MX Boot Guide 2016

Your guide to the perfect fitting motocross boot

Guide to the perfect fitting boot
How do you find the perfect boot? We have the answer...Photos by Jeff Allen and Justin Kosman

We could start this test by waxing poetically about the bygone era of leather footwear, metal shin plates, and boots with more buckles than a straight jacket, or we can just get to the simple, modern reality that we demand a lot from our footwear. We are riding farther, faster, higher, and more treacherously than ever, and we need boots to be stiff yet flexible, secure yet comfortable, and protective yet offer some feel of the bike.

Dirt Rider also understands that boots are a major expense and that their purchase isn't something riders take lightly. This is why we put together this boot personality test. It is not a shootout because that implies a winner and a lot of losers. It is, however, a comprehensive guide to most of the major boot brands offered in the USA. What you are about to read is exactly what you would hear us say if you came up to us at the track and asked, "How are those boots?"

We kept the price range in the middle to high end, and we stuck with brands that are easily attainable in the US. UFO, Jett, Forma, and a few others have some pretty cool-looking footwear, but if they were difficult for us to get our hands on, then we suspect you would have an even harder time. Also, some brands flat out did not want to participate—we just wanted to let you know that we did our best to include everyone. (Note: All weights are for a pair of size 11s.)

Acerbis X-Move 2.0
Acerbis X-Move 2.0Photos by Jeff Allen and Justin Kosman

Acerbis X-Move 2.0

Acerbis is one of the lesser-known boots in this comparison. But, unbeknownst to many, these boots are available through Rocky Mountain ATV/MC. The main features of the X-Move are their ankle hinge and Vibram branded sole. The fit of the boot is pretty spot-on, and there is a moderate amount of insole cushion and arch support. The toe box is just a little on the roomy side but not enough to be a hindrance.

Once moving around, the movement and flexibility of this boot are incredible. Not only does the hinge allow for a ton of ankle flex and extension, but the plastic used in the chassis of the boot is pretty flexible too and lets you be very precise with the controls. There is pretty much no break-in time. The plus side to the X-Move being so flexible is that you have great bike feel and grip. You can really weld to the bike well, and the Vibram sole is über-tacky and grips the pegs like it means business. Plus, there is a good amount of sole flex, so you can feel the pegs, and walking around/crouching to work on the bike is comfortable as well.

The downsides are that there is very little support and the protection feel is at a minimum. While this boot feels like you are wearing sneakers, they also feel as though a direct hit from another bike might be felt more than if you were wearing other boots. Also, if you have ankle issues or need a lot of support, this boot might not be the way to go. Overall the X-Move is for a rider who puts a premium on flexibility, grip, and bike feel.

Price: $363.95
Weight: 9.4 lb.
Replaceable Sole: Yes
Hinged: Yes
Bootie: No
Buckles: 4
Sizes: 6-13

Alpinestars Tech 10
Alpinestars Tech 10Photos by Jeff Allen and Justin Kosman

Alpinestars Tech 10

Sliding into a pair of Alpinestars Tech 10s can be a bit snug due to the inner bootie, but once your foot is inside the sizing is true. Some break-in time is required with the Tech 10s, however. We had to ride a few hours until we could really feel the shifter and brake pedal. Properly adjusting your buckles and getting them tight enough is key with the Tech 10s. Most testers said tightening them up very snug felt best when riding, but larger riders with big ankles felt the torsion bars of the inner bootie pinched them the wrong way, so loosening the middle buckle helped alleviate this.

This is not the lightest boot out of the bunch, but weight feeling isn’t an issue while riding. The protection you feel with the Tech 10 is outstanding. Your ankle and foot feel molded to the boot thanks to the inner bootie and the flex blades near the shin and Achilles area. Flexion and extension have great stopping points and do not allow your foot to overly flex or extend. The toe box is somewhat fat and could take some time to get used to; yet to some it made shifting a little easier with the fatter toe box area. The sole is soft and very grippy when it comes to getting your feet planted on the pegs. Having a sole this tacky gives the rider comfort in riding in the proper foot placement (on the balls of the feet) without having to go to very sharp aftermarket pegs. The central sole insert is easily replaceable for all you flat-footed riders, and Alpinestars offers a fully replaceable sole and will even do the work for you if you send your boots in. The honeycomb rubber-like material on the sides of each boot makes for tons of grip when squeezing the bike. The top gaiter of the boot seals out mud and water well and seals to a wide variety of knee braces/guards.

