Best Wading Boots of 2017 (Women's)
Until the last two or three years, there simply were no women’s wading boots. What stores sold were shrunken versions of men’s models, and they tended to fit women poorly: They were too roomy, too blocky, and too dumbed-down. Even now, most women’s wading boots cater to the beginners and occasional anglers. And most boots make no attempt to mimic the V-shaped foot (narrow at the heel and broader across the toes) that women tend to share.
In part, that’s due to manufacturing norms. “Wading shoes have horrendously large minimums,” explains Tom Rosenbauer, Orvis’s Marketing Manager. Whereas the factories that produce waders will agree to make smaller runs, footwear manufacturers expect to roll out huge quantities—or they’ll make nothing at all. And since women are still angling’s minority gender, that makes it economically challenging for brands to commit to women’s boots.
But times are changing. Three of the five women’s wading boots in this test were designed expressly for women, with a women’s-specific last. And not all models are intended for entry-level anglers: The Simms Women’s VaporTread Boot ($180) and Patagonia Women’s Ultralight Wading Boots ($189) are both built for diehards—and their price points make the most sense for those who wear such boots daily.
Fly-fishers who are looking for a bargain might consider the Orvis Women’s Encounter Wading Boot ($119) or the L.L. Bean Women’s West Branch Wading Boot, Studded ($149), which is an exceptional value in a studded sole.
Anglers who are sure-footed in the water—and fond of long approaches to untrafficked fishing holes—should consider the Simms Women’s VaporTread Boot. Although it didn’t deliver best-in-test traction, it was the lightest, most agile boot we tested.
And women who have slender or low-volume feet should try the Patagonia Women’s Ultralight Wading Boots. Not only did they offer the best, most foot-hugging fit of this test, but they also delivered superior traction, comfort and support. For any angling ladies who believe it’s impossible to love your chunky, blocky wading boots—try these, and prepare to swoon.