Gear for the Year: Dainese Carroarmoto Boots

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The toe protectors don't leak yet. This is the weakest point on most waterproof boots, it seems.
Words: Zac Kurylyk   Photos: As credited   Title shot: Honda Canada
Words: Zac Kurylyk Photos: As credited Title shot: Honda Canada

The more I try different boots, the more I realize that actual waterproof motorcycle boots are hard to find.

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Two years ago, I tried out a set of Dempster dual sport boots, from Exustar, which didn’t even stay waterproof for the whole summer, and were starting to get a bit beat up by season’s end. The following year, I tried a pair of Alpinestars’ Scout boots. They worked well for the season, but started to leak on me this spring.

So for 2013, I was still looking for the elusive waterproof boot and was pondering trying a more high end example when I was offered a pair of top o’ the line Dainese Carroarmoto boots from Editor ‘Arris. Turns out that ‘Arris’s freakishly large feet didn’t fit into the biggest size they had, so his loss was my gain.

My human-sized pair were waiting for me when I got back from my Arizona trip, so I pitched the leaky Scouts to the back of the closet and gave the fancy new Dainese ones a thorough examination.

The Carroarmoto boots are available in black or white. Styling is similar to pretty much every other pair of dual sport boots out there, but they do look a little sharper than most.
The Carroarmoto boots are available in black or white. Styling is similar to pretty much every other pair of dual sport boots out there, but they do look a little sharper than most.

The styling is pretty typical of most dual sport boots. There’s hook-and-loop closure at the top, with a couple of side buckles. The boots have a waterproof layer to keep you dry (genuine Gore-Tex, in this case, not a generic knock-off), and an armour plate in the shin to stop you from cracking your tibia on a log.

The molded ankles allow you to escape comparison to Napoleon Dynamite.
The molded ankles allow you to escape comparison to Napoleon Dynamite. Photo: Zac Kurylyk

However, the Carroarmoto boots seem to be a little more thoughtful in their construction than some of the competition, with small touches that aren’t impressive on their own, but add up to make a nicer boot overall. The carbon-fibre-look toe plates are a nice touch (so you don’t wear a hole through your boot with the shifter), and the anti-slip soles seem to be a notch up than other boots on the market

The boots have a large opening at the top, but they’re quite easy to tighten down and fit under bootcut jeans. You could always tuck your pants into your boots, like a pirate (thereby ensuring your pants don’t get caught in your bike’s chain), but be prepared for tough criticism from the CMG peanut gallery.

Perhaps the most obvious difference between the Carroarmoto boots and some of the lesser-priced boots from other companies is in the styling. While many dual sport boots leave you looking like a certain curly-haired protagonist out of a cult classic film from the last decade, the Carroarmoto boots seem to avoid some of those dorky lines, partly because of the molded nylon ankle guard.

The nubs have worn down on the soles, but the boots aren't slippery in the wet.
The nubs have worn down on the soles, but the boots aren’t slippery in the wet. Photo: Zac Kurylyk

By the way, if you’re wondering what “Carroarmoto” means, apparently “Carro Armoto” is Italian for armoured tank (so says Wikipedia, anyway). And here I thought it was the name of a far-off mountain range …

How they worked out

The fasteners remained intact, with no broken rivets or buckles.
The fasteners remained intact, with no broken rivets or buckles. Photo: Zac Kurylyk

You get what you pay for, says the adage, and after a season in the Carroarmotos, I think I have to agree. My riding involved plenty of criss-crossing NB, long days scouting for the Dawn to Dusk Rally, rain-filled press launches and dual sport jaunts when I could fit them in.

I didn’t have a single issue with the Dainese footwear. The stitching is all intact, they’re just as comfortable as when I first broke them in, and they’ve remained waterproof throughout. I am keeping my fingers crossed, though, because the Alpinestars I had were fine in 2012, but leaked terribly in 2013. I’ll try the Dainese boots out again next summer and see if they still keep out water.

Buyers do have the Gore-Tex guarantee for reassurance, if they’re very concerned about long-term waterproofing. According to their site, “If you are not completely satisfied with the waterproofness, windproofness, or breathability of your GORE-TEX® product, then we will repair it, replace it, or refund your purchase price. No matter which of our trusted customers makes the product, if it has the GORE-TEX® label on it, we have certified that it is durably waterproof, windproof and breathable for its intended use.”

I’ve never heard of anyone sending their motorcycle boots in to Gore-Tex and asking for a refund, but it sounds like it’s possible.

The toe protectors don't leak yet. This is the weakest point on most waterproof boots, it seems.
The toe protectors don’t leak yet. This is the weakest point on most waterproof boots, it seems. Photo: Zac Kurylyk

The cowhide construction seems to have handled rough use better than the synthetic-coated leather seen on many dual sport boots. However, I think a good cleaning with some saddle soap, followed by some leather treatment will be in order this off-season. It might not make the boots any more waterproof (the Gore-Tex does that), but it should prolong the life of the leather and keep it from cracking.

The Carroarmoto boots will fit under boot-cut pants, but you won't be able to tuck them into skinny jeans.
The Carroarmoto boots will fit under boot-cut pants, but you won’t be able to tuck them into skinny jeans. Photo: Rob Harris

The only comfort issue I have is that they can get a bit hot and sweaty inside (like any other pair of motorcycle boots I’ve worn). Wearing breathable socks will minimize that issue, as the Gore-Tex breathability works much better that way.

The Carroarmotos cost about $370 on US-based retail sites, which puts them on the higher side, but are they worth it? That depends. If these boots can stay waterproof for a reasonable amount of time, I’d say they’re well worth the money.

There are plenty of pairs of cheaper footwear on the market, but the longer I ride, the more I’m convinced that most of the budget stuff out there is false economy, especially when it comes to footwear. I have seen some budget boots perform very well, but they’re the exception rather than the rule.

So, in the interest of a true long-term review, I’ll try to keep these boots in rotation in the coming spring, to see if they really do hold up in the long term.


GALLERY

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