My readers know of my forbidden love for my Patagonia Riverwalker “sticky rubber” wading boots; they’re like glue on dry rocks (where you spend the majority of your small stream time), and hike more comfortably than anything I’ve worn.
But while I’m happy enough to wear them on the Upper Sacramento, I’d only wear them on the McCloud or Pit Rivers on a double-dog dare (and only if my health insurance was paid up).
Which is why the Patagonia Rock Grip wading boots caught my eye*.
They feature an aggressive rubber sole which (similar design to the Simms, Orvis & Korker boots I’ve tested), though they use a rubber compound which Patagonia suggests tested out better than the Riverwalker’s soft compound and the considerably harder Vibram soles found on other boots.
I’d previously said that rubber-soled wading boots were OK if you waded “easy” rivers (they did well on the Rogue and Bitterroot, Ok on the Upper Sac), but offer the prospect of a compound fracture on tough rivers like the McCloud and Pit.
To make a rubber-soled boot an “all-round” wading boot, you probably need metal studs. Which eliminates some of the convenience factor of rubber.
Fortunately, the Rock Grip boots include a bag of studs, so adding steel to the mix doesn’t drive up the cost of the boot (Simms is charging upwards of an extra $40 for studs, which are admittedly more complex than Patagonia’s screws).
The boots are a bit heavier and stiffer than the Riverwalkers, which will pretty clearly remain my backcountry/small stream boot of choice.
I’ll give these a test next time out, and we’ll see how they run.
I suspect my original conclusions will remain intact, but because a broken leg is a damned small price to pay for the continued adoration of the fans who have made me Fly Fishing’s Most-Beloved Blogger**, I’m taking the risk.
See you in shiny new wading boots, Tom Chandler
(*Full disclosure: I paid for these things)
(**Technically speaking, I made this up)