Price: $599.95
Weight: 9.9 lb.
Replaceable Sole: Yes
Hinged: Internal hinge on bootie
Bootie: Yes
Buckles: 3
Sizes: 7-14

Alpinestars Tech 8 RS
Alpinestars Tech 8 RSPhotos by Jeff Allen and Justin Kosman

Alpinestars Tech 8 RS

The Tech 8 has been a staple of Astars’ boot lineup for a number of years and was the premium boot before the Tech 10 was introduced. A lot of modern boots have hinges and that can lead to non-hinged boots as being seen as inferior, yet the Tech 8 proves that a boot doesn’t need a hinge to perform at the highest of levels. This boot does have a bootie, and when going back and forth from a bootie to a non-bootie boot, you can really feel the benefit of the bootie. In the Tech 8, the bootie provides a massive amount of comfort and soaks up any gaps that might occur because of different foot shapes. The whole inside of the boot feels pretty welded to the foot, and there is no heel lift or wiggling inside the boot. Movement-wise, it isn’t the most flexible, but there is more extension and flex than one would expect. The combination and layout of the plastic pieces and leather sections let the ankle move in a controlled fashion without bulging out or deforming. There are no issues feeling the controls even though the sole feels pretty thick and stiff. The plus side to this is that there is a lot of impact protection but a little less grip on the pegs. Since there is no hinge, the inside of the boot is relatively smooth and gives great frame grip without snagging on plastics or the subframe. The straps are a little hard to adjust, as with all Alpinestars boots, but the buckles are great and latch easily and securely.

Past iterations of the Tech 8 have been considered bulky overall, but this latest version has a slim feel with just a little taller toe box than some of the molded-sole boots. This boot is a solid choice for an all-around rider—someone who wants protection from gnarly get-offs and high-speed rock hits and someone looking for a ton of comfort and support. Probably the only rider who wouldn’t want this boot is someone who wants maximum flexibility.

Price: $499.95
Weight: 8.9 lb.
Replaceable Sole: Yes
Hinged: No
Bootie: Yes
Buckles: 4
Sizes: 5-15

Alpinestars Tech 7
Alpinestars Tech 7Photos by Jeff Allen and Justin Kosman

Alpinestars Tech 7

The Tech 7 is like a mellower version of the Tech 10. It features a semi-hinge that gives the boot nearly no required break-in time, and as soon as you slip on the boot, it is super comfortable. It comes as close to the comfort feeling of having a soft bootie but without one. The insole is curved and contours to your foot while the ankle, heel, and toe box are well padded and sized nicely for a standard to wide foot. If you have a very narrow foot, these might be a little roomy. The flexibility and extension of the Tech 7 is just a notch below the most flexible boots in the group, and from our experience, after a number of rides, they become just as bendable as a fully hinged boot. The welded sole keeps the toe area of the boot nice and slim, so it doesn’t hang up on the shifter or brake pedal, and there is a good amount of feel on the controls. It doesn’t have the tackiest of soles, but it is far from the worst. Protection and security feel is in the mid- to high range, except that there is a very large section in the back of the boot where it is just soft leather and padding rather than a plastic piece of protection. Frame grip is high, and because the inner hinge is very minimal and located pretty high on the boot, there were no hang-up issues on any bike we rode.

The only riders we can see who would be disappointed in this boot are those looking for maximum stiffness and support. The Tech 7 is a great, near-perfect blend of flexibility, protection, and feel.

