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Guide to Motorcycle
Police Patrol Boots

This page updated January 25, 2020.

I have worn motorcycle patrol boots regularly for more than 30 years while riding my motorcycle. While I am not a sworn peace officer, I have conducted training for motor officers for many years. I like to wear police patrol boots because of their style, comfort, durability, and how they perform while riding my bike, an '08 Harley-Davidson Road King. I also wear a variety of motorcycle boots and have written a general Guide to Motorcycle Boots (linked here) if that would interest you.

The first priority for a patrol boot is that it functions as designed. A patrol boot is supposed to provide protection to a motorcycle operator, be comfortable for all-day wear, sustain regular hard use, and have a good appearance without requiring a lot of up-keep. The boots should flex well at the foot and ankle, without the boot shaft where it meets the ankle sagging or bending as to rub from the inside and cause sores. They boots should fit the calf snugly, but not so tightly as to restrict blood circulation. And, the boots should be able to endure the challenges of use while operating a motorcycle in traffic: frequent stops >> foot down >> starts >> foot up and gear-shifting movements.

The boots should be light enough to facilitate quick actions, such as for quick maneuvers on a bike, but heavy enough to withstand the heat, cold, and rain, as well as provide protection from the heat of a motorcycle engine (especially when idling). The sole should provide excellent traction. The overall boot should be comfortable to stand in for hours if necessary, such as when traffic signals are out and an officer has to direct traffic.

The following are my personal comments and opinions on police patrol boots. I also have incorporated comments from Ron Belanger of Big Black Boots, Larry Kenney of, as well as two sergeants and several motor officers who serve on motor units in Maryland, Virginia, Florida, and California. Pictures below under "Dehner Patrol Boots" and "Chippewa Hi-Shine Engineer Boots" are shown on law enforcement officers. The rest of the photos are from my collection or from manufacturers. I provide this information because I have been asked these questions over several years. But they're only my opinions. If you have a different opinion, thought, or comment, write to me here.

Note: this information is about tall police patrol boots worn by motor officers in the United States and Canada. There are some officers who wear shorter boots, and officers in other countries who wear different styles.

A video Guide to Patrol Boots is available by clicking the play button in the box above.

Parts of a Patrol Boot

There are three major parts of a boot: the shaft, vamp (foot), and sole. Some makers of patrol boots allow the customer to specify customization choices, such as the closure on the shaft (buckle or laces), shaft circumference, instep (bal-laced or dress instep), sole thickness (added midsole or half-sole), and sole choice (smooth Nitrile rubber, mini-lug Vibram®430, or big lug Vibram®100). Learn more about how these parts look and are selected by motor officers for patrol boots:

Boot Shaft

The shaft is the most visible part of a patrol boot when the boot is worn as designed, inside breeches. Patrol boot shafts can be made of leather, synthetic material (such as "Dehcord"), or other man-made materials. Beware, "man-made uppers" means that the boot shafts are made of synthetic materials or plastics.

There are pros and cons about synthetic boot shafts. They can easily crack, break, or tear. Real leather is made of dense collagen fibers, which when stretched tends to be self-healing -- that is, the leather tries to return to its original position and thus hides deformities. Synthetic boot shafts also discolor or deform when exposed to heat such as from a hot motorcycle exhaust pipe. Further, you cannot apply typical wax polish to synthetic boot shafts to shine them. The wax will "cake and flake." Some cops prefer synthetic boot shafts because they are easier to clean (using a damp cloth) and shining them by spraying a light coating of furniture polish works well.

Fitting the boot shaft to the leg is most important. As not all men are built the same, not all boot shafts will fit all men. Also, as a man ages, he loses muscle tone in his lower calf, which makes the calf become larger. It is common that the circumference of a man's lower leg may be one inch (2.5cm) or larger in circumference at age 50 than it was at age 35 -- no matter how often he works out at a gym.

If you order custom boots, measure the circumference of your leg while wearing the breeches that you usually wear. It's okay to be forgiving in the measurement by .25 to .50 inches larger.

If you order stock patrol boots, be aware that some manufacturers have different calf circumference sizes and heights that are proportional to different foot sizes. A Dehner Boot sizing chart is here as an example.

