Updated February, 2018
Dirt boots, offroad boots or motocross boots, three different names but really all the same boot. And the reason that these are all pretty much the same is that these are the boots that are going to take the most abuse, be pushed to the greatest extremes and still be expected to provide complete protection for a rider’s feet, ankles, and legs.
Other types of motorcycle boots are expected to provide support and protection from road debris or inclement weather on a regular basis. And in that rare case of an accident, riders want the security of knowing that their boots will provide impact and abrasion protection to get them through the incident. But for most boots, that accident is an end of life event. The rider acknowledges that the boots did their job, hopefully, and then buys a new pair.
Simply put, boot failure or destruction is not an issue as long as the rider’s feet and ankles remained unharmed. But a dirt boot is held to a much higher standard. What would be a catastrophic event and result in total destruction of many boots needs to be a business as a usual occurrence for a dirt boot? Continuous impact, abrasion, and abuse are what these specific boots are designed to endure.
Our Top Picks
Dirt Boots Buyers Guide
The number one priority for any dirt boot is the absolute protection of the feet, ankles, and legs. That is just a feature riders should never be willing to compromise. But fit and comfort are also important to how well a dirt boot meets a riders needs. Understanding that a certain height, sole or adjustment feature could be critical to how well a boot performs and meets a specific riders needs is an important concept to keep in mind when evaluating dirt boots. Applying those personal fit and taste preferences to the boots that we are recommending as safe and of a high quality will help riders to be successful when selecting a new pair of dirt boots.
The Sidi X3 is a professional quality boot without the high price tag to make it too expensive for recreational riders.
Now riders who want to invest a fair amount to get superior protection, features and comfort in a dirt boot have a true option that doesn’t require compromise. This boot is a great example of the benefit spending just a little bit more to get a great deal more quality. Many of the features, including the sole of this boot, can be replaced to provide riders with an even greater return on their investment.
The base material for the Sidi X3 is Technomicro, a man-made material which offers many of the same benefits as natural leather. But Technomicro is actually stronger, softer and lighter weight than leather.
- In addition, this material is very abrasion resistant. The sole of the X3 is made from anti-skid rubber.
- Sidi sells replacement soles separately which can be installed by a cobbler to prolong the use of this boot.
The insole on the X3 is made of nylon and doesn’t pose the potential injuries like a steel shank does.
- There is also a removable arch support included in the boots and an inner heat shield for added rider comfort.
- The many small bones of the foot are protected by the malleolus plastic guard with ergonomic closed cell foam padding.
- The boot heel is formed by a rigid, shock resistant anatomically shaped protector while there is also a protective plastic shield over the toes.
- Hinged ankle support provides protection against crushing, hyperextension and twisting while the Single Flex System provides comfort and protection for the upper area.
- Four replaceable micro adjustable cam lock buckles provide a super secure fit and allow riders to adjust the various parts of the boot to fit their exact foot, ankle and leg size.
- The cambrelle lining and the slim non-bootie design add to the comfort that riders can expect from the X3.
At under $300, the Sidi X3 dirt boot offers riders professional quality at an amazingly affordable price. Durability, replaceable parts, and impeccable safety features make the Sidi X3 our selection for Best Overall Dirt Boot.
The O’Neal Rider is a great choice for an entry level dirt boot that offers solid protection. Many times, the less expensive boots tend to offer little protection or are not very durable. But O’Neal has found a way to offer an affordable dirt boot without compromising the quality or the design or the protection.
The protection begins with injection molded plastic plates to absorb impact and provide additional abrasion protection.
- Metal Shank reinforces the shape of the boot and also adds to the support.
- The durable Goodyear welt sole is well balanced to eliminate rocking and also has a metal toe guard to protect against delaminating.
- A synthetic leather heat shield increases rider comfort but also protects against damage to the boots from exhaust or engine heat.
The four buckle closure system features Snap-Lock adjustable buckles for a secure fit and comfort. Riders can adjust each buckle to create a custom fit for their foot, ankle and leg size.
- The mesh interior adds to the comfort and aids in wicking moisture away from the skin.
- Extra heel support of the insole provides a comfortable and secure fit even for long rides.
At around $100, the O’Neal Rider offers a great choice for a dirt boot at a reasonable price. Riders will also appreciate that replacement parts are sold separately to extend the life of this boot. This makes the O’Neal Rider our selection for Best Value Dirt Boot.
Sidi Crossfire 3
The Sidi Crossfire 3 offers riders an amazing amount of functionality and safety in a very customizable dirt boot.
All of the armor plates use hardware for attachment making each piece replaceable for years of service from a single pair of boots. Granted, these boots do have a premium price tag but the safety of your feet and ankles is not really something that you can put a price on. Knowing that you have the best protection and that you will most likely walk away from any wreck is priceless.
- The Dual Flex System is a feature that protects riders from lateral hyperflexion but it also offers a hard stop to eliminate the potential for a hyperextension of the ankle joint. Both of these injuries can have long-term to permanent impact.
- Four floating independent straps allow each rider to custom fit the system regardless of their body size or shape.
The custom fit of the calf is also possible thanks to the double adjustable calf plate system which is exclusive to the Sidi line of boots.
