Best Wading Boots – 2021 Buyer’s Guide

| Last Updated December 23, 2021

If you’ve recently purchased a pair of stocking foot waders, you’re probably now on the hunt for the perfect pair of wading boots. Acquiring suitable outerwear is a vital part of fishing that is often overlooked, and finding a great pair of wading boots is a small, but important, step in being comfortable as well as maintaining your own safety on the water.  

Comparison of the Best Wading Boots

  • Durable wading boots made from waterproof synthetic leather and rubber
  • Dual-density EVA midsole absorbs shock and delivers comfort
  • Right angle footbed technology prevents foot fatigue
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  • Best saltwater wading boots on our list
  • Patented boot design with zipper and adjustable velcro
  • Cleated and reinforced sole for better grip and lasting comfort
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  • Best fly fishing wading boots on our list
  • Includes plain felt and Kling-on sticky rubber interchangeable soles
  • Effective drainage and coated with hydrophobic material for water resistance
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  • Best wading boots for slippery rocks
  • Scratch-resistant rubber toe cap with fully lined interior
  • Durable felt sole offers exceptional grip over slippery surfaces
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  • Best Simms wading boot on our list
  • Waterproof nubuck leather and textile upper with top toe lacing
  • TPU heel counters and clips for maximized ankle support
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Considerations When Buying Wading Boots

Safety should be near the top of your priorities when preparing for a fishing trip. Wading boots play a huge role in keeping you safe as they prevent nasty falls in slippery angling conditions.

Where there are fish, there are often slick, rocky river beds and other unknown hazards embedded below the surface. Wading boots will seriously outperform any old sneakers that you have laying around the house in terms of comfort, traction, and durability. 

Although it may be tempting to pull on some shoes that you already own, odds are that would result in blistered feet and a potential injury.

Simms Freestone Wading Boots

Wading boots will also share many characteristics with a good pair of hiking boots, which makes them fairly versatile and very attractive to those anglers who enjoy hiking or backpacking into their favorite fishing spots.

One of the main aspects of wading boots that makes them similar to hiking boots is the support they provide for your ankles. Ankle support is important in and out of the water when you’re in a fishing setting, as it helps to prevent the risk of falling and spraining an ankle, or worse.

How to Choose the Right Wading Boots

Looking for new wading boots but don't know how to choose them? Let's take a look at some of the best features to keep an eye out for during this review.  


Because you’ll likely be wandering through tough terrain in your wading boots, one of the most important things to check is the traction of your potential purchase. Getting a pair of boots with too little traction is a serious safety hazard when you’re out and about in settings with slick terrain. There’s no particular traction design that works better over others, so just ensure that there is a suitable amount.


Wading boots work by letting water flow through them; this necessitates special materials that are non-absorbent and dry easily. Boots with absorbent materials are more likely to get water-logged quickly and add extra weight, which can be very uncomfortable during a long day of fishing.

Rubber vs. Felt (Source)

Lightweight materials like polyester and nylon work well for water activities because they allow water to pass through without absorbing it. Another word to look for when searching for a pair of wading boots is “hydrophobic coating.” This is a treatment that some companies apply to their product to make them “repel” water when submerged, meaning that it resists absorption.


Rubber and felt are the most common materials used in wading boot soles. While they do provide great traction, felt soles are becoming more and more obsolete as many states have banned them due to their tendency to harbor invasive species. Rubber soles are much more popular in the angling world. They’re a great option, as they are durable and abrasion-resistant, which is important when traveling on rough terrain.

Review of the Best Wading Boots

With the wide range of wading boots on the market, some are better suited for specific angling activities than others. Here’s a list of some of our faves in a variety of categories.

Best Wading Boots:
Simms Freestone Wading Boots


  • Good Amount of Traction Prevents Hazards
  • Made With High-Quality, Durable Materials
  • Very Comfortable and Easy to Wear for Hours at a Time


  • A Little Heavy
  • Cleat Studs for Extra Traction are an Additional Cost
  • Sizing Isn’t Always Consistent With Regular Shoe Sizes

If you own a pair of waders, there’s a good chance you’re familiar with the name Simms. This brand is a leader in outerwear technology for anglers of all shapes and sizes. They’ve made a name for themselves by consistently creating items that are comfortable and high-performing, and the Freestone wading boots are no exception.

