Folsom Combat Boots Review

Or how I stopped worrying and learned to love internet shopping

Frye Folsom Combat Boots
The Frye Folsom Combat Boots are street boots that perform just as well on the bike as they do on the street.Kevin Wing

When it comes to motorcycle gear, the old adage “you get what you pay for” is more than just a rule of thumb, it’s a damn credo. Break it, and you’ll regret it. Especially if you buy on the internet.

I broke a lot of my own rules in buying these Frye Folsom Combat Boots.

But I’m skipping ahead. I needed new leather riding boots, ones that would work great on the bike and feel and look great off of it. And I knew what I wanted: casual brown leather boots that weren’t too fancy to beat the crap out of; boots with a solid sole but a soft footbed; boots with a side-zip entry that I could put on and take off quickly; and boots that I could wear on rides without needing to pack backup shoes to walk in.

Boots that looked and felt as good off the bike as on it. The golden unicorn of motorcycle boots, basically. Didn't seem like too much to ask.

Frye Folsom Combat Boots
The Folsoms come in black, brown, copper, and Redwood (shown).Courtesy of Frye

So I started browsing around online. Now, if you’ve ever googled “motorcycle boots,” then you know: 99 percent of “motorcycle boots” have zero business being anywhere near a motorcycle. Still, one brand kept popping up, and it belonged to a name I was plenty familiar with: Frye. I knew of Frye as a maker of cowboy boots, a brand that had been around since the 1800s. There was even a dusty-cool, black-and-white video on its website that featured two of my favorite singers, Lukas Nelson and Margo Price, kicking around the desert. And their boots looked really great both in color and in dusty black and white. But, of course, I was skeptical. I mean, it’s the internet.

One day, Amazon was advertising a bunch of Frye "motorcycle boots" on sale and one style in particular kept catching my eye: the Folsom Combat Boots. They definitely ticked all my boxes: gritty brown leather. High calf shaft. Side zip. Chunky heel (but not too high). Reinforced toe. Leather laces. Cool, but tough. Ahh, there's the hitch—they don't come in wide widths. And they're not "real" motorcycling boots. Bummer. Fine, I'll move on.

I kept shopping. Kept clicking, and kept swiping. Kept seeing the Folsoms. Noted they came not just in brown but in black, Redwood, and copper. Hmm. Kept browsing. Finally they popped up again and in a moment of impulsive weakness I clicked on those damn Folsoms and expanded the photo. Nice. Then I clicked on Redwood and found my size and expanded the photo again. Nicer. Then I compared the brown to the Redwood, went back to the lighter Redwood, and expanded the photo one more time. I sat. I stared. Finally I clicked on the next half-size up from mine, and put those suckers in my cart. Whew.

At this point did I keep shopping around? No. Did I ask myself if I really, really needed those Folsoms? No, sir, I did not. I bought those damn boots. Just pulled out my card and clicked purchase. Then I shoved the whole transaction back into the dark recesses of my mind.

Fast-forward to two days later. Been kicking myself for 48 hours. I should know better than to buy gear, especially shoes, over the internet. Didn’t say a word to the wife, out of pure guilt. Then the box arrives and it’s big. I breathe. I open it. That familiar musky leather aroma wafts in my face and I wallow in it. Good sign: They’re just like the picture. Brown but not too earthy. Supple Italian leather, thick but pliant and soft. A low 1-1/2-inch heel that’s chunky but not too high.

Then I slid my foot down into the Folsoms, and I knew I’d found my perfect riding boots.

Frye Folsom Combat Boots
Zip it up for full protection, or leave it halfway down for walking-around comfort.Jon Langston

The real leather laces felt soft and pliable, not stiff and synthetic, and I knew that even if I torqued on them these laces would not snap any time soon. The Folsoms felt good, and they looked great. Walking around the first thing I noticed was how comfortable they were for big ol' boots; the footbed was soft and the 8-inch calf shaft wasn't too stiff. Even though I sized up a notch, they were a bit snug out of the box. But I have wide feet anyway, so years ago I bought some expandable shoe tree stretchers on Amazon. A few days on those and my Folsoms fit perfectly. I don't even put insoles inside. They have Goodyear welted construction with a rubber bottom and round toe that's not too thick to slide under the shifter. They're solid, but not so heavy as to cause fatigue. And they look great in most any situation, motorcycling or otherwise.

On the bike these boots not only look great in anything from jeans to riding pants but they feel great, not too heavy or clunky and sensitive enough use the foot controls with ease. There’s no protective patch on the top like on “real” riding boots, but so far they show zero signs of wearing through where the leather meets the shift lever. In heavy Midwestern rain they got soaked through, and seeped in front as much as you’d expect lace-ups to, but my feet miraculously didn’t get all that wet. And a night on the hotel room heater was all they need to dry completely.

At this point I’ve worn my Folsoms on nearly a year’s worth of rides, from standing on the pegs to scrambling over mud and gravel to power-walking on the FDR over sizzling-hot summer blacktop. I’ve also worn them for hours strolling around bike rallies, stood in them for hours at general-admission concerts (Lukas Nelson and Margo Price, natch), kicked around in them all night at standing-room-only house parties, worn them with chinos to nice restaurants, and hiked around Manhattan when friends come to visit NYC. And my feet never ache, rarely tire, and the Folsoms keep pounding away at the pavement. And they're getting more comfortable with age.

Frye’s Folsom Combat Boots aren’t from the company’s current collection. But they are available from multiple online retailers, including Amazon, for about half their original list price. But the bottom line is, I have no idea when I’ll need to buy another pair of riding boots. And that, my friends, feels great.

Frye Folsom Combat Boots

From $180 on Amazon