- And not only is this system adjustable but it is also made of two materials, one is rigid for protection and supports the other is designed as a heat shield to protect the rider’s leg from the exhaust and engine heat.
On the inside of this boot, riders will be amazed at the added comfort of the more pronounced cup and thickness of the insole, the removable arch support, the new rigid and anatomically shaped heel and the combo Cambrelle and Teflon mesh liner.
- Both of these materials provide comfort to the touch but also aid in wicking moisture away from the skin to promote natural cooling.
The Crossfire 3 is secured using a series of 4 buckles which are all attached to a single point of connection.
- This allows the rider to create a custom fit at each buckle point.
- The buckles remain in that fixed setting and eliminate the need for tweaks and adjustments before each ride.
- Each buckle can also be adjusted slightly to allow the rider to conform the boot shape to their riding style and body position.
One look at the Crossfire 3 and riders will understand the higher price tag. Outside the world of professional racing, very few pieces of gear offer as many options for customization as these boots do. The safety, the versatility and the ability to replace parts as needed makes the Sidi Crossfire 3 our selection for best Fully Loaded Dirt Boot.+6
Other Great Dirt Boots
Alpinestars Tech 5
The Alpinestars Tech 5 boots are constructed of lightweight microfiber material with action leather on top of the toe box. The recent redesign has offered riders improvements in the fit and function to make these a great option for a middle of the road priced dirt boot. And with over half a dozen color schemes, there is something for everyone’s taste in the Tech 5 line.
Safety is the most important feature for any dirt boot and the Tech 5 starts with a one-piece TPU injected foot shell then adds metal shank and a co-injected toe for even more protection.
- The biomechanical pivot provides protection and support for the ankle and a TPU heel patch is connected to the shell for even more protection and durability.
- Inside the boot, riders enjoy the comfort of a replaceable anatomic EVA footbed with a textile lining to match the complete textile liner in the boot.
- Soft poly-foam surrounds the ankle for added comfort and support as well as the top collar of the boot. And the PU synthetic gaiter helps to keep water and dirt out of the boot.
The closure system for the Tech 5 is a series of 4 polymer buckles.
- Each buckle has a ratchet with a memory and quick release/lock system.
- The buckles are also self-aligning for a precise closure and great secure fit every time.
The sole of this boot is a high grip rubber compound and can be replaced as it begins to wear to extend the life of the boots.
For a name brand boot with a middle of the pack price point, the Alpinestars Tech 5 is a solid selection for a dirt boot that provides safety, comfort, and durability.
The Gaerne SG-12 takes dirt boots to the next level for riders who are willing to make the investment. Innovation in the design and materials used to make this boot offer riders a distinct advantage over older methods and materials. When you are considering the value of your feet and ankles, consider how much more protection you get when you spend a few hundred dollars more.
The Dual Stage Pivot System has got to be the biggest upgrade that these boots offer. The “Razorback” provides a rigid component for strong lateral support while the glide plate keeps upper firm and in the correct position. This system offers superior protection from twisting and torque related injuries without restricting the range of motion.
- The toe cap was designed to provide more durability and protection as was the heel cup.
- The new toe box design offers a slimmer shape for an improved sense of touch on the shift lever.
- The thermoplastic shin plate is curved for a better fit as it spans the lower leg and attaches to the closure system.
- Four alloy buckles and adjustable straps offer independent adjustment to provide a custom fit from the instep to the collar of the SG-12.
Comfort is also a major feature in the SG-12. The gaiter is made of ACRONOS which is a Swiss fabric known to be extremely stretchy and breathable. This fabric works very well to maintain a close fit to keep sand and debris out while still allowing for air-flow.
- The grip guard on the inner side of each boot also offers riders the ability to have more grip and control of the bike.
- Finally, riders like the ability to adjust the size of the opening on this boot. A simple three screw adjustment allows for more space for easy access or to accommodate a larger calf or a knee brace.
The price of the Gaerne SG-12 is on the high end of the spectrum but the safety and comfort features of this boot more than justify the cost. Riders who are looking for superior foot and ankle protection will appreciate what the SG-12 has to offer.
Fox Racing Instinct
The Fox Racing Instinct was designed to provide riders with instant, all day comfort as well as protection. No break-in time of discomfort or awkwardness is required from the Instinct. These boots are also designed to excel where other boots fail in wet and rugged conditions.
The grip is critical for riders in wet conditions and the Duratac Fox rubber compound provides outstanding grip both from the soles of these boots and also the burn guards on the inner leg.
- The open lug pattern on the soles is also great for traction and it reduces the mud build up on the soles.
Safety and comfort are not overlooked in these boots either.
- The patent pending Hinge Lockout System stops motion before any damage can be done by hyperextension.
- The full coverage toe box provides added protection and comfort without hindering shifting.
- The slimmer design allows riders a better sense of control and feel as they grip, shift their weight and lean when maneuvering their bike.
- A four buckle closure system is designed to lock effortlessly and remain secure until unlocked, while also allowing riders to fine tune a personalized fit from the instep to the top of the boot collar.
For riders who are looking for that ultimate riding comfort right out of the box, the Fox Racing Instinct is a great selection. The instant comfort, valuable feedback, and touch as well as the safety features make the Instinct a great selection for a quality dirt boot.