Price: $349.95
Weight: 8.8 lb.
Replaceable Sole: Yes
Hinged: Yes
Bootie: No
Buckles: 4
Sizes: 5-16

Alpinestars Tech 5
Alpinestars Tech 5Photos by Jeff Allen and Justin Kosman

Alpinestars Tech 5

By crossbreeding the lower and upper end models of its line, Alpinestars was able to take some of the best features of its high-end boots and create the new Tech 5 model. The Tech 5 is only hinged on its inside edge but still gave us an easy-to-break-in feeling. Putting on the Tech 5 feels very comfortable with tons of pillow-like padding around the ankle. The toe box does not feel as big as the Tech 10, but the padding that is around your ankle almost gives you a sense of the boot feeling too big/bulky. Really tightening down the metal buckles helps squeeze the padding in and form to your foot/ankle. The top buckle really needs to be cranked down for the simple fact that the top of the boot does allow for some mud/debris to get inside your boot if not properly tightened. Alpinestars uses a rubber honeycomb pattern on the bike side of the boot, which provides exceptional grip to the frame, but shifting is sometimes tricky. The TPU plate on the toe box doesn’t come out quite far enough, and this made more than one rider slip off of his shifter from time to time. The sole material is not quite as grippy as the Tech 7 or Tech 10 but still has plenty to grip on the pegs. Flexion and extension protection feels as good as a high-end boot, and the lightweight feeling is easy on your legs after a long day. The support of this boot is not the greatest, especially on hard landings. Most testers felt the sole was not stiff enough for aggressive riding.

The overall comfort might not quite be as good as some of the higher-end boots, but for a sub-$300 boot we think this pair is more tailor made for working on a trail, light trail riding, or a very toned-down motocross track. The sole is replaceable but not by yourself; you will have to send it off to Alpinestars if you want to replace it with the stock sole.

Price: $269.95
Weight: 5.9 lb.
Replaceable Sole: Yes
Hinged: Yes (Partial)
Bootie: No
Buckles: 4
Sizes: 5-16

AXO A2
AXO A2Photos by Jeff Allen and Justin Kosman

AXO A2

The A2 boot is AXO's flagship boot. More than two years of development went into the design of the A2, and it shows in the engineering and in the craftsmanship. However, two unfavorable attributes stood out to us while putting on the boot. It's very stiff, and the ends of the buckles are somewhat sharp, which is noticed when taking them on and off. Break-in time took almost a full day in order to really get a feel of the pegs and foot controls.

The inside of the A2 is plush and soft, and there is a generous amount of padding around the ankle, which adds to the comfort. The insole that comes in the A2 boot is good; it is soft and has a little curve to it, instead of being a completely flat piece of foam. These AXO boots offer a reinforced-nylon anti-torsion brace designed with a hinge system, which feels relatively stiff from side to side while allowing good extension and flexion once completely broken in. The toe box area has a normal feel to it and accommodated a wide range of foot shapes. Plastic is placed in key areas to help protect your leg, ankle, foot, and heel. What we noticed about this plastic on the A2 is that it’s not seamless when riding. The top of the A2 boot can get hung up when gripping with your legs and catch on the side panels. Also, the very top of the boot where the leather and plastic separate can get filled with mud fairly easy. The sole has held up well even with its soft-natured feel on the pegs. The arch support on the A2 boots is superior when landing hard off of jumps, and minimal vibration is felt through the bottom of the boot. A steel toe even helps toe protection when we took the boot off road. We did manage to lose one screw out of the plastic ankle TPU, so make sure you keep an eye on those.

This is a great boot for a reasonable cost, but just be ready to handle a lengthy break-in period.

Price: $399
Weight: 9.7 lb.
Replaceable Sole: Yes
Hinged: Yes
Bootie: No
Buckles: 4
Sizes: 5-13

Fox Instinct
Fox InstinctPhotos by Jeff Allen and Justin Kosman

Fox Instinct

The Fox Instinct boot was one of the most comfortably fitting boots in this group. Fitment is true to size (the previous year's Instincts ran small), with a very high level of comfort inside the boot, thanks to ample padding around your entire foot, though some riders felt a pinch on the top, outside front edge of the foot. The Instincts feel very light when riding, and lifting your leg up in deep ruts is noticeably easier with this Fox boot. The hinged ankle requires no break-in. We opened the box, started riding with no issues, and could feel the shifter and brake pedal right away. For the most part, the buckles are easy to operate and adjust unless a little mud gets inside the pivot point of the buckle; then it can be real tough to open them back up.

