It doesn’t matter if you like surf-casting, wading or float-tubing, wading boots are a necessity for any angler who enjoys fly-fishing, and whether you’re a beginner looking for their first pair of waders or a seasoned angler looking for an upgrade finding the right pair can be like searching for a needle in a haystack. Apart from helping to make your fishing trip more comfortable, wading boots also are an important piece of equipment for your safety, any body of water carries with it a certain amount of danger and using regular shoes can massively increase these issues as they lack the grip to deal with surfaces that get slippery when wet or loose earth on river banks. Having the grip to be able to stand your ground is also a useful tool to have on your side when you’re fishing big fish, so a pair of good quality wading boots can mean the difference between success or failure on a fly-fishing trip.
If this is your first pair of wading boots than you may feel a little overwhelmed at the amount of choice that’s available to you, and it can be hard to sort the quality boots that will keep you safe and dry from those that’ll spring a leak the second you step in a puddle. You need your waders to be comfortable, with a great grip so you can fish from a stable position. Luckily, we’ve done all the leg work for you and put together this list of some of the best wading boots currently on the market, and assembled a buyer’s guide to take you through some of the most important features to look out for when you’re looking for wading boots. We’ve even answered a few of your questions on the subject, so that when you are ready to make a choice you have all the information you need to find the best pair of boots for you.
Top 5 Best Wading Boots
OUR TOP PICK
If you’ve owned a pair of waders before or have been in the angling game for a while then you’ve probably heard the name Simms before. Simms has a reputation for manufacturing some of the best outerwear for anglers across the board, and anglers love their high-quality boots that perform excellently on the water and are comfortable to wear for hours at a time. Simms is well known for making products to suit all shapes and sizes so they’re an excellent option for pretty much everyone and you’re quite likely to find something that suits you no matter what your fishing situation. This option fits very well into the Simms ethos as a quality product at a very accessible price point, and this particular pair is a really good one to choose as a first pair of waders.
The body of the boots is made with synthetic leather that’s durable and waterproof so you’ll be dry no matter how many streams you leap into. The toe and heel panels are made from a scratch-resistant rubber that protects your heels and toes from injury and makes the whole shoe very durable. The sole of the boots have an excellent amount of traction so you’ll be safe on those slippery stream beds, and the A partial neoprene lining will keep your feet comfortable no matter how much walking or standing you do throughout your trip. The midsoles of the boots are made from with dual-density EVA foam which is shock-absorbing when you’re traversing uneven or rough terrain so these are a great option to take on a wide range of locations.
This option also provides support in two crucial areas when your fishing, the bottom of your foot, and your ankle. The undersole of the boot gives you an excellent amount of traction, while the ankle support means that you’re less likely to injure yourself when walking over hard terrain. The ankle support will also help you keep a steady stance while out on the water which combined with the traction this model gives is an excellent tool for learners.
The important thing to remember with this option is to check their sizing chart before ordering, they don’t correlate with regular sizing, so you need to do this or risk ending up with bad fitting boots. They’re also a bit heavier than other options available but once you’re used to them this isn’t an issue. Ultimately these are great boots for any skill level, but they’re a great first pair for a novice angler. They’re likely to last you a good few years and having a reliable pair of boots that will keep you safe in a slippery situation is imperative if you want to progress at fly-fishing. They’re also comfortable enough to wear for a few hours which is what you want to be able the maximum amount of time possible out on the water.
Excellent construction and very durable
Comfortable and easy to wear for a few hours
Gives a great amount of traction
Good first pair of wading boots
- GREAT TRACTION AND QUALITY – The Freestone Boot has a proven record of durability and traction in rocky rivers around the world. Our time-tested waterproof wading boot is backed by 5-star customer reviews for best performing wading boot in it's class - specifically designed to support navigating rocky river beds, mud, sand, wet grass or any defying surface you may encounter
- DURABILITY – These wader shoes are built to last season after season. Made to handle the toughest fly fishing conditions, with features that prevent even snow and ice to build up on the bottoms.
