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TCX Airtech 3 GTX boots review | Waterproof touring boots tested

Production Manager - Still considers himself a novice rider, despite passing his test nearly thirty years ago.



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Date reviewed: February 2023 | Tested by: Steve Lamb | Price: £249.99 |


I've been wearing these TCX Airtech 3 GTX boots for around 6 months and in that time have racked up over 2000 miles in them. I've worn them mostly on my own 2021 Honda NC750X but also on a variety of test bikes including KTMs 390 Adventure. Most of this has been on fast A-roads and motorways including a trip to Scotland for the BSB at Knockhill, back in June - a perfect opportunity to test the comfort, and probably the water resistance of any boots. So how have they faired?


  • Great looks

  • Supremely comfortable

  • Totally waterproof

  • Minor designs flaws in places

  • Not the warmest for winter rides


Construction and features

The TCX Airtech 3 GTX boots are aimed squarely at the traditional touring market and at first glance resemble any other full height, leather and suede boots in this segment.

On closer inspection however, you will note that the boots' outers are in fact fully constructed from man-made materials - a combination of microfibre and fabric uppers and a rubber sole.

While this is an obvious boon to those looking to move away from the use of animal products, it also means that the boots are quicker to break in than leather traditionally is, meaning that they are comfortable right from the off, but still offering great breathability and protection that you would normally expect from a more traditional construction methods.

Along side the mix of modern materials, the Airtech 3 boots also mix up traditional construction methods, where panels are sewn to each other, with a more modern technique of bonding additional materials over existing panels to give them additional features. This is most apparent at the toe, where a rubberised layer is bonded over the material upper to provide a water resistant layer without compromising the integrity of the upper panel.

In terms of styling, the Airtech GTX 3s stick closely to the more traditional touring boot design with minimal vents, spoilers or mesh panels that you might find on more sports orientated boots. It’s a look that I favour, and once that suits these boots well, but that’s not to say the features are lacking when compared to race style (and much more expensive) boots.


Even with the storm flap fully closed, some of the velcro is still uncovered



Fastening is a simple affair with a single large YKK branded zip on the outer of the boot, covered with a large storm flap, secured with Velcro. It’s a tried and trusted fastening arrangement, and one which is used on the majority of boots, and yet one that TCX somehow managed to miss the mark on. Either the storm flap has too much Velcro, or the Velcro is the wrong way round (i.e the hard scratchy bit should be on the boot, not the storm flap) but the end result is that, with the storm flap closed, a large section of the scratchy side of Velcro stays uncovered and rubs against your leg.

Yes, you can wear longer socks to stop the scratching, but it seems a pretty fundamental flaw, and one which a few of us in the office immediately noticed, without even trying the  boots on.

Putting the Velcro issue aside (I do just make sure I wear longer socks), the boots are very comfortable once on. TCX have taken a nice feature from their race boots and put a stretch panel alongside the fastening zip, meaning that you can get a nice secure fit all along the zip, with no tight spots.

It's also a nice touch to see a Velcro tab on the zip, meaning that you can secure this between the boot and storm flap and ride safe in the knowledge that your zip is securely fastened.



Protection and certification

The TCX Airtech 3 GTXs meet EN 13634: 2017 with a rating of 2122 WR WAD – or, in layman's terms, they are shin high boots (2), meeting a basic pass (1) in abrasion resistance and superior passes (2) in both impact cut resistance and transverse rigidity and have optional approvals for water resistance (WR) and water absorption/desorption of the inner materials (WAD).

These are all approvals that I would expect to see on boots of this quality, though I would have liked to have also seen the IPA mark meaning that the ankles are afforded additional protection. The positioning of the zip and its stretch panel mean that the insertion of amour in this area is impractical, and while there is some ankle protection in the boot, it is insufficient to earn them the additional accreditation. Not a deal breaker for me, but if you have previously suffered an ankle injury and are looking for some additional protection to this area, it's worth noting. Likewise, while there is shin protection provided by the boots, they don't carry the additional certification code for shin protection (IPS).

In addition to the certified safety standards, the front and backs of the boots have small reflective panels to aid night-time visibility.

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.




I normally wear a UK8 (US9, EU43) in shoes and so ordered the same for the Airtech 3 boots and the fit was spot on, despite me having a high instep which means putting on boots can sometimes be a bit tricky - the large zip opening certainly helps here, providing a very wide opening to the boot.

