Spring will soon be underway, and it will be the perfect opportunity to test out your angling skills. After all, nature is blooming, water temperatures are rising, and fish are becoming active. Now is the time to break out your fishing kits, and march towards the nearest rivers, oceans, and lakes.
However, while seasoned anglers out there will tell you that rods, lines, and reels take center stage, it’s your wading boots that will keep you happy, comfortable, and safe. They might not be the most appealing part of your gear, but without these, you risk slips and injuries that you could otherwise avoid.
Yet, finding the best pair of boots is not always easy, unless you’ve had experience looking for them in the past. Thankfully, we’ve got your back, and with our guide, you can find the best ones for you!
What Are Wading Boots?
Wading boots are an essential part of any fisherman’s arsenal. Anyone who has ever gone fly-fishing will tell you as much. But, if you’re looking for an elaborate explanation of wading boots, keep the following information in mind:
By using a similar concept as hiking boots/shoes, wading boots provide their wearer with additional traction, support, and comfort. However, unlike their mountaineering counterparts, they’re not built strictly for tackling mountains. Instead, wading boots can handle the slippery and wet surfaces in rocks and streams, while keeping your feet dry.
Additionally, you can use these by themselves or with a set of stocking foot wader overalls (and wading socks) to minimize your humidity levels as much as possible, while fishing.
Still, just as different rods and reels offer a variety of benefits and downsides, so too do wading boots. You’ll find pairs that can perform better in specific bodies of water (due to the varying levels of traction on the floor), to the degrees of insulation they offer, and even the style and look of each one. But, if you want to begin your fly-fishing adventure this season right, you’ll want to know what qualities to look for first.
How to Choose the Best Wading Boots for You? [A Simplified Buyers Guide]
I have to say that no two wading boots are the same. Primarily because both shoes in a pair have to be functionally identical, but that’s beside the point. Yet, no two distinct models of wading boots will ever perform the same. You could find one pair that is everything you want in your footwear, only to purchase a similar-looking set that feels and functions utterly distinct from the first ones.
However, if you’re new to wading boots, you’ll want to keep the following in the back of your mind:
From light and breezy sneaker models to heavy-impact resistant boots and everything in-between, you can find almost anything imaginable. Choosing the right style for you is intrinsically linked to the environment where you’ll be fishing. If you’re traveling by foot two or four miles to your favorite spot through tough terrain, you’re going to need a sturdy pair of wading boots in a hiking style.
Alternately, if your destination includes wet and rocky terrain along the path, in which slips are a constant hazard, pick something with anti-slip soles for tackling streams and rivers. The last style, which is the sneaker model, is suitable for environments where the terrain is clear of imminent hazards, and you don’t have to worry about deep water.
Wading boots don’t follow the same sizing measurements as your daily footwear. It’s often recommended you choose one size larger than your regular pair of walking shoes. You might be asking yourself, why do they have extra space?
Well, the answer is simple. Wading boots use it to fit your wading socks. Furthermore, anyone planning on fishing on colder climates should consider buying them an additional half-size larger to fit in a pair of thermal socks for heat retention purposes.
Trekking towards your favorite fishing spot carries inherent risks. From slipping and falling to tripping or losing your footing, it’s always a risky experience. But, with proper ankle support, you can mitigate some of these dangers. Especially when the rivers in your area are unstable or rocky.
Keep the following in mind there is a high statistical probability that you will turn or twist your ankle at least once during your trip. As such, the more support your boots offer, the less likely you are to get hurt. Wading boots with better quality ankle support will help you remain steady during your return journey after a long day of standing while casting.
4. Water Mesh and Filtration Systems
If you’re using wading boots, you know your feet and going to be submerged underwater at some point. A good pair of boots will have a system to filter water through as you’re moving along. This system prevents water from accumulating at your feet, preventing your shoes from weighing you down at the worst time possible.
After all, can you imagine walking back to your vehicle in boots that weigh twice as much as they did when you arrived?
One quality you should look for is also the seal it forms between your foot and the entrance of the boot. You’ll want to make sure the tongue leaves no space for rocks or sand particles to enter. Nothing is worse than the sensation of walking with rocks under your feet!