- HIGH QUALITY MATERIALS - The waterproof synthetic leather and scratch resistant rubber uppers take the abuse of brush, rock and water in stride. Dual?density EVA midsole designed for shock absorption
- COMFORTABLE FIT AND DESIGN - Lightweight and designed for all-day wear – Simms right angle foot bed technology fights foot fatigue and sore ankles. Our cushioned midsole and partial neoprene lining provide all-day cushioning and warmth, plus a wide opening for easy on and off. Speed lace hooks and lace-toe closure designed to keep up with you throughout the day
- WARRANTY - If your SIMMS product fails due to a defect in workmanship or materials, SIMMS will repair or replace your gear and get you back on the water as soon as possible. If your SIMMS product fails due to excessive wear, accidents and breakdown of materials over extended time, SIMMS will make every effort to repair your gear for a reasonable fee
If you like fishing in saltwater than you need boots that are going to be able to handle the corrosive power of the sea. Put simple, freshwater boots aren’t going to cut it. Traditional waders are mostly freshwater boots, the material they’re constructed from isn’t suitable for prolonged saltwater exposure because they’ll break down more easily. This option from ForEverlast lives up to the brand's name because they’re designed for saltwater they’ll last forever.
They’re made with a hard, durable sole-bottom to give you an incredible amount of traction on pretty much every surface. The rest of the boot is made with vulcanized rubber, which has been layered to provide extra protection against jagged reefs or sharp rocks you may encounter underwater. If you want to feel boots that are designed to protect you against whatever you may encounter then these might be just what you’re looking for.
This pair of waders will protect you in and out of the water, and if you fish in areas with a lot of sea urchins than you can add on the protection you can add on a Ray-Guard shield (separately) which can be used in an easy combination with the waders for added protection.
The traction on these boots is outstanding and will help you find a good stance on a range of surfaces from mud to algae-covered rocks to sharp reefs. There are definitely more stylish options on the market, but when you can stay out for longer thanks to the comfortable interior of these boots it doesn’t matter. They’re made with durable and high-quality materials that are perfect for enthusiastic saltwater anglers. So, whether you fish from a boat, or out on the reef these boots are an excellent way to keep you safe, dry, and comfortable no matter how long you stay out. They’re perfect for anyone who doesn’t want to worry about injuries or losing their balance no matter what may be lurking under the water.
Durable and made with good quality materials
Excellent traction on a range of surfaces
Easy to break-in
Great all-round protection
Good for saltwater
Not the most stylish option
If you’re looking for something a little more heavy-duty than some of the other options than this might be just what you’re looking for. For anglers who want to know that when they want to stay someplace they’re going to stay, this pair offers amazing traction and grip. The boots come with a felt sole, which is responsible for the immense traction and Korkers have included felt that’s hydrophobic which dries out quickly to avoid picking up any invasive species in the sole.
They also have Kling-On rubber soles included if you’d rather not risk having any unexpected visitors in your shoes and there’s also a drainage system where water flows through internal channels and out ports in the midsole. This stops your feet from becoming wet no matter where you go and they’re easily comfortable enough to wear for a few hours at least without any discomfort.
The innovative interchangeable sole system has been very well received among anglers, as it provides this pair with a little more versatility than the average product on the market. You can choose between the two soles included with the boots, but there is a range of other options that Korkers have also created so you can have something to suit every occasion. These waders have been constructed from high-quality materials, can be worn comfortably for long periods, and the innovative sole design that lets you go anywhere you wish.
Switching the soles does take a little bit of getting used to but is well worth the effort for the ability to go wherever you want. If you do decide to use the felt soles it’s worth being aware that a little more maintenance will be needed to make sure you haven’t picked up any invasive species on your travels, but this is good practice for any angler. This is a great high-quality option with innovation at the heart of its design and construction.
Easy to personalize for conditions and location with interchangeable sole
Durable and comfortable
Easy to break-in
Drainage system keeps feet dry at all times
Changing soles takes some time to get used to
- Plain Felt and Kling-On Sticky Rubber Soles Included
- OmniTrax 3.0 Interchangeable Sole System, compatible with other Korkers 3.0 accessory outsoles
- Water flows thru internal channels then out midsole ports, removing excess water and weight.
- Hydrophobic materials = faster dry times which lessen the chance of spreading invasive species.
- 2 lbs 7 oz (per pair, size 9)
Orvis is a well-known and respected brand among anglers, and they have a well-deserved reputation for creating high-quality and durable products made with quality materials that you can rely on. Any boot with the Orvis name on it is going to have something to say for itself and this is no exception, this option offers excellent stability with an enormous amount of grip and traction to back you up even on the slipperiest of rocks.
These are a great pick for anyone who values comfort on a long day out on the water thanks to the sponge inner cushioning. This is a pair of waders that look great and perform well too, thanks to the synthetic uppers which help to reduce the amount of water the boots absorb, and they can be worn most places thanks to the amount of grip they give. The drainage system helps to keep the boots lightweight between water and shore, and they give great stability even in strong currents. The rubber toe cap and heel are both scratch-resistant and made from high-quality rubber so they’re not going to give out on you at a bad moment.
