Proper fishing, like the fishing where you spend hours at the shore waiting for a bite and not merely hopping from rock pool to rock pool with your fishing net requires the best wading boots relieve achy feet and ensure stability all day. A quality pair of waders is essential for keeping you safe wading (obviously) through the slippery and potentially dangerous ground, but they should also be lightweight and have a drainage system to keep your feet as dry (without making the shoes waterproof) as walking through water can do.
The Best Wading Boot
Our first pick of great wading boots is the Redington Skagit River Wading Boot. These come with a tough rubber toe which is abrasion-resistant, while the quick drainage system prevents water build up and keeps the boots lightweight and your feet comfortable and allows the boots to dry faster overnight.
The padded collar is superb for offering support, and the soles are stud-compatible, giving you the option for more secure, stable purchase on slippery surfaces. They also come at a great price. Sitting comfortably between mid- and high-range so they’re affordable for both newbies and more experienced fly fishers. If you are looking for more durable footwear, be sure to check out our guide to the best snake boots.
- Weight4.4 pounds
Sliding a little higher up the cost scale, the Korkers Buckskin Wading Boot are well worth what you’ll pay for them. These are some of the most versatile boots around and can accommodate both Felt and Kling-On soles for a variety of riverbeds. They rubber cap protects your toes, while the anti-abrasion material can withstand whatever the river flows at you.
They drain quickly, and with hydrophobic uppers, there’s no chance of water-logging. If you want to switch locations during your fishing weekend, they also make excellent hiking Gore-tex boots, which lightens your load and makes the whole trip a lot easier.
Felt and Kling-On soles
Scratch rubber toe cap
- Weight2.94 pounds
Despite the kind of creepy name, these Redington Prowler Boots are another fantastic mid-range pick for those looking for affordability combined with reliability. They boast excellent ankle support and take just minutes to break in to ensure optimal comfort.
The traction helps you feel sure on your feet, and the wide toe box gives your feet room to breathe and avoids awkward cramping, which after 8 hours in the water is always very much in demand. For more amazing high-quality shoes, check out our reviews of the best steel toe cap boots.
Fast break in
Wide toe box
- Weight3.85 pounds
As the name suggests, the Duck & Fish Sticky Rubber Sole Wading Shoe provides superb grip on slippery surfaces to keep you confident regardless of what the river has in store. As our Best Value choice, they’re affordable for all, and make the perfect starter boot for beginners.
While you might find reduced quality with other products at such a low price, these still perform superbly. They give you all the necessary ankle support, are easy to put on and take off, while the material is durable enough for multiple wears throughout the season with few signs of suffering any damage of what lies beneath. Be sure to check out our guide to the best dirt bike boots for some amazingly durable sports footwear.
Sticky rubber outsole
Easy on and off
Reinforced toe cap
- BrandDuck & Fish
- Weight3 pounds
The Locking Stud Grip system is the main attraction of the Compass Tailwater II Cleated Wading Shoe and ensures you can customize your boots to suit the riverbed. It accepts steel studs for greater traction however, despite what the box might say, the studs do not come with the boots initially.
Annoying, yes, but you may only need them in certain situations. Despite this, you’ll still get a boot that’s protective, supportive, and stable for your next fly-fishing trip, just watch your step if you go without the studs in certain places. If you are on the look for warm comfortable shoes for the slopes, don’t forget to check out our top picks of the best snowboard boots.
Locking lace hooks
Reinforced toe and heel
Locking Stud Grip
Webbing heel pull
- Weight3.6 pounds
With a Clarino upper and PU coating, the Orvis Ultralight Wading Boot lives up to its name as one of – if not the – most lightweight boot around. Despite the lightweight design, they’re still rugged and durable, while on the inside, the mini-ripstop insoles provide great cushioning for your poor tired feet.
The Vibram rubber sole – something you’ll find on a lot of hiking shoes – provides spectacular traction, and the polyester mesh ensures breathability. Combine this with the weight, and you’ll feel you’re wearing nothing at all while still feeling secure wherever you step.
Vibram rubber sole
- Weight3.14 pounds
The Korkers Devil’s Canyon Wading Boot are the easy choice for the best wading boots on both dry land and deep beneath the water. They boast large draining ports and accepts both plain and studded soles for versatility, and like our other Korkers pick, the upper is hydrophobic to prevent water-logging.
The BOA lacing system ensures a stable and secure fit, while the rest of the boot is tough enough to handle submerged debris scratching against the material. As a premium choice, they’re the most expensive option we found, but there’s nothing wrong with spending a little more for a better experience. To always keep your boots dry and warm, check out our reviews of the best boot dryers.
Large drainage ports
Plain and studded Kling-On soles
BOA lacing system
- Weight2.88 pounds
Hodgman H3 Wading Boot
Quick drying and abrasion resistant, the Hodgman H3 Wading Boot is a fantastic felt-soled choice for rocky river beds all over the country which you can’t always get from lugged treads. The padded collar provides great support and prevents any rolled ankles, while the D-ring gravel guard keeps anything that shouldn’t be in your boot firmly out of it.
