When we began riding in the 1970s, all our motorcycle riding gear came from the army disposal shop because the gear was strong, reliable, weatherproof, warm/cool and, best of all, cheap!
These days most people only wear riding gear made by specialist motorcycle outfitters. It’s also strong, reliable, weatherproof, warm/cool, but sometimes expensive.
It seems that some companies charge more simply because it’s dedicated to motorcycle riders.
The same gear bought from an adventure or workwear store may turn out to be a lot cheaper.
When I rode in the Compass Expeditions Outback Tour a few years ago with Charley Boorman, I noticed that he wears adventure hiking shoes, even though he is sponsored by motorcycle apparel companies!
While most of my riding gear is made by dedicated motorcycle apparel companies, there are some items that come from adventure stores, ski shops (especially during their off-season sales), army disposals, workwear shops and even chain stores like Kmart and Aldi.
Obviously, you can’t replace helmets and some protective gear. However, some motorcycle boots are nothing more than you can buy in an adventure store.
My latest general touring boots are actually US Army hot-weather combats boots made by American company Wellco.
They are robust, comfortable, strong, weatherproof, cool and they make great summer riding boots.
The Wellco T109 Hot Weather Side Zipper Tactical Boots cost me only $97 delivered to my door through eBay.
I’ve got other casual motorcycle boots in my wardrobe that cost two and three times that amount, but are no better.
One of the great things about these boots is the zip up the side.
First time you put them on, you do up the laces nice and tight for a firm fit so they won’t come off in a crash.
Then every time you put them on or take them off, you use the zip and leave the laces exactly where they are for a perfect fit.
Yet you can slip the boots on and whip them off in seconds.
The low-profile, lightweight leather boots have a nonslip oil-resistant rubber sole, moisture-wicking lining, solid non-twist construction, reinforced-stitched midsole and don’t have a metal toe, so you can wear them through the scanner at an airport. That makes them a great travel boot.
The low profile also means they won’t get caught between the footpeg and gear lever.
Obviously they are not made for cutting a lap time around Phillip Island, but they are quite suitable for tourers and everyday use.
And when you arrive at your destination, you can go for a walk – or army hike! – without having to change your boots because these have a very comfortable insole.
Wellco has been making military boots since 1941 and if they’re strong enough for combat, they will probably do the job on a bike.