The scratchy Velcro on the storm flap aside, once these boots are on, I found them to be supremely comfortable, with no tight spots or off features. Even after a full day in the saddle travelling up to Knockhill, my feet felt fresh and relaxed (much more than I did) and on the occasions when I've worn them for long periods off the bike (if I've forgotten my trainers on office days), they are plenty comfy enough to walk around in for a full 8-hour day, helped in part by the Ortholite insoles.

The combination of breathable fabrics and the mesh construction of the uppers do allow some airflow meaning that on hot days, your feet will stay comfortable, though the flipside of this is that on a recent trip to the Bennetts call-centre in Coventry, in temperatures around 5°C, my feet were quite cold on arrival. Again, not a deal breaker, just something to consider if you are planning some winter riding.



Sole and grip

The soles of the Airtech 3 GTXs have a slim profile with a shallow hexagonal pattern described as groundtrax®. This is designed to provide a combination of grip and stability on the ground and on the bike's foot pegs, improved wear resistance, and wide and easy to clean groves which should 'self-clean' in use.

They are neither listed as oil and lubricant resistant, nor are they certified as being slip resistant, and despite the design, this second point has been apparent on more than one occasion with my foot slipping off a wet foot peg.

Overall, though, grip has been good, slippery garage forecourts haven't been an issue (any more than they normally are) and for general walking on tarmac and wet surfaces, I've had no issues at all. I don't ride off road (a gravel driveway is about as extreme as I get), so I've not been able to test the mud clearing abilities but for road use, grip has been good.

After six-month's use, the sole hardly looks worn, so longevity also looks good.



Riding with wet feet can be uncomfortable at best, dangerous at worst and wet feet can soon make a long journey very miserable, so for me, waterproofing is far more important than looks or any flashy features and here, the TCX Airtech 3 GTXs certainly deliver.

I always like to give boots a thorough test in real conditions and so when the rain looked to be locked-in for the day (as it so often does in the UK), I managed to get a solid couple of hours of wet riding in.

My test route for all wet weather gear is to get on the A1M and head towards the clouds (in this case, South to Bedfordshire). The combination of road spray from lorries and motorway speeds gave the boots a real test and after 110 miles (once back home with a cuppa) I was happy to see that my socks were completely dry. It's easy to assume that any boot that carries the Gore-Tex label and contains a waterproof membrane will perform equally well, but the performance of the Gore-tex layer is influenced as much by how it is joined at the seams and how the material is incorporated into the boot as it is in the materiel itself, and in the case of the Airtech 3 GTXs, TCX have done a great job. 

The sleek design of the boots also meant that, once the outers had dried, a quick spritz with a mild detergent and a wipe with a cloth and the boots looked as good as new. It's good to have boots that you know you can rely on when the weather is less than favourable, and the Airtech 3s certainly fit the bill.



Modern synthetic materials and the slimline design means that the Airtech 3 boots weigh it at just 670g per boot (Size UK 8).

In comparison, my current synthetic walking boots weigh just 395g each, my wife's leather size 6 walking boots weigh 485g each and my leather oxford (going out) boots come in at around 525g each. Considering the additional size, construction, and features of the Airtech 3 boots, to only weigh a couple of hundred grammes more than 'fashion' boots is pretty impressive.


Three alternatives to the TCX Airtech 3 GTX Boots

If you're looking for a great looking pair of traditional-looking touring boots, but with all the benefits of modern materials and all at a wallet-friendly price, then there are some great boots on the market:

  • RSTs Pathfinder boots come in at a budget beating £149 and yet have similar safety certification and provided excellent waterproofing abilities in testing.

  • For summer use, or for those in warmer climates, TCXs Clima Surround boots may be better suited with their innovative air-flow system

  • If you're looking for a more chunky, off-road orientated boot, I found the RST Raid boots to be a great buy at just £149, though their weight and size may make them a bit overkill for casual users.



TCX Airtech 3 Boots – Verdict

While I've highlighted a few areas for improvement with these boots, they are not reasons why these are 'bad boots', rather reasons why they aren't the perfect boot.

I appreciate that we're all different, and all need different things from the kit we buy and wear, but for my needs - daily commuting, light touring (by that, I mean 2-3 days away rather then crossing continents) and general weekend leisure use - the Airtech 3s take some beating.

They aren't the warmest of boots in extreme use, but being able to rely on them keep my feet dry and safe more than makes up for that and, so long as I remember to wear my long socks, I'm more than happy to look past the scratchy Velcro and thoroughly recommend these boots.