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Old 10-06-2010, 10:05 AM   #1
mistercindy OP
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Thumb My Review of Aerostich Combat Lites

In late July I ordered a pair of Aerostich’s Combat Lite boots. They were out of stock in my size, so I didn’t get them until late Friday afternoon, September 3rd. After one month and ~1,200 miles I decided I knew enough to write a review. Sorry for its length, but this is such a talked about product that I decided to include all my thoughts. If you don’t want to read it all, here’s the short version:
  • Do research on the sizing before you buy!
  • They’re heavy. But you get used to it.
  • They’re boxy. But you get used to it.
  • They’re stiff at first. But wear them every day and after a few days you can feel that they are breaking in. They’re basically comfy after couple of weeks of near daily wear. Don’t be scared away by people who say it takes a year to break in, and you don’t need to soak them in water or anything else too strange. Leather conditioner and time on the feet is enough.
  • I got a bad blister on the back of my right achilles tendon just over my heel. All seems well now, but I’m still concerned about it.
  • Assuming the blister problem doesn’t return, these should be great for many years.


Okay then, here's the long version:

First Impressions:

MY GOODNESS the box was heavy! The heft of the box and the heft of the boots themselves were a surprise. The leather in the box smelled beautiful, and the new boots smelled great, too. Did I say they were heavy?

Sizing:

The first big test was sizing. I ordered Aerostich’s size 10, which their website defines as a Euro 45. I was worried about sizing, as I haven’t worn a size 10 in anything since I was in 7th or 8th grade. I usually wear an 11D or an 11 medium. My running shoes are a size 12 to give my toes more room, but when asked I’d say that I’m an 11 to 11 ½.

But, I ordered the 10 (or 45), because Aerostich suggested it as their boots are sized large. Many reviews said the same thing. Most importantly, a number of people told me via PMs here and at the BMWMOA forum, that they ordered the same size in the Combats or the Combat Lites as their Oxtars. I wear a 45 in Oxtar, so that’s what I ordered.

So, I wore them around the house for 15 minutes or so to convince myself that the size was okay, and it was. There were stiff, but okay. Aerostich size 10 fits me. And if you wear Oxtar and/or TCX, then get the same size and you ought to be fine.

The First Day of Riding:

The day after I got them, Saturday Sept 4th, was beautiful so I rode to an air show at a local suburban airport wearing the combat lites. I had them on my feet for about six hours which included probably a mile of walking on pavement and ~100 miles of riding. The only problem was that I felt some uncomfortable rubbing on my achilles tendon above my right heel that I thought might turn into a blister. When I took the boots off the spot on my skin was red, but no blister.

The Blister:

Ultimately, though, a blister formed and broke, and that portion of the right boot was very painful. The inside of the right boot now has a nice little blood spot where it blistered above my heel , but I kept wearing them since I wanted this initial break in period to happen sooner rather than later. Today the blister has healed and there is no pain at all. I hope that part of the reason is because the boots have broken in a bit, but it could be because it has formed a bit of a callous, and perhaps with the cooler weather its because I'm wearing ski socks instead of standard crew athletic socks.

Breaking In:

I’ve read all these reports about soaking them in water then wearing them until they dry out, etc… I won’t do that since, regardless of whether it works, it breaks down the leather. I decided to do it the old fashioned way by wearing them. After a 300 mile day of off then on-road riding, the boots got pretty gunked up, I washed the nastiest stuff off with an old toothbrush and a touch of damp saddle soap. Then, using my fingers, I cleaned and treated them with Bick-4 conditioner (LINK). Then I applied Sno-Seal, again with my fingers, for helping the water resistance. That’s all I ever plan to put on the boots. A little saddle soap (not much, and rarely) when the need arises, a good leather conditioner, and some Sno-Seal once or twice a year.

Otherwise, I’ve now had the boots for a month and just over 1200 miles of riding and probably four or five miles of walking. I have a 60 mile round trip commute, and most of my work day is in a chair starring at a computer, or walking on carpet. However, after just a week I could tell that the leather was molding nicely to my feet. With the exception of the blister on my right heel, these were becoming those boots that “fit like a glove.” After a month I’m convinced of that. I’ve read all these horror stories about the CTB or CTB Lites taking a year to break in with all manner of oddball treatments. IMHO that’s just not the case.

Riding:

They’re definitely bigger around the toes then the boots I was wearing, TCX X-Fives (formerly Oxtar Matrix, which are great boots, BTW). I missed a few gears here and there for a couple of weeks, but it hasn’t happened in quite a while. The problem is less stiffness than getting used to the boots’ size. Its really no big deal, as you have to get used to being on a bike with any new boot, and these are no exception. I haven’t tested them in a serious rain yet, but I’ve been through a couple of sprinkles and a puddle or two, and they’ve been fine. The CTB Lites have a stiffer sole than other boots I’ve worn, so standing on the pegs is easier.