Boot Shaft Closures

Patrol boot shafts have two different types of upper closures: buckle (shown left) and laces (shown right). Usually you have a choice of either closure when ordering boots. Most officers prefer buckle closures compared with laces which can work lose when exposed to wind or get tangled. Some boot manufacturers, though, only offer laces for the closure. There are lacing techniques for the closure that some motor officers use to minimize the lace working loose or becoming untied.

Lining of Patrol Boot shafts

By all means, if you have a choice between lined and unlined boots, get boots with lining. The lining in patrol boots is made of thin leather, of about 2oz to 3oz thickness. Not only does a lining provide more comfort and makes the boots easier to pull on, it also provides better support and the boot will last longer, and not flop over when you take them off.


Vamp or Boot Foot

There are three styles of the foot on a patrol boot -- traditional bal-laced, dress instep, or engineer (buckle strap) style.

The word bal-laced (pronounced like "ball laced") refers to a style of shoe that was popular in the early 1800s called a Balmoral shoe. This style of construction came to be known as "Balmoral style," or "bal style", as opposed to the more standard style, in which the opposing rows of eyelets are attached to the vamp and don't meet at the bottom. Bal-Laced Boots are quite common for use by Motor Officers. They have lacing at the instep which provides for adjustment to fit the foot. Once tied, they seldom require readjustment.

Dress instep patrol boots became popular in the 1990s. These boots do not have laces. They have a dressy and commanding appearance. They are easier to maintain because dirt and mud won't get into the crevices around laces on the instep.

Engineer style boots -- made with a strap that crosses the instep and closes with a buckle -- have become popular among many motor units. These boots have a standard "biker" style, but can be kept well-shined. They are also less expensive than most other U.S.-made boots. They offer a good alternative to the traditional Wellington style boot, provided management can accept change.

There is no standard or predominant foot style for a patrol boot. The trend has been to convert to a dress instep style over the bal-laced style because dress instep boots are easier to care for. There are also more patrol officers wearing engineer boot style these days, too.


Boot Sole

There are many kinds of soles used for patrol boots -- some good, some not. When choosing a sole for a patrol boot, above all -- make sure it is marked "oil resistant." Some cheaper patrol boots do not have oil-resistant soles. Soles that do not marked "oil-resistant" are usually made of a composite material that can leave black marks on flooring and melt-marks on hot motorcycle pipes.

Here are the common choices of oil-resistant soles for patrol boots:

Traditional nitrile rubber sole (shown left): A nitrile sole has been used on motorboots for decades. The sole is relatively flat, and is easy to stand on. However, it has less tread than a lug sole, so it can slip on oil or water on the road.

Vibram®430 "mini-lug" sole (shown right): Vibram® soles are the best in the business, though they add to the price. A "mini-lug" sole offers the best of both worlds: a relatively flat sole which is comfortable to stand in, as well as small lugs to provide good traction. This is a common sole for a patrol boot chosen by many officers throughout the U.S.

Vibram®100 "big lug" sole (shown left): This type of sole provides the most traction of any boot sole on the market. These soles are like snow tires for the feet. They can be tough to stand on for hours. Soles like these are often selected by motor officers who work in wet, cold, or hilly environments. Many motor officers on the U.S. West Coast select these soles.

Sole Thickness

Most patrol boot soles are about .25 inches thick, and most have a midsole which is also about .25 inches thick, so most soles are 1/2 inch thick (.7cm). However, there is a lot of variety here. Some cheaper nitrile rubber soles are thin and have no half-sole, so there is not much between your foot and the road.

Some motor officers prefer a bit more height, so they have a thicker midsole applied by a cobbler. It is possible to build up the sole of a patrol boot to be as much as one inch (or a little more.) Vibram® lug soles are a bit thicker anyway.

Some manufacturers of patrol boots will allow the buyer to select a type of sole he wants, as well as to have a thicker mid-sole. If a manufacturer does not offer that selection, any cobbler can change a sole, add a mid-sole, or other modifications (for a price.) If you want this type of work done, look for a cobbler by specialty -- not just a guy in a drycleaning shop who can change leather soles on men's dress shoes. Modifying the sole on a patrol boot takes greater skill.

