Best of the Best: Wading Boots Fall 2020
We offer many brands and styles of wading boots at our Bozeman fly shop location and online. While they all have their own drawbacks and merits some stand above the rest in their respective categories.
Best Durability - Simms G4 Wading Boot - $299
When nothing else matters except longevity and knowing your gear won’t give out on you before you do - the Simms G4 Wading Boot is your best friend. The boys and girls at Simms made this boot to stand up to the worst conditions and abuse. It is a little heavy because of the overbuilt design, but the confidence in knowing it won’t let you down will help take some weight off. This feature rich boot offers some cool innovations such as the TPU molded construction which is where much of the durability comes from. Offered in both felt and Vibram soles, we are big fans of the Vibram with the G4 Pro Alumibite Star Cleats.
Best without Hardware - Orvis Pro Wading Boot - $229
Sometimes you need grip without heavy hardware holding you back. This is especially true here in Bozeman and southwest Montana where we are in and out of drift boats most days, and the metal hardware will tear-up the fiberglass floors. The Orvis Pro Boot offers plenty of durability with its PU molded construction which adds tones of abrasion resistance while reducing the need for too many stitched seams. The star of the show however is the sole which is a partnership between Orvis and Michelin. From the tread pattern modeled after an agricultural tire to the rubber compound, these soles offer unparalleled performance. Also, unlike other non-Vibram rubber alternatives, the sole of the Pro Boot is super durable and doesn’t wear fast while being soft and supple enough to offer exceptional grip. There are locations on the sole where Orvis Posigrip Studs can be added for even more grip, but the guys at the shop that have these boots haven’t found the need to add this extra level of traction.
Best Grip - Patagonia Foot Tractor Aluminum Bars - $549
Patagonia’s boot for a lifetime. Partnering with Danner Boots this boot is meant (with a little TLC along the way) to last a lifetime. The boot is completely rebuildable. Soles and even the upper can be replaced for a fee, but it’s still your boot. Not only does this mean that you’ll always have our favorite wading boot, but also means that there is significantly less waste as Patagonia pushes forward with their new mission statement “We're in business to save our home planet”. One the things we hear when folks try on this boot for the first time is “they feel like slippers”. Yes, these boots are incredibly comfortable right out of the box, but still offer plenty of ankle support. These boots are come in Felt, Vibram and Aluminum Bar configurations, but if traction is the name of the game the Aluminum Bars are what you need. All that metal adds significant weight, but you can wade just about anywhere with these bad boys. The bars will wear over time (they’re meant too), but are completely replaceable and the boots even come with a spare set.
Best Low-Cut Style - Orvis Ultralight - $169
The relatively new and ultra-popular subcategory of wading boot, the low-cut boot style offers many of the advantages as a full-sized wading boot while being lighter and more packable. The only thing sacrificed is a little upper ankle support and lower shin protection. These boots continue to be extremely popular because they can pull double duty and transition into summer wet wading so well. The Orvis Ultralight Boot excels in this category. Offering great fit and comfort with great ankle support and a roomy toe box. The Vibram sole offers respectable traction, especially when equipped with Orvis PosiGrip Studs (which are removable). Comes in both men's and women's.
Best Lightweight Boot - Simms Flyweight - $199.95
Whether backpacking, stalking trout for miles in New Zealand or you just don’t want to lug 8 pounds around on your feet – sometimes it just come down to weight. The aptly named Simms Flyweight Wading Boot is one of the lightest wading boots we’ve ever seen. It’s even lighter than most wading shoes or sandals. The crazy thing is it doesn’t sacrifice much in the way of traction or comfort to stay light. The Vibram sole offers adequate grip, but also has a reinforced backer that hold studs tight if needed. One of the main drawbacks is the Simms Alumibite Cleats don’t fit on this boot because of the tread pattern, but the regular Hardbite Studs do. However, if you’re in need of a super light boot that performs well then, the Simms Flyweight is worth a look.
Best Budget Boot - Korkers Greenback - $109.99
Korkers make many fine wading boots, but their introductory boot the Greenback has a lot to offer for a price that won’t break to the bank. Decent ankle support and good cushioning make the Greenback feel a grade above their price point. As you may or may not know Korkers’ claim to fame is their interchangeable sole system. This allows the same pair of boots to be used with a wide array of soles. From felt to studded rubber they also make a wide array of sole options to cover every situation. Last year Korkers took their interchangeable systems a step further with their Triple Threat System. This consists of a base sole to which three different hardware types (aluminum bars, aluminum hexes or carbide spikes) can be attached. This makes the Greenback a very attractive first pair of boots for anyone.