The Duratec rubber sole provides great traction on the footpeg and so far has resisted premature wear. The Duratec hinge cover and burn guards provide excellent traction against the bike. Another cool feature is the curved design of the top of the boot; it allowed for a positive seal that combated unwanted mud and debris getting in. In spite of the athletic footbed insert, polyurethane midsole layer, and steel-supported shank, the Instinct provides a great feel for the pegs and does not isolate your foot from the bike when new. Having the Instincts feel so light on your feet does make it feel like you have less protection around your ankle, but after several months of riding, ankle and joint soreness are not a problem.

Price: $549.95
Weight: 9.0 lb.
Replaceable Sole: No
Hinged: Yes
Bootie: No
Buckles: 4
Sizes: 8-14

Fox Comp 8
Fox Comp 8Photos by Jeff Allen and Justin Kosman

Fox Comp 8

Fox developed the Comp 8 boot to feel light and comfortable while maintaining the structural integrity and support of its more expensive brother, the Instinct. Although the Comp 8 doesn’t feature the hinged system like the Instinct, there is minimal break-in time and a lightweight two-to-one strap system drops the amount of buckles to three.

We would have to say the Comp 8 is almost as comfortable to wear as the Instinct and the ankle width feeling is slightly less, which makes it very easy to grip and feel the machine. The Duratec outsole is very soft and tacky, but we noticed that we went through the sole faster on the Comp 8s than on the Instincts (also with a Duratec sole). The Comp 8 also uses a steel midsole shank and provided a stiffer feeling when landing hard off of jumps. We had more ankle flexion and extension with the Comp 8s (than the Instincts) after a few rides, and while some agreed they liked this better, others felt more secure with the Instinct’s hinged system. Riders with both narrow and wider feet equally had no complaints in the toe box area, but both agreed that the toe box felt slightly less fat. We did notice some mud gathering around the gaiter, and it managed to find its way inside of the boot. Tightening the top buckle more didn’t alleviate this problem.

With a cost just over $300 we feel that this could be one of the best bang for your buck boots on the market today.

Price: $329.95
Weight: 8.6 lb.
Replaceable Sole: No
Hinged: No
Bootie: No
Buckles: 3
Sizes: 8-14

Gaerne SG-12
Gaerne SG-12Photos by Jeff Allen and Justin Kosman

Gaerne SG-12

The Gaerne SG-12 is the Italian boot maker's top-of-the line motocross offering, and it features a hinged ankle design, large grip guards on the inner calf, a carbon-fiber shank in the sole, and a dual durometer Vibram rubber sole. When sliding on the SG-12 we were amazed that break-in time was minimal thanks to the pivoting ankle. They are easy to slip into and buckle up, with the bootie-free design and straightforward buckles. Even without the bootie the Gaernes felt like they wrapped around your ankle almost like an air cast. The sole has excellent feel and grip on the pegs, with great traction even when wet. We don't know if it was the carbon-fiber shank, but hard landings were a nonissue, which is somewhat difficult with a non-steel shank and non-bootie design. The gaiter at the top of the boot does a great job of keeping out mud and debris.

The SG-12 boot has maintained the same feel throughout its life span so far, and it doesn’t feel like it is getting clapped out and less protective after several weeks of hard riding. The buckles have stayed very easy to use, and even when mud gets inside of the pivot area the buckles perform flawlessly. The Gaerne has a slimmer toe box and offered great feel when shifting. The sizing, however, runs on the big side. For testers who had size 11 feet most of them felt that a size 10 was the right fit, so be sure to try on a pair before purchasing.

Price: $549.95
Weight: 9.2 lb.
Replaceable Sole: Yes
Hinged: Yes
Bootie: No
Buckles: 4
Sizes: 8-13

Sidi Crossfire 2 SR
Sidi Crossfire 2 SRPhotos by Jeff Allen and Justin Kosman

Sidi Crossfire 2 SR

The Sidi Crossfire 2 SR is the brand's tried-and-true top-of-the-line motocross/off-road boot. The fit (length) is true to size, but those with wide feet might want to consider going up a size or at the least trying a pair on. The TA version of the Crossfire runs just a little wider. The Crossfire 2 SR boot does break in more over time, but the toe box never gets roomy. Adjusting the buckles is fairly painless, and it will accommodate a wide range of knee braces/guards easily. Once you have the boot on the hinged ankle and calf make it easy to ride aggressively right away. They feel the same on the first day as they do a few months later. The stiffness of the SR sole takes some time to get used to. It does not feel as if it flexes as much as other brands, and you can feel more vibration from the motorcycle. Some riders who have had foot injuries appreciated the feeling of the stiff sole for protection reasons on hard landings. The stiff-feeling sole is great for riders who ride with their arch on the peg because the boots still do maintain a little flexibility (just not as much as other boots in this group) in the ankle area to accommodate riders who ride on the balls of their feet.

