CW Evaluation: 2012 Fox Instinct Boot

A boot that fits like a glove.

Photography by Jeff Allen

2012 Fox Instinct Boots

2012 Fox Instinct Boots

Fox has developed a new off-road boot that Ricky Carmichael calls revolutionary. He’s not saying that as a high-paid endorsement athlete, but rather as the chief R&D tester of the product. You could say he has skin in the game, but let’s not let that overshadow the fact that he has been helping Fox develop the Instinct Boot since early 2009, assisting the company to achieve a difficult set of objectives. According to Fox, those are to “produce a boot with exceptional ankle support with a hinge design that keeps a subtle, leather-boot feel with instant comfort and no break-in time.” That’s one tall order.

In the first minute wearing the boot, there is no doubt that Fox nailed the objective of instant comfort; it doesn’t even take a lap to realize there is no break-in required. In fact, this boot feels nothing like a common motocross boot. It is snug like a tennis shoe and just as comfortable—none of that “foot in concrete” feeling. Sizing may be a little on the small size, I’m a genuine 10.5 and the 11 was just big enough. The Instinct conforms to the foot more easily than other boots I’ve worn. Adjusting the buckles works to fine-tune fit, as they should, giving a good amount of pressure without cutting off circulation. As promised, there is no pinching when the boot flexes and the hinge system allows the ankle to move freely without significant resistance. This feature allows the rider to flex his foot without fighting the boot.

Comfort comes from the sole, a five-part system that includes an insole, shank, midsole, stabilizer and outsole. The system effectively cushions impacts and spreads the force of those impacts across the entire bottom of the foot. Fox offers a limited guarantee on the sole. If you ever wear it out, the company will replace it. The combination of hinged ankle section and unique sole allows for more natural feeling when it comes to using bike controls. It’s much easier to shift and brake accurately when you can actually feel something through the boot.

A boot that feels lighter and more flexible might create the illusion that it is not protecting as well as a traditional stiff boot. But as far as I can tell it protects at least as well. The toe box has proven to be the least protective part: Kicking a rock can hurt but the sting doesn’t last long—one corner later, there is no recollection. Otherwise, the results of my testing are impressive. So far, I’ve twisted my foot in a rut, slipped off the pegs dragging my legs behind, over jumped a sizable gap, and have even had a couple slow speed crashes. Despite all this abuse, so far my feet have come out unscathed. What else do you really want from a boot?

Suggested retail price is $549.95 in sizes 8-13.