Nick Yanchuk, longtime guide and lodge owner in the Ucluelet and Bamfield are
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Patagonia Beefy Wading Boot
Roomy toe box, stiff sole, tungsten studs, and great support, all the things I look for in a good wading boot. I have spent years looking for the perfect wading boot, with limited success at best. It´s not just a matter of fit, but also, support, traction, protection, and the "holy grail", "durability". I´ve had great fitting boots such as the Simms Guide Boot, durable boots such as the Frenco All Leather Boots, but each had its shortcomings. The problem is I´m a west coast steelheader who would rather see bears then people. So on my quest for the perfect boot I tried the Patagonia Beefy Wading boots on my last Smithers pilgrimage.
First off my toes were in heaven, having 4E wide feet, they aren´t used to breathing room, especially in a wading boot. Where this really becomes noticeable is when you´re waist deep, the stiff synthetic leather toe box doesn´t compress so you can wiggle your toes all day long. This is a must for winter steelheading, allowing your feet to remain a lot warmer. I found this boot even though it fits quite snug around the instep was definitely lacking arch support. I highly recommend a supportive insole like Superfeet if you plan on standing/walking all day.
If you have a low volume foot, you may find this boot a little too roomy, and I would recommend checking out the New Simms Lightweight Boot. The Beefy wading boot definitely lives up to its name, the sole is as stiff as some mountaineering boots with excellent torsional rigidity as well. This is something that seems to be overlooked by so many manufacturers. Stiff, not only means support but protection. If you grab a boot by its toe and heel and you can twist it, just think what your foot will look like jammed between two rocks. The stiffer sole also means your feet will get far less fatigued through the course of a day, which means more time on the water and less sitting by the camp fire. Felt works well in certain situations, but when walking up and down wet logs is part of the "trail´ in, you´ll need a little more help then that. These boots come equipped with Tungsten-carbide-tipped steel studs embedded in the felt, which allow you to virtually skip down the logs.
Tungsten studs not only help on the approach but are invaluable on wet, mossy, river rocks as well.
When it comes to protecting your feet the Patagonia are hands down the best boots I have worn. They have large rubber rands at the toe and heel, for added protection and traction when scrambling on dry rock. Stiffer synthetic leather lends critical reinforcement to the uppers and cuffs providing loads of ankle protection. The top closure on the boot snugs up very tight, allowing virtually no rocks to get in, even without gravel guards.
The only thing that has prevented me from putting this boot on a pedestal all by itself is I´ve run into some delamination problems between the felt and mid-sole in the toe. This can easily be fixed with some barge cement though. This also occurred after the same amount of use that destroyed a pair of Simms Guide boots, while the uppers on the Patagonia´s were still like new. If you are in the market for a high end wading boot, I can´t recommend any boot more then the Patagonia Beefy Wading Boot. They´re not cheap, but when you hike as much as I do on the river, there is no such thing as compromise. They are resolable, which is a good thing, because I think the uppers may last forever.
****1/2 Highly Recommended
*-Save your money
**-Will work in a pinch, but better available
***- Overall good quality and design, decent value
****- High quality materials and construction, years of service
*****-Cutting edge and worth it. A leader in its category