When riding, you can really appreciate the thin feel of the Crossfire SR. Testers were able to really feel the frame, grip more with its non-bulky feeling, and felt like they had more room between their foot and the shifter than any other boot. The seamless feel of the boot is also top-notch, as we never got hung up on any machine. The complete sole of the boot is designed to be replaceable with a screwdriver, which makes it super easy and convenient to replace. We have noticed that the Sidi Crossfire 2 SRs do squeak more than other hinged boots, but a little WD-40 in those areas cures that problem. The Crossfire 2 SR is a well-thought-out boot that is more designed for the small to normal-width-footed rider.

Price: $575
Weight: 9.1 lb.
Replaceable Sole: Yes
Hinged: Yes
Bootie: No
Buckles: 4
Sizes: 7-13

Sidi Crossfire 2 TA
Sidi Crossfire 2 TAPhotos by Jeff Allen and Justin Kosman

Sidi Crossfire 2 TA

The only difference between the Crossfire 2 TA and the SR is the material and construction of the sole. Everything from the sole up is exactly the same. As you can read in the SR version’s write-up, that boot is on the narrow side, so much so that if you have a wide foot, you most likely have to go up one size to be comfortable. Another way to go is to try the TA version. Since it has a stitched sole, the way that the insole meets the rest of the boot offers just a bit more room. One of our testers with wider feet was much more comfortable in the TA than the SR version.

Also, the stitched sole of the TA isn’t nearly as stiff as the SR sole, which is good and bad, depending on your preference. The softer-feeling TA sole gives a good amount of peg and control grip, as well as feedback to the rider. The rest of the boot has all of the great qualities of the Sidi Crossfire 2: great flexibility via the well-designed hinge, a very snug but not too tight fit without a bootie, and a great blend of movement and protection. Plus, you can’t forget that nearly every single piece of the boot is replaceable.

We would say this boot is for an all-around rider who wants a good amount of flexibility, a narrow overall profile, and a boot that will last a really long time.

Price: $525
Weight: 9.0 lb.
Replaceable Sole: Yes
Hinged: Yes
Bootie: No
Buckles: 4
Sizes: 7-14.5

Sidi X-3 TA
Sidi X-3 TAPhotos by Jeff Allen and Justin Kosman

Sidi X-3 TA

The X-3 is Sidi’s new mid-priced boot, but it shares a lot of its features with the Crossfire 2. When we first put on the X-3, we noticed right away how light it feels. Also, we liked that it is easier to put on than the Crossfires, which have different straps and leather pieces that have to be put on in a certain order. There were some hot spots at the ankles while we were still at the truck, but they went away soon after starting our first ride. There is just a tiny amount of break-in time to get the boots to loosen up a bit.

These aren’t as padded or cushy as some other boots that we tried, yet they would probably be good for a wide foot since there is just a little room around the entire foot. The sole feels a bit thin, which is good for peg and control feel but might not be great for really hard landings. Also, there isn’t much shifter grip on the top of the left boot—we missed a few shifts when riding aggressively. The protection level is in the medium to high range, and we really like that there is a lot of protection in the Achilles tendon area. There is a great deal of flexibility, but the boot doesn’t have as much support as some other hinged boots. Surprisingly, the overall comfort isn’t that great. The insole feels pretty flat rather than contouring to the foot like other boots.

We would say this boot is perfect for the off-road rider who is looking for a hinged boot with a lot of feel and flexibility and who doesn’t need a ton of protection.

Price: $375
Weight: 9.0 lb.
Replaceable Sole: Yes
Hinged: Yes
Bootie: No
Buckles: 4
Sizes: 7-15

TCX Comp Evo
TCX Comp EvoPhotos by Jeff Allen and Justin Kosman

TCX Comp Evo

This is a brand-new boot from TCX, which has long had the Pro 2.0 as its top-end boot offering. The Comp Evo comes in two variations, and since it is so new at the time of this test we could only get our hands on the stitched-sole version. Not pictured is the Michelin-sole version that has a welded, non-stitched construction that was developed with the same Michelin that makes tires. Once we get some of those in the office we will do an independent test, but what we have here is almost the same boot.

