In general terms I’m rather open to new ideas and love to check out fresh approaches to old problems, but in some facets of my life I can be slow to adapt.
Footwear falls into that category. I didn’t wear clogs in the 1980s, overpay for Michael Jordan sneakers in the ’90s or, more recently, jump into the Crocs fad. Therefore, it probably isn’t surprising that – despite getting several opportunities to try many fancy modern boots over the years – I’ve usually defaulted back to traditional styles. Supportive but not stiff black boots with laces were fine for me.
But after finally finding the right pair of Boa-based boots from Fly Racing last winter, consider me a changed man… Well, partially changed anyway.
The Fly Marker Boa Boots that I wore last two winters were still beautiful in all-black. And they still had a traditional fit when on my feet and lower legs – meaning they had some flex and were comfortable when riding but also when walking around. My switch came in the acceptance (at long last) of the Boa system as my sinching system of choice.
My previous aversion to Boa-based boots I tried had to do with the placement of the Boa dial. Because I like to ride far-forward for optimal handling on tight, twisting trails – typically with my lower legs pressed against the dash panel – I disliked how I could feel the lump of the dial on my shin. I also tried Boa boots with the dial on the side, but that also felt unnatural.
A smaller dial plus some plastic support material around it made that a non-factor on the Fly Markers. And, once I got over that little phobia, I grew to absolutely love the fit of these boots and how easy they were to get on and off my feet.
Backing up to the basics, the Markers are 12 inches tall and 4.5 inches wide at their broadest point. They feature a leather upper, with reinforcements in the toe and heel for extra protection. The rubberized sole offered moderate grip. The short traction nubs did their job, but the bottom was less aggressive than other boots I’ve recently worn.
A decent level of warmth comes from 600gram insulation, with a fuzzy/soft material pressed up my socks and a removable insole for quick and easy drying. Fly rates the boots as good to minus 40 degrees F – that might be a little optimistic for this smaller-statured boot, as they weren’t as protective as some boots I’ve worn, but they were fine for me until it got down to double-digits below zero.
The best part was the fit, and how easy they were to take on and off. I could pop out the Boa dial and yank on the grab strap on top of the tongue and instantly open them widely to easily slide in my foot. I’d then push the dial in and twist it clockwise to the level of tightness I preferred. They weren’t as adjustable as some of the double-Boa systems that allow you to separately tighten the foot and the upper, but they fit me great for all-day comfort.
When the riding day was done, I could pull out the knob/dial and pull-out on that tongue-mounted strap again for easy take off. There were no laces to untie and then loosen. I’ve been through a lot of boots over the last dozen years, each with interesting features, but these truly are my new favorite.
Beyond that, I let my 70-something father use them late in the winter and he loved them (maybe dear-old-dad is less averse to change than I thought?). With his flexibility a bit limited by age, he valued how he could easily get them on and off without stooping to mess with laces (or requesting my mother’s help). The somewhat narrow fit of the boots, though (mentioned in the info box) was a challenge for his wide feet.
Originally Boa-based systems were aimed at a younger crowd, but they might actually be particularly useful for older customers.
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