Patrol Boot Manufacturers

Dehner Patrol Boots

The Dehner Boot Company of Omaha, Nebraska, has been a legend in the bootmaking industry for a very long time. They make a very distinguished-looking motorcycle patrol boot that has been worn by motor officers coast-to-coast.

Dehner boots function as designed, and they have a striking and commanding appearance. No wonder many bike cops have bought and worn them over the years. If broken in properly, they are comfortable for all-day wear. When fitted properly, they feel good on the legs.

Denher uses an artificial material called "Dehcord" made by Clarino on the boot shaft of stock boots. Beware: Dehcord is not leather; it is synthetic! According to Ron Belanger of the former Big Black Boots, the synthetic Dehcord remains on the stock motor patrol boots Dehner makes because of the West Coast motor cops who like the ease of maintenance. They just wipe the shafts down with Pledge after polishing the foot. Dehner sells many more pairs of the stock motor patrol boots in Western U.S. states and that's why they pay attention so much to the desire for the synthetic shafts.
Beware, though, that some motor officers I know (and in my own experience), have been concerned that Dehcord can crack and break. The cracks are noticeable because it exposes the light-colored synthetic material that composes a Dehcord boot shaft. The cracks appear starting at the ankle and then work their way up the boot shaft as the boot is worn. Also, Dehcord can't take the heat -- a hot motorcycle engine (such as on a Police Harley) will cause a Dehcord boot shaft to become discolored (causes it to turn gray) and the discolored areas can not be returned to their black and shiny appearance. (Cops who ride Police BMWs do not have this problem, because the rider position on a BMW keeps the boot shaft away from the hottest parts of the engine compared with the positioning on a Police Harley). Stock Dehner boots with Dehcord shafts are pricey -- going for about US$400 MSRP.
If you want an all-leather boot, the cost goes up significantly. Dehner offers upgraded real leather for their patrol boots, either "Voyager" which has a matte appearance, or European calf leather. The calf leather is excellent, looks great, doesn't discolor, takes a great shine, and holds up well. The major issue I have with a pair of boots made from this leather is that they currently retail for well over US$700.

One other concern about Dehner boots is that they come in a fairly narrow calf width. They also offer a standard 1" wider calf circumference. I have a pair of those boots with the larger calf circumference, and they fit fine with breeches. The calf circumference varies in proportion to the foot size. You can see the sizing chart here.

There are two styles of Dehner boots worn by motor officers. The first style is called Bal-Laced. These boots have lacing at the instep which provides for adjustment to fit the foot. Once tied, they seldom require readjustment. Some cops have complained about dirt getting into the opening and under the laces. Some really like the classic design, and some don't. It's a matter of personal taste, as well as (in some cases) boot specifications adopted by a specific agency. If you are looking for instructions on how to lace bal-laced boots, click here.
The second style of Dehner Patrol Boots has a dress instep. It is plain and has no laces. The boots have a dressy and commanding appearance. They are easier to maintain because dirt and mud won't get into the crevices around laces on the instep. All other features are the same as bal-laced boots.

These boots may have a buckle or laces at the top of the shaft to adjust for better fit on the calf. A buckle at the top of the boot shaft is more common. It is usually an officer's preference to choose which type of calf fitting to get when he orders the boots.


  • Height: 17" - 18.5" (varies by foot width) or custom
  • Calf circumference: 15.5" to 17.5", varies by foot width
  • Weight of Leather: 7 - 8 oz (including lining)
  • Lining: Calfskin (4oz)
  • Sole: Nitrene (rubber), various Vibram® soles optional on custom boots
  • Style: Bal-laced (laced instep) or dress instep (no laces), buckle top
  • Price: around $500 MSRP with synthetic ("Dehcord") shafts; $700 and higher with real leather shafts
  • Made in: Omaha, Nebraska, USA
  • Source: Check my links page for my recommendations.
  • More photos: See them on motor officers here or see my personal Dehner boots.
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    Alberta Boot Company Strathcona Boots

    Alberta Boot Company, based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, has been in the bootmaking business since 1978 and makes excellent quality patrol boots in their Calgary shop. The patrol boot style name is the Strathcona. This company makes the traditional "Strathcona Hi-Browns" worn by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) as well as a black Strathcona, worn by motor officers in North America.

