I will admit I have ridden an ATV in my flip flops, but if you are going to ride seriously at all or want to be safe, it is smart to invest in a decent pair of boots. Like most gear, it is worth investing in a decent pair of boots because they will provide a lot more comfort and last many years.
When it comes to ATV boots, the answer is not as simple as recommending my favorite boot because it really comes down to what style of riding you are going to do. If you are going to be racing ATVs or doing high-intensity, top-speed riding, I recommend getting the Fox Racing Comp 5 Off-Road Boots. If you are planning to get off your ATV and do some hiking along with moderately aggressive riding, I recommend the Alpinestars Tech 2 boots. Finally, if you are going to be doing more hiking and casual riding, I suggest a good pair of hiking boots. My favorite hiking boots are made by Garmont.
If you are reading this and just have gobs of money to spend and want the best boots out there, the Alpinestars Tech 10 boots are probably the most popular, really high end boots out there, but they are going to set you back more than $500.
Fox Comp 5 Boots
The Fox Comp 5 Boots are going to give you an insane amount of protection at a really good price compared to similar boots that often cost twice the amount, but you will easily notice the superior quality compared to cheaper options. The Fox Comp 5 Boots are actually decently comfortable so you will not have any issues wearing them for a full day of riding. They are going to give you really good ankle and crush protection.
Comparing the Fox to the cheaper entry-level boots, there are some obvious differences. In addition to just looking more high end, you’ll feel how much more solid they are. The toe box and sole are extremely rigid, perhaps even a little too rigid as that part isn’t always the most comfortable. But, that is a protection measure that you get with these types of boots. Likewise, the ankle protection on this boot is stellar. Ankle protection on cheaper boots often consists of leather that wears down over time, but the Fox Comp 5 boots have a rigid thermoplastic heel cup that keeps the foot straight, and the protection slowly tapers between the ankle and the bottom of the calf to allow for good flexibility when walking.
The Fox Comp 5 boots do a good job of matching my normal shoe size, but I have read that they can run SLIGHTLY small for some people. So if you normally wear a half size like 10.5, then get an 11. If you normally wear an even size (10, 11, 12, etc), then just get your normal size. The sizing isn’t weird, so you should feel comfortable buying these boots on Amazon, and the price is as good as you are going to find anywhere else.
Alpinestars Tech 2 Boots
These are the perfect boots for the ATV rider that does some aggressive riding, but finds themselves doing a lot of hiking as well. Whether it is riding technical trails that require you to get off the trail and hike or you are taking turns with other people on an ATV or just want some more comfort hanging around when you are not riding the ATV, the Alpinestars Tech 2 Boots are a great combination of protection and comfort. It is important to recognize with these boots that they are a compromise. They are not going to be as comfortable as hiking boots and they are not going to provide as much protection as the Fox Comp 5 boots, but they will be more comfortable than the Fox Racing boots and give you more protection than a hiking boot. Because of this, they will be a good balance for many ATV riders that I call “casually aggressive.”
Garmont Hiking Boots
I have been using Version 2 of the 9.81 Trail Pro from Garmont for a number of years and they are the absolute best hiking shoe I have ever worn. The model I have is more of a hiking shoe than a boot so I would probably recommend going with more of a boot style from Garmont, but they do have some features that are especially useful for ATV riding. Besides being very comfortable, the shoes have an insane grip. This is important for ATV riding as you don’t want your shoes sliding around as you ride. If these boots grip well enough to handle me jumping among slick rocks in a waterfall, they can handle ATV riding.
I also love the Gore-Tex at the base of the shoes. In addition to helping keep your socks and feet dry as you ride through streams and puddles, it adds a pretty decent layer of protection to your toes and sole. This also combines nicely with the laces that go almost all the way down to the toes. This keeps your toes more protected and prevents them from sliding around inside the shoe.