have two rather thin arms that must precisely engage the mechanism. It takes some effort to lock them, but there is an audible snap with they do lock.
MSRP: Adult, $110; peewee, $100; junior, $105
Sizes: Peewee K10–2, junior 3–6, adult 7–14
Contact: (661)257-0916, www.axo.com
Description: The Fly Maverik is another great-looking boot that is sturdy and fully featured, with a smooth, sewn-on sole. The tag inside claims 10 percent of the boot is leather, and we suspect that the only organic leather is the heat shield on the inside surface of the boot. The 89-percent majority of the boot is synthetic, with the final 1 percent being metal. We’d say the percentage of metal is higher than that, with the steel shank, steel toe cap, and various mounting screws and buckle parts. The sizing is close, and the inside of the boot is fully padded. The buckles have two arms that catch a pin that protrude from the buckle strap. The buckles are easy to lock and unlock. The little arms are flexible, so you must line up the buckle strap straight or the buckle can twist. Overall, we’d say it’s much easier to use than the AXO Drone buckles, but not as securely locked. Replaceable soles are available.
Sizes: Youth size 1 through adult 15
Colors: Black, white/black prints, black/white prints
Contact: www.flyracing.com to find a dealer near you.
Description: The Element features a bonded sole over a steel shank rather than one that is sewed on. A molded cap in the front substitutes for the metal cap that some of the other boots use. You can’t replace the sole, but it doesn’t have an edge to snag on the ground. The buckles are easy to use, but also lock securely, and that is a good combination. The sizing is a bit on the small side, so go up if you are in between sizes. Replacement straps and buckles are available, and there is a leather heat shield.
MSRP: Adult, $129.99; Panic (black-and-white design), $139.99; youth, $119.99
Sizes: Adult 7–15, youth 1–6, women 5–12
Colors: Black, white, black/pink and Panic (some large sizes are in black only)
Contact: (800) 32-ONEAL, www.oneal.com
Description: The Shorty II boot is basically the Element boot in a short version. It is made using the same construction and features as the Element as well, but it ends just above the ankle. The Shorty II is made for ATV, SxS, dual-sport and pit-bike riding.
Contact: (800) 32-ONEAL, www.oneal.com
Description: This boot is so new that we didn’t actually get our hands on a pair, so we can’t comment on the fit or buckles. Unlike the other full-size boots, the Blitz uses only three straps and buckles, in addition to the Velcro closure at the top. The Blitz uses a synthetic heat shield. The boot has molded plastic protection parts and a mesh liner. There is a steel shank to protect the bottom of the foot on landings. The Blitz is available with a smooth MX sole or in an ATV model with a rugged sole.
Sizes: Adult 7–15
Colors: White, black
Contact: www.thormx.com, see your dealer