Date reviewed: September 2020 | Tested by: Steve Lamb | Price: £159.99 | www.rst-moto.com
I've been wearing these RST Raid Waterproof boots since the beginning of the 2019 winter season and have covered over 1400 miles on a variety of bikes from a Suzuki Burgman 400 to a Yamaha FZS1000 Fazer, Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 to my own Ducati Scrambler Classic.
Worn in all weathers, they have been my mainstay commuting boot throughout the winter and well into the (COVID interrupted) spring/summer season.
The RST raid waterproof boots – shown here in black and grey, but also available in brown – are made of a combination of full grain (also known as top grain) cowhide and suede. Full or top grain is the best cut of leather as it is strong and the most durable. Suede, contrary to common belief, isn't just the back of the leather. It’s a layer taken from much further into the hide and is left over once the full grain layer is removed. As such is much more susceptible to ripping or damage, hence its use on these boots in areas that are less liable to abrasion in a crash (inside ankles and recessed areas).
The outer materials are double stitched for strength and lined with SympaTex (a very thin layer of material which allows water vapour to pass through, allowing your feet to breathe, but blocks water molecules from entering, keeping them dry) and a high-denier liner material providing a soft feel liner while maintaining flexibility.
Double layers of leather in the key areas, such as toe boxes, shift pads and ankles give additional support and protection as well as resistance against wear from gear levers etc.
The boots are fastened by three chunky adjustable straps which latch on to fixed over-centre catches. Adjustment of the straps can only be done when the boots are unfastened, so there's some trial and error finding the right fit. I also found that the straps were liable to move once adjusted despite the reverse faces being serrated and locking into similarly serrated housing. It might be worth finding the right adjustment and marking the straps with a drop of white paint if you find this troublesome.
Once adjusted and secured, the catches are easy to operate, even with wet and cold hands and feel very secure once fastened. The top of the boot is secured with large tab with hook-and-loop material to keep it closed.
As all motorcycle boots are required to be, the RST Raid waterproof boots are fully CE approved to EN 13634:2017, achieving level 2 scores for each of the test criteria - height of boot (in the case of my Size 8s, 34cm), abrasion resistance, impact cut resistance and transverse rigidity, meaning that the soles are crush and twist resistant - in the case of the Raid boots thanks to a polycarbonate shank running the length of the sole - as well as moulded TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) inserts for protection to the shin, and memory foam inserts for ankle protection.
From April 21 2018, all new motorcycle clothing is deemed to be Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). To meet this legislation, it must be tested to a recognised standard. For more information on the new laws, click here.
Due to the robust construction of the boots, I found them quite stiff to begin with and had some difficulty even getting them on, despite them being the right size. After a few days of wear though, they began to soften up and I had no further issues. As I have been wearing these for commuting, I tend to wear quite thin socks underneath and the fit was just right. If you tend to wear multiple layers, or thicker socks, it may be worth trying the next size up. As with all clothing, the more you can try on, the more likely you are to find your own fit. Taking the boots off presented no trouble at all.
Once on the bike, they provide a very secure feeling which can at first feel restrictive. Changing gear and delicate braking take some getting used to, especially if you have been wearing a more casual style of boots and it may be worth taking a few moments to adjust the height of your gear lever if you really are struggling.
Off the bike, the same restrictive feeling does mean that walking any great distances is probably best avoided.
Despite large grip blocks on the soles of the RST Raid boots, they are made of a quite hard polyurethane, meaning that they can be quite slippery on frosty or diesel strewn forecourts. While I had no problems on bike foot pegs, or even the running boards of scooters such as the Suzuki Burgman, I did feel the need to gently shuffle around when filling up or moving the bike. The soles are more suited to the adventure bike market, and when walking in mud and long grass, they provided loads of grip and dug in deep.
Even after a few months of use, the innersoles are comfortable and showing little sign of wear and should be good for many a season to come.
The manufacturers of SympaTex go to great lengths to stress that the method of integration of the SympaTex material in any garment can affect the water proofing action far more than any failure in the material itself, and based on my experience so far, RST has taken note of this and executed it's integration very well.
Even in the heaviest of downpours and a good couple of hours of driving spray from motorway traffic, my feet remained dry, fresh and surprisingly warm. Adjustment around the top of the boot is key to keeping any water ingress to a minimum from the top, but the secure fastenings and robust construction do a great job at keeping you dry and secure.
The heavy duty construction of the boots in reflected in their weight, coming in at 1.1Kg per boot (in comparison to just 730g per boots for my retro styled RST Roadster II boots, for example) but when on, the RST raid boots feel surprisingly light. This is mainly down to the lightweight materials used in the sole of the boot, where most of the weight is located in more traditional boots. While it's reassuring to know that the rest of the leg is afforded as much protection as it is, its initially off putting that the sole doesn't quite have the premium feel and weight to match its looks.
On days when you know that the weather is not great, you have somewhere to be, and biking is the only option, it's great to have some kit that you know will keep you safe, warm and dry, and the RST Raid boots tick the box on all three counts.
They might not be as off-road focused as some other boots on the market, but for the majority of riders, in the majority of situations, they provide the perfect balance between comfort and protection.