Review: Icon 2006 Field Armor Chukka Boots
Most of us can’t afford an inventory of gear that can work under all riding scenarios. Most of the riders we’ve met are looking for bang for the buck, or a “Swiss Army” piece of gear that is suitable for multiple riding conditions. Track gear is meant is mean for, well, the track. And, while it can be used cruising down US 1, the practicality of this gear for street riding can sometimes conflicts with everyday life.
As the price of gas continues to soar, all sources indicate motorcycle sales are on an aggressive upswing. And, in large numbers, these new and born-again riders are finding two wheels are not only suitable for recreation, but for simple transportation as well. Larger numbers of bikes parked at the store, bank and even at work are more commonplace as motorcycles become a daily driver. This renewed interest is a certain boon for, not only, motorcycle makers of all kinds, but for gear and apparel manufacturers as well. There seems to be a renewed interest in more gear and apparel products that protect, but are also acceptable in the office cubicle.
Our latest review combs over a product that sets out to accept and dominate the aforementioned challenges. Icons Field Armor Chukka boot is strictly for street riders. Track rats need not apply! First things first, let’s get the peculiar terminology explained so we’re not stuck on “chukka”.
A chukka is loosely defined as a shoe, or boot, that comes up to the ankle and is laced through four to six eyelets; often made of suede. The name was derived from the game of Polo; a chukka is a period of play. It’s sometimes referred to as a “Desert Boot” after the use of the chukka style was adopted during desert campaigns during World War II. It has no exclusivity to motorcycles or motorcycle riding. It’s simply a style, like a sneaker or sandal. Moving on…
The Icon Field Armor Chukka is available in two flavors, all black and “wheat”. Interestingly, the color you choose has a dramatic impact on the overall appearance. The style is the same, but the contrast and slight difference in materials almost makes it feel like a different boot between the two. The wheat model, our test pair, has perforated leather on the sides. The black model features a textile fabric in these areas. Functionally, they’re identical; it just depends on your preference in styling.
Here are your color choices - good looking boots no matter which you choose!
Both styles sports a leather “chassis” with the aforementioned breathable inserts in the form of perforated leather or textile. Both also feature an aluminum mid foot buckle and a shifter pad to help protect the finish of the boot. A stylish red stripe around the sole adds interest in the wheat colored version.
We liked the all-around styling of the Field Armor Chukka. It could easily be mistaken for non-riding boot, with the exception of the mid foot buckle. But a pant leg easily covers that, and if it’s exposed, who cares anyway? The bottom line is, on casual Friday around the office, you could easily get away with wearing these boots.
On the top of the toe box you’ll find the rubber shifter “interface panel”, as Icon calls it. This is to protect the leather surface from the rubberized stem of your shift leather. Who wants to walk around with a mark on their left foot? Unfortunately for us our Field Armor Chukka boots suffered from the aforementioned black mark. Once we adjusted the shift lever on our bike, we managed to align the shift lever knobby with the interface panel and all was well. Since we didn’t figure this out right at the beginning, our boots are scarred. But hey, that’s our own fault. This is going to be more obvious on the wheat colored boot, such as ours, than with the black version.
Oops, make sure to adjust your shift before riding with these boots! Click for larger image.Safety
Icon has inserted injection molded plastic guards into the toe and heel. The Field Armor Chukka boots are not steel toe boots, though the toe inserts are so tough you may think they are. The toe protection comes with, somewhat, of a price. There is ample room to wiggle your toes in the Field Armor Chukka boots; in fact, maybe too much. Recurring comments centered on the toe box and its thickness. The sole along with the enlarged toe box create a thick boot at the anterior. This translates in a, potentially, awkward shifting situation on the road. That is, the angle at which you must position your foot to move the shift pad under the shift lever may be cumbersome on some bikes. That said, nearly all shift levers can be easily adjusted. Once we adjusted our shift levers up, the toe box issue was a non-issue.
There is no mistaking the heel protection visible from the outside. This thick, rigid plastic piece advertises the Icon brand name and is sure to provide durable impact and abrasion resistance. It looks like it might get in the way, but it doesn’t.
Who makes this boot?
The mid foot buckle securely keeps the laces out of the way of your streetbike’s appendages. While you’ll find few that will admit to it, many new riders quickly find out why riding with laces is a bad idea, unless they’re securely tucked away. There’s nothing scarier than coming to a stop, attempting to position your foot on the ground only to have the laces caught on the shift or rear brake levers! Not only does the mid foot buckle keep the Field Armor Chukka boots on your foot where they belong, but they also prevent you from fixing bodywork and installing frame sliders by keeping your feet free.
What we enjoyed most about the Field Armor Chukka boots was the long-term use. That is, the more we wore them, the more we wanted to wear them; if that makes sense. As the leather broke in and the insole formed to the foot, the Field Armor Chukka boots were increasingly comfortable to wear. The insoles are removable so you can insert your favorite Dr. Scholl's product if you feel the need to do so. The sole was designed for street riding, but it was also designed for walking to the coffee pot at the office and out to get the mail. There is no ankle pre-positioning or rigid sole that prevents a normal gait as you strut your stuff.
The upper ankle is very well supported and comfortable with a foam rubber piping around the top edge. If you try them on and feel the need for more upper support, Icon makes the non-chukka version than is cut much higher. We believe the higher cut boot would diminish the overall feeling of an "everyday" boot the chukka version possesses.
Surprisingly, the boots were not hot to wear all day during our dog-days of Summer testing schedule. The venting isn't superior, but you're not going to want to rip these boots off at the first opportunity; they're quite comfortable. Sorry ladies, there are no sizes for women so you'll have to stick to men's sizing.
What else can we say? This is a simple boot on the outside, not so simple on the inside and it serves a complex task. Number one, it protects and it does so inconspicuously. There’s a lot to be said for street gear than can pass for everyday wear, but still offer you safety when you go down; notice we said “when” and not “if” you go down. Number two, at a price of around $115 you are going to break the bank. And finally, the styling and comfort of the Icon Field Armor Chukka conceivably allows you to wear it on days you don't intend to ride. How cool is that?
Comfort / Fit :
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