Gear Review: Bates Escalante riding boots

For the last few years, I’ve used dual sport boots for all my riding; I’ve had boots from Exustars, Alpinestars and Dainese, with varying degrees of waterproofing and durability.

What I haven’t used is a pair of good old-fashioned lace-ups, but this year I decided to get my hands on a pair and give them a try again. I called up Bates, and they sent me a pair of Escalantes.

The details

The Escalantes aren’t big on high-tech gadgetry or outrageous promises: What you see is what you get. In this case, what you see is a pair of black lace-ups that look very similar to something you’d see the local po-po sporting. There’s a good reason for that – Bates is actually very well-known for manufacturing duty boots for military and police. I actually stopped by a police supply store to ask their opinion on the Bates boots, and they told me that as long as I kept them polished, they would last a long, long time.

There are no buckles on these boots, although a zipper on the inside offers quick closure if you tighten the laces to the optimum length. The boots’ claimed waterproofing comes from a Hydro-Guard membrane. The upper is full-grain leather, the zippers are quality pieces from YKK and the outer sole is Vibram.

There are no buckles on the boots, but there is a side zipper.
There are no buckles on the boots, but there is a side zipper.

The Escalantes don’t have TPU sliders or anything like that. There’s no ankle armour. While they should protect you from road rash, you wouldn’t want to take them to a track day and you wouldn’t want to drop your Big Twin on your foot while you wear these.

Speaking of things MoCo-related – Harley-Davidson also sells these boots under their own brand name, calling them the Lynx. As far as we know, the only difference is the price tag (the Harley-Davidson boots are $150 and the Bates-branded bogstompers are only $100 if you’re buying them on Amazon.com, at the time of writing).

How did they work?

I found the Escalantes worked very well for touring boots. I first used them on the CMG spring tour, and found them a perfect fit in a couple ways.

First off – the boots were comfortable from the start, both on and off the bike. Thanks to Bates’s savvy in building footwear for cops and soldiers, they know how to build a boot you can walk around in. While stiff dual sport boots aren’t always great for walking, once you dismount, the Escalantes were very comfortable.

When walking around off the bike, the Bates boots were much more comfortable than my usual dual sport kickers.
When walking around off the bike, the Bates boots were much more comfortable than my usual dual sport kickers.

Even better, they didn’t leave you looking like you just got cut from a Napoleon Dynamite lookalike dance competition. Of course, they instead leave you looking like you just got cut from basic training, but that, dear readers, is a risk I am willing to take.

For me, it meant I could pack one less pair of shoes for wearing off the bike while I was touring. They did squeak a bit while walking, but that diminished as the summer went by. While on the bike, the boots flex enough to give you plenty of range of movement for your ankles, while the soles don’t slip off the pegs. Win-win.

I’m a hydrophobe; people who’ve read a few of my gear reviews know I put a high value on waterproofing. Happily, the Escalantes have proven to be extremely watertight over the course of the summer. They aren’t as high as my usual dual sport boots, which means you’ll still get water soaking the middle of your shins if you’re riding through heavy rain, though that is hardly the boots’ fault. And while any pair of waterproof boots can get a bit sweaty when the temps rise, I found the Bates were a little cooler than the last few pairs of dual sport boots I’ve had – probably because they aren’t as high.

Old-school styling gets the job done.
Old-school styling gets the job done.

There is only one beef I have with the boots now that the season is almost over. The sole has begun to become unglued from the body of the boot around the edges.

It hasn’t influenced the waterproofing, but I was quite surprised to see this. Perhaps it’s because I didn’t take the advice at the cop shop, and never polished the boots? I doubt it.

This is something that, had I paid cash for the boots, would have been a major customer satisfaction issue.

However, checking out other consumers’ user reviews online, nobody else seemed to have this problem, and most folks seemed happy with their purchase, so I assume this isn’t a huge issue for most riders.

It is worth noting, though, that a pair of boots with stitched-together soles wouldn’t have this problem, although they’d cost you more.

Aside from that – if you want a pair of boots that are comfortable on the bike, and comfortable for off-bike wear, check out the Escalantes. They aren’t particularly beefy, so if you’re looking for track-day boots, then shop somewhere else. If you want a pair of comfortable kickers that work especially well for touring, well – they did the job for me.


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