The 12 Best Wading Boots for Fishing in 2022 – Buyers Guide

The worst place to be is 4 hours upstream and the sole of your boot falls off. Don’t be that guy. These are the best wading boots available today.

best wading boots

After many hours on the river and late-night debates with the team, we agree the best wading boots are the Simms G4. Our team of guides use both them and the Simms Freestone  boots exclusively. Simms makes the highest quality wading boots and has a reliable warranty for repairs.

Over the past decade, I reckon I’ve fished in 30 pairs of wading boots and waders, thanks in large part to my job as a fly fishing writer. Some we have been sent by companies to test but the majority were purchased by myself.

Here are our unbias and honest recommendations for the best wading boots for fly fishing in each category:

Image Product Details  
flyfisherpro-table__imageBest Long-term DurabilitySimms G4 Wading Boots
  • Thermoplastic Polyurethane Material
  • Low Profile Lacing System
  • Threaded Stud Ports
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flyfisherpro-table__imageBest Budget Durable OptionSimms Freestone Wading Boots
  • Vibram rubber soles or felt soles
  • Reassuringly heavy and chunky
  • Tons of padding
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flyfisherpro-table__imageBest Price Per Performance BootRedington Prowler Pro Wading Boots
  • Great price-to-value ratio
  • Generous toe box
  • Modernised design
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flyfisherpro-table__imageBest Grip Possible OptionPatagonia Danner Foot Tractor Wading Boots
  • Designed for durability and comfort
  • Vibram Idrogrip rubber traction
  • Features patented aluminium bars
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flyfisherpro-table__imageGreat For GuidesSimms G3 Guide Wading Boots
  • Vibram rubber soles or felt soles
  • Built with neoprene internals
  • Waterproof nubuck leather upper
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flyfisherpro-table__imageBest Lightweight Boot (Mid-Height)Orvis Ultralight Wading Boots
  • Nimble and Ultralight
  • Excellent traction
  • Features quick-drying Clarino microfiber
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flyfisherpro-table__imageLightest Overall Wader Boot (Full-Height)Simms Flyweight Wading Boots
  • Ultralight wading boots
  • Very stable
  • Features a long lacing system
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Note: Before you buy the felt version of these boots, make sure you check the local regulations to determine if they are still allowed. These have been limited in some states or countries to stop the spread of invasive species.

You can check out our post on where are felt wading boots banned for more information.

12 Best Wading Boots (Quick Answers)

Detailed Wading Boot Reviews

These are our top recommendations for wader boots available today:

Simms G4 Wading Boots

Simms G4 Wading Boots

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Key Features

  • Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) material.
  • Low profile lacing system.
  • Includes a speed hook.
  • Threaded stud ports.
  • Flared sole profile.

Arguably one of the best pairs of wading boots for fly fishing out there. Simms G4 is designed for long-term durability. One of the most outstanding features of the wading boot is that it comes with threaded stud ports. The feature makes the wading boot look and feels like a golf shoe.

The feature makes it easy to switch from wading to any other form of fishing like boat fishing. It is easily designed so that it will be easy to install new sets of studs when your old ones are worn out.

The wading boot is impressively designed with some impressive materials. For instance, the upper portion of the wading boots features TPU. The material is known as flexible, abrasion-resistant, strong, and lightweight material.

When wading, it will instantly shed water, ensuring that the wading boots stay light. Furthermore, it also comes with an amazing speed hook that enables you to lock your ankle into the wading boot. Since it is quite long, it relieves the laces’ stress, preventing any form of lace breakage.

Simms Freestone Wading Boots

Simms Freestone Wading Boots

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Key Features

  • Vibram rubber soles or felt soles.
  • Reassuringly heavy and chunky.
  • Tons of padding.
  • Many ports for studs.

Simms Freestone are designed to not only withstand wading expeditions but also hikes when the need arises. These wading boots come in two styles; sticky rubber soles and felt soles. The felt soles boots are especially great for wading in slippery expeditions since they have quite grip.

You can also have a choice of the STeamTread Vibram rubber-soled wading boot. Although it has a moderate grip, it is always a good idea to attach studs to the felt-soled wading boots.

You will love just how comfortable they feel even after numerous fly fishing trips. They have lots of padding on the ankle and tongue area. Although they are chunky, everything is well put together.

Unlike in cheaper boots where you will find the rubbed soled surface is just glued, you will notice that the toes are encapsulated in the type of hardwearing rubber. It serves to protect your toes from hitting stones.

The upper parts of the boots are made of scratch rubber and full-grain synthetic leather while the ankle area is lined with neoprene for ankle support. This gear is perfect paired with simms freestone waders.

Redington Prowler Wading Boots

Redington Prowler Wading Boots

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Key Features

  • Great price-to-value ratio.
  • Generous toe box.
  • Modernised design.
  • Stud-compatible.