Rubber and felt are the most commonly used soles for wading boots. But, that does not mean they’re the only kinds available. You’ll also find pairs with cleated and studded bottoms that bring their own set of advantages. Read below for more information on these:
- Wading cleats: If you’re planning on hitting cold waters and frosty forests, these are your best bet. You’ll find their metal spikes can help you remain steady even in the slipperiest of snow or ice
- Boot Cleats: Deep rushing waters are no match for these, as they feature cleats for additional traction in rivers and streams. If you’re even slightly worried about losing your footing while fishing getting a pair of boots with this feature will help alleviate those concerns
- Studded: Spikes in the heel and toe portions of the boot help with traction and stability
- Felt: One inch of felt is attached to the bottom of the boot. This feature provides better grip in wet environments and contort to the shape of the rocks beneath your feet. However, keep in mind the felt does wear down after some time
- Rubber: The most basic sole available on the market. You’ll find most wading boots feature this sole
Low-quality cotton laces will break down after prolonged exposure to the elements. Look for polypropylene or nylon laces for a longer lifespan and better durability.
Wading boots aren’t worth the investment if they’re only going to last one or two uses. A cheap pair of boots will not be able to handle the kind of abuse you’ll be putting them through on a single day. The constant barrage of water and air will inevitably destroy them as it cycles from wet to dry.
Instead, try to find wading boots made from synthetic materials or water-resistant leather. They are better at handling punishment and can stay with you throughout the years without breaking down.
Top 8 Best Wading Boots 2020
Type of Sole
SIMMS G4 PRO
Simms G3 Guide
Best on a Budget
Felt & Kling-On
Redington Women's Siren Boots
Women's Top Recommendation
Foreverlast Ray Guard Reef Boots
Best for Sea and Ocean
Orvis Men's Ultralight
Best Wading shoes
Now that we have covered the basics of what you’re looking for in a boot. Let’s discuss our favorite wading boots for 2019 and 2020.
1. Simms G4 PRO Wading Boots (with Vibram) – Editor’s Choice
Weighing the cost to performance ratio is one of the hardest parts of ranking any product, yet, Simms G4 PRO ease the burden of this dilemma.
Durable, sleek, stylish, and high-performing, the G4s are the absolute best wading boots on the market (at least in our opinion). These boots are guaranteed to last through extensive periods of use. Cleated soles offer the best possible traction in any terrain, and with a water-shedding upper portion, you won’t have to worry about wet feet.
A TPU overlay keeps them lightweight while providing resistance to abrasions. Plus, the laces are tight enough to hold your feet securely in place and form a snug seal around your foot.
- Extremely Durable
- Fantastic performance regardless of terrain
2. Simms G3 Guide (Featuring Vibram Soles) – Runner-Up
High-quality, durable, and one of the best wading boots on the market for 2020, The Simms G3 is a fantastic choice for fly-fishermen anywhere in the world.
Built for stability, comfort, and warmth, you can’t ask for much more in a pair of shoes. Made with Nubuck leather, they are resistant to water. Additionally, their lacing setup is perfect for creating a seal around your feet, keeping rocks, and other invaders at bay.
But, if you’re still not convinced, keep the following in mind. A RiverTread® build provides your feet with tactile feedback from the sole. This extra sensation allows you to navigate easily in the water without sacrificing support or traction from the boot.
- Extremely Durable
- Waterproof Nubuck Leather
- Some users have had bad experiences with the cleats on these.
3. Redington Prowler – Best on a Budget
If you’re looking for a reliable pair of boots that won’t empty your bank account, consider purchasing yourself a pair of Redington Prowlers. Robust, comfortable, and economical, they’re perfect for fishermen on a shoestring budget.
Built to filter and drain water quickly through your shoes via drainage hole, they’re great for handling long days at the river.
Ample padding provides comfort to your feet. Furthermore, its molded rubber overlay and padded collar give your ankles additional support where it counts. Finally, the Redington Prowler comes with the option of felt or rubber soles.
- Great Price-to-Performance Ratio
- The laces aren’t good
- Wearing multiple pair of socks can be an issue
4. Korkers Greenback – Best Quick-Drying
Sometimes all a man needs is a nice pair of boots to keep their feet warm and dry. Thankfully, for those individuals, Korkers Greenbacks do that and more!
Featuring interchangeable soles and a unique traction system, they’re very versatile. Capable of tackling a variety of situations, and their fast-drying hydrophobic materials on the uppers do a great job of preventing the growth of fungus on your feet due to the trapped humidity.
