[Review] Joe Rocket Canada Whistler Adventure Boots
The Whistler Adventure Boots Are Here
Whistler Adventure Boots Review Summary
These mid-height adventure style boots are only waterproof to about ¾ of their height. A flexible synthetic leather body makes walking around in them feel like you aren’t wearing motorcycle boots. They’re too warm for really hot days and not insulated enough for actual winter usage but suitable for the majority of Canada’s short motorcycle season temperatures. They’re reasonably priced, but lack the level of protection I would demand in an adventure motorcycle boot. Even regular street riding in these I wouldn’t expect too much in the way of protection in a crash despite the CE Level 2 rating.
I’ve been wearing a pair of SIDI Adventure 2 Gore-Tex Boots for three years and appreciate them for all the reasons outlined in the review we did of them years ago. They set the footwear protection and comfort benchmark for me at this point and rank among the best adventure boots available on the market.
But what do you do if you can’t afford to pay $600 for your motorcycle boots that will only see action for 3 or 4 months of the year?
The answer is to look around at other less expensive options like the Whistler Adventure boots from Joe Rocket Canada, for example, to see if they’re up to the task.
Thank you, JRC!
I reached out to my contact Max at Joe Rocket Canada to get a pair of these boots specifically for this review and he provided them to me at no cost.
These boots have a wide body (across the toes) on them compared to many other boots I’ve worn which bodes well for my E width feet. I selected size 8 from the chart on the JRC site and that turned out to be the correct choice as far as length and width are concerned.
Slightly Loose and Wobbly
Putting them on for the first time immediately concerns me in a couple of ways.
To start with, the shape of the boots isn’t foot formed enough for my liking. What I mean is that the interior shape doesn’t contour well my foot arch, and general shape. This is often the case with a brand new set of boots, but with this Whistler, something more is going on.
I find new boots are often way too tight and pinch across the width and height. That’s ok because it always relaxes after getting broken in over hundreds of miles traveled. These boots however are loose-fitting across the top and sides. Because of this, my foot can slide around independent from the sole of the boot more than I’m used to.
In short, these don’t feel anything like motorcycle boots. They’re far too comfortable… which I admit is on the surface a bizarre complaint to make. They feel like a pair of winter boots I’d wear in January to spend the day hiking in snow, not ones I’d don in July to ride in an adventure rally.
Where’s the Beef?
I find myself wondering where exactly the shin, ankle, toe, and heel armour is in this boot given the claims from Joe Rocket Canada of “C.E. EN 13634:2017 RATED PROTECTION”. I can easily twist, contort, and bend any part of this boot in my hands with minimal effort.
CE Level 2 Rating
If you look at the CE tag in the Whistler boots you’ll find they’re rated a “2-2-2”, meaning they meet the slightly higher standard for Impact, Abrasion and Rigidity while also earning IPS and IPA markings. This means these boots only allowed a maximum of 5kN of energy through the protective armour when 10 joules of force were applied to the ankle and shin protection during testing.
How much is 5kN of force? 1124 lbs of force as per Google. That seems like it would really hurt my shin or ankle, to be honest.
The synthetic leather used to build these boots is a handsome brown colour and the sole looks thick and strong. The tread is an odd mix of varying patterns with some logical thought behind them I’m sure. Time in the field will tell me more about how practical or random it is.
The closure flap bulges weirdly both above and below the micrometric buckle, and the waterproof gaiter stubbornly pops out just below the velcro flap at the top of the shin area.
Honestly, I’m not a big fan of the overall look, but I’m a function over form kind of guy anyway so I’m willing to look past the less than dazzling appearance if it performs for me on the bike.
I do appreciate the reflective strips embedded in the heel of each boot. I’ll take anything to get noticed better on the road by other vehicles.
The Whistler Adv boots weigh 3.3 lbs or 1500 grams.
They’re light on my feet and easy to walk in. I didn’t get tired wearing them at any point during my testing.
No Rubbing or Chafing
I’m happy to report the boots never rubbed anywhere while walking in them. I never knew the pain of blisters or anything else like it which quite surprised me due to the fairly loose fit of them.
Loud Stomping Noises?
Every other motorcycle boot I’ve worn has turned me into a gunslinger caricature from an old Western. By this, I mean that walking on any kind of hard surface produces a distinct and noticeable “clomp, clomp, clomp” minus the high-pitched singing of the cowboy spurs.
The Whistlers don’t do that and allow me to be much more stealthy. Thankfully they don’t live up to their name and produce any whistling or other irritating noises either.
Testing Out On The Road
I wore these boots on my Kawasaki H2SX SE and KTM 790 Adventure on rides totaling over 2200 km in conditions ranging from pouring rain to hot and dry conditions. Low speeds off-road and high speeds on asphalt.
These are boots made for Canadian motorcycle riding conditions and are a tad more insulated than many others on the market.
I found them way too warm to wear in temperatures above 30 Celsius off the motorcycle. As long as I kept moving at speeds over 80 kph I was able to feel relatively content, but whenever I got stuck in traffic or off the bike in those temperatures my feet were at undesirably sweaty levels.
Interestingly enough, when temperatures dropped to 5 Celsius or below I noticed the toe shifter protective pad on the boots transmitted cold to my toes inside far too easily, but this is a common problem on most boots I’ve tested (including the Sidi Adventure Gore-Tex 2). I would have thought these Whistlers would keep me warmer in single-digit temperatures than they actually did since they look and feel much like typical winter boots to me.
