So I have had mine now for a couple of months, and thought maybe some insight into the new boots and their new “vibram stream tread” technology may help out a few people who are on the fence about purchasing boots with this new feature. First things first, just to make sure we are all on the same page, don’t let your expectations get the best of you before you purchase a pair of boots with these new rubber soles, or any other soles for that matter. These boots will not make you superman on the river, allowing you to traverse the stream-bed like someone walking on water. No matter what, there isn’t a technology out there yet that will come even remotely close to this idea; felt, aquastealth rubber, and now vibram stream treads are all tread designs that assist you in wading, and do actually help decrease the amount of fumbling around while wading, but don’t let that give you a sense of false confidence. Wading a river is still what it is, difficult at times but with a staff, and the right footwear a little easier.
One word of advice, if you know you are wading a very slippery river, bring a wading staff, and use it. You have to take into consideration the whole concept design in this new sole, its purpose was to replace felt in an effort to combat invasive species that can be easily transported in the structure of felt. In that sense, the new boots score an A+, there really isn’t much of anything that appears to allow invasive spores to penetrate; they are easily scrubbed clean with a brush and solution and virtually seam proof, being molded together into a single conducive piece.
Second, comfort level. I give the boots a B+/A- rating. I wear a size 12 normally and have extra wide feet, I decided to purchase these boots in that exact size to see how they fared. The boots were extra roomy and after a full days worth of wading they never felt tight or constricting even with a liner sock and thick wool outer sock. I also have some very high arches and the construction of the inner sole provided me with plenty of arch support. The construction of the outer sole is very rigid and provides excellent support around your ankles, which is very beneficial if you happen to slip off of a rock and find your ankle wedged in between something on the stream-bed. The only thing that detracted from rating these a solid A/A+ was the overall weight of the boots. This is something personal, but I like fairly light footwear while wading the river. These boots aren’t sinkers by any means, but they are a bit heavier than I like, that being said I can deal with the weight issue based upon the other benefits I mentioned above.
Third, durability level A- rating. So far I have only had them for a couple months and time will tell if this will change, I will have to report about that at a later time. I put a great deal of stress on gear, and am kind of a recluse when it comes to boots and waders; briars, bushes, wading aimlessly and tracking on all types of surfaces. So boots usually last me a season and they are shot. So far so good, they are very rugged and are holding up pretty good thus far. The only downfall with these boots is they will literally eat up gravel guards made of neoprene. The lace hooks on these boots, like their predecessor the G3 are made of hard metal and will poke holes right through neoprene almost at the onset of donning them on your feet. I wear Simms waders too, and I may just put a second pair of gravel guards on when I wear these boots just to combat this problem.
Fourth, traction, B rating. Like I said earlier there isn’t a magic material out there that will allow the angler to literally walk on water, so drop that concept from your mental expectation of what to look for in a wading boot. For this reviews purposes I will compare them to aquastealth and felt, because that is truly all we have to compare them to. So, compared to aquastealth, I personally think they are a wash, with both being equally as effective. On rough bottoms, no problems. Round slimy rocks, use caution you will slip. The soles are very rigid as opposed to the aquastealth soles which are noticeably more pliable, so there really isn’t any room for give when you walk the river. Bear that in mind if you try to climb onto and over obstacles in the river, you may take a swim. In relation to felt, felt soles are a bit more forgiving, and actually grip the bottom better than the stream tread. Where this boot does however excel is on land. If you do much winter fishing, these boots have the sole of choice. Felt will collect snow while walking to and from the river, and will make walking very uncomfortable and difficult. The stream treads do not collect snow easily, and shed the snow with each step. Also, the soles on these boots are ideal for hiking and are a mergence of the best of both worlds in my honest opinion. If you are looking for a multipurpose fishing boot that is going to make your life easier on long treks to your favorite stream, look no further. My final word of advice for this category is this, if you want more traction on the stream, buy some of the studs that Simms sells specifically for these boots. There is no substitute for studded boots at this stage of the game, they offer much better footing and traction than plain old felt, or rubber so add a pair if traction is of utmost importance. So let me break it down to you like this; Gravel and sand A+, pea stone gravel bottom A-, grapefruit to bowling ball sized round rock B (beware these types of surfaces are where things get dicey, break out the staff!!)
Overall rating, A- in my opinion. The boots as a whole will definitely fit the bill, and for the average fisherman should last many seasons due to their construction. I will revisit this review later in the season as I put a thorough beating on them. I know that the boots are a bit pricey at over $200 dollars a pair, but the old adage you get what you pay for definitely holds true in this case, and they are a solid investment.