Durban, the third largest city in South Africa, is situated on the edge of the Indian Ocean. Why an urban area packed with more than half a million people would inspire a line of adventure-touring gear from Alpinestars is a bit of a head-scratcher. Maybe the name sounds cool. But, as it turns out, I was in South Africa—for the BMW R 1200 GS world press launch—while testing a pair of Alpinestars Durban Gore-Tex Boots. Not anywhere near Durban, mind you, but in the Klein Karoo, a semi-desert region that sprawls over the middle of the country.
In addition to boots, Alpinestars’ high-end Durban line includes a Gore-Tex jacket ($699.95) and pants ($499.95). Like many Alpinestars products, Durban Gore-Tex Boots combine high style and good function. The soft, full-grain leather upper has a full waterproof, breathable Gore-Tex membrane with a wide gusset across the opening to prevent water from creeping in. Since they’re designed for adventure riding, which sometimes involves tumbles in rocky, sandy, loose terrain and situations where it’s not uncommon to get a booted foot trapped under a 500-plus pound motorcycle, these boots offer full CE-approved protection. Molded plastic protects the ankle, outer foot, heel, shin and toes, and it’s designed to provide both durability and flexibility. A single piece of leather covers the inner leg, heel and forefoot so there’s a smooth, clean point of contact between the boot and the motorcycle.
Like motocross boots, a large, reinforced panel covering the shin is secured with three aluminum buckles that snap closed and have micro-adjustable straps, plus there’s a Velcro flap at the top. The panel opens to reveal a wide opening that makes it easy to slide the boots on and off—just what you need during those stiff, creeky pre-dawn moments before your ride and those hangdog, exhausted moments at the end of the ride, when all you want to do is kick off your boots and crack open a cold one. Inside the boot, a padded gaiter provides insulation and a mesh liner, anatomical footbed, and flex bellows at the heel and instep enhance comfort. Though initially stiff, as are most heavy-duty, protection-intensive boots, the Durbans were easy to wear on and off the bike from day one. The multi-density rubber compound for the outer sole provides decent flex and feel, but is tough enough to take the beating that extended stand-up riding and bouncing over uneven terrain dishes out.
Though deserts of South Africa and the arid coast of Southern California have been rain-free, the Gore-Tex-lined Durbans passed the stand-in-the-tub test. My only complaint about these boots, which is the same issue I had with the Alpinestars Scout Waterproof Boots, is that they trap in a lot of body heat. Gore-Tex allows sweat vapor to escape, but in heavy leather boots with lots of plastic and insulated liners, my feet got hot and clammy. Then again, about the only footwear that would prevent swamp foot in 100-plus-degree weather is flip-flops—hardly appropriate footwear on a motorcycle.
Alpinestars Durban Gore-Tex boots are available in two colors (black and champagne) and in a range of men’s sizes for $479.95.
See your dealer or visit alpinestars.com