Where I live in the Northeast U.S., the average temperature is less than 50 degrees for six months out of the year. If we want to extend our riding season, the proper accommodations have to be made. For those of us whose extremities are super-sensitive to cold, that means making sure our hands and feet are warm enough to ride safely and comfortably. My hands are well taken care of by a set of heated grip inserts, but no such device exists for my feet. So when Harley-Davidson came out with its Heat Boot, I jumped at the chance to try a pair.
Much like other Harley-Davidson boots, the 8″ Heat Boot comes in black leather. This style features speed lacing that, once tightened to your preferred fit, never needs to be messed with again due to the side zipper with full-length gusset. The boots are insulated and feature a Hydro-Guard waterproof membrane that breathes, letting moisture out but not in. The outer sole is made of oil- and slip-resistant Vibram rubber.
The big difference between these and other boots is that they’re heated. An internal rechargeable lithium polymer battery powers chargeable ThermalBed material built into the front of the boot’s footbed. The temperature is controlled by three power settings operated by pushing an H-D logo-imprinted button on the outside of each boot. You push and hold each button for one second, and the light turns red, which is the highest setting. Push and hold for another second and the button glows yellow; push and hold one second again and the light turns green for the lowest setting. Holding the button for three seconds turns off the heating element.
A portable battery charger is included with the boots, and when I opened the box, the first order of business was to charge the batteries. The charger has two leads, each of which connects to a port hidden under a flap on the back of each boot. The H-D logo light blinks every half second to let you know that the batteries are charging. It took about four-and-a-half hours for the boots to charge completely the first time, and about the same every time I expended the battery after that.
My 1,100-mile ride to Daytona Bike Week gave me the first opportunity to test the boots. I initially tried the lowest setting, which, at 113 degrees, is supposed to last as long as seven hours. It lasted about six, which was OK because I spent only about seven hours on the road that day. I charged the boots overnight in my hotel room, and by the time the boots shut off the next day I was already in South Carolina and the temperature had reached the 70s.
Once I returned home to the Northeast and the cold weather, the Heat Boots proved quite useful. I tried the other two settings, and the battery life was pretty close to spec—nearly five hours of heat on the medium setting (122 degrees) and close to three-and-a-half hours on high (140 degrees). I found that when the temperature is below freezing, even at the highest setting, the boots put out just enough heat to keep my feet comfortable. And when I don’t need the heat on, the boots look and behave just like regular riding boots.
If I were the designer I’d make the Velcro-held zipper keepers a little longer, as they kept coming undone while I was riding. The batteries have a lifespan of only two or three years (or 400 charge/discharge cycles), and as the boots age, they will gradually lose the capacity to hold a charge. The ability to replace the batteries would certainly make the $400 price tag more palatable. And although I was able to wear a men’s size 7—the smallest available—it would make sense to offer the Heat Boot in women’s sizes, as well.
That said, the boots perform admirably in all weather conditions, and are as comfortable while I’m walking as they are on the bike—no break-in required. I’ve even worn them inside on low heat, keeping my tootsies toasty warm in the dead of winter. The Heat Boots are a welcome addition to my riding gear repertoire. 4