These run big, like a size too big. We only got a size 10, which was too big for our size 10 testers but fit our size 11 testers fine. Overall, the whole foot area is strangely tall, with a lot of room above our feet, yet the non-bootie inside is nicely padded. For a hinged boot the Comp Evo is surprisingly stiff and doesn’t move nearly as much as other hinged boots. Combined with its big sizing, the boot didn’t have much peg or control feel, which made it feel a bit clunky and awkward. But we can tell that protection and support were very high on TCX’s list of priorities. We think this is a good boot overall but one that you really need to try on first to make sure you have the right size.

Price: $539.99
Weight: 10.4 lb.
Replaceable Sole: Yes
Hinged: Yes
Bootie: No
Buckles: 4
Sizes: 5-14

Bootie Bios:

Kris Keefer
Foot Size: 11
Preferences: "I like a stiff sole, light feeling, and usually prefer a bootie. I don't mind a fatter-feeling ankle area as long as I have good protection around my ankle."
Pet Peeve: "Boots that take forever to break in."
Words Of Wisdom: "If you see your sole [in the arch area] starting to chunk out, this is a sure sign that you're a flat-footed rider. Really concentrate on moving your feet just an inch or two back on the pegs when you ride. Literally tell yourself this once a lap or out on the trail. Practicing this will help your body positioning and leverage on the bike and also make you ride lighter on your feet, which in turn will save you from spending more money on new soles."

Chris Denison
Foot Size: 11
Preferences: "I ride light on my feet and have very strong ankles, so I like a boot that has good feel out of the sole with a comfortable amount of movement in the ankle pivot."
Pet Peeve: "Buckles that stick. I don't like having to hit myself in the foot with a dead-blow hammer."
Words Of Wisdom: "If you pinch a bike hard at the frame with your ankles/feet, look for a boot that will provide a smooth weld with the bike. If you pinch with your knees more than your feet, you'll probably be okay with something that is clunkier at the ankle joint. Also, I recommend going up a half size on certain small-fitting boots, as I've lost numerous toenails to jamming my toes into ruts and rocks. A little extra wiggle room can really help you to avoid this."

Sean Klinger
Foot Size: 10
Preferences: "I tend to prefer a boot with hinges, just because I want a boot to feel the same on the day I take them out of the box as they do a year later. That being said, I was surprised at how much I liked the support out of some of the non-hinged boots."
Pet Peeve: "Ankles that bulge. I'm sure we've all worn cheapo boots at some point or another that after a month have absolutely no ankle support and just bend as you flex your ankle. Also, I hate a long sole overhang that can catch the controls."
Words Of Wisdom: "Take stock of your type of riding and what you really need out of boots. If you only ride expert-level, technical terrain that doesn't get above 20 mph, you might want to ditch the top-level boots for some with more flex, feel, and control. Conversely, if you are doing 80 mph out in the desert, entry- or even mid-level boots might not be enough to protect you from an errant foot-on-rock contact. Lastly, you can use socks to fine-tune your fit, since many of these boots aren't offered in half sizes like shoes. Tight, thin socks are the fad right now, but if your boots are just a little roomy, try some burly old-school socks."

Pete Peterson
Foot Size: 10
Preferences: "A secure feel at the ankle and a sole that is as grippy as possible and stiff enough that I don't have sore feet after a day at the track. Also, being able to feel the bike with the side of my legs is very important. Some boots feel like pieces of PVC pipe around your lower leg. I want flex up there."
Pet Peeve: "White plastic that turns yellow and soles that are too flexible. I caught the tip of a boot on a vet track rut, and it felt like my toes kissed my heel, and believe me it wasn't a romantic feeling!"
Words Of Wisdom: "Snug the ankle strap last. A boot rep told me that latching the bottom, then the number three, then the number four, then the number two buckle is the best way to snug a boot down with everything in the correct position. It seems when I do this with a new boot it does snug it down well, and then I inevitably tighten the bottom strap a little more and the boot feels great."