    These boots are made of all leather, including a leather lining. They are not in wide-scale mass production. Each pair is made on order. Custom sizing is available, and great care is taken to get the sizing right.

    These boots are fairly priced for such a quality product. It is possible to order these boots with various customizations, from choices of soles to calf closures, among other choices. Contact the company for more information.


  • Height: 14 to 18 inches, made-to-measure (custom height is available)
  • Calf circumference: 14.5 to 18 inches, depending on the height (or can be custom as needed)
  • Weight of Leather: very heavy duty cowhide in a 6.5-8 oz leather
  • Lining: per RCMP spec, lining is only in foot. The lining weight is 2.5-3oz. cowhide
  • Note: boots can be made with various thinner black cowhides; then the boots would be fully lined.
  • Sole: #100 Vibram® standard for motorcycle (425 or Vibram "V" sole available); double leather for mounted.
  • Style: Bal-laced (laced instep), gusset with lacing the top; flap/buckle closure available as custom.
  • Price: Cdn$750; police discount available.
  • Made in: Calgary, Alberta, Canada by Alberta Boot Company
  • Source: Directly from Alberta Boot Company

  • All American "Blue Knight" Boots

    All-American Boots are made in California, using the equipment that was formerly owned by the Bond Boot Company. This is the company that made Effingham boots. I I have owned a pair of these boots since 2009. Photos of them are at the left and here. The boots are made with thick leather and are leather-lined. They are very comfortable and look great. Various vendors (see links) carry these boots now.

    The boots look nice and are easy to keep shiny due to a light plastic topcoat on top of the all-leather shaft and foot. You can specify the size as well as the sole type when you order the boots. The boots have a buckle closure at the top of the boot shaft and a bal-laced instep. They come with foam insole inserts which adds to the comfort for all-day wear.


  • Height: made-to-measure (custom)
  • Calf circumference: custom
  • Weight of Leather: 4oz outer, 4oz lining, 8oz total (2.8mm)
  • Lining: 4oz calfskin
  • Sole: #100 Vibram® standard, other Vibram® soles available
  • Style: Bal-laced (laced instep), laced or buckle top
  • Price: About US$380, from vendor or manufacturer
  • Made in: Sun Valley, California, USA, by All American Boot Mfg., Inc.
  • Source: Check my links page for my recommendations.
  • More photos: See my Blue Knight Series Boots.
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    Chippewa Hi-Shine Engineer Boots

    Chippewa Boots are part of the family of Justin Brands, Inc. They have made engineer-style boots for more than 100 years. The "Hi-Shine" (style number 71418) is their most popular boot for motor patrol use, and for good reason.

    "Chip Shines" as they're often called are 17" tall and are made in the traditional Engineer Boot style, with a strap and buckle across the instep, and another strap/buckle on the top of the shaft to adjust the width.

    Some cops I know and ride with have been skeptical about adopting Engineer Boots for wear with a duty uniform. The old perception of "bad-ass bikers in boots" aka Jimmy Dean style goes along with it. A couple cops told me that their old-school sergeant didn't like Engineer Boots. The boots weren't considered "traditional" or "appropriate."

    But nowadays, if you closely inspect the galleries on my website featuring motor officers, you will see that many more than half of today's motor officers (at least on the East Coast) wear Chip Hi-Shines.

    Why? Well, first of all, the boots are inexpensive (especially compared with Dehners). They have a leather lining. They are durable boots, and are very comfortable. Best thing (from my perspective) is that they have a naturally wide calf, so guys with a muscular calf can wear them over pants or breeches (even leather breeches) without a problem. These boots can not be custom-made, so perhaps that's why they make the boots with a wider calf to begin with. It's always easier to tighten the top strap to make them tighter than to have a cobbler do major work on someone else's product to make them fit.