If you are looking for the best pair of wading boots that will offer you the best price per performance, you should be thinking along the lines of Redington Prowler wading boots.

You will find these wading boots surprisingly stable, nimble and lightweight although they may look bulky. Even after putting many miles of use on these boots, you will still enjoy the durability of the fly fishing waders.

Unlike other fly wading boots, this version has cut weight, improved drainage and comes with a modernised amazing design. You will love the heel step ledge that functions to make it easy to remove them after a long day of fishing outdoors.

Furthermore, you will find the choice of materials and colours even better looking when you wear them. When you add your studs, you will enjoy extra traction when wading on slippery rocks. It is an intricate blend of feel and stability. They can go well with stocking foot waders.

Patagonia Danner Foot Tractor Wading Boots

Patagonia Danner Foot Tractor Wading Boots

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Key Features

  • Designed for durability and comfort.
  • Features Vibram Idrogrip rubber traction.
  • Features patented aluminium bars.
  • It is made of full-grain waterproof synthetic leather.

Patagonia partnered with Danner to shake things up a little bit in the wading boots industry. These wading boots were redesigned by Danner to offer fly fishing enthusiasts better comfort, durability and fit.

Furthermore, the design promises to deliver the best grip possible even after extended years of abuse. The wading boot is a bit burly and made of full-grain waterproof leather plus 1,000-denier nylon panelling. It will keep your foot dry and cosy.

The wading boots feature a Vibram Idrogrip rubber sole to improve traction that is combined with the aluminium bar patented by Patagonia. The design of the bars serves to cut through slime and delivering a fantastic bite on rocky areas.

Unlike in the previous version where these bars cut through the width of the foot, this version comes with these bars split under your forefoot. The redesign is meant to let the boot’s sole flex so that the split bars conform to the rock surfaces in a better way.

The boot’s tread system works exceptionally well on land, which is why these wading boots have an edge in traction. You can put them on with stocking foot waders.

Simms Tributary Wading Boots

Simms Tributary Wading Boots

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Key Features

  • Includes neoprene lining.
  • Huge rubber toe cap.
  • Stud-compatible.

If you are looking for impressive wading boots for fishing from Simms without breaking your bank, the Simms Tributary boots are just the ideal choice for you. For just under $100, you can own a pair of these incredibly durable boots.

The neoprene lining serves to improve your comfort. It also features front and rear loops to make it easy for you to put them on and take them off as well. It will be easy for you to fend off the rocks because of the huge rubber toe cap.

Although you won’t find the Vibram rubber sole, you will find the stud-compatible soles very functional in improving traction and the rubber toe fends off rocks.

Simms G3 Guide Wading Boots

Simms G3 Guide Wading Boots

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Key Features

  • Vibram rubber soles.
  • Built with neoprene internals.
  • Waterproof nubuck leather upper.
  • Scratch rubber exterior.

Simms continues to produce some of the best wading boots. You can never go wrong when you get yourself a pair of Simms wading boots. They not only produce high-quality but also long-lasting fly wading boots. Simms G3 Guide are especially great for wading guides, they will ensure guides enjoy stable wading through different conditions.

This quality wading boot is made of neoprene in its interior. That is why the wading boot is incredibly warm and comfortable. The rubber soles are studs and cleats compatible. Therefore, if you want a bit of added traction, you can add studs or cleats to help you with that. Make sure that the cleats or studs are from Simms too for them to fit.

The upper part of the wading boot is made of nubuck waterproof leather and comes with plentiful lacing to give you an easy time making any adjustments and stockingfoot. The exterior is made of scratch rubber rand to protect it in any case of abrasion.

They also function as saltwater wading boots. The toe kick is also quite burly. You can also get a choice of felt soles. The felt-soled wading option is great for slippery surfaces.

Orvis Ultralight Wading Boots

Orvis Ultralight Wading Boots

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Key Features

  • Nimble and Ultralight.
  • Excellent traction.
  • Features quick-drying Clarino microfiber.
  • Shorter ankle height.

These boots are the best wading boots to go for if you are looking for the best lightweight option. The lightweight nature of the Orvis Ultralight is made possible by the quick-drying Clarino microfiber that is used in construction. You can get a size 10 of the boots weighing around 1.25 pounds.

They are also the best mid-height choice of wading boots. Therefore, if you have bad ankles, you will greatly appreciate this style of street shoes. It is not like what you get with most of the wading boots out there.

Furthermore, it has an awesome nimble feeling because of the mid-height. When you walk over uneven surfaces, you will love the feel it delivers because of the shorter ankle. Therefore, you can move around with better agility and balance.

Although you might realise the boots’ overall fit is smaller and snug compared to the standard stocking wading boots, you can size up by half size of what you wear normally. Even though they come with rubber soles, they have an allowance for adding the PosiGrip Screw-In Studs by Orvis to give you extra traction.