Walking:

With the exception of dealing with that blister, these are comfortable walking boots. As I said, they’re fine now. I don’t know if it’s a result of the boots being more broken in, or if its because of a callous on my heel, the ski socks, or a combination of all three. Keeping them on for 14 hours on a work day is easy. They remain comfortable all day.

Miscellaneous Stuff:
  • I like the speed laces, but as many reviews say, the laces you get from Aerostich cling to the velcro, which is a minor PITA. After just a month, the laces are frayed from being peeled from the velcro. After a while I’ll just replace them with something that won’t do that. No biggie, but you’d think that Aerostich would have switched to something better by this time.
  • Speaking of the laces, you have to figure out where to put the excess after you tighten them. No biggie, but you do have to figure out your own little system.
  • I got mine with the cleated soles. I kept reading that the wedge could get slippery on certain surfaces, and that the cleat was better for walking off of pavement. They do not get hung up on the pegs, which was my only concern. I like ‘em.
  • The buckles work, but I can’t get over my not trusting them. I heard a few stories of their breaking. I’m considering buying a couple of spares just in case.
  • The first couple of weeks that I wore them it was still pretty hot. Mid-90s, etc… But they didn’t feel as hot as my gore-tex lined boots. Sure my feet were sweating in the CTB Lites, but they also sweated in my Oxtar mesh boots with gore-tex. This morning I rode to work in 42 degrees, and my feet never felt cool. My guess is the CTB Lites can be an all weather-four season boot.
  • I know it’s a heavy leather, but I would like some armor on the shin and the ankles.
The People at Aerostich:

They're nice and helpful. They'll talk to you and answer your questions on the phone, and they promptly respond to emails. When they found out that my size wasn't in stock, they told me via email within hours after I placed my order. From my limited experience, the folks at Aerostich deserve their reputation for excellent customer service.

Conclusion:

These are very well constructed boots using wonderful leather. If you can find a pair that fits, and don't mind the weight, then they ought to be a great pair of boots.
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mistercindy screwed with this post 10-06-2010 at 12:50 PM
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Old 10-06-2010, 11:45 AM   #2
levain
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Glad you like the boots! I love mine.
A couple things I've noticed in the 50,000ish miles I've had mine..
-My speed laces are still the stock ones from new. I've thought about changing them, but I just haven't gotten around to it. They have frayed a bit, but really, they become a non-issue.
-I heard the horror stories of snapping buckles as well. Mine are still original and work as new.
-I heard about the velcro wearing. Well, mine is still super strong, and frankly considering the miles on the boots if the velcro wore at this point it'd be no biggie!
-Good choice on the cleated sole. I got them with cleated. When it wore out I switched to wedge. When the wedge wears out I'll go back to the cleat.

Mine are starting to get just a little moist in heavy rain in the toe box. I saw this pair of Oxtar Matrix boots for sale so cheap I couldn't pass them up, thinking I'd wear them in the wet occasionally. That was a couple months ago. The boots arrived and they feel like a toy in comparison. Those were the boots I switched from, and I couldn't go back to such a flimsy boot after the combat lites!

Here's to many miles in your new boots!
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Old 10-06-2010, 01:09 PM   #3
mistercindy OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams
Glad you like the boots! I love mine.
A couple things I've noticed in the 50,000ish miles I've had mine..
-My speed laces are still the stock ones from new. I've thought about changing them, but I just haven't gotten around to it. They have frayed a bit, but really, they become a non-issue.
-I heard the horror stories of snapping buckles as well. Mine are still original and work as new.
-I heard about the velcro wearing. Well, mine is still super strong, and frankly considering the miles on the boots if the velcro wore at this point it'd be no biggie!
-Good choice on the cleated sole. I got them with cleated. When it wore out I switched to wedge. When the wedge wears out I'll go back to the cleat.

Mine are starting to get just a little moist in heavy rain in the toe box. I saw this pair of Oxtar Matrix boots for sale so cheap I couldn't pass them up, thinking I'd wear them in the wet occasionally. That was a couple months ago. The boots arrived and they feel like a toy in comparison. Those were the boots I switched from, and I couldn't go back to such a flimsy boot after the combat lites!

Here's to many miles in your new boots!
I'm sure you recall that you were one of those that PM'd me about the Oxtar size being the same as the Combat size. That was the best ordering advice I got. Much appreciated!

As to the laces fraying, if they don't fray any more than they have then I can certainly live with them.

I'm not worried about the velcro. I've come to believe that most of the fearmongering about velcro is a bit overblown. I do prefer the buckle around the ankle as its more secure, but the velcro around the calf is just fine. Speaking of velcro, a friend of mine has the regular Combat Touring Boots, and after five years and 80,000 miles the velcro was getting weak. He called Aerostich, and Aerostich sent him, at some nomimal cost, the exact strips of velcro that they use in the boots. He took the strips to a local cobbler who removed the old velcro and sewed on the new, and it worked like a charm!

