Fly fishing brings you in all kind of different terrains. On your hunt for the best fishing spots, you will often cross deep and fast flowing rivers filled with slippery stones. In those situations, you have to rely on your gear and the best wading boots make up a big part of it.
If there is one piece of gear, you should spend more money on, it is definitely the best wading boots.
While standing in deep rivers, the traction your boots provide is crucial to your safety.
Think about it:
A cheap pair of waders might leak, which can be uncomfortable, but if you can not count on the traction of your wading shoes, slipping might be inevitable and can be life threatening in the wrong situations.
The Best Wading Boots For Every Budget
Out of the wide selection available today, it can be hard to choose the best wading boots your budget allows. Every product on this list was reviewed thoroughly and compared to several other competitors to make your choice easier. If your budget is fixed, you can be sure that the according product on the list is the best wading shoes you can get for that money. All products listed here have a certain standard of quality and every one of them is a great choice for fly fishing. All products listed here were thoroughly reviewed and if you want to read the full review, there will be a link to it included at the end of every description.
- Made from a combination of nubuck leather and textile
- Vibram rubber outsole ( also available in felt)
- Price around $200
Starting with the best of the best, the Simms G3 Guide Boots are a high-end product. Often a popular choice by professional fly fishing guides, these wading boots are something you could wear every day in the river. They are durable, lightweight and provide exceptional traction on almost every ground. The upper is made from waterproof nubuck leather and Thermoplastic Polyurethane coated textile. The ankle support is exactly as strong as it’s supposed to be. An extra “joint” provides enough flexibility to give them an almost hiking boot like feeling. You will not mind walking a little longer to the next pool.
The outsole is made from Vibram rubber, a popular choice for climbing boots, and provides close to felt-like traction. It offers the possibility to attach studs which pushes the traction in the river far beyond felt soles and out of all the boots we tested, the Simms G3 were the best wading boots for slippery rocks.
- Exceptional traction in the river
- Great ankle support without feeling too stiff
- Lightweight and high-quality materials
- Some people report that they aren’t the best wading boots for saltwater, read our review for more information on that.
Simms is a brand with one of the best reputation in the industry. Every product they release offers top notch quality and the G3 Guide Boots are already considered another classic. They will last you many seasons and if $200 are in your budget, there is no way you could go wrong here and these are definitely the best wading boots you can get. You will love them!
- Hydrophobic synthetic leather and textile upper
- Interchangeable outsole ( rubber, felt, and studs)
- Price around $120
Korkers is a company producing exclusively outdoor boots for tough conditions. There stand out feature, which is extremely beneficial for wading boots, is interchangeable outsoles. While with other boots you usually have to make a decision in terms of soles right with the purchase, Korkers offers several soles to switch to at any time. You can choose between rubber, felt, soles with studs. The process is easy and can be done in less than a minute, right on the river or at home.
The upper part of the Korkers Greenback is made from hydrophobic synthetic leather and textile to allow water to flow freely in and out. The midsoles offer additional drainage canals creating a great drainage system. With the 2lb these wading boots are a lightweight and fun to wear. Even on longer hikes, they will not get uncomfortable.
- You will love the interchangeable soles
- Great drainage system
- Comfortable to wear even on longer hikes
- A slight heel lift with every step (an extra pair of socks will prevent that)
Although they are in the same price range as Redington Skagit, the Korkers Greenback definitely deserve to be on the list of best wading shoes. The interchangeable soles are an awesome idea and let these boots perform well in every terrain. The drainage system is one of the best you will find in this price range only second to the Redington Skagit showed earlier.
