Great boots! Initial Impressions (LONG)
I just received these boots today and put my first 100 miles on them. I’ve worn them continuously for the last 9+ hrs.
My initial impressions of these boots are:
BACKGROUND: I’ve owned a pair of Aerostich Combat Touring Boots (CTB) for the last 15+ years and put hundreds of thousands of miles on them and resoled them 3 times. They finally are at the end of their road. My Aerostich size is a men’s 11.
FIT: The Toucans definitely run a little large. I’d estimate about a ½ size large compared to my street/athletic shoes. I’m normally a men’s 10.5 US. I have med/wide feet with high arches, narrow heel & ankles, and large calves. Using the size chart, I’m between sizes for these boots and wasn’t sure which way I should go between a size 10 or 11.
I read tons of reviews here (all 56+ reviews), watched video reviews, and read up on forums, and I was still confused as to sizing, especially if you are between sizes. Some said they fit small, others a size large and some even said they fit to size. After shooting my info to Revzilla the recommendation was to go with the 10. I can say that Revzilla’s suggestion was spot on. In fact I still have a little extra room if I wore a heavier sock during colder weather.
Hopefully this helps others in the fit department.
BUILD: Unlike some reviews, mine came perfect. This is my first boot since the CTBs so I don’t have a whole lot to compare it to, but I’ve read that Alpinestar’s can be inconsistent in their build quality. The typical comments seem to be related to sole issues (i.e. uneven sole stitching and warped sole bottoms). Of course knowing that, the first thing I did was to check out the soles and they are perfect.
The rest of the boot is also very well put together. All the panel stitching, buckles, and insides are perfectly put together.
Mine do squeak. I don’t really care. So did my other boots. IMO when you mix leather and plastic it’s gonna do that.
RIDING: Granted I don’t have a lot of time in these boots yet, but like any new boot it’s gonna feel different compared to what you already have. I’ve found that foot positioning, especially the left boot, is going to take some getting used to. The more rounded top foot area compared to my CTBs requires a different foot action to get a positive shift, specifically during an upshift. I missed my fair share of shifts today. It’s too early to say if I should just raise my shifter slightly, but I’m going to put a few thousand miles on them first on/off road before I decide.
The ankle flex is great. It’s something I really had to work on as I broke in my CTBs but is near perfect right out of the box with the Toucan.
COMPARISON: Again I don’t have a lot to compare it to but compared to the CTBs it’s night/day. Dimensionally they’re pretty close. They’re pretty much the same height but the top of the CTBs are a touch flatter compared to the Toucans. The Toucans are more rounded on the top of the foot.
The Toucans have a larger shin guard area which is pretty obvious considering the extra protection it provides over the CTBs, but the part that was a pleasant surprise is that they still fit under jeans, 5-11 style cargo pants, and all of my riding gear (Roadcrafter, BMW Rallye, and Aerostich Transit). Under jeans it does take a little work to get them over the shin guard. I wear loose fit jeans though vs. the latest skinny jeans. Not baggy but a little looser than 501s. Of course YMMV on the jeans.
Comfort was a big improvement. CTBs are notoriously tough to break-in. However after 15 yrs they were perfect. I can walk in them, set up camp after a long days ride, search for firewood, as well as, wear them all day at work which requires being on my feet for most of the day.
From the moment I put the Toucans on, they felt great. I might be exaggerating a little in saying they are as comfortable as my running shoes, but not by much. They are that comfortable from day one. After my first 100 miles in them, and going on 10 hrs of continuous wear, not one hot spot or area of discomfort. In fact I’m writing this review with them still on.
They are a little warm but not uncomfortably so, but that’s a very subjective thing.
CONCLUSION: Needing a new pair of boots, I was drawn to these because of the extra protection while riding, but also the walking comfort off the bike. High on the list was also the ability to resole and replace bits that wear out. I obviously keep my gear for a long time, so my intent was to find a boot that would last me another 15+ yrs. Waterproofness wasn’t as high on the list. I’m used to waterproofing my CTBs which are not ‘waterproof’, but with a little work and maintenance they’ve never leaked on me in driving rain or while walking through streams/rivers to scout out the best line. One thing I do like about the CTBs that very few boots in this category offer is a full leather lining….obviously it wouldn’t be gore-tex. IMO they breath the best, and the durability of a leather lining compared to other synthetic options is superior.
The Sidi Adventure Gore-Tex (because of the full grain leather), was high on the list, but I quickly remembered I don’t have SIDI feet. In the times I’ve tried on different SIDI boots in the past they’ve always been too narrow for my feet. I realize that the CTB is made by SIDI, but they must use a completely different kind of last, because they are very generous in width. The Gaerne Midland was also a consideration, but the extra protection of the Toucans w/o the downsides of off-bike use, made the difference for me. I wanted to get all the protection I could get while still keeping walking comfort.
If I had SIDI feet I may have gone that route. I personally think they look better than the Toucans and all the other features I was looking for are there also. I prefer the plainer toe box and more subdued look of the SIDI. But because the SIDIs were not an option, the Gaerne was going to be my second choice if the build quality of the Toucans was lacking. From what I hear Gaerne build quality is the bench mark in the high quality/consistency of their boots.
I am not sure if Alpinestar QC has improved or if I just got lucky, but I’m very impressed and happy with the Toucans. With all the positive reviews on this boot, my guess is Alpinestar’s quality issues aren’t nearly as bad as what is purported on the internet, but maybe still not as perfect as the other brands.
I hope to wear these a very long time. Thanks for reading and I hope this helps.
Ride: BMW GSAW