The main part of the boots is created with waterproof synthetic leather. They also include a protective, scratch-resistant rubber toe and heel panels for maximum durability. A partial neoprene lining keeps feet comfortable, along with dual-density EVA foam midsoles for shock absorption along uneven terrain.

The Freestone line of wading boots provides support in two important places; underfoot with a good amount of rubber traction and in the ankle with added ankle-support. This combines in a great blend of risk-prevention and slip-resistance.

Bottom Line

Simms is a household name for a reason. They create quality products at a reasonable price and almost always do their job well. These Freestone wading boots are a great option for any angler who’s looking to purchase their first pair wading boots. They’re comfortable, durable, and will keep you out of trouble when it comes to slick riverbeds.

The main downside to this product is their weight and sizing; make sure that you check Simms’ sizing chart well before purchasing to prevent ending up with ill-fitting boots.

Best Saltwater Wading Boots:
ForEverlast Reef Boots

Ray-Guard Reef Wading & Fishing Boots for Men and Women, Tan, Hard Soled Vulcanized Rubber Bottom, Neoprene, Lightweight, Comfortable, Waterproof


  • Easy to Slip On and Off
  • Grips a Variety of Underwater Surfaces Very Well
  • Nice Quality Material Holds up Well to Pricks and Pokes From Reef Structures


  • Heavy
  • Not Stylish
  • Not Always True to Size

If you’re a coastal angler, freshwater wading boots probably aren’t the best choice for you. This is because the material used in traditional wading boots breaks down more easily compared to those which have material specifically made for saltwater’s corrosive nature. The Ray-Guard Reef Boots from ForEverlast were made with coastal angling in mind. These are a great pick for those who wade through reef structures or even for anglers who spend a lot of time on the deck of a boat.

The wading boots are constructed with a hard sole bottom for traction. The body of the boot has four layers of vulcanized rubber which are meant to provide protection from potential hazards in a saltwater setting, like sharp reefs or jagged underwater structures.

They are made to be comfortable for hours of wading at a time. They can be used as regular waterproof beach wear or for more rugged underwater conditions. ForEverlast also sells Ray-Guard shields (separately) which can provide more protection from underwater urchins.

Bottom Line

These Ray-Guard reef boots are a great option for saltwater anglers who are looking for some added protection in and out of the water. Although they are definitely not the most stylish pair of waders on the market, they are made with quality materials that can stand up to pesky underwater structures that could cause potential injuries or falls.

Whether you’re in deep mud or crossing over seaweed and algae-covered rocks, these boots will keep you stable and upright. Again, like other boots on this list, be careful when choosing your size, there are varying reviews when it comes to sizing, so always check the manufacturer’s own sizing chart.

Best Fly Fishing Wading Boots:
 Korkers Greenback Wading Boot

Korkers Greenback Wading Boots - Packed with the Essentials - Includes Interchangeable Felt and Kling-On Soles


  • Easy to Get Off and On, Not Too Stiff
  • Interchangeable Soles Allow for Personalization
  • Great Drainage System Keeps the Boots Light and Comfortable in the Water


  • Felt Soles Harbor Invasive Species More Than Rubber Soles
  • Putting Soles Back On After Changing Them Takes Some Work

A more heavy-duty option for fly fishing anglers, Korkers Greenback wading boots provide awesome traction in a variety of settings. Their main draw is an interchangeable outsole system, which allows the user to pick and choose between the two included soles, as well as other soles available through Korkers.

They come with a felt sole, which is well-known for super great traction. This is a fairly controversial choice as felt is known for harboring invasive species more than other sole options, but Korkers uses hydrophobic felt, which dries faster and is, therefore, less likely to keep hitchhikers.

This pair of wading boots also comes with Kling-On rubber soles if you prefer not to use felt soles. To reduce the weight from water-logged boots, Korkers uses a drainage system that allows water to flow through internal channels and out through midsole ports.  

Bottom Line

If you want a pair of wading boots that provide a little more versatility than the average pair, you may be attracted to this pick from Korkers. They are high-quality shoes and definitely don’t lose points in terms of design and comfort. It’s a novel idea to include interchangeable soles, but some users complain that the process of switching the soles back and forth can get a little tough.

If you choose these wading boots, remember to clean them thoroughly after every use, as felt does have the tendency to keep invasive species aboard more than rubber soles.