Simms Flyweight Wading Boots

Simms Flyweight Wading Boots

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Key Features

  • Ultralight wading boots.
  • Very stable.
  • Features a long lacing system.
  • Features Vibram Idrogrip sole.

One of the customer favourites among those who like Ultralight wading boots. Although Simms Flyweight Wading Boots is lightweight in nature, it is surprisingly stable. If you go on long fishing expeditions or hikes. Therefore, you won’t feel much fatigue after covering a lot of ground.

It is also a good option when travelling but you want to cut down your floatplane or airline weight. A size 11 of the lightest wading boots weighs about 40 ounces, which is pretty incredible.

It has a functional long lacing system that extends right from where the toe box starts. That is why the boots have an awesome adjustable fit. The Vibram sole delivers an incredible feel and grip on surfaces where the traction isn’t too great.

There is a felt sole choice if you don’t like the rubber sole. The felt-soled option is ideal for slippery surfaces. Nonetheless, the synthetic grey on the upper part of the high-quality wading boots gives it a fantastic and modern appeal. There is also a TPU overlay for abrasion resistance.

Korkers WhiteHorse Wading Boots for Men

Korkers WhiteHorse Wading Boots for Men

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Key Features

  • They feel sturdy.
  • Features a draining system.
  • Highly versatile.
  • Comes with two sets of soles.

These Korkers WhiteHorse wading boots are just the epitome of their slogan. They are built for efficiency, technicality and durability. Despite all these, it is the best option to go for if you are looking for wading shoes with incredible sole versatility but on a budget.

It comes with a pair of rubber soles and a pair of felt soles. Felt soled ones are good for wading on rocky slippery streams. Changing these soles is pretty easy and you can do it quickly. You don’t need any kind of tool to perform the swap. The only thing you need to do is remove the sturdy rubber tab located on the boot’s back and slide them in.

They not only feel sturdy, but they are also very durable too, just like the other korkers wading boots. The moulded toe cap extends all the way up the boot to prevent any form of damage from abrasion.

The boots are triple stitched, with the stitching recessing into the boot’s material to stay hidden from sticks and rocks. Furthermore, drying out water after wading is especially easy because of the drainage system. You will enjoy the versatility the boots provide.

Orvis Pro Wading Boots

Orvis Pro Wading Boots

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Key Features

  • Great abrasion resistance.
  • 3D moulded x25 insole.
  • Added stability.
  • High ankle for extra ankle support.

One of the best wading boots for professional use. These Orvis Pro Wading boots are the brainchild of a partnership between Orvis and Michelin. The rubber sole is made of superior quality that is specifically designed for professional fishing trips. It is great for delivering impressive abrasion resistance but still managing to improve traction on slippery rocks.

The Orvis pro wading boot features 3D moulded x25 insoles, as a result of Orvis partnership with Ortholite for a high-impact sports experience. It also has added stability because of the Orvis zoned cage. The zoned cage is a cast PU on the upper side of the boots. Furthermore, the full height is great for more ankle support.

Cabela’s Ultralight Wading Boots

Cabela’s Ultralight Wading Boots

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Key Features

  • Comes with 28 hardened steel cleats.
  • Features side-mesh panels.
  • Good value for money.

These affordable Cabela’s Ultralight wading boots include 28 hardened-steels that you can choose to add to improve their traction. There are also side mesh panels that function to drain off any water that may have found its way inside the boots. The boot’s construction includes steel shanks that add to its stability plus scuff-resistant heels and toes.

You also have an option of rubber-soled wading boots but they come with screw-in cleats. Although they are entry-level wading boots for fishing, they deliver impressive performance at a low cost.

Simms Flyweight Wet Wading Shoe

Simms Flyweight Wet Wading Shoe

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Key Features

  • Indestructible tightly woven mesh.
  • Features Vibram rubber sole technology.
  • Highly durable and lightweight.

The Simms Flyweight Wet wading boot is not only the best lightweight wading shoe but so much more. It features tightly woven mesh on the upper side. The soles are made using Vibram sole technology that makes the soles durable and grippy.

It is especially functional if you are an all-purpose hiker because it will serve fully. It delivers impressive performance on hikes than any other normal hiking shoe would. The Vibram sole lives up to its reputation when wading on rocky surfaces or hiking or volcanic rocks. You will also love the incredible ample support the wading boots provide.

Wading Boots Buyers Guide

The discussion below looks at things that anglers should consider when buying wading boots, from studs to waterproofing.

The Type of Sole

The sole should provide a firm grip when navigating slippery and rocky surfaces. Fly fishing boots are made with a range of different types of soles, like rubber or felt. Each type of sole offers various benefits to the user when wading and casting out a fly.