- Nylon and synthetic leather upper
- Sticky walnut rubber outsole ( also available in felt)
- Price around $120
The upper part of the Redington Skagit wading boots is made from lightweight nylon and synthetic leather to provide an drainage system. The heel and toe caps are made from rubber to reduce abrasion. The outsoles are made from rubber as well and come with a little extra. Crushed walnut shells are implemented in the texture to provide additional traction in and next to the river. If even that is not enough for you, you have the option to attach spikes all over the soles, which should definetly be sufficient for almost every ground your will encounter while fly fishing. The extra padded collars will give you great ankle support, comparable to hiking boots, allowing you to cross tricky rivers without having to fear sprains or worse.
- Remarkable traction even without attached studs
- Drainage System comparable to boots in the $200 price range
- Great ankle support
- Again, nothing to say here
There is reason why the Redington Skagits are one of the most popular pairs of wading boots. There affordable price combined with quality out of $200 upwards price ranges, make them a solid companion for every fishing trip. For $120 you get a pair of boots that will last you several seasons and allows you to have safe standing in the river.
- Upper made from polyester mesh
- Sticky walnut rubber outsole ( also available in felt)
- Price around $80
The second pair in this ranking made by Redington, the Palix do not have to hide from their big brother. They left out the synthetic leather this time, leaving a full polyester upper. The drainage system is not optimal but still works well enough. The outsole is the same as in the Skagits, with crushed walnut shells and holes for studs. These are soles that can be compared to soles you find in wading boots in price ranges above $200! A rubber toe cap improves longevity by preventing abrasion. This also ensures that you do not have to worry about hitting stones deep in the river, which can otherwise be very hurtful.
- Same remarkable traction as seen in the Skagit
- Awesome looking design
- The drainage system could be improved
All in all the Redington Palix are a great product and for this price definitely the best wading boots for the money. They stripped the Skagit down to only what’s necessary, leaving a slim and light boot for an affordable price. If you do not feel like spending more than $100 these are the wading boots you should get.
Features Of The Best Wading Boots
Considering the facts above, there are certain attributes you should pay attention to, if you want to pick the best wading boots:
Lightweight And Durable Materials
The materials used for the best wading boots should be lightweight and durable. Since wading boots are not meant to be completely waterproof, the material itself does not necessarily have to be waterproof although it can be beneficial if it is water repelling. If that is not the case, the material will eventually start to soak up with water, increasing weight and decrease the longevity. To prevent that from happening manufacturers tend to use hydrophobic synthetics or leathers. These materials will not soak up and therefore stay lightweight even in the river.
Ankle and Heel Support
An attribute that gets underestimated a lot is the provided ankle and heel support. Not only will longer hikes to your fishing spots be easier, the chances of injuries on land or in the river are drastically reduced if your wading boots support your ankles. In unforgiving terrain, this can prevent sprains or worse injuries that could cost you weeks of fishing.
Good Drainage Systems
As said earlier, wading boots are not waterproof. Since water would enter your boots anyway eventually, the best wading shoes possess a well-working drainage system. This important so water will flow out as fast as possible, as soon as you leave the water. Your boots will be less heavy and your legs will be less exhausted. Following you wilö have more energy for the important things: Fishing!
While felt was a popular choice for outsoles, back in the old days, today it loses popularity and there are several reasons for that. The rubber used for outsoles saw some huge improvements during the last years. As a result, it provides almost similar traction to felt soles. In addition to that, rubber is also far more durable, while felt soles have to be exchanged regularly, especially if you walk longer distances in your wading boots. Most rubber outsoles give you the opportunity to attach studs, which brings your traction game on a whole new level beating felt by far. The final argument against felt is that it favors the spreading of invasive species, as you can see in a recent example in the Yellowstone river. Following that, a lot of states started banning felt soles and manufacturers stop producing them slowly. Today the best wading boots definitely come with rubber outsoles and that is why you will not find felt soles in this list.
If you already decided on a budget for your wading boots, it should be easy to make a decision by now. Keep in mind that wading boots are nothing you should try saving too much money on since they have the most impact on your safety in the river. A good pair of wading shoes can prevent you from falling and therefore actually might save your life. Keeping that fact in mind, spending a bit more on this piece of equipment is well justified.