I have a suspicion that REV’IT! isn’t like other motorcycle gear makers. While other companies employ designers, I theorize REV’IT! instead has a top-secret science division that travels to the future for inspiration.
How else do you explain the look of the REV’IT! Expedition H2O boots? They don’t look like anything else on the market right now. Instead of the standard buckle-up style that goes back to the old A-Stars that Roger DeCoster rocked back in the ’70s, they look like something from the future, the sort of footgear a cyborg vigilante might wear. Think Judge Dredd, or maybe Blade Runner.
The Expeditions replaced the standard buckle systems with BOA closure, and there’s external articulating leg/ankle protection (read about BOA closure here; basically, you push the adjuster knob in, twist to dial in your fit, and then pull out to take off the tension when you want to remove ’em).
Add in the gray/black/red color scheme, with the pebbled exterior, and they look straight from The Future. Seriously, though, when I wear these boots around, people are always telling me how cool they look.
However, chrome don’t get ya home, and for a pair of adventure boots to really be considered decent, they must work well on the bike, and not simply hope to get by on looks alone. Leave that to the Hawg crowd.
I’m happy to report that so far, the REV’IT! boots have worked well this spring.
The first thing I noticed while wearing these boots is the comfort, both on the bike and off.
Off the bike, I’ve schlepped around airports in these boots, worn them on planes to motorcycle launches, etc., and so far, they’ve been surprisingly comfortable. Not as comfortable as a pair of Chucks, mind you, but the Chucks fit in the carry-on, and the bike boots don’t, so I’ve been clomping around airports looking like I’m trying to “retire” a pair of escaped androids. So far, I haven’t gotten any blisters, or even really overheated in them … although I have gotten a lot of suspicious stares. The size of the boots, especially the bulbous shin protection, makes them basically impossible to discreetly tuck under a pair of jeans, so you’re just going to have to accept your new look.
The boots have proven to be just as comfortable on the bike as off.
There are five reasons for comfort. First, and most importantly, the hinged ankle protection allows a lot of articulation front to back, the way your ankle is supposed to hinge but restricts side-to-side movement. This makes the boots easy to walk around in, and also easy to transition riding positions on the bike, but still means you’ve got lots of protection.
Second, the boots are built correctly to size, unlike their predecessors. My last pair of ADV boots was REV’IT’s Pioneer Outdry boots, and sadly, they were just a tad tight, and other online sources reveal I’m not the only one who found this. Chalk that one up to a difference in conversion between EU and US boot sizing. Don’t worry, the Expedition H2O boots seem to be better-sized.
Third, the boots’ Hydratex liner, while not carrying the fancy warranty of Gore-Tex, seems to breathe just as well, at least for now.
Fourth, the boots feature a Vibram sole, which is firm but not unduly stiff.
The other reason for the comfort is the BOA closure system. The old buckle system that most MX and ADV boots use can create pressure points that cause blisters and general discomfort. The BOA closure is more comfortable, with even pressure throughout.
However, while the BOA closure is convenient, it loses some of its advantage in the H2O boots. The older Pioneer Outdry boots were only ankle-rise, and it was quite easy to slide your feet in, grab the BOA buckle, twist and tighten, and yer off!
Alas, the Expeditions are a much taller boot, which means it’s a little more difficult to get them on, as you’ve got to really gaff onto the boot to pull them on. There’s a loop inside the boot that aids with this process, but if that ever rips off, then you’ll find it difficult to pull the boots on.
Taking the boots off isn’t as hard, but they could use a sort of spur-like feature at the back of the boot that you could step on, to make them easier to remove. They work without this feature, but it would improve them. You see this feature on rubber boots aimed at the hunting, industrial safety and commercial fishing markets, but not on many adventure riding boots, for some reason.
For street riding, the boots function quite well. The hinged exterior armor meant I wasn’t forced to awkwardly use my knee joint to shift the bike while the ankle section of the boot broke in. They work well out of the box.
Off-road, there’s enough grip on the soles that you don’t slip around on steel footpegs. However, the treads aren’t very deep, which means you may find slick mud a bit challenging if you dismount. As well, the soles do not appear to be easily replaced, although a good shoe repair shop might be able to do something.
The waterproofing seems to hold up so far, but the waterproof gusset in the boot’s tongue should be extended higher. It sheds splashes easily, but if you have to dismount to ford a stream, you might find yourself with wet feet. The waterproofing extends about six inches past the ankles, and could theoretically be stretched a bit further.
But riding in rainy conditions, and for any other conditions besides dismounting in a stream or bog, the boots’ waterproofing has held up very well.
There’s plenty of armor built into the boot; there’s a big shin plate, reinforced heel, and toe, along with the already-mentioned articulating exterior armor. REV’IT! calls it “MX-style protection,” which might be a bit of a stretch, but I will say that while I haven’t tested them in a serious off, I feel these boots have offered the beefiest protection of any adventure-style kicks I’ve owned over the years.
The big questions
So, overall, the boots have performed well, but I’ve only been using them for a couple of months. The first big question is, what about the long term?
Given that these boots are mostly constructed from leather, I suspect they’ll hold together well, without getting that beat-up, chintzy look that man-made materials tend to get in an adventure boot after a season or two. I do, however, question whether the waterproofing will last, as my experiences with proprietary waterproofing materials haven’t been good. I also wonder if the soles will last as long as the rest of the boot. And then there’s the BOA closure: while it’s supposedly a strong, safe system, it hasn’t been on the adventure boot market long enough to know if it will hold up to the constant crud of off-roading.
All these smaller questions lead to the second big question: Is the boot worth the price tag (currently in the $770 USD range at online retailers)? They’re cool-looking boots, and comfortable, but for that money, you can buy a set of Alpinestars Toucans or Sidi Adventure 2s, and still have $270ish left over. Plus, the Toucan or Adventure 2 boots will come with Gore-Tex’s lifetime waterproofing warranty.
I think the answer to that question rests in whether or not you feel the REV’IT! boots offer extra protection, and whether that extra protection is necessary. $270 is much lower than a doctor’s bill. It also depends on how much you like that hinged exterior protection. Honestly, I felt it was the most comfortable but also the safety ankle protection system I’ve ever used in a street boot. That doesn’t mean you’re offered total protection in a crash—some experts would warn you that the twisting motion will instead get transferred to your knee joint. Maybe, maybe not, but if I knew someone with a bum ankle, these are the boots I’d recommend they look at first.