Best Wading Boots for Slippery Rocks:
Orvis Encounter Wading Boots

Orvis Men's Encounter Wading Boots - Felt Sole


  • Attractive and Stylish
  • Comfortable and Stable
  • Provide Great Traction in Strong Currents


  • Felt Soles are Banned in Some States.
  • Sponge Cushioning Absorb Water and Keeps it There

Orvis is another well-known and loved name in the angling world. They have a reputation for creating high-quality products with durable materials, which are great attributes to have in a pair of wading boots.

The upper of these boots is made completely of synthetic material in an effort to reduce water absorption. This includes a rubber heel and toe cap for scratch-resistance. The collars are padded for added ankle support and comfort and the inner boot is also created for comfort with the help of sponge cushioning.

These particular boots feature felt soles, which as aforementioned, are not permissible in several states because of their tendency to harbor invasive species. Despite felt’s great traction capabilities, these waders won’t be ideal for many anglers who live in states with restrictions.

They feature a drainage system to keep the boots lightweight in-between the water and the shore.

Bottom Line

Another great choice for strong traction and stability, the Orvis Encounter wading boots would work well for anglers in states that haven’t banned felt soles. For the most part, these waders a great pick; they have a good design, they’re attractive, can be worn in a variety of settings, and they’re comfortable enough to wear for hours at a time. However, one minor flaw is the drainage of the inner cushioning. Although it does add comfort, it absorbs water more than any other section of the boots.

Best Simms Wading Boots:
 Simms G3 Guide Wading Boots


  • Versatile
  • Comfortable to Wear All Day Long
  • Features “Rivertread” a Way to Give Anglers More Feeling Underfoot Without Compromising Traction


  • Spendy
  • Sizing Tends to Be a Little Tight

Simms is appearing again on this list for good reason. As mentioned before, this company is well-known for creating high-quality products for fly fishing. They have many lines of wading boots, but the G3 Guide wading boots have received a great deal of praise from the angling community.

The G3 Guide line features waterproof nubuck leather in the main body of the boot, as well as features panels that are abrasion-resistant in the protective upper. They also include a full scratch rubber rand for added durability.

These boots aim to keep your feet comfortable and your body safe with a couple different features including dual density midsoles for shock absorption in the face of uncertain terrain. They also have a good amount of ankle support with their top-to-toe lacing system which offers not only a customized fit but an added element of risk prevention.

Bottom Line

There’s no hesitation in this recommendation of the Simms G3 Guide wading boots. These are some seriously heavy-duty waders for some serious fly fishers and they definitely live up to the Simms reputation.

 The best part of these boots is the traction and comfort they provide. There’s little need to worry about falling or slipping with these waders, which can be a huge weight off your chest. Some users did complain about the sizing chart of these boots, so make sure you are certain of your foot size before purchasing, as these are definitely an investment.

How to Clean Wading Boots

Cleaning your wading boots after use is essential to preserving the balance of nature in your local fishing areas. Although you may not realize it, when you use your wading boots, you’re often picking up invasive species that can be transferred to a different body of water if not cleaned properly. Here are some helpful steps that you can take in keeping your boots clean and clear of pesky hitchhikers.

  • Use a stiff-bristled brush and water to scrub all mud, dirt, and algae from your boots. It’s best to do this right after getting out of the water to prevent any potential transfer. Rinse thoroughly. Make sure that you inspect every section of the boot, including laces and seams.  
  • Disinfect your boots by submerging them in hot water for at least three minutes. The water should be at least 140 degrees to kill any bacteria that may be present. This process can be tough on your boots as time goes on. Another option is to put them in a freezer for 24 hours to kill bacteria.
  • Allow your boots to dry fully before storing to prevent mold and bacteria growth. You can air/sun dry on a clear day or use a boot dryer, if handy.

Not only will this process stop you from spreading invasive species, but it will also increase the longevity of your boots. Take care to help yourself as well as the planet.


Wading boots are an important part of maintaining your safety in and out of the water. Hopefully, this article gave you some ideas in terms of the best pick of boots in the realm of your personal angling style. Whether or not you choose a pair from this list, always remember to be safe and prevent the spread of invasive species by keeping your wading boots clean. Happy fishing! 

My name is Caleb and I am obsessed with hunting, fishing, and foraging. To be successful, you have to think like your prey. You have to get into the mind of your target - and understand Big Game Logic. If you have any questions, or just want chat about your latest hunting score or big catch, you can reach me at Read more about Big Game Logic.