You’ve probably heard about Forma Adventure boots. First introduced a few years ago, they’ve received high praise from quite a number of riders. Relatively affordable, incredibly comfortable, and reasonably protective, the waterproof boots are a popular choice amongst big adventure bike set.
I bought mine early last summer as I was preparing to take part in Dirt Quake. I wanted something that was sturdy and… well… looked the part, but, because the money for it was coming out of my pocket, I also wanted something I would use again. That’s exactly what I got; more often than not – especially when I’m traveling to an airport – these boots are my go-to footwear.
Costing £194.999 on Get Geared, Forma Adventure boots are made in Romania (No. 64 on the Democracy Index, and a member of the European Union). Available in European sizes 38 to 49, they can be had in your choice in black or brown. There are also tall and low versions. As mentioned above, I paid for the boots with my own money.
Forma is an Italian company, which pretty much guarantees the boots are at least going to look good. Possessing all the rugged chunkiness you’d expect from an adventure-styled boot, the look thankfully doesn’t go too over the top. Some ADV boots can be a bit try-hard in their use of buckles and grippy soles and the like, making you look more like an attendee at Whitby Goth Weekend (looking at you, Stylmartin) or wannabe superhero than someone who occasionally gets his or her bike dirty.
Comprised primarily of leather, they especially look the part once you’ve naturally worked in a little mud or dirt. I’ve done both, having worn them when flat tracking, as well as riding off road with Triumph and Ducati – not to mention the muck picked up from riding Welsh roads through the winter.
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Obviously, you have to be keen on the ADV look to want to wear these; they certainly wouldn’t be my first or second choice for cruising around on an Indian Scout Bobber or the like. They’ll tuck inside the leg of both my Oxford Montreal 2.0 pants and Aerostich R3 Roadcrafter, but are too bulky to tuck into the leg of riding jeans.
Forma Adventure boots are quite bulky, to the extent that when I first bought them I had to adjust the gear shifter on my bike to allow for the boot’s ginormous toe box. Related to bigness, be sure to order a size larger than you normally wear. I typically wear an EU 44 but went with a 45 based on the advice I’d seen on a number of websites – Revzilla in particular.
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SIDE NOTE: I know I’m naturally inclined to big up Revzilla because Lemmy’s kind of a pal but that really is a good site when it comes to choosing gear. Whereas other sites tend to have only a handful of reviews of a product, Revzilla often has dozens of reviews and it goes to the trouble of aggregating them to give you an overall impression of the product. In the case of Forma Adventure boots, they’ve received 4.6 out of 5 stars based on the combined score from 144 reviews.
Getting the right size boot for your foot will create a minor annoyance for lanky chicken-legged folks like me, in that it will feel loose at your calf unless you’re wearing thick socks and base-layer leggings. Even then you’ll be adjusting the buckles to their tightest positions.
Of course, the reason for this is the fact the boot is designed for you to be able to tuck the leg of your riding pants into it, thereby achieving the super-cool motocross look that moto-journalists seem to always be aiming for in stories about ADV bikes… Because they’ve been given their boots for free and are eager to work them into pictures to make the manufacturer happy.
I’ve noticed, however, that regular adventure riders – eg, Alun Davies, the guy who set up Adventure Bike Rider – don’t actually do this. I assume they don’t do this for the same reason I don’t: if the boot is on the outside of your trouser leg, all the stuff that splashes up onto said trouser leg is going to work its way down into the boot.
Anyhoo, calf looseness aside, Forma Adventure boots are very comfortable for all-day wear and even a fair bit of off-the-bike hiking around. When paired with thick socks they’re reasonably warm in winter (though not as cozy as my Alt-Berg Hogg All Weather boots). And I’ve never had any complaints in summer, but keep in mind that my Texas blood gives me a pretty high heat tolerance.
My Forma Adventures are my go-to boot when I have to travel to an airport because they are so easy to put on and take off. There are just three buckles to deal with, along with a bit of Velcro at the very top of the boot.
On the occasions this moto-loving gig earns me a trip to some exotic location, I always ride my Triumph Tiger Explorer to the airport because motorcycle parking is free. Once I get there, I throw my Aerostich R3 Roadcrafter in one pannier and the Forma Adventure boots in the other. With just the three ski-boot-esque buckles to deal with and a nice, wide leg opening, the boots are ideal for the challenge of changing clothes in a parking lot.
The boot is Level 2 CE rated. It’s rugged and there is hard protection to be found across the shin and at the ankle, as well as some sort of weird triangular “slider” on the outside of each foot, but that it is so comfortable should clue you in to the fact it’s not ideal for hardcore off-road riding. Most really serious ADV riders will opt for something a little more robust.
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The boot is more for folks who do the majority of their riding on pavement or well-groomed dirt/gravel roads. For my purposes it is perfect: I live in mucky, wet Wales and ride an adventure tourer that only goes off road when there are gravel tracks leading to a National Trust property.
Related to Wales’ most famous byproduct – moisture – the Forma Adventure does a great job of dealing with it. I’ve been in downpours and stomped through puddles without ever suffering soggy toes. Credit for this goes to the boot’s Drytex lining, I suppose, since I’ve hitherto been too lazy to rub in Nikwax (I am a strong proponent of rubbing Nikwax into just about every leather item, so I’ll probably treat these before autumn sets in).
The lining doesn’t go all the way to the top of the boot, instead stopping about 3 inches above the ankle. That’s more than enough coverage in my opinion, but all the more reason to wear your trouser leg over the boot, rather than tucking it in. Forma says the lining is breathable; see above regarding my reliability as to whether gear “wears hot,” but I have noticed my feet sweat less in these than in my other chunky boots, the aforementioned Alt-Bergs.
¡Me gustan mucho! Comfortable, rugged, waterproof, and easy to get on/off these are a solid choice in my opinion. Probably my biggest lament about them is simply that they’re too bulky for use on sportier bikes (but, in that case I turn to my Dainese Tempest D-WP boots). At roughly £200, they’re still not cheap, but come in at half the cost of many boots that are of similar or lesser quality.
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Meanwhile, unlike some of those, these are made in the European Union – in Romania, where a number of high-end hiking boots are manufactured. It’s a good bet the folks who made these boots knew what they were doing. It certainly seems that way; after a year of hard use the boots are dirty and scuffed but still in very good condition. I’m anticipating several more years of use, after which I’d happily buy another pair.