As for drainage, it comes with a mesh style design to flush water out and further encourage fast drying abilities. It’s not the fanciest boot you’ll find, but for a low-cost option, there aren’t many better. In case you decided to go ice fishing, make sure you wear some of the best ice cleats from our list.
D-ring gravel guard attachment
Mesh drainage ports
- ModelH3 WSF
- Weight2 pounds
Winning first prize for the coolest name in wading boots, the Frogg Toggs Hellbender Wading Shoe is more than just a badass sounding choice. They are comfortable, with lightweight mesh and a padded collar, while the speed no tie shoelaces are one of the most convenient around.
For those needing excellent stability on the rocks, the felt outsole keeps you secure, and the heel and toe caps keep you protected. Again, they’re on the cheaper side, but this doesn’t mean they’re any less effective.
Speed laces with locking clip
Stable and supportive
- BrandFrogg Toggs
- Weight3.85 pounds
Our final pick of the best wading boots around is the Caddis Northern Guide Wading Shoe. It’s fitted with an EcoSmart II (better than EcoSmart I) sole, which offers trustworthy traction you can fit with studs to provide even better grip on slippery surfaces.
The speed lace system is, as ever, massively convenient, while the construction is ready for whatever comes. The eyelets are saltwater-resistant to prevent corrosion, and as far as comfort goes, if you’re looking for boots you can wear straight out the box, look no further. A perfect boot to always have in your shoe storage.
EcoSmart II sole
Speed lace system
Salt waterproof eyelets
No break in time
- Weight3.25 pounds
Wading Boot Buying Guide & FAQ
How We Chose Our Selection Of The Best Wading Boots
Narrowing down our selection to just 10 options is never easy. Thankfully, we have our tried and tested methods of ensuring we find the perfect products for you.
Brand - With multiple great brands around, we focused on the same ones that kept cropping up during our research. This means you can feel confident your new waders will deliver superb, reliable quality in your fly-fishing adventures.
Price - As ever, there’s a range of prices when looking for the top wading boots. To ensure everyone finds the perfect pair, we aimed for affordability while also ensuring quality.
Review - Reviews are a fantastic resource to help us determine which waders are worth keeping in our selection. Through these reviews, we can get a great idea about durability, comfort, and traction to keep you safe and secure in the water.
Features To Look For In Wading Boots
Before deciding on which fishing waders are the right ones for you, consider these key features to look for.
Sole - Considering how slippery life can be underwater, having soles with superb grip is an absolute must. Not only will it keep your footing firm when you reel in a catch that could feed the whole neighborhood, it also prevents injury by helping you stay on your feet.
Material - It’s likely your boots will take quite the hammering while fly-fishing, so a durable material is a must to keep them in top condition for as long as possible. This protects them from sharp object underwater such as rocks or sticks to save your shoes from damage.
Foot and Ankle Support - When fly-fishing, you’ll be on your feet all day, so to minimize the strain on your feet, padded inserts will provide much-needed pain relief. Likewise, for ankle support, high padded collars offer better stability and prevent your ankles rolling when wading over slippery surfaces.
Lightweight Uppers - The more lightweight the upper, the easier it will be to walk through the water and you won’t feel bogged down by heavy materials. A synthetic material is preferable, as this also reduces the amount of water absorbed and maintain the boot’s lightness.
Wading Boot FAQ
Q: How to choose the right wading boot for fly-fishing?
A: As with any hobby or activity, you want to ensure you have the proper gear to make your experience a fun and successful one. Just like you wouldn’t step onto the golf course without proper shoes or hit the streets for a jog wearing anything other than running shoes, finding the right boots for fly-fishing is essential.
Depending on where you do your fly-fishing, consider what the surface under the water is like to help you determine what soles you need. These soles will be either felt or rubber. Felt is better for rocky areas, whereas rubber soles with grips provide better traction on muddy riverbeds.
Also think about drainage systems which are useful for draining water if you move from place to place. It’s also important to consider breathability, which allows moisture that builds up even underwater to escape and keep your feet feeling fresh throughout.
Q: Are wading boots waterproof?
A: While wading boots aren’t completely waterproof, especially if you don’t have proper wading gear to keep the water out, the best wading boots come with drainage systems to prevent water flooding your boots, which we all know is up there with being hooked up to an IV and being left on Read as one of the most uncomfortable experiences around.
The mesh draining allows the water to flush out once you step back onto dry land, and it also prevents invasive species beings transported elsewhere to better conserve the environment, making it a win-win for both you and your underwater friends.
Q: Can you hike in wading boots?
A: While not all wading boots are ideal for hiking, there are certainly some that will serve you well up hills and through a variety of environments and terrain. Wading boots for hiking are especially useful if you need to venture through rivers or streams, as the built-in drainage will make the rest of the hike more comfortable.
However, if you’re hiking somewhere water is completely absent, we recommend sticking to good old-fashioned hiking boots.
- Boots - Fly Fishing for Beginners