Fox Instinct Off-Road Boots

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The Fox Racing Instinct Off-Road Boot is a new model for 2017 that shares the majority its design above the ankle with the MX version of Fox’s flagship Instinct line.  From the ankle down, the sole gets a wider, featuring a more open lug pattern and the toe box is fully enclosed with TPU for additional protection on trails.  Color choices are limited to blue/orange or charcoal and as with all Fox boots, the Instinct Off-Road is designed in California and manufactured in China.  

Beginning with sizing, I have wide size 9.5 feet and found the boots to be fairly true-to-size.  I rounded up to a size 10 which provided a decent fit that was only slightly snug on the outside toe box.  Calf adjustment is pretty typical and I had no issue fitting with in-the-boot knee protection with room to spare (19" max opening).

Fox did a great job with the hinged ankle, providing support and protection without limiting necessary mobility.  It provides smooth rotation in the first few degrees of travel and gets progressively stiffer to prevent hyperextension with a solid end-top to prevent hyperflexion.  I was surprised by how well it resists twisting and rolling of the ankle.  The only downside is a creaking noise that comes from the hinge cuff when walking around.  The noise has mostly subsided after a few rides but still isn’t entirely gone, even with the aid of silicon spray as Fox suggested.

The toe box is an area that impressed me.  It’s stiff, but there is a recessed area on the top of the left boot with less material that allows for a increased shifter feel.  I had some missed shifts at first, but adapted within a couple rides.  I had no issues with rear brake lever feel and modulation which might be attributed to their low-ride chassis and smooth ankle pivot.  As someone that has struggled with ingrown toenails, the stiff toe box really helps distribute the force from the shifter.

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The wide lug pattern on the sole is great for walking around in mud and grass, but it has a tendency of wedging into the foot pegs when riding on the balls of your feet.  This requires a little extra effort to re-position your foot, something I’m still not 100% accustomed to.  This is my main gripe with the boots.  Riding on my arches was no problem and I think Fox did a good job choosing the right material for the replaceable mid-sole, balancing good grip and durability.  The tacky Duratac rubber works great on wet rocks and I only had a few small chunks ripped out of the soles after a couple months of hard riding and trail maintenance.

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There’s not much area on the inside leg of the boot not covered in Duratac rubber and this makes for awesome grip on the foot pegs and frame.  The shape of the boot paired up well with my YZ250F frame, allowing me to not pinch as hard with my legs (saves energy) while still maintaining good bike control.

This is my first pair of boots without Velcro at the cuff and I love it.  It allows for a snug fit at the top of the boot as you move around, with a superb top seal. Sand is pretty much a given where I ride and I have yet to find any inside the boot after many hours of riding.  This also lends well to sealing water out as I never had an issue with wet feet, on or off the bike.  I even walked around in a small pond up to the third buckle and came out with dry feet.  The downside of the great seal is poor ventilation.  The dark color really soaks up the sunlight and proved to be warm on days only in the 70’s when you're off the bike. Warmer weather is tolerable when you stay on the bike and keep moving.

The buckles have a metal base with a plastic lever that snaps into place by means of a stiff detent and ball-and-socket design.  The combination of a stiff detent and short lever makes them a bit hard to operate, but on the plus side, they do stay closed.  There’s a large TPU molded ramp at the bottom buckle to help deflect rocks and brush, keeping your buckles out of harm's way.  The serrated-back plastic straps are easy to adjust and have an over-molded metal connector where they meet the buckle.  I’ve managed to bash them against rocks with no more than a little rash.  Replaceable parts can be somewhat limited for a boot in this price range, but the buckles, straps, strap passes, rear cuff, and middle sole are available for replacement.  Fox included two spare buckles in the box.

Fox markets the Instinct Off-Road as a no break-in boot, but that was not quite the case for me.  The initial fit was a little snug in the toebox and ankle area, but both have relaxed as the boot fully broke in within a couple hours use.  I’ve worn the boots all day for trail maintenance that  included digging, setting logs, and running tractors & other equipment to build tracks.  Being an off-road boot, off bike comfort should be equally important, but with the majority of its design borrowed from its MX brother, it’s no surprise that the feel is more like a comfy MX boot.  For boots, I rank safety over comfort, but I was expecting better all-day comfort out of a dedicated off-road boot.  I have managed to have several get-offs while wearing the boots, one in particular smashed the top of my left foot into a bowling ball sized rock.  Outside of a scuffed toe box, the boot and my foot come out unscathed.

Pros :thumbsup:

  • Great seal at calf.
  • Strong buckles.
  • Solid safety features.
  • Grippy soles on/off the bike.
  • Replaceable sole section.

Cons :thumbsdn:

  • Marginal ventilation.
  • Wide lug pattern sole has tendency to hang up in foot pegs.

I haven't been a big fan of Fox boots in the past, but think that they have made big strides into the premium boot market with the Instinct Off-Road Boot.  I'd like to see better all-day comfort for a dedicated off-road boot, but I do really like the protection, feel, and control they provide. Couple a solid performance with great build quality, the Fox Instinct Off-Road Boot is easily my go-to boot for the trails.

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