What are Patagonia Rock Grip wading boots?
Patagonia Rock Grip wading boots are special walking boots that are designed to be worn over the neoprene socks of your breathable chest waders. Wading boots tend to have a tough existence and don't always last that long - a couple of years would be good - but these Patagonia wading boots are designed to be tougher and more resilient.
What soles do Rock Grip wading boots have?
Patagonia Rock Grip boots have "sticky" cleated rubber soles, rather than the felt soles you get on some other boots. The felt soled boots can give good grip on wet rocks in the river, but they're not safe for using on wet grass, so are less suited to those who need to hike over fields to reach their chosen fishing spot. They also wear out more quickly and often fall off within a season or so, especially if you do lots of walking. The rubber-soled equivalent is more robust and better suited to most applications.
Do they come with wading boot studs?
Yes, the Rock Grip boots were supplied with a Patagonia Wading Boot Stud Kit. This includes 23 oversized wading boot studs which screw into little ports in the base of the boots. As wading boot studs go, these are among the best we've used. They're twice the size of most others and give tons of grip on grass and rocks. They're hard to screw in, but this also means they're less prone to falling out than other wading boot studs.
Do they make ladies wading boots?
Yes, not many brands make wader boots for women, but Patagonia and Orvis both do. These boots were a size 6 and were originally used by Mrs Fly&Lure before being handed down to George to use on the river with his Orvis Encounter waders (which are also great, I must say). The mens' wading boot sizing doesn't go quite small enough for his feet, so the ladies' wading boots are a good option.
What size wading boots do I need?
When buying wading boots it's sensible to go with one size larger than your normal shoe size. This allows a bit of extra room to take the neoprene stocking feet of your breathable chest waders and lets you wear a pair of thick socks beneath to keep your toes warm in winter.
How do they compare to other wading boots?
The Patagonia Rock Grip wading boots are really good to use and very well made. Build quality is on par with my Simms wading boots and is much better than the build quality on the cheaper Greys and Vision wading boots, which have only lasted a season or so before coming apart at the soles and tearing in various places. Despite the tough construction, they're surprisingly lightweight boots and they dry quickly without holding lots of water, making them easy to walk in after some time wading.
Patagonia and Simms wading boots are generally very well made with soles that are attached tightly, generally via stitching. The cheaper brands often glue on their soles and they can fall off with heavy or even moderate use. These boots are now in their third season and still look great with absolutely no signs of either the sole wearing out or falling off.
The rubber buffer on the outer of these extends right the way around the boot to give loads of protection to the upper from rocks and stones - there's greater protection here than on the majority of boots, which probably helps make them that extra bit more tough and long-lasting. The laces are strong and easy to tie and the boots are comfortable and supportive, making them great for hiking to the river as well as wading it.
How much do these wader boots cost?
Fly fishing wading boots tend to be quite expensive, especially the high-quality ones like those from Patagonia, Simms and Orvis, and these are no exception. They were originally priced at £180 including wading boot studs, but we picked them up in a Patagonia clearance sale for around £100. The design has changed recently, but I'd expect the newer Patagonia boots to perform just as well.