Before I get into this, I want to say that the usual disclaimers apply. I have no affiliation with Riders Wearhouse or Aerostich.
Two days ago my new Aerostich Combat Touring Boots
came in. I ordered them to replace some well worn BMW Allround Boots. I had been eyeing these in the RW catalog for some time. I would read the description, and then think to myself that "these were probably too rugged for my needs" or "wow those things seem tough."
To sum it up succinctly, these are rugged and tough boots. They are made of very thick and stiff leather. The sole (the wedge in this case) is equally rugged and double stitched to the boot. They did not look like they were going to bend at all. In fact there was a two page instruction sheet that came with the boots describing how to break them in and warning that it may take some time. "What had I gotten myself into?" I thought.
I pulled them from the box and immediately opened the main flap. Doing so exposed the speed lacing system. Essentially this is just some cord laced into the boot with a speed cam lock on the end. There is also what amounts to a ski boot buckle that secures the lower portion of the flap across the vamp of the boot. This is adjustable for tension. Behind the lacing system is a large rubberized membrane that should keep water from getting past the laces. The top cuff of the boot is a softer elasticized leather that cinches against your mid calf.
I opened up the laces and spread the boot open getting ready to try them on. Images of putting on a Lange downhill ski boot and the associated pain came rushing into my head. Gingerly, I put my foot in. I was completely surprised when it just slid home into the boot. Within a few seconds I had the laces cinched up, the velcro flap closed and the buckle clamped down. The left boot confirmed that it was just this easy.
Now came the real test - walking. I expected to look like C3-PO with the grace or Frankenstein. Not so! While, yes, they are stiff, they did not hinder my gait at all! It is that simple, they were just a bit stiff! Hooray!
The instructions said to walk in them until some wrinkles begin to appear at the flex points of the ankle and the toes and then to apply a good quality leather dressing to those areas ONLY. I did that and wore them some more. They really began to break in nicely. I used what I think to be the best leather dressing made, Pecard
. This helped the break in go even faster. I can honestly say that I could wear these all day off the bike with no problem. They are really that comfortable. A short 20 mile ride test with a lot of shifting and braking confirmed that they are great on the bike. At size 13.5 I have a big foot, and I can honestly say that the volume of the boot sis not hinder my use of the pedals at all.
One thing that I must note is that these boots are not waterproof. The included instruction sheet goes to great lengths to explain this, but also adds with similar verbosity that a coat or two (preferred to do 2 medium coats) of a quality waterproofing product will go a long way to keeping you dry. Personally, I have no thoughts to the contrary on this. I see no reason why this would not work, and if you kept after it, why you would have soggy feet. That said, I have not tested this theory, but after the boots are well broken in I will be applying a waterproofer.
In short, I would not hesitate to recommend these to anyone looking for a good quality riding boot. The break in is not nearly as bad (for me) as described. The boot is very comfortable, and it will not doubt go a long way to protect your feet in the unlikely event of a get off, or from the detritus that can be kicked up on the roads. This boot has no added armor, but I do not think that is a problem at all. This is a very well thought out boot.