best wading boots

Best Wading Boots

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The best wading boots for most people are the Simms Freestone wading boots. If you’re not a professional guide, then they bridge the gap between price, durability and traction. They have both felt and rubber sole options, with the ability to also add screw-in cleats for additional grip.

I have over 20 years experience in fly fishing and have personally had over 10 pairs of wading boots throughout this time. I’ve had soles fall off (mid-river), boots cracking and just about every problem you can imagine. For these reviews, we went through over 400 user testimonials to provide you with an honest un-biased review of the best boots on the market. 

Image Product Details  
flyfisherpro-table__imageBest Wading Boot EverSimms G4 Pro
  • Most Durable
  • Most Stable
  • Made In USA
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flyfisherpro-table__imageBest For Most PeopleSimms Freestone
  • Vibram Rubber Soles
  • Well Padded
  • Made In USA
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flyfisherpro-table__imageGreat ValueRedington Prowler Pro
  • Great Value
  • Generous Toe Box
  • Stud Compatable
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The 12 Best Wading Boots (Quick Guide)In this article we have featured 12 of the best wading boots for fly fishing, these are:

  1. Simms G4 Pro Wading Boots – Best Long-term Durability
  2. Simms Freestone Wading Boots – Best Budget Durable Option
  3. Redington Prowler Pro Wading Boots – Best Price Per Performance Boot
  4. Patagonia Danner Foot Tractor Wading Boots – Best Grip Possible Option
  5. Simms G3 Guide Wading Boots – Great For Guides (200+ River Days Guarantee)
  6. Orvis Ultralight Wading Boots – Best Lightweight Boot (Mid-Height)
  7. Simms Flyweight Wading Boots – Lightest Overall Wader Boot (Full-Height)
  8. Korkers Whitehorse Wading Boots for Men – Best Budget Sole Versatility
  9. Orvis Pro Wading Boots – Best Professional Full-height Wading Boots
  10. Simms Tributary Wading Boots – The Best Fishing Wading Boots Under $100
  11. Cabelas Ultralight Wading Boots – Best Lower-Cost Wading Boot
  12. Simms Flyweight Wet Wading Shoe – Best Lightweight Wading Shoe

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.

best wading boots

The Best Wading Boots in 2020

These are our top recommendations for wader boots available today:

Simms G4 Wading Boots

Simms G4 Pro Wading Boots

Best Long-term Durability
Rating: 4.7/5.0

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

What stands out?

Arguably one of the best pairs of wading boots for fly fishing out there. The pair 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

Best Budget Durable Option
Rating: 4.5/5.0

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

What stands out?

The wading boots are designed to not only withstand wading expeditions but also hikes when 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 sticky rubber-soled wading boot. Although it has moderate grip, it is always a good idea to attach studs to on 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 type of hardwearing sticky rubber. It serves to protect your toes from hitting stones. The upper parts of the boots are made of scratch sticky rubber and full-grain synthetic leather while the ankle area is lined with neoprene for ankle support.

 

Redington Prowler Wading Boots

Redington Prowler Boots Review

Best Price Per Performance Boot
Rating: 4.3/5.0

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

What stands out?

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 it may look bulky. Even after putting many miles of use on these boots, you will still enjoy the durability of the foot 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 foot tractor

Best Grip Possible Option
Rating: 4.5/5.0

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

What stands out?

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 Vibram Idrogrip rubber sole to improve traction that is combined with the aluminium bar patented by Patagonia. The design of the bars serve to cut through slime and delivering a fantastic bite on rocky areas. Unlike in the previous version where these bars cut through your 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 Flyweight Wet Wading Shoe

The Best Fishing Wading Boots Under $100
Rating: 4.5/5.0

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

What stands out?

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

Great For Guides (200+ River Days Guarantee)
Rating: 4.4/5.0

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

What stands out?

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. These wading boots are especially great for wading guides, they will ensure guides enjoy stable wading through different conditions.

The 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 stocking foot. The exterior is made of scratch rubber rand to protect it in any case of abrasion. The toe kick is also quite burly. You can also get a choice of felt sole. The felt soled wading option is great for slippery surfaces.

Orvis Ultralight Wading Boots

Orvis Ultralight Wading Boots

Best Lightweight Boot (Mid-Height)
rating: 4.5/5.0

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

What stands out?

These boots are the best wading boots to go for if you are looking for the best lightweight option. The lightweight nature of the boots is made possible by the quick-drying Clarino microfiber that is used in the construction. You can get a size 10 of the boots weighting 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 these boots. It is not like what you get with most of the wading boots out there. Furthermore, it has an awesome nimble feeling since 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

Lightest Overall Boot (Full-Height)
Rating: 4.4/5.0

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

What stands out?

One of the customer favourites among those who like Ultralight wading boots. Although it 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 these Ultralight wading boots weighs about 40 ounces, which is pretty incredible.

It has 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 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 boots give 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

Best Budget Sole Versatility
Rating: 4.5/5.0

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

What stands out?

These wading boots are just the epitome of Korkers’ 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, they are very durable too. 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

Best Professional Full-height Wading Boots
Rating: 4.7/5.0

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

What stands out?

One of the best wading boots for professional use. These 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.

It also features 3D moulded x25 insoles, as a result of Orvis partnership with Ortholite for 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

Cabelas Ultralight Wading Boots

Best Lower-Cost Wading Boot
rating: 4.0/5.0

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

What stands out?

These affordable 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 comes 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

Best Lightweight Wading Shoe
Rating: 4.0/5.0

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

What stands out?

The Flyweight 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 make 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.

Buyers Guide

The discussion below looks at things that anglers should consider when buying wading boots, from studs to waterproofing. If you’re looking for full waders then check out our best fly fishing waders article.

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 soles are great for backcountry lovers who often are walking longer 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!

Neoprene

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

Hint: Check out a pair of wading socks if you’re looking to get the best out of any pair of boots.

Nylon

Nylon wading boots are ideal for fishers looking for cheap, lightweight waders. However, the 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 insulaton so your feet will freeze during cold weather.

I found the waterproof fishing 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 your up to your knees they are going to fill up no matter what you put on them!

trout fishing in New Zealand

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 protect your ankles 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 boots to improve the feature.

You should also look out for heel and toe caps on 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 on 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 the uppers constructed of microfiber or synthetic leather. 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 wading boots, no matter what species you’re after. Your safety is paramount, especially if you’re heading out of cell phone reception.

Traction is the main feature you should look for when buying wading boots. As earlier highlighted, rubber outsoles offer better traction than felt sole wading boots as they are more resistant to abrasion and dry more rapidly. This makes rubber wading boots our first choice.

All of our reviewed products offer excellent quality and durability, so you won’t go wrong with any of these wading boots. From Korkers to Redington to Chota, these are 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! Here’s our ultimate recommendation:

References

[1] https://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/news/18010.htm

[2] https://fishandgame.org.nz/about/fish-and-game-faq/felt-soled-waders-restrictions-new-zealand-faq/

[3] https://www.orvis.com/should-i-get-bootfoot-or-stocking-foot-waders

 

About The Author

2 thoughts on “Best Wading Boots”

  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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