-TCX is the bomb if you have wide feet. They also make a really good product. That's why BMW use them.
My first pair of purpose made, rain proof, motorcycle boots were made by Firstgear. They lasted about a decade, never leaked a drop, and were as comfy as an old shoe...I still use them every spring to til the garden.
Because of the age and appearance of the Firstgears, and because at the time they had quit offering a riding boot, I decided to get a set of Oxtars, since changed to TCX. These were about 2.5 times the price. They too have been good and waterproof, but I didn't find them as comfy and I do have wide feet. It's the leather in front of the ankle area. When I walk it bends in and irritates my leg. Nothing major, just not as nice as the Firstgears. I see nothing about the construction that should make them any more expensive.
I recently got a pair of no names for $69. They seem to be made as well as the previous two pairs, but I haven't ridden in the rain long and hard enough to determine if they are as dry. They are quite comfy.
My friend had Sidis and he claimed they were barely water resistant let alone waterproof.
Guess what I'm trying to say is that it's been my experience that paying extra for the brand name isn't always a better value. Particularly when it comes to these boots.
ALL THE GEAR ALL THE TIME!!!! I have seen what happens when you don't. Its cheaper than a hospital bill!
I recently got out of the local trauma unit. Hit a very large deer who decided to use me to commit suicide. I was traveling about 60 mph. I had just washed the bike and was just taking it for a quick jaunt (~10 miles) around the country back roads to dry it off before I put it away before a coming cold spell. I was wearing sweats, tennis shoes, gloves, and a 3/4 helmet.
No question about it, the helmet saved my life. No way my noggin could have taken the pounding it did. And when my body was finished dissipating the energy in the form of bouncing down the pavement, I was completely awake and coherent to enjoy my new found pain.
Had I been wearing my gear, I surely could have saved myself a good deal of road rash. As road rash goes, I guess I got lucky. The nurses told me they often get 3rd degree burn variety that essentially removes the skin altogether. Mine was ugly, but not all that painful and heeled up within about a month.
My right leg took the brunt of the impact. My ankle fractured where it was holding against the brake pedal (cruiser style bike). My knee had various torn ligaments and cartilage from extension and twisting forces. My femur split in two near the hip. I surmise it hit the handlebar as I began my flight over the deer. Unfortunately, my gear wouldn't have changed a thing about any of that I'm afraid. We participate in a dangerous activity. Gear is nice, but it's no substitute for hospitals...
Just a note on EMTs. They took scissors to my clothes and stripped me naked as a Jaybird before I got my ride to see the nurses. I didn't really care about the sweats I was wearing, but I would have been livid if he started cutting thru my expensive road swag!