Furthermore, internal channels allow the flow of water through the midsoles, removing excess water and weight.
- Versatile Soles
- Good Price
- Sole replacement is challenging
5. Redington Women’s Siren Boots – Women’s Top Recommendation
Women enjoy fishing as much as men do. Yet, manufacturers tend to forget females while marketing outdoor products. Thankfully, Redington has their back with the Sirens. A lightweight, comfortable, and stable pair of boots specially designed to account for the differences between men and women’s feet.
You can purchase the Sirens with either rubber or felt soles that feature spaces for studs for days when extra traction is a necessity. Additionally, Redington’s standard quick-drying uppers include synthetic materials, a mesh liner, and a padded collar that will keep your feet dry and ankles supported.
But, if you’re a lady who values her style and fashion and still desires something practical, fear not as the sirens are a subtle beige color that gives it a hint of femininity without going overboard with the frills.
Additionally, the Sirens feature molded rubber overlays that give it extra durability. Finally, you can use them on any body of water, whether it’s fresh or salt water.
- Built Specifically to accommodate the differences in a Woman’s feet
- Easy to navigate
- None in Particular
6. ForEverlast Ray Guard Reef Boots – Best Sea and Ocean Wading Boots
Some days you will just want to take a walk on the beach without risking the safety of your feet as you wade in the water. On those occasions, you’ll want to have a trusty pair of wading boots with you. Thankfully, ForEverLast’s Ray Guard has you covered.
Walking on a beach is very different from taking a fishing trip to a lake or river. When you’re in the ocean, you’re dealing with possible reef rash, other animals, the threats of broken glass or garbage, and even fishing hooks. The Ray Guards provide you with the protection necessary to make your walk safer due in part to their four layers of rubber soles.
Additionally, they’re lightweight and comfortable without skimping on the ankle support part of the spectrum. Finally, the Ray Guards feature vents to eliminate any excess water combined with hydrophobic materials to help keep your feet dry.
- Excellent protection
- Perfect for both walking and fishing at the beach
- Not recommended for streams or rivers
7. Orvis Men’s Ultralight Wading Boots – Best Lightweight Wading Boots
If all you’re looking for is a super light pair of boots that offer excellent performance, durability, and great quality, take a look at Orvis’ Ultralights.
On average, these weigh 800 grams less than other boots we’ve reviewed here. They will help you experience less fatigue after long periods of walking, which is especially useful for long days at the fishing front.
A feature that makes the Ultralights especially great for lessening the load on your feet is their microfiber Nylon construction in combination with a polyurethane coating. This aspect makes them the perfect candidate for draining water and drying from your feet. But, just because they’re light, doesn’t mean the Ultralights skimp on durability, it is in fact, quite the contrary.
- Super Light
- Easy on your Feet
- Fair Price
- It doesn’t protect as much on your legs.
8. Chota Hybrids – Best Wading Shoes
Now it wouldn’t be a complete list if we didn’t mention the best wading shoes in town, Chota’s Hybrids. Unlike boots, they’re lighter and sleeker, but still offer the majority of the advantages you’ll find in other wading gear.
A dual insert footbed system allows the user to use them with either wading sooks or stocking foot waders by swapping out the inserts giving them an additional layer of versatility. Toe and heel caps provide extra protection to your feet by reinforcing those portions of the shoes. Polyurethane midsoles provide additional comfort on longer days, and the felt sole gives them extra grip on wet surfaces.
Finally, Chota offers a Quicklace lacing system that creates a good seal on your feet and make them easier to adjust and remove.
- Great Features
- Sleek and Fashionable
- Lightweight and Comfortable
- Unlike boots, wading shoes don’t offer nearly as much ankle support
Whether it’s style, materials, fit, or support, you’ll want the best wading boots for you. Yet, choosing will not always be easy. Ensure you look for a pair that offers everything you’re looking for, or at least comes as close as possible. Don’t settle for less, as wading boots help you safe while you’re out fishing for the big ones.
After all, what’s the point of catching the big one, if you’re going to slip and fall as you leave the shores? The boots on our list are the best models for this year and last, but they’re no slouches when it comes to quality. Just keep in mind that your goal is to have fun, and you can’t have fun if you’re placing yourself through unnecessary risks!
But, now that you’re ready, head on over to your nearest body of water, and catch yourself a whopper.