Review: Alpinestars Toucan Gore-Tex boots

Over the past few years, I’ve had several pairs of dual sport or off-road boots that I’ve either purchased myself, or had sent along for testing. Some held up in the long-term, some leaked, but all had one issue: They all were hot and sweaty.

I accepted that trade-off in my quest for a pair of boots that could handle dual sport riding, but then I saw the Alpinestars Toucan adventure boots and wondered if they could be the solution.

At roughly $540, the Toucans are significantly more expensive than my last Alpinestars boots (Scouts, which sell for roughly $270). The differences between the Toucans and the Scouts are immediately apparent, however. While the Scouts had a lot of PU-coated leather, which tends to get scratched and beat up over time, the Toucans have a more durable plastic coating. Buckles, trim, and even lining are all noticeably higher quality than the Scouts.

Chillin' at CMG HQ in the Toucans.
Chillin’ at CMG HQ in the Toucans.

But what really matters is protection from crashes and from the elements.

Thankfully, I can only speculate on protection from crashes, as I never went down while I was wearing the Toucans. However, like all adventure boots, they’re a trade-off; you get more flexibility (making walking, street riding, and general movement easier) at the expense of the rigid construction that off-road boots use to protect riders’ ankles.  The external plastic shin guard and ankle guard in the Toucans should suffice in a minor off, but if you drop your big Beemer on your lower leg, you will feel it.

But while I didn’t end up crashing in the Toucans, I did use them in bad weather — a lot. I did two tours in 2015, a spin through northern Maine and another through the Maritimes, and ended up slogging through days filled with downpours and the Toucans kept me dry throughout the entire time.

alpinestars toucan
Some FAR rallyists might recognize that creek … but again, they might not, because during the rally, it was chest-deep. Here, the Alpinestars Toucans easily hold out the water.

I also managed to wade through the Bay of Fundy and several water crossings, including the same river that deterred so many in last year’s Fundy Adventure Rally. Granted, the creek had a lot less water in it when I waded it, but my boots kept my feet dry. Same goes for any other fordings I did this year, as long as it didn’t go over my boots of course.

While I appreciated the waterproofing, you would expect a pair of $500+ boots to stay waterproof for at least one season. In my experience, though, longevity can be a problem with waterproofing. However, since the Toucans utilize a Gore-Tex membrane instead of a generic or proprietary equivalent, you can take advantage of Gore-Tex’s famous guarantee (replace or refund!) if they leak. I’ve never personally tried returning leaky items to Gore-Tex, but it seems it’s a possibility for disgruntled customers.

Beside the waterproofing guarantee, Gore-Tex has another big advantage: breathability. While I understand there are newer materials on the market that offer better breathability, Gore-Tex has been a standard for years, and for good reason. I’ve suffered through many hot summers in boots that kept water out, but also kept a significant amount of moisture inside in the process.

A sloggy weekend of torrential thunderstorms in Maine and NB was easily handled by the Alpinestars.
A soggy weekend of torrential thunderstorms in Maine and NB was easily handled by the Alpinestars.

Not so with the Toucans! While they certainly were hotter than a pair of unlined leather boots, the Toucans had by far the best breathability of any dual sport boots I have used, including my pair from Dainese (which also used Gore-Tex).

I didn’t do much cold-weather riding in the Toucans, but the little I did do saw them keeping my feet warm, especially since sizing is generous, making it easier to wear thick socks.

So the big question; Would I buy them? Well for starters that would require a disposable income, but if I was looking to put down serious miles, I’d certainly consider the Toucans, especially since parts (buckles, etc) should be easy to find even for international travelers. The soles are replaceable as well, so if the uppers hold up, you could use these boots for a long time, particularly if you consider the Gore-Tex guarantee.


GALLERY

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6 thoughts on “Review: Alpinestars Toucan Gore-Tex boots”

  1. What about width of the Toucan and high instep ….? Can extra wide feet find a happy medium here? I have 4E width feet and high instep….like a duck in high heels! I know most boots with some leather will aford a little width stretch…How about the Toucan?

    1. I can’t really advise you on this. When it comes to specific foot fitment, I’d say try it yourself. I have wide feet, and they fit me well, though.

  2. Have had a pair for 2 seasons now. Love them. Bit stiff to do any hiking off the bike. Picked up a pair of Forma Cape Horns to use on trips when I expect to do any amount of walking

  3. I’ve just completed my second riding year with a previous generation pair of Toucans. They were warranty replacements from Gore for other boots I had that leaked after many years of service. The sizing of the Toucans is generous, so I can comfortably wear a 10 on my 10.5 feet. The only fault with the Toucans is the squeaking they can make when walking. They have remained waterproof, breathable, and all weather comfortable. A long hot day of riding has not left me needing to remove these boots when setting up camp. Even short hikes haven’t been an issue. I do recommend wearing tall Merino wool socks (such as SmartWool’s PhD Ski Light in warm weather or Hunt Extra Heavy OTC in cold weather) to get the most comfort from these boots.

    When the day comes that the boots leak, I know that Gore will take care of it quickly and easily, as they have in the past. I won’t hesitate to get another pair of Toucans either.

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