    These boots also break in well, and don't tend to sag or "break badly" at the ankle like calf-leather Dehner Patrol Boots may. The boots maintain their shine easily, with just a damp cloth every now and then bringing them back to their shiny appearance. And while these boots have a patent leather plastic top coat, they just don't get hot like their brothers, the Chippewa Motor Patrol Boots.

    An interesting feature to note: if you have a wide calf but a "regular foot," order these boots in the EE width but one size smaller. The calf on the "EE" width is wider.

    Many officers like these boots, and more cops are having lug soles applied to them (according to my cobbler). While the Vibram® rubber sole that is supplied on the boots by Chippewa is quite good, a lug sole provides even better traction and durability.


  • Height: 17"
  • Calf circumference: 16.75" for D width, 17.25" for EE width
  • Weight of Leather: 7 - 8 oz
  • Lining: Calfskin
  • Sole: Vibram® Nitrile yellow-plug
  • Style: Engineer strap across the instep with one buckle, buckle top
  • Price: < US$200 MSRP
  • Made in: USA
  • Source: Check my links page for my recommendations.
  • More photos: See them on motor officers here or see my Chip Hi-Shine boots.

  • Chippewa Motor Patrol Boots

    To maintain a competitive edge in the motor officer boot category, Chippewa makes a bal-laced boot that they call the "motor patrol boot," style number 27950.

    The boots look nice and are easy to keep shiny because they are made with "melo veal" which has a plastic top coat. Instead of using shoe polish, all you need to do is use a damp cloth or perhaps commercial leather wipes or even a light spray of furniture polish and the boots resume their shine.

    Some cops have complained that these boots feel hot, while others have noticed that the boots sag a lot at the ankle. Other cops have not had any problem with these boots and like to wear them. However, the adjustment at the top of the calf is laced, instead of a buckle. Sometimes laces can become untied and become a danger if the ends get caught in moving motorcycle parts. To remedy that situation, most cops ladder-lace the boots and make the loose ends go inside the boot where they are tied. That way if they become untied, they will not fly loosely in the wind.

    Second, the sole that was once used on these boots was bad (picture shows the former Alpha sole), but Chippewa fixed that by applying their standard nitrile (pebble-grain) sole to these boots, which provides moderate traction and is comfortable to stand on.
    Also, the leather on the boot shaft is a bit thinner than Dehners or their Hi-Shine brothers. Thus, it discolors (turns grey) when exposed to heat of a hot motorcycle engine for any length of time.

    As I have attended a number of motor officer events over the years and have seen the boots real cops wear, I have seldom seen these boots on their feet, probably for reasons described here. Nice looking boots, but not a good choice for wearing by a real cop or a real biker on a motorcycle.


  • Height: 17"
  • Calf circumference: 17"
  • Weight of Leather: 6 - 7 oz
  • Lining: unlined
  • Sole: Alpha lightweight rubber
  • Style: Bal-laced (laced instep), laced top
  • Price: About US$200 MSRP
  • Made in: USA
  • Source: Just enter "Chippewa 27950" into a search engine.
  • More photos: see my Chippewa Motor Patrol boots.
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    Wesco Motor Patrol Boots

    The West Coast Shoe Company ("Wesco") has been offering motor patrol boots since the late '90s. I have a pair of these boots. These U.S.-made boots are rugged and work exceptionally well as designed. The leather is thicker than all other patrol boots I have seen, which is why the few cops I have seen wearing them have said that they get hot sometimes. They are expensive, as well. Their MSRP is just a little bit less than custom Dehner Patrol Boots.

    In summer, 2008, Wesco began to offer a new type of leather for Motor Patrol Boots, called "black tie" polishable leather. This leather is lighter, more flexible, and more comfortable than the "Nautilus" leather previously used for these boots. Boots made of this leather is easier to break in than previous models, and is more flexible and thus more comfortable.

    These boots are especially useful in cold weather, because they are warm and quite durable. They can withstand road hazards, such as salt spray, mud, or gravel. They are worn by the Portland, Oregon, PD year-round.


