After using the popular BMW Savannah for more than 6 years it was time for new boots. The BMW boots were a good mix for light off road and road use, with a proper waterproof membrane. We needed more ankle protection and they had just had their time.
Initially, we opted for the Sidi Adventure boots. They’ve got all the trimmings and protection needed for long term adventure overlanding. Except, the boot is made for Italians with nice pointy feet, and not for flat foot Neanderthal types like myself. Also, the Sidi sizing is not 100% as I had to size up on the boots, but that is not a big issue.
Falco, a bit of an unknown brand, looked the part and the specs surely impressed with their Avantour boots. The price seemed very reasonable at the time and a big lure. Full grain leather on the majority of the boot, and accordion-type movement panels at the front and rear of the ankle. There are two buckles with and a velcro flap at the top which is adequate enough to close up the boot. TPU fabric panels on the toe box, shin, and heel cup offers a great amount of protection for wear and tear on the leather.
Falco mentions the sole is a traditional stitched style with a Goodyear welded sole. This means that the soles are 100% replaceable and not integrated into the High-Tex membrane of the boot itself, which is supposed to lengthen the life and use of the boots.
Eso-Motion 2 hinge covers the ankle for lateral support and still preserves range of motion allowing ankle dorsiflexion and plantarflexion. It also has an integrated security skeleton to support movements of the foot and an integrated P.U. heat-shield.
Falco make use of a hinge backed by D3O armoured ankle cups on both sides for added protection. In a crash it is the twisting and over flexing which is what breaks and tears stuff in the lower limbs. The external sliders along the exterior of the boot coupled with the reinforcement lock your foot into the boot, eliminating the natural weakness of the ankle. That is also part of the decision why we opted for the Falco boots.
As per Falco’s website they use moisture wicking materials for the interior of the boot, which is suppose to take moist air and move it out through the waterproof High-Tex membrane. This is where I misjudged things a bit when we looked at the Falco for our boot of choice. I thought this meant that the boots are also waterproof, which they really are not.
The High Tex membrane: I have no idea what the hell that is suppose to be but it does not have the same properties as Gore-Tex. Water resistant is a better description than waterproof, I could not find any meaningful information on High-Tex membranes on Google. Our boots basically were not able to keep our feet dry after 6 months of use. As with most marketing of a material/ fabric, waterproofness is a very subjective thing.
Falco says the following on their website:
“Falco membrane resistant to water penetration. The only scientific test to determine, define and indicate whether a motorcycle boot is waterproof is the test required by the regulations EN 13634: 2010. The testing method consists of walk of 100 steps on a suitable platform with water level 5mm above the sole. At the successful completion of this test the boot is considered waterproof.” Source
Being waterproof is a big issue for long term travellers. You want a boot that can be used year round in rain, snow, African mud and river crossings. Walking in 5mm of water above the sole I expect every adventure boot to be waterproof. However riding in driving rain for hours on end water gets forced into the stitching and other parts of the boot. That is where you want the boot to be waterproof. For adventure riding purposes the standard Falco use is not adequate.
The Avantour is a very comfortable boot to wear and you can go all day walking around in them. They are relatively light weight and the concept a very good mix of attributes for general adventure riding or dualsport riding.
However, as we have come to realise using products day-in, day-out, the choice comes down to after sales service and support, which is critically important. Obviously try and do enough homework to purchase the best product for the job, but it is just as important to make sure what kind of backup and support will be available when you are in another country and need help from the brand.
This came back to bite us when we contacted Falco for assistance with our now not waterproof anymore boots. One return email to us and the conversation stopped there and then. On my follow up email I never received any reply.
- Reasonably priced.
- Sturdy and excellent medial and lateral ankle support, with Achilles protection. Reinforced arch support.
- Welded Goodyear sole.
- Light weight and good for all day walking.
- Only meant for lightweight use, not durable enough for long term travel or everyday use.
- Three pairs of these boots and we had to Loctite the screws holding the Eso-Motion parts and buckles on all of them. We lost some screws.
- The tongue is made from a thin plastic fabric and got pinched early on by the buckles. That membrane did not last long and allows water to penetrate the boot.
- Back up service and support in our case was zero.
We started travelling in 2010 and soon realised many products are more suited for lightweight, occasional use. The important thing is to find the ones that can take the abuse and withstand travel for months and years on end. Using stuff everyday for long periods at a time quickly highlights weaknesses and faults in designs. In hindsight we should have tried to get more information on the waterproof claims, and maybe reviews.
The Allen key bolts on the buckles and hinges of the Falco Avantour kept coming loose and we had to use Loctite to secure them. We lost two bolts already.
We have been using the boots for nearly two years now. Elsebie had two pairs in that time as one got damaged beyond repair after a fall. The footpeg ripped a long cut into side of the leather.
The Falco Avantour is good for the weekend rider and for two or three week away trips. However, for long term overlander travel, there are better alternatives.
With input from Suzie Bostock from AVVIDA