Photographer, Videographer, Writer, Motorcycle Racer, Dakar Rally Finisher and BRAKE Magazine's big dog, Llewelyn really likes to do things involving motorcycles. He also likes bicycles, coffee, pop punk and making horrendous puns.
4000 miles in a pair of boots will give you a pretty good feeling for just what they’re capable of. By the end of that kinda distance you know what works, how well it’s lasting and exactly what could be better. After riding on four continents in the Alpinestars Toucan boots this is what we’ve learnt.
What Are They?
The Alpinestars Toucan is the Italian brands top level adventure boot. It’s designed to slot into that middle ground, where a compromise of touring comfort and off-road protection is the ideal. They’re aiming to keep your foot intact during a tip over but not have you walking clumsy extra in Star Wars.
Like with all high end boots, the Toucan is covered in TPU panels and has a range of features as long as you can imagine. These include a steel toe cap, steel shank in the food bed and a rock hard plastic shin protector. It’s also got some strong TPU around the ankle and along the outside of the foot keep you safe. That’s paired up with some softer, more flexible TPU on the instep of the foot. Ankle flexion is controlled by a semi hinge kind thing on the outside of the foot and some accordion style panels along your Achilles. It’s a little simpler than the hinge than the system on the Sidi adventure and appears to limit flexion of the ankle a touch more.
Much like it’s Italian rival, the Toucan is a two buckle and Velcro top closure kind of boot. The buckles are the same as found on the rest of Astars boot line. The internals of the boot are fitted with an ‘anatomical’ footbed and the whole package lined with Goretex GTX, to keep feet dry in rivers and sweating in the sun. Alpinestars have thrown some lower leg vents into the design to attempt to improve cooling. Finishing off the design is a rubber sole using a compound exclusive to the Italian company.
The fit is glorious, at least for my boats that is. I’d put the Alpinestars Toucan into the category of ‘normal and true to size’. It’s not wide nor narrow and the footbed length is spot on with what it should be. The only caveat is that the toe box isn’t big vertically. It means if your toes are little more stacked you might want to try on a half size bigger to give you more freedom.
Internally they’re extremely comfortable, easily putting them at the very top of the list for most comfortable ADV boots. The footbed having a little shape to it makes a big difference in this department. The inside of the boot has good room for your toes to splay and move around, without the outside feeling bulky to. That means your gear shifts stay easy and smooth all day.
The calf adjustment is also very generous. The Velcro allows a hug range of adjustment at the top of the boot, so wearing dirt bike style knee protection is still fine, even if you’ve got big calves.
This is the bit where my ten month of deep love for the Toucan gets to shine through. As ADV boots go, I really don’t feel like they come any much well rounded than this. Like the lauded and loved Sidi Adventure, the Toucan is ticking almost every box I want it to. Whether riding miles in the pouring rain or shredding river beds in the searing heat, they’ve held strong and incredibly comfortable.
They’re actually relatively simple. They got the inside perfect for me in regards to fit and softness of material. The buckles are comfortable, reliable and gentle on your fingers and the sole is grippy and long lasting. The steel shank through the sole helps hugely with standing up for long periods, especially on dirt roads. It also grips the footpegs well and the earth when you want it to.
The balance of flexibility when engaging in the real world adventure riding, mixing dirt and street with being a tourist, is spot on. I never felt like I couldn’t be bothered to explore on foot because they’re a bit still or cumbersome, gear changes and street riding are as easy as they should be and for the most part I was confident in them on the dirt.
The waterproofing has held fantastically so far too. From rivers in South Dakota, to torrential rain in Nepal, my feet are yet to get wet from anything other than sweat. There isn’t much more you can ask for from a GoreTex boot.
Protection wise they’re really top notch too. The lower foot and ankle area is on par with Sidi’s market leading Adventure, but the ankle and lower shin is a touch stiffer. The material used here is thicker and tough, providing a sliver more protection and stability. The lack of a complex hinge design doesn’t appear to cause any problems. Alpinestars seem to have mastered making material flex without discomfort and the Toucan is no different.
The Not So Good
The Toucan falls down in two very small areas that more circumstantial than anything else. The first is flex. Like almost every ADV boot on the market, you have to consider the riding and the situation. If riding falls into spectrum of street up to mild dirt you’ll have an awesome time in these boots. Every single minute of that type of riding was comfortable and fine.
When they stopped giving me confidence was the moment I didn’t know if I needed to put a foot out. That point where the riding became technical, and a small catching of the foot had potential, or I wanted to be locked in to the bike, that was when I wanted more strength. It’s not really the boot not being good enough, but me doing things the boot wasn’t designed for. If you’re a commuter, a tourer or anything below the line of moron riding an Adevnture bike in single track, the Toucan is a fantastically balanced boot.
Point two on the list is GoreTex. Simply put, Goretex is a bit shit when the weather is hot because it doesn’t flow air particularly well. Bike boots in general are pretty hot anyway, so that’s going to be a compromise when you’re in the desert. We’ve worn these up to around 35 ºC and they were tolerable but supremely sweaty.
In conclusion, we really, really liked the Alpinestars Toucan. Simply put, the boot is incredibly good at everything it should be good at. The comfort level is as good as anything else we’ve worn, the protection is at the top end of the spectrum good, and the sole is even better. The waterproofing has performed consistently from sudden downpours and river crossings in Utah to the torrential rains of the Nepalese forests . There isn’t much more to say about the Toucan. If you’re looking for a high end boot to tick all the boxes you can want from an adventure boot, this is it.
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