I needed gear. The height of the press intro season was upon us and I was like Cinderella before the ball. I didn't have squat. I was sweating it because the Harley-Davidson CVO launch in Milwaukee was a week away followed closely by the Victory Vision
release in Minneapolis. Without a fairy god mother at my disposal, I did the next best thing. A quick call to our main man at Parts Unlimited and my Icon gear was on its way.
When the call went out, Icon came up big for us and expressed a pair of its Field Armor Chukka Boots over just in time to go ride some Harleys and Victorys.
Included in my care package was a pair of Icon Field Armor Chukka Boots
. My immediate impression was "These boots look tight." I was surprised at how well the rep sent me something that suited my taste in style though he'd only met me twice and we'd only talked briefly. First bonus point, they were black, the only color for me in boots. Second bonus point, the Chukkas looked like a heavy-duty hiking boot - a combination of mesh and leather, rugged-looking and stylish. It was the beginning of summer so I figured the mesh would allow my foot to breathe more than an all-leather arrangement. Which is kind of ironic. I've always been partial to my traditional cruiser-oriented square-toed Harley-Davidson boots with the metal eagle emblem buckle. Even wore them for years riding my 600 Ninja. Of course, I was a guy named Harley riding a Japanese rice-burner, so I was already an anomaly. But I was ready to test out these new Icon kicks.
Icon did an excellent job of styling with the Field Armor Chukka Boots. I could see me riding around town doing a little barhopping or catching a concert in these. The boots are a balance of breathable mesh inserts offset by leather trim. The toes and heels are reinforced with injection molded plastic armor. Not quite up to steel toe specs, but in the months that I've worn them the armor is as rigid today as when I got them. It's got an intelligently-devised rubber panel with ridges running down it right above the toe to keep them from wearing thin because of repeated rubbings from your foot controls. There's a heavy duty buckle in the middle of the boots that cinches down over the laces that not only looks industrial but gives the Chukkas a firm fit. The sole is solid and grippy on the pegs. Not too thick, but durable enough to last if you've got to kick your foot down in a turn.
Like all boots, I reasoned that my Icon Field Armor Chukka Boots were going to need a little breaking in before they reached their comfort potential. I was right. The top of the boot sits right above my ankle and its durable construction meant they started out stiff. Icon constructed the Chukkas with a strip of padded leather at the top similar to a standard work boot to minimize the pain of the break-in period. This junction where boot meets skin is comfortable, but if you have to walk for an extended period of time, the Chukkas will rub you a little raw on the outside of your foot right above the ankle. Of course, they are tailored more for riding than walking, but we had to get off our bikes for walking tours of Harley's Pilgrim Road plant and Victory's Spirit Lake facility and they were a little uncomfortable by the end of the outing.
The mesh inserts of the Icon Field Armor Chukka Boots allowed my feet to breath during hot summer days but soaked up the water when I got caught out in an unexpected thunderstorm.
The boots are fairly lightweight and after getting them molded to the contours of my feet I hardly notice them when riding. Which is a good thing. One point of contention that I did have though is with the thickness of the toe. Depending on what bike I'm riding and the placement of its foot controls, the front of the boot is so tall that I had to dip my toe down to get under the gear shifter on some of the bikes I tested. It's a small tradeoff for the added protection the molded plastic armor provides.
The mesh inserts turned out to be a double-edged sword as well. While they allowed air to flow on a hot summer ride and kept my feet comfortable, I found out the hard way that they are not weather proof. A heavy deluge coming off of Chesapeake Bay while at the 2008 Harley-Davidson
model year intro made this apparent. As rain dumped on a group of unprepared motojournalists during the summer squall, my feet got soaked before I could find refuge aboard the 2008 Nightster under the easement of a local gas station. Arriving back at the Sheraton, I peeled off a pair of thoroughly drenched socks. Of course, I only brought one pair of boots to the two-day intro, so the next morning my Chukkas were still wet all the way through, and I started out the second day's ride with soggy feet. Luckily, the temperature was back up in the 90s and the wind dried them out pretty quickly.
The Icon Field Armor Chukka boots served me well during the summer testing season. They are fashionable and street-savvy. The stitching has held up well and is still intact. Even after plenty of wear they clean up easy with a quick wipe from a towel and a little soap and water. While style and durability rank high, they could benefit from help in the comfort department. A little weather-resistance would be a bonus as well. With the wet weather approaching, I'll have to defer to my full leather boots in the fall. But the Chukkas look so damn cool, I might have to break them out now and again for a night out on the town.
Icon Field Armor Chukka Boots
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