  • Height: 14", 16", or 18"
  • Calf circumference: Varies from 16.5" to 18" depending on foot width, or custom
  • Weight of Leather: 4oz outer, 4oz lining, 8oz total (2.8mm)
  • Lining: 4oz calfskin available in black, tan, brown or red.
  • Sole: #430 Vibram® standard, other Vibram® soles available
  • Style: Dress instep (no laces), buckle top
  • Price: About US$600 (or less from a third party retailer)
  • Made in: Scappoose, Oregon, USA
  • Source: Check my links page for my recommendations. Do NOT buy new boots directly from the factory -- third-party vendors sell Wesco Boots for less than the factory does.
  • More photos: see my Wesco Motorcycle Patrol boots.
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    Intapol Patrol Boots

    Shown here are patrol boots offered by Intapol Industries of New Jersey. One of the interesting features of these boots is a zipper along the seam of the boot shaft to facilitate putting them on and taking them off. They also offer various widths from stock, but do not offer custom sizing. They insert a plastic back stay to ensure the boot doesn't "break bad" at the ankles. The "Amazonas" sole is about as goofy as the sole found on the Chippewa Motor Patrol Boot, in that it must have a low melting temperature and leaves black marks on hot motorcycle pipes. The boots shown here were made in Brazil. The current boot in production (with soft lug soles) is made in India. My opinion: a nice affordable alternative for a bal-laced boot but not really good for regular duty wear on a motorcycle. Quality is questionable.


  • Height: 17"
  • Calf circumference: Varies from 16.25" to 18" depending on foot width
  • Weight of Leather: 6 - 7 oz
  • Lining: 2 oz calfskin
  • Sole: Lightweight rubber lug (not Vibram®)
  • Style: Bal-laced (laced instep), laced top
  • Price: About US$300
  • Made in: India
  • Source: Vendor direct only,
  • More photos: see my Intapol Patrol boots.
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    Other Motor Officer Patrol Boots

    "Raven" Patrol Boots
    Also known as "Hispar" boots

    "Raven" patrol boots appeared on the internet in mid-summer, 2009. They are marketed by an independent on-line retailer through Amazon and Yahoo storefronts, among other places. The boots are made of rather thin leather that is of questionable quality. The soles are made of thin rubber, not Vibram. Overall, the quality of the boots are cheap. They are made in Pakistan. While orders for the boots are processed in the United States, they boots are shipped from Pakistan and thus take some time to get through customs to the recipient. My opinion: not worth the cost. Real patrol boots (above) are better.


  • Height: 18"
  • Calf circumference: three choices: 16", 17" or 18"
  • Weight of Leather: 3oz outer, 3oz lining, 6oz total (2.0mm)
  • Lining: 3oz calfskin
  • Sole: cheap rubber
  • Style: Engineer with thin expandable elastic band at the top
  • Price: About US$240, from on-line vendor
  • Made in: Pakistan
  • Source: Amazon or Yahoo on-line stores
  • Nick's Custom Boots
    Patrol Boots of Toronto, Canada, offers a police patrol boot. I have seen these boots on-line for many years, but have not purchased a pair. Other guys I know who have them have raved about their style and comfort. The boots are made custom only, and are all-leather. Various options are available for the sole and boot top closure.


  • Height: made-to-measure (custom)
  • Calf circumference: custom
  • Weight of Leather: 4oz outer, 4oz lining, 8oz total (2.8mm)
  • Lining: 4oz calfskin
  • Sole: Various Vibram® soles available
  • Style: Bal-laced foot, laced or buckle top -- specified during order
  • Price: From CD$525 - CD$750, only from vendor
  • Made in: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Source:
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    Additional Resources

    For general information on police patrol boots, see the "Basics for Bootmen" tutorial that I wrote. It is posted on, here. It explains all about patrol boots, as well as their history and uses. Technical information and definitions about the various parts of the boot can be found on the "Boot Terminology" guide that I wrote, also on the website.
    For information on weights and quality of leather, see the Complete Guide to Biker Leather Gear that I wrote.

    To see police patrol boots in action, see the Motorcycle Officer Events and Galleries pages on my website. This is a collection of pictures that I have taken at motor officer events, such as Law Ride® and motorcycle rodeos held in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area.

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