Based in Boise and named after the famed Highway 21 that flows through the Boise National Forest, Highway 21 is an apparel company that focuses on classic designs for motorcyclists. The Highway 21 Primary Engineer motorcycle boots have a look that is familiar, with details that give the boot its own identity.Engineer-style boots can have mixed success as motorcycle boots, depending on the manufacturing process and materials. In the case of the Highway 21 Primary boots, full-grain leather is used throughout the boots. This gives the boots a more substantial feel, which is important for motorcycle footwear.There are two buckles on the boot; though they are technically functional, I put them in the tightest positions and was still able to slip the boots on—a loop at the back of the boot helps the donning process. Certainly, someone with a larger ankle will enjoy the adjustability. The steel buckles are engraved with Highway 21 (though not its logo).
Once on, the boots feel good. They aren’t plush, but there’s enough padding to take the edge off the stiffer feel of the robust full-grain leather. The sole has a modest heel, which works well for walking and riding. A removable insole allows a bit of fine-tuning the fit, plus some cushion for the soles of your feet when they’re in.Comfort while shifting is critical for motorcycle boots, and the Highway 21 Primary boots get the job done. Although there’s no special reinforcement in the left toe area, the thick leather was enough to prevent my foot from protesting shifting, even on heavy-action cruiser transmissions. The feel of the heel is excellent for heel/toe shifters, so the Primary boots have that covered, too.Los Angeles has plenty of slick oil and diesel fuel on the street at industrial-area stoplights. There, the replaceable sole does its job. Even when putting my foot down in the gunk, it was secure and did not slip.Branding agnostics will like that Highway 21 doesn’t excessively advertise itself on the boots. In addition to the buckles, the logo is unobtrusively embossed in the black leather upper and outer heel (plus the sole). If you care, the logo is there; if not, no one will notice them.Although I didn’t test the Primary boots in the rain, Highway 21 uses a HiPora waterproof lining, as well as water-resistant oiled leather to keep water at bay. Like any boot of this type, it’s warm in the summer, as there is no venting and the black absorbs heat.In addition to the standard 13.25-inch Primary boots, there is a 10.5-inch high Primary Low version if you prefer that look and feel. We tested them both with identical results.An excellent combination of durability, comfort, functionality, and style, the Highway 21 Primary Engineer boots are perfect for rides on the company’s namesake, as well as when riding around town.Action photography by Kelly Callan
This week we ride two genre-departing motorcycles from the established American manufacturers. Jess McKinley gives us his thoughts on the all new Harley-Davidson Pan America Special, and Ron Lieback gives his on Indian’s latest version of the FTR 1200 S.