While your Air Jordans might look fly, they ain’t gonna fly if you’re skidding across the pavement. Properly protecting your feet on a motorcycle is easily taken for granted. But a good pair of motorcycle boots can literally save your skin in a motorcycle accident. They’re purpose-built, from the materials they’re made of to strategically placed padding and armor to reinforced areas. Here’s five things to consider before plunking down your hard-earned dollars on a new pair of motorcycle boots.

1. Riding position. Do you ride a cruiser or a tourer and sit in an upright position? Are you a sportbike rider with your feet tucked in beneath you? Think about what position your feet will be in when you ride because they're going to be in this fixed position for hours. Sportbike riders are going to want to have a pair of boots that flex above the bridge of the foot. Riders that are going to be chilling in the saddle riding perpendicular don’t have to worry about this as much giving them more leeway in terms of what style of boot they want to wear.

2. Know your size. No-brainer, right? But there’s more to consider than just the length of your foot. There’s also width and calf size to take into consideration because some boots are rigid and narrow and just about all of them come up over your calves. Nothing beats trying a pair of boots on, but if you can't, be sure to check the manufacturer's sizing chart. I’m also a big proponent of reading reviews from actual buyers because they’ll let you know whether they’re true to size, narrow or wide, or if you can squeeze those muscular calves inside.

3. Levels of protection. Some boots might look cool but don’t have many features built in. This is particularly true in cruiser-style boots. If I’m going to be doing some serious riding, my Sidi Canyon Gore-Tex Boots are my go-to boots, so I’ll use them as an example of what levels of protection to look for. The toes, heel and ankle are all reinforced internally. They also have a shin plate. They have leather shift-brake toe pads and are double-stitched in high stress areas.  The bonded, non-slip, lug-type sole still has plenty of tread and provides good traction after years of wear. A moto-style ratchet strap over the top of my foot pretty much guarantees they’re staying on my feet. I love the Gore-Tex membrane because it’s waterproof yet breathable. If you want boots with high levels of protection, these are all things to look for.

4.  Materials. Here’s some of the terms you’ll commonly encounter and what they mean. Leather is leather. It’s going to be stiff at first then break in nicely and be flexible and comfortable. It’s also abrasion resistant but minimally impact resistant. On the other hand, Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) is a hard plastic that will protect against smashes and abrasions. TPU is also resistant to oil and grease. It’s the material found in much of the armor you’ll find in boots as well as the sliders you’ll find on racing boots. We already mentioned Gore-Tex. What we didn’t mention is Gore-Tex helps wick sweat and moisture away from your feet, and dry feet are happy feet. We all know Kevlar as the super strong material that’s virtually bullet-proof. Some boots have Kevlar stitching for increased durability. You’ll also hear the term Goodyear Welt tossed about. Goodyear makes me think of tires, so I figured it referred to the tread on a sole. Close, but no cigar. It’s actually a process used to attach the sole to the boot. This helps form a waterproof seal. It also makes it easier to have a good pair of boots re-soled.

5. Style. Motorcycle boots are stylized for specific types of riding. Cruiser boots are typically the quintessential black leather boot, often with a metal buckle for style and a slightly raised heel. Then there’s sportbike/track boots which are usually stiff and fit tight as possible, have plenty of strategically placed armor, sliders, and protect against twisting and hyperextension. Generally walking in these suck, though. Sport Touring boots are similar in design to track boots but are more pliable and comfortable because they’re meant to be worn for long periods of time both on and off the motorcycle. They’re also generally weatherproof (can we say Gore-Tex?) Adventure-touring boots are another offshoot. Part sport-touring, part motocross boots, they blend the best of both worlds. Rugged in both appearance and durability, they often have moto-style strap and buckle closures but are more flexible than a straight-up moto boot so you can comfortably walk in them. Riding shoes have also become quite popular. They’re casual and comfortable and don’t look much different than a pair of hi-top sneakers. But even though they often have reinforced ankles and toes, they’re not going to provide near the level of protection a good set of motorcycle boots do. I’ve found out that most times their soles are soft and wear out quickly, too. That said, I don’t prescribe to the ideal that you have to wear a certain type of boot because you ride a certain type of bike. You be you and wear what you like. I wear different boots for different styles of riding. But do wear something that’s designed with riding motorcycles in mind because it can make a big difference in case of a crash. Believe me, I know. Instead of broken bones and road rash, I limped away with only bumps and bruises thanks to these Icon 1000 Elsinore Boots.