I’ve always had this number in my head — 70 bucks — that was never to be exceeded when buying felt soled wading boots. My perhaps flawed logic went like this: Why spend a zillion dollars on a pair of good wading boots when the felt is going to wear out in a season or less anyway? I know, I know, you (allegedly) can re-felt wading boots, but let’s be realistic here. I just don’t have the time or ambition to embark in such a project, so I kinda consider wading boots kind like Bic razors — use ’em up and huck them in the trash and buy some new ones.
But, when prepping for an Alaskan float trip (watch the epic video we shot on that mission HERE) earlier this summer, I decided that maybe it was time to step up to the plate and go with a high end pair of boots. No sense being miserable in a cheapie, uncomfortable pair when you’re going to wear them for a week straight.
I decided on a pair of Rivershed felt soles from Simms. At $139.95 ($189.95 for the studded Aquastealth model), the boots were double what I’d normally spend, so I was anxious to see how they preformed. Were they simply over-priced yuppie fluff chucker foot wear or serious fishing equipment?
At first glance, I thought the boots may be a little uncomfortable due to the stiffness of the ankle support area at the top. However, I was dead wrong — they were extremely comfortable, while providing plenty stability to my feet and ankles.
Probably the best praise I can give these things was that, after wearing and wading in the Riversheds for 15-18 hours a day, I didn’t have a single “I can’t wait to get these f#$%ing things off my feet” moment which I can honestly say has never happened in the past. I normally wear a size 12 and ordered these boots in a 13 just to have a little extra room, which turned out to be perfect. My feet never got cold or tired.
Adding to the high comfort level is the Rivershed’s honest-to-goodness tongue that stayed where it was supposed to the entire trip. I’ve had plenty of less expensive models that had serious cases of Wandering Tongueitus.
The laces and hardware were all extremely sturdy — as was the boot’s “bow” area. Another are of concern in lesser boots has always been the toe area. Flimsy materials often lead to jammed, sore toes after a day of fishing. Definitely not the case with the Simms bad boys! The toe on the Riversheds feels like a steel toed work boot — impervious to boulders and submerged logs.
The Bad & The Ugly
There’s really nothing negative I can say about these boots. While the price is higher that I normally would fork out, I feel that the quality is so good that they’re worth every penny. It’s the ol’ you get what you pay for situation.
With a gun to my head, I guess I could say that the Riversheds are a bit heavier than I expected and didn’t drain exceptionally well — the drain ports would routinely get clogged.
A little nit-picky, I know, but that’s really all I’ve got on the con side of things…
Five stars! Spend the extra cash…you’ll be happy you did!