Felt Soles

Felt soles offer the best traction on wet, slippery rocks when compared to rubber versions. However, they wear out faster than their rubber sole alternatives, especially when used outside the stream. As you’re walking up the side of the river you can almost feel them wearing away.

Another important point to note is that felt soles are illegal in a number of states and also in some countries (like New Zealand). [1][2] So make sure to check your local regulations to make sure that you are allowed to wear these boots in your waterways.

Rubber Soles

A while ago, rubber sole wading boots were known for poor traction and durability. Numerous technological advancements in fishing gear have been made since to rubber soles to improve functionality and longevity, making the rubber-soled boots the go-to wading choice.

Rubber sole is a great backcountry fishing gear that’s perfect for backcountry lovers who often are walking long distances over varying terrain. The rubber sole grips well on slippery rocks, loose shale and even wet grass. If in doubt then pick up a pair of these!

Wader Materials

Ideally you want boots that will drain water fast. Wet boots are naturally heavy, so you should look for a light boot that drains water quickly. Orvis has produced a gear guide on how to select the right wading boot fit here. [3]

The most widely used material for wading boots is synthetic leather like the Nubuck or microfiber such as nylon or polyester. These materials allow water to flow in and out of the shoes, and this eliminates carrying around 2 bags of water on your feet!

You can take a look at some of our best fishing shoes selection here.

Neoprene

Neoprene waders are ideal for cold water anglers. Neoprene booties are durable, provide a waterproof environment and insulating warmth, and come in different thicknesses to enhance comfort. For moderate climates, anglers should buy neoprene booties/wading boots with 3mm and 5-7mm thickness respectively for colder climates. Neoprene is buoyant, which is a bonus for float-tube fishing.

Nylons

Nylon wading boots are ideal for fishers looking for cheap, lightweight waders. However, most wading boots warm up fast and do not breathe as well, so are less comfortable than other options. The other downside of nylon boots is that they provide less insulation so your feet will freeze during cold weather.

I found the waterproof hiking boots the most versatile. These waders are designed for use during all seasons and have an air-permeable membrane that allows internal moisture and sweat to escape even when in water. You can pair them with a t-shirt and a pair of shorts during warm weather or add base layers to extra warmth during the cooler months. They have a loose fit.

Hydrophobic Coating

Manufacturers like Simms apply a DWR (durable water repellent) coating to provide a waterproof feature for your wading boots. DWR is a fluoropolymer treatment that reduces water absorption and rapidly restores the normal weight after leaving the river. The coating wears out after prolonged use, but anglers can restore it using a waterproofing spray.

This helps in shallower river edges but when you up to your knees they are going to fill up no matter what you put on them!!

Important Considerations

Important Considerations

Foot and Ankle Support

Most river bottoms are rocky and unstable, hence the need to wear a wading boot fitted with a well-supported ankle. They should be properly supported not only to protect your ankles (unlike street shoes) but reduce the risk of getting sprains and other injuries. Most manufacturers insert extra padding around the heel area and collar to enhance support while others fit a tongue to the sides of the hiking boots to improve the feature.

You should also look out for heel and toe caps on most wading boots; they should have a rubber build to promote longevity and protect your heels and toes when you bump into rocks.

Screw-in Cleats

They should also provide a screw-in cleat where you can fit a stud to improve traction when walking in extremely slippery places. The screw-in cleats can be used on both felt and rubber-soled wading boots.

However, you should avoid fitting screw-in cleats on your wading boots if you plan on using a boat as they will destroy the deck.

Lightweight Uppers

Look for wading boots that have uppers constructed of microfiber or synthetic leather like street shoes. The material is lightweight, flexible and durable. Your boots will also dry fast when you are out of the water.

Conclusion

Aside from your rod, investing in a pair of wading boots should be one of your main priorities when shopping for fly fishing equipment.  Whether you go for rubber or felt soles, you shouldn’t head out with a good pair of hiking boots, no matter what species you’re after. Your safety is paramount, especially if you’re heading out of cell phone reception.

All of our reviewed products offer excellent quality and durability, so you won’t go wrong with any of these wading boots. The best wading boots for most people are the Simms Freestone wading boots. Make sure to check out the entire line from Simms, Orvis and Redington, these are fly fishing brands you can trust when it comes to fishing gear.

So that’s it! Let’s hope you’ve made up your mind on the best wading boots for you! 

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2 thoughts on “The 12 Best Wading Boots for Fishing in 2022 – Buyers Guide”

  1. Fantastic List! I just wanted to writeto say that I got the Orvis wading boots and they were TOPS!!!

  2. Well i have been through heaps of them I do mainly high country fishing. There the most expensive boot for the length of time they last. I have a pair of the light weight orvis ones at the moment. There nice boots but already look like they won’t hack it. I’ve had top of the range . The sole on most of them are the big problem they keep falling off.

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