When going the distance on a bike, without a doubt happy feet are a must and after earning a ‘best seller’ tag across several gear sites the Sidi Aria Gore-tex waterproof boots have a lot to live up to.
Boasting top-level protection and a laundry list of features, I’ve had the pleasure of introducing the Arias to the hills and dales of Yorkshire, plus the displeasure of testing their limits on the daily commute… all on board my Honda CB500X. After a month of big miles I’m pleased to say the boots embraced both with the poise you might expect from one of the biggest brands…
First impression of the Sidi Aria boots is of fantastic quality and simple, subtle design. The materials used and the finish is some of the best I’ve come across; a mixture of Cordura, Gore-tex, Technomicro, YKK zips and moulded TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) thrown in for added durability in key points.
The design is simple but that’s actually a good thing. The Sidi’s use good materials in a well thought through way to give enough character without being overstated. As far as touring boots go I’d argue they are some of the best looking out there.
Initially there was little to no flex in any direction and as explored in the comfort section below, they definitely benefit from some breaking in. That solidity does give confidence that the Arias will last really well though, and the TPU reinforcement plus the toe and heel cups really help with durability as well as protection. Despite a lot of rough use, the boots have help up perfectly, which is testament to the quality of the materials used.
Despite the use of mesh for much of the outer material they have proved extremely versatile in varied temperatures. Even with only basic thermal socks the boots have been plenty warm enough in conditions that have seen me reach for my heated jacket and gloves. They’ve also managed well in slightly warmer climes, and I have every confidence that thanks to the use of a Gore-tex membrane, they’ll remain breathable enough to work well in the heat of summer (a long forgotten memory at this point).
Using a classic side zip and velcro storm flap arrangement the Aria’s are really easy to get on and off. When undone there’s a really wide opening and high quality YKK zip with a good-sized pull that’s easy to grab even with a gloved hand. The only slight gripe being that the lower portion of the zip is covered by a smaller storm flap made up of the outer material. This only starts part way down and I’ve found the zip frequently catches on it. It’s something you get used to, but somewhat fiddly.
There’s a small amount of adjustability in the velcro closure too, giving the ability to cinch the boots up a tad, which is especially useful if combining with slimmer trousers.
The construction of the Aria’s gives you every possible confidence that they would do their job should the worst happen. This confidence is backed by the boots meeting the EN13634 protection standard, reaching the higher level 2 of protection in all 4 of the tested areas (boot height, abrasion resistance, cut resistance and rigidity).
The toes, heels and ankles all benefit from reinforcement internally, with low-profile external TPU pads adding to the overall protection package. The protection adds minimal bulk, and once worn-in there’s a reasonable degree of flex in the sole, which really helps with walking comfort; a good balance of protection, comfort and bulk.
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Initially the comfort and fit of the Aria’s concerned me. Out of the box they’re extremely stiff in every sense, and as a result they were not at all comfortable off bike to walk around in. I’m pleased to say this improved significantly with time and use. While I still wouldn’t opt to wear these if I knew my day involved significant amounts walking, they’re more than good enough for wandering around a sea front or seeking out snacks at a biker stop.
Thankfully on-bike comfort is much better both initially and after a month or two’s riding. The Sidis do their job without distracting from the ride and even after hours in the saddle there was no itchy, squeezed-in discomfort like I’ve found in some touring products.
It’s worth noting that I ended up with a half size bigger than usual, which was perfect on the sole but left the calf portion of the boot ever so slightly looser than I’d like. This was largely fine however initially I did find the extra room a tad annoying due to the slight bend in my ankle aboard my CB500X. In time I discovered the velcro storm flap has enough give to slightly tighten the cuff, largely eliminating this issue.
The sole of the Aria is quite a traditional touring style; chunky with a slight heel and a good amount of tread… something appreciated in the recent wet weather. Thanks to the firmness of the boot and the grip the sole provides they have a really planted feel giving plenty of grip on varied surfaces and even serving well on some light green lanes. Like much of the boots’ qualities, the planted feel inspires confidence and makes them a really dependable companion for mixed and unpredictable adventures.
Internally there’s a quality insole with no notable stitching making for a comfortable home for your feet. They do offer (as an extra) a support insole and a ‘sports’ insole that provides a little customisability for those who need it, although I found the inner liner and sole really comfortable both for temperature, sweat and general wear.
Featuring Gore-tex waterproofing the Aria perform exactly as expected. Despite throwing them into some of the worst riding conditions of the year so far, they have remained perfectly dry throughout. Even when embracing my inner toddler and aiming for every puddle I could find, they remained bone dry. This consistent performance in the wet makes them a perfect pairing for the rather extreme levels of rain over the past month and even after days of wet commuting they’ve continued to do their job.
Helpfully, the outer material doesn’t hold a drop of water, so they require very little drying out or care, ready for adventures day after day no matter what the conditions.
There are almost endless options when it comes to boots but particularly in the arena of touring foortwear. Here are some alternatives that may be worthy of consideration:
After a couple of months of fairly hard use I think it’s safe to say Sidi knows what it’s doing. The initial gripes of sizing, zips and stiffness were quickly forgotten in the face of well thought through design and a dependability that should, but often doesn’t underpin all biking gear.
While not the cheapest boots out there, the Sidi Arias are everything they’re cracked up to be and I can see why they continue to sell so well (probably helped by a street price at the time of writing of £199.99). From the waterproofing to the grip, in every area they simply work.
I’ve been extremely impressed by the versatility and durability of the Sidi Arias, looking no different to the day their box first opened, despite miles of eclectic adventures. Add to all that the quality materials and a level of finish that I have every confidence will really last well, and I can’t help feeling they represent an exercise in the ‘buy well, buy once’ approach.