World renowned for its history, art, food and wine, Italy is also a motorcycle-crazy country that’s home to some of the most revered riding destinations (Alps, Dolomites), motorcycle manufacturers (Ducati, Moto Guzzi), racers (Rossi, Agostini) and makers of apparel (Alpinestars, Dainese), helmets (AGV, Nolan) and boots (Sidi, TCX). Gaerne, which has been making high-quality motorcycle boots since the mid ’70s, belongs on that list, too.
Gaerne is a portmanteau derived from the last (GAzzola) and first (ERNEsto) names of the man who founded the company in 1962 and, at 81 years young, still heads up the family business. All of Gaerne’s footwear—hiking boots, dress shoes, cycling shoes and motorcycle boots—is handmade in Italy. It makes motorcycle boots for touring, roadracing, motocross, supermoto and trials. For adventure touring, Gaerne offers the G-Adventure, a lighter-duty boot for roughly 70-percent street/30-percent dirt, and the G-Midland, a 50/50 on/off-road boot that offers more ankle and forefoot protection.
The G-Midland has a full-grain leather upper with a layer of suede on the inside of the leg to protect the rider from heat and the bike from scratches. A 3D Drytech lining keeps water out but is breathable so sweat vapor can escape, and the insole is removable. Two adjustable, motocross-style buckles and a large hook-and-loop flap at the top ensure a secure fit, while a stretch panel at the back accommodates calves large and small. Rugged shin, ankle and heel protection are built into the boots, but they aren’t overly stiff, allowing a wide range of foot movement on and off the bike. The lugged sole provides good grip on the pegs and when walking (pushing?) on steep, uneven trails.
These boots went straight from the box to my gearbag for a full day of off-road riding in Utah and Colorado at the BMW F 800 GS Adventure press launch, followed by two long days in the saddle to get back to California. Then I wore them for eight straight days on a 2,600-mile trek that included the Oregon Backcountry Discovery Route and a SaddleSore 1000. The G-Midlands required no break-in and were immediately comfortable, with a roomy, well-shaped interior. With temperatures ranging from the mid-40s to well into the triple digits, my feet were never too cold or too hot, and they stayed dry in several downpours and through numerous creek crossings. The only time my feet got wet was when I dabbed while crossing a river that was deeper than the boot is tall. Luckily I haven’t had to test the crash protection features (yet), but the just-right fit, rugged soles and generous ankle support have served me well in all kinds of riding and walking conditions. In fact, G-Midlands are among the most comfortable boots I’ve ever worn.
Gaerne G-Midland boots retail for $379.99 and are available in men’s whole sizes 8-13.