And its interesting what you say about the Matrix feeling flimsy. I came from the Matrix's replacement, the TCX X-Five. The other day I reached into my closet to pull out the pair, and they were so light that I thougt, just you did, that it felt like toy boots! I think we can all agree that the Matrix/X-Five is a fine boot, but there really is no comparison to the Combats.

As I said in the review, my only concern is the blister above my right heel. The left boot already feels like fine leather conforming like a glove, and other than the heel, my right foot has felt the same. For the last few days the right foot has been perfect, but I am eager to see if that lasts if my callus goes away, or when I wear lighter socks in the summer. My guess is that its going to be fine, but my fingers are crossed!
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Old 10-06-2010, 04:31 PM   #4
sherpa2
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Love my CLs. One thing that probably helped is that I broke them in wearing two pairs of socks and put band aid on the back of my heels to save me from bad blisters. Also I have treated them regularly with Lexol leather care and another product that I now forget (comes separate in cleaner and care bottles).

Only thing that bothers me is I just noticed that one one boot the corner of the front flap has come off the rivet (wonder what to do about it).
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Old 10-06-2010, 04:45 PM   #5
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I switched out the laces for parachute cord. No more sticking on the velcro. I really like these boots.
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Old 10-06-2010, 05:48 PM   #6
Dharuma
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Hetzel, where did you get the parachute cord? I'm ready for laces that don't stick to the velcro.
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Old 10-06-2010, 05:52 PM   #7
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I think I bought it years ago at an army surplus store. Google it. Easy to find.
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Old 10-06-2010, 08:03 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dharuma
Hetzel, where did you get the parachute cord? I'm ready for laces that don't stick to the velcro.
Try http://www.countycomm.com/index1.htm.

Great outfit but I try to stay away, I always end up buying bunch stuff I don't need but can't live without!
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Old 10-08-2010, 08:47 AM   #9
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I got a pair of the Lite Combat Boots about six weeks ago, ordered the size 10 and added a 'Sole' thick cushioned heatable insole, to not only take up volume, but to add comfortable support.

This boots rock big time!

Comfortable, supportive, weather-proof (especially with the right dressing and in my case, Langlitz), and most of all, the soles grip when the feet are planted.

I've got a pair of Wescos coming in a few months and I think the Lite Combats will be the perfect boot for long rides in virtually any weather (save snow and hail).

I also agree that Sidi could have included much better laces, with smoother fabric that doesn't fray with the velcro... but you get used to this and the excess quickly.

All in all... an excellent boot!
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Old 10-08-2010, 05:25 PM   #10
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I just cut off the excess lace on my CLs after a while. My calves won't get any bigger, and there was always a loop of frizzy cord sticking out one boot or the other.
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Old 10-08-2010, 05:44 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mistercindy
I’ve read all these reports about soaking them in water then wearing them until they dry out, etc… I won’t do that since, regardless of whether it works, it breaks down the leather. I decided to do it the old fashioned way by wearing them.
I thought the same when I first got mine.
Eventually you'll get caught in the rain and they'll get wet and after you wear them dry you'll notice them being much more comfy.

If you want to avoid them blisters get them wet and wear them dry.
It won't hurt the boot.
A good quality full grain cowhide boot like the CTB will tolerate getting wet.
As long as you aren't using them as wading boots. But I suspect even if you did go fly fishing with them they'd hold up well.
I've got over 70k miles in 6 years and they're holding up extremely.
Certainly one of the best equipment purchases I've ever made.
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Old 10-08-2010, 06:48 PM   #12
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Quote:
Try http://www.countycomm.com/index1.htm.

Great outfit but I try to stay away, I always end up buying bunch stuff I don't need but can't live without!
Oh DAMN you for that link
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Old 10-10-2010, 02:36 PM   #13
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Thanks for the review. My Oxtar Matrix are pushing 5 yrs now and looking pretty poor. They are also pretty flimsy and I was just thinking they wouldn't do much in crash. Your review coupled with the 10% off for 10-10-10 deal Aerostich is running today pushed me over the edge. I'm looking forward to getting these and getting past break in.
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Old 10-30-2010, 04:12 PM   #14
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which one?

I'm stuck in deciding between the Combat Lite and the Alpinestar Scouts.
UGH...
What to buy?
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Old 10-31-2010, 07:09 AM   #15
bisbonian
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Climb14er
I also agree that Sidi could have included much better laces, with smoother fabric that doesn't fray with the velcro... but you get used to this and the excess quickly.
Leather laces, available everywhere including Walmart for around $3
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