The padded collars give excellent ankle support to help prevent injury and keeps your feet as comfortable as possible. The felt soles give great traction, but watch out for invasive species as they’re more likely to end up in felt soles. As long as you’re aware, make sure you check both before and after your fishing trip and are happy to spend a bit more time on boot maintenance it isn’t too much of an issue.
Comfortable and easy to wear for long periods
Give an excellent amount of traction in a variety of situations
Excellent ankle support
Good drainage system to keep boots lightweight
Inner cushioning can absorb water
We’ve already said how Simms craft high-quality and durable boots, but they’re so good they’re appearing twice on this list. This nubuck leather boot is waterproof and offers an outstanding amount of ankle support thanks to the top-to-toe lacing system which also lets you personalize your support for maximum comfort and injury prevention. This pair also has abrasion-resistant panels in the upper which combined with dual density midsoles make the boots as durable as possible. The dual-density midsoles are also shock-absorbing which help keep you comfortable and prevent injury even in tough terrain
This a great option for those who are a little wary about getting right out in the water or going over uncertain surfaces, the amount of traction and comfort that these boots offer is off the charts and you can feel safe and comfortable all day with these on your feet. As with most water, it’s worth checking their sizing chart to make sure you’ve got the best size for you before purchasing.
Awesome grip and traction
Excellent ankle support
Durable and made with high-quality materials
Need to check sizing before purchase
- TRIBUTARY RUBBER SOLE WADING BOOTS: The Simm’s Tributary rubber wading boot provides the trusted support and traction to help you negotiate slick, uneven river bottoms. These boots feature a textile and synthetic lace-up upper. Studs sold separately.
- NEOPRENE LINING: These rubber soles shoes have a neoprene lining. This waterproof lining enables you to easily slide these boots on or off.
- TRACTION RUBBER OUTSOLE: These rubber bottom fishing boots are designed with a thick traction rubber outsole. This outsole is stud-compatible giving fishermen a firm grip over slippery riverbeds, lake bottoms, and algae-covered rocks.
- DURABLE RUBBER TOE CAP: Simm’s designed these wading boots with a durable rubber toe cap. When walking across rocky, slippery, uneven terrain these rubber caps will come in handy. This thick toe acts as protection for toes and feet, no more stubbing your toes on sharp, unseen rocks or underwater tree trunks.
- WADING FOOTWEAR CARE: If using these wet wading boots in saltwater always clean and rinse them to prevent corrosion. Use an old vegetable brush or toothbrush to remove dust and dirt. For maximum thoroughness, remove the laces before cleaning. Use specialized boot cleaner, saddle soap or a mild dishwashing soap with luke-warm water. Do not use bar soap or detergents. Do not place wet boots close to a heat source. Always air-dry.
Best Wading Boots Buying Guide
Before you make any decision about what sort of boot might suit you there are a few factors to take into consideration. After all, there’s nothing worse than buying a pair of boots only to realize they’re not suitable for what you want to use them for. With that in mind here are a few of the main features to think about before choosing the pair of boots for you.
As wading boots let water flow through them, which is how they keep you safe and dry, you need materials that aren’t going to absorb the water and dry quickly and easily. The worst things is buying boots that absorb water quickly because they will get heavy and uncomfortable which you then have to handle until they dry out. Look out for boots constructed with polyester and nylon because they’re lightweight and don’t absorb water. Any boots that have the phrase ‘hydrophobic coating’ are a good bet because they repel water when underwater, so they’ll keep you nice and dry.
The soles of your boots need to abrasion-resistant, durable, and most important have excellent traction to help you over dangerous terrain. Most soles are made from rubber or felt, though rubber is slowly growing more common as felt is harder to dry and can pick up invasive species so need a bit more maintenance. Rubber is hard wearing and is especially good over rough terrain, so think about where your fishing and what you need your boots to accomplish.
Traction is so important it needs its own category because anyone who needs to use wading boots will probably be going over some rough terrain and need the extra grip. Traction is a very important safety feature so make sure that regardless of what you go for has plenty of traction so you can enjoy your fishing trip comfortably and safely.
Best Wading Boots FAQs
Can you wear wading boots without full waders?
If you’re fishing in water that only comes up to your ankles than there’s no need to go through the trouble of putting on waders. Not wearing waders also can help keep you cool, which is a good plan on very hot days!
Why aren’t all waders waterproof?
Not all wading boots are waterproof because of where they work best. If you’re standing in water all day no shoe is going to be able to keep the water all the way out, but a good drainage system is then more important than waterproofing. Think about your needs first, then pick the boots that suit you.