Velcro and Micrometric Latches
The velcro on these boots is strong and held up to plenty of use and abuse by yours truly while out in the field. Full marks here JRC!
The micrometric buckles, on the other hand, don’t have enough positions on them to fully tighten the boots to my feet. They need at least two more notches by my estimation or an elastic interior nearby.
The left side latch came undone during my testing at least 10 times unless I punched it shut with what I would guesstimate to be a 5kN hammer fist blow. Even now after so many miles, it will still randomly pop open unless I give it the physical abuse it seems to crave.
The bulging flaps of leather never flattened out either to my dismay.
Toughness and Protection
There’s no doubt in my mind that these boots can hold up under challenging adventure riding conditions. How many years they’ll last is the only unknown since my testing only spanned 4 weeks.
I put them through mud, dirt, dust, and plenty of water while testing them and upon inspection now I don’t see anything indicating they’re about to separate at any of the seams. No threads opened up or frayed either.
I didn’t manage to bounce my feet off any big obstacles during my testing so I can’t comment widely on whether or not the degree of protection is adequate.
My gut feeling says it’s not up to what I think is enough. I don’t want to be able to flex the boot as much as I’m able to on this one. I want patches of thick TPU in high impact areas to stiffen up the carcass of the boot and keep my ankle supported better.
I’d like to see a shin plate on the front of the boot above the ankle.
Yes, I realize that would make the Whistler much less comfortable to walk in, but walking isn’t high on my list of wants and needs from a motorcycle boot. Job one is protecting/supporting my ankle and foot in a crash or impact while riding off-road. I just don’t feel this is enough boot for a serious adventure bike rider where flying off the bike or having the bike fall on top of you is a real possibility.
Here’s another area I want more out of the Whistler than it currently has.
I immersed the boots in cold, glacier stream water for 15 minutes twice during my testing to see how it would stand up. It did very well in both cases until I stood in water that went deeper than 6 inches.
It was then I realized that the waterproof gaiter doesn’t run up the shin portion of the boot! The sensation of freezing cold water pouring into my boots tipped me off about this.
The second time came when I did a stream crossing on my bike and got stuck at the opposite shore due to large rocks halting my progress.
I had to jump off the bike and push it up the bank. Splashing around in the water caused waves that leaped up over the waterproof barrier and once again soaked my feet for the ride home.
Joe Rocket Canada, I would encourage you to extend the waterproof liner up to the very top of the Whistler boots to make them way more useful to adventure riders.
The Foot “Funk” Factor
If you’re an avid adventure rider you know the precise number of days you can wear the same pair of socks without changing them. The answer is 3 days in case you’re new to this. After that, the foot odour is far too intense and you must swap out your stockings to protect yourself and your riding friends from what probably resembles mustard gas fumes.
In other boots, I’ve tested the antimicrobial liner has prevented the boots from becoming permanently stinky even with repeated 3-day exposures, but the Whistler seems to lack this attribute based on my testing. After a 4 day riding adventure, these boots were rank and offensive smelling.
However, after swamping them in the creek crossing I talked about above, I pulled out the liners and left the boots to dry in my garage for 2 weeks without wearing them again and the smell appears to have left them for now!
Everyone’s individual foot bacteria count varies, of course, so your experience may be different with these Whistlers.
The Final Verdict?
As much as I dislike being more negative than positive about a product I review, I’m going to have to lean that way when it comes to these Whistler Adventure boots.
They don’t have the degree of protection I feel is adequate for adventure rider boots.
They aren’t waterproof enough to cover the puddles and creeks I encounter in my riding.
I don’t like how unsecured my feet feel inside of them. I want to feel like my feet and ankles are as close to fused with my boots as possible.
I feel like if I were to get in an accident while wearing these boots that I would fly out of them due to the loose fit. I know that sounds crazy but it happens when people are struck by vehicles and if the boots aren’t on your feet when you land then it’s your skin that will take the damage instead of the protective equipment.
Are they a better choice than wearing running shoes, work boots, or the sandals I sometimes see people wearing? Absolutely, yes! If all you can afford to spend is $210 then go ahead, but I would encourage you to instead buy boots that EXCEED CE Level 2 protection, instead of just meeting it. That’s perhaps a problem with CE certification? We don’t know how close a product came to failing since it’s just a pass/fail system.
What’s Your Health Worth?
That’s the bottom line here for me: protection or lack thereof. Motorcycle boots are supposed to protect first and be easy to walk in second.
Two of my friends were involved in crashes this summer and both suffered serious ankle injuries requiring surgery to repair. Both were wearing good quality footwear. I wonder if they would even still have feet attached to their legs had they been wearing lesser quality boots? That’s a very sobering thought to consider my friends. Imagine yourself going through the rest of your life minus a foot or leg.
I’m really sorry, Max and my other friends at Joe Rocket Canada, but I can’t give a ringing endorsement of these particular boots based on my testing and observations.
On the other hand, I think the Ballistic Adventure Boots look like they would be a better choice because they’re full height and have some extra armour in them judging from the photos I see on the website. I think those are worth a closer look if you can find an extra $60 in your budget to buy boots.