CRAIG'S LATEST RAMBLINGS AND WORDS OF SEMI-WISDOMLiving Off the Slab Blog
Back in 2015 when I decided to try adventure riding, I purchased a pair of TCX X-Desert GoreText boots. This footwear worked great riding to Alaska in 2017, keeping my feet dry and secure, and for the limited dirt we were traveling (mostly two-lane dirt roads) the TCX boots were a great choice. However, now that I and my fellow sexagenarians have decided it is a good idea that we 60 somethings try a bit more off-road riding, it is time for something with more lateral and crush protection.
Unfortunately, I found this out the hard way when in June of 2020, we were riding the Mid-Atlantic BDR. Everything was going great, and I was feeling good, when we came down a moderately steep hill compose of hard packed clay and a light layer of small gravel. I watched as my companion riding in front slipped out, catching himself by putting out his left leg. For me, I was standing up at the time, so I slowed the bike to a speed I thought was appropriate for the left-hand bend at the bottom of the hill.
After slowing, I began to reposition myself on the bike, placing my weight to the outside in an attempt to maintain as much traction as possible. It was then that the rear wheel suddenly lost grip and I went down like a ton of bricks, falling on my left side.
I knew immediately that my left shoulder and left foot were injured and based on the pain, I figured I had broken the foot and possibly dislocated or separated my shoulder.
Long story made short, I ended up with three fractures of the left foot (luckily none of them displaced) and four severely torn muscles of the rotator cuff. Just in case you don’t know, there are only four of them. The surgeon called it a “massive tear,” for which I would undergo surgery in October of the same year.
Once I began to heal, I figured it was time to do two things. One, I needed to get better at riding off-road, and two I needed to upgrade my protection so that the same thing did not happen again. The left foot was fractured when my boot became trapped between the foot peg and frame, crushing and twisting my bones laterally.
While the TCX boots were great at protecting me from the elements, they proved to be lacking in the movements necessary to prevent my injury in this case. I then decided it was time to upgrade my off-road boots.
I am not a motocross or trail rider, what I enjoy is travel whether it be on paved or dirt road. The new boots I chose needed to provide protection from injury, but also be comfortable during a long day in the saddle and of course be 100% waterproof. After researching the different options, I decided on the Alpine Stars Tech-7 Enduro boots with DryStar.
I did an initial review of these boots after receiving them in late 2020, however due to my injuries and upcoming surgery, I was not able to put enough time riding in the boots to provide meaningful input as to what it is like to travel in them.
You can view that video here:
Alpine Stars Tech 7 Enduro Boots with DryStar | First Impressions
I have been able to spend a couple of long days riding in these boots (in excess of 200 miles) and I find them to be extremely comfortable. In my other boots, my feet become fatigued especially while standing, but the Tech-7s and extremely supportive and my feet feel great at the end of such a day.
The boots are a bit warmer than my TCX boots, but that is expected given their weight and level of protection. I do not think the DryStar breathes as well as GoreTex, but the difference is minimal and not uncomfortable.
I normally wear a U.S. 10.5, but have a wide foot (EE). I often need to go up a half-size to get the proper width. That is what I had to do with these boots, opting for a U.S 11 (45.5 E.U.). As I mentioned above, the boots fit and feel great.
The Alpine Stars Tech-7 Enduro boots are not made for walking long distances. They are comfortable walking into a store or around camp, but I would not go for a hike in them. They just do not have the flexibility required to be a good walking boot.
One of the knocks on the Tech-7 line is that they squeak, and that is true. You are not going to sneak up on anyone in these boots, but it is a minor issue. After spending a day riding on dusty conditions, I noticed that the squeak was less, so I guess you just need to keep your boots dirty.
For me these boots are just what I was looking for as far as protection is concerned. I wanted something with much better lateral and crush protection and these boots deliver. I have even had one small get off, again to the left, and was able to step out with no pain or discomfort. After my fractures, I have discomfort while walking all the time, so the fact that I was able to step out of a fall and feel nothing says a lot.
The other knock on these boots is that they are difficult to shift in. Again, this is true, at least until you make a minor modification to your shift lever, raising it by an inch or so, and learn to change your technique.
For me I had to overcome two things in order to shift easily with the Alpine Stars Tech-7 boots. First, I had to realize that I was not going to feel the noticeable clunk or click when changing gears. These boots are so stiff and protective that any vibratory sensation is eliminated. I needed to learn to listen to the bike and feel the vibratory changes with my legs, to know that a successful gear change has been made.
Second, I need to learn to shift with my toe (tip of the boot) rather than inserting my foot under the shift lever, near the metatarsals (see images below).
Being that these boots are so stiff there is little dorsi-flexion at the ankle. The further you stick your foot under the shift level, the more you limit this motion. Shifting with the tip of you boot, gives you just enough added motion to easily perform a successful gear change.
This does take a little getting just to, but now that I know the secret, shifting is not an issue. In addition to making these modifications, I also worked the boot to break it in more quickly. First, I walked around my back yard to loosen things up and second, I worked the boot, with my hands simulating the shifting motion. I performed 100 repetitions each night for a week, treating the boot like it was a new baseball glove, working it to break it in. This seemed to help greatly.
Be advised that if you buy these boots you may need to upgrade your riding pants. The Tech-7s are taller and wider than normal adventure boots. My Klim Bad Lands pants do fit over the boots, but they are very tight.
I have switched to using the Klim Dakar, in the boot pant when wearing these boots. The Dakar pants are lighter and cooler than the Bad Lands, which is a benefit, however they are not waterproof and do not come with padding. If you decided to go the same direction I did, you will need to find an alternative rain pant and padding solution. I have listed the items I have chosen below.
Two of my riding buddies also wanted to improve their foot protection, but that did not want to go through the break in and relearning required to shift properly in the Tech-7 boots. You should note that they did not break their foot, as I did, and were less motivated.
The option they choose was the Alpine Stars Toucan Adventure Boot, with GoreTex. This boot does not provide the same level of protection that the Tech-7 does, but it is easier to shift and walk in.
Overall, I am incredibly pleased with the Alpine Stars Tech-7 boots. They are comfortable and provide a much greater level of protection that my old adventure boots. For me they are just what I was looking for.
Purchasing Alpine Stars Tech-7 Enduro Boot, with DryStar:
To purchase the Alpine Stars Tech-7 Enduro Boot, with DryStar, please consider Motosport.com. They have competitive prices, great service, and your purchase will help to fund this channel and keep the videos coming (we get a small commission on the sale).
Ride safe my friends!