All Rights Reserved © 2013 Thomas W. Day
Icon Patrols are reasonably stylish, especially under pants cuffs. They're a little prettier before waterproofing, but my first rides were in the rain.
There are a couple of parts to this review. The first is simply a product review. The product is a pair of Icon Patrol Boots. My trusty old Gaerne road boots are still kickin' and will probably last for decades. However, every year I reward myself with a tool, some music gear, or a piece of riding gear when I finish off my income taxes. April 15, 2013, I decided on a new pair of waterproof boots. So, I checked out Gaerne, since that's a known good quantity. 2012 wasn't a particularly good year, tax-wise or any other way and 2013 looked to be worse. So, rewarding myself with another $400 pair of boots didn't seem reasonable.
So, I fell back to one of my low cost favorite companies, Icon. I've never had Icon boots, but their gloves are pretty decent products for the money and I've had and reviewed a couple of Icon's gloves. After looking at a variety of boots in my price range and with the features I'm looking for, I settled on the Icon Patrol boots. Pretty much everything I wanted in a short pair of boots was wrapped up in the Icon Patrols: waterproof liner, heavy-duty leather uppers, ankle protection, adjustable locking buckles on stabilizer straps, and a repairable/replaceable sole. Even better, they fit really well. I needed a 1/2 size larger than my usual 11's for that great fit, but there it is.
Just another look at the boots when they were new.
The first time I hit the road in these boots, I felt like I'd been wearing them for years. The toe shifter nubs make sticking the shift positive even in a soaking rain. The "footpeg interface arch" sticks the boots to the pegs and is tough enough to deal with serrated dirt bike pegs. The leather uppers are good looking (especially in natural brown) and thick enough that they give the impression of being able to take some punishment and survive. The ankle sections are padded and almost as stiff as dirt bike boots. When you latch down the dual adjustable stabilizer straps, the boots are on for the duration. The first couple of times I latched-up these boots, they were pretty rigid. After a couple of hikes around the block with the dog, they were as easy to hook-up as a pair of dress shoes. For the money, I was surprised that the straps were adjustable, let alone really adjustable. Likewise, the speed lacing system is extremely well done.
The first test for a decent pair of outback riding boots is walking in them. The Patrols are not really dirt biking boots, but everything about them is close enough for practical purposes. I have a pair of full height motocross boots and the Gaernes are full calf-height too. What I wanted was something tall enough to protect my ankles that would look pretty much like casual boots under my pants and would provide serious ankle stability for off-road fooling around. What I wanted is exactly what the Patrols provide. So, off to the dirt roads we go.
A few miles into the sandy mess often referred to as Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area and I'm struggling to convince my WR250X's 17" wheel to maintain some sort of forward progress. I know, you're younger, stronger, smarter, quicker, and prettier than me and you're wondering "What's problem?" For one, I have a $100,000 titanium railroad spike in my left leg and I cannot afford to bend it. Two, I'm old and I get back up from the usual sort of casual encounter with Momma Earth a hell of a lot slower than I used to. So, I'm not going fast enough to skate the sand and I'm plowing my way across a deep, soft section paddling like a newbie and hoping to see the end of the sand before I run out of energy. Every foot-down sinks about four inches before I strike something semi-firm. The Patrols' stiff ankle support is a big deal here. I snagged a foot on a half-buried log and came back with toes intact and no skin lost. More points for my new boots. After getting out of that sand trap and enjoying some nicely bermed sandy road sections, I get the bike solidly sideways and hot-foot it to keep the back end from swinging around to the front. The ground is rough, but my ankles are nicely supported when a good bit of the bike and my weight are on the grounded foot and I'm starting to think the Patrols are incorrectly marketed for street riding.
Before heading back home, I stopped to walk a nice section of the area's wooded and swampy trails and found myself up to the top buckle in muck a few times. No leaks. On the way back home, one of 2013's many gully-washers dropped on to me and I could barely see a few feet out of my helmet visor. It poured all the way home and I rode through a few intersections that could have passed for stream crossings. Above the boot tops, my socks were soaked. Below, my feet were as dry as my Aerostich gear kept the rest of my body. When I pulled off the boots, there was a clear line where the exposed socks met the unexposed cloth and I suspect the Patrols would have kept my toes dry for several hours of drenching, based on that experience.
28,000 miles and three years later, they are still my favorite all-purpose riding boots.
Finally, the reason for going with a shorter boot: walking. I like to pretend to believe in real protective gear when I teach MSF classes and make at least a minimal effort to wear full gear to every classroom and range. I'm riding a small bike with limited storage, so carrying extra shoe wear is a pain. The Patrols make that unnecessary. I have taught 12 hour days without any more discomfort than I would experience in my best lightweight hiking boots. I am not in any way shy about taking a hike in the Patrols. During the winter of 2013-14, I practically lived in these boots while I rode 7,000 miles in the southern New Mexico desert and roads.
Three years later, I'm really happy with this purchase (not a common outcome for me). I've slogged through rain storms, snow and sleet, desert heat, and everyday commuting in these boots. I've walked in them for motorcycle training ranges, a long hike out when I stuck the WR in a muddy Missouri swamp, and I don't even think about needing hiking books if I'm traveling to the hiking location by motorcycle. Nothing has failed during my 20,000 miles of use and abuse of these boots. They are simply more comfortable than they were new, but otherwise they are as solid as the day I bought them. My Patrols are as comfortable on foot as on the bike and that makes me a satisfied Icon customer, again.