You might have found this post if you were looking for waders. Don’t bounce back just yet it that is the case. First, I have an excellent review on waders, if I do say so myself, and, second, wading boots are a must-have if you use stockingfoot waders.

Wading boots do not provide the same level of water protection as waders, but that is hardly a problem given that they are used together. What they do instead is give you extra traction and reinforce the protection waders offer. Finally, you can’t exactly use a pair of your regular boats if you want to enter the water.

The question is, how to choose your wading boots? What factors must one account for? For that, you can refer to the Buyers Guide. But if you just one to find a pair of the best wading boots, feel free to check out my top picks.

Without further ado, here it comes!

Top 5 Best Wading Boots in 2019

Redington Prowler Boots — Best Bang for the Buck

If I were to describe these boots in under 5 words, I would say “reasonably good wading boots.” As it is, I can share more words to relay my opinion of them.

First off, you can choose between two options. The Prowler Boots come with rubber soles and with felt soles. Take your pick.

For reference, I recommend that you check out my buyer’s guide section, but as it is, I advise getting rubber soles unless you have some specific requirements.

Is this the top pick? Unfortunately no. For wading boots, these are surprisingly quick to absorb water, and they stay wet for a long while. This is precisely what perfect wading boots should not do. They also run a size small. That’s not a real disadvantage, but it’s definitely something that you should know before you commit.

I never said that these were perfect, though. Reasonably good, more like. They are durable, after all, and well designed although somewhat bulky. But their relatively low price definitely helps. I also wouldn’t say they are uncomfortable, as they are anything but that.

Although you may not find a mention of that, the boots are stud compatible. So there’s that.


  • Comfortable. These Prowler Boots are reasonably comfortable for wading boots.
  • Well-designed. The manufacturers took their time to craft these boots.
  • Stud-compatible. If you think you need better traction, you can install studs on these boots.
  • Durable. If you want to walk around wearing these boots, go for it. They can handle that.
  • Bulky. While they are well-made, it's painfully apparent these are wading boots.
  • Absorb water. Not something you want your wading boots to do. Expect them to be a whole lot heavier after you get out of the water.
  • Run a size small. Keep that in mind when choosing the size of the boots

COMPASS 360 Wading Shoe — Cheapest Boots

If you think that the other wading boots are too expensive, try these boots. They are almost twice as cheap as most other boots on the list.

It doesn’t mean they are poorly made, even though not every customer remains satisfied with them. That said, they do offer extra protection for the toes and heels. It’s essential for wading, as you will find out from my Buyer’s Guide.

The outsoles are cleated, but that improves their performance only marginally. Still, it’s a bit better than pure rubber soles.

  • Low price. Really cheap wading boots, although not as cheap as some of fewer quality options.
  • Cleats. If you want excellent traction, the cleats will definitely improve their performance, if only a little.
  • Toe and heel protection. With it, you don’t have to worry about bumping into something.
  • Studs do not come with the shoes.

Orvis Men's Ultralight Wading Boot — Lightest Boots

Weight is not one of the critical features of wading boots, but it doesn’t make weight any less grave.

These boots from Orvis are super lightweight, and that makes them comfortable to wear when you are not using them for fishing. The midsole is made from EVA, and EVA is definitely not worse than polyurethane. It’s just as light and just as capable of providing excellent support to ensure maximum comfort.

I wouldn’t say the boots are featherlight, but they are just as light as regular boots. The structure of the boots reinforces the quality of the boots since they don’t soak and water slides off the boots effortlessly.

The Orvis boots come with rubber soles, that makes them suitable for most terrains and also legal in every state.

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  • Mesh lining. While not a requirement for wading boots, it's definitely an excellent addition.
  • Midsole support. Something you’re going to need a lot since these boots are more than suitable for using them like regular boots.
  • Lightweight. Is there is a single reason to buy these boots, this is it
  • A bit expensive. Say what you will, but I would expect something of this quality to be somewhat cheaper.
  • Midsole support could be better. While the boots do provide midsole support, it is not as strong as could be.
  • May be not large enough for your waders. If you have stockingfoot waders, you need your wading boots to be a little wider in the ankle than your actual size.

Orvis Women's Encounter Wading Boot — Best for Women

Not many manufacturers care enough to make fishing gear for women. Thankfully, Orvis is not that brand.

The Encounter Wading Boots are made for ladies, although, men with smaller feet can wear them if they are not biased against such a thing, I suppose. The color scheme is definitely unisex enough for that. The “Women’s” part is more about the size than anything else. It’s not like wading boots are very variable when it comes to anything else except pure function.

Suffice to say, the functional features are designed quite thoroughly. 

The Encounter Boots are quite cheap for wading boots, but they are high-quality and reliable. The manufacturer’s product description is packed with long words, but all they boil down to very few things: the boots have a good grip on most terrains, durable, and stud-compatible.

What’s more important, these boots are true to size, unlike the other Orvis boots on this list.

  • Firm grip. Rubber soles are perfect for all terrains.
  • True to size. While that’s something you would expect from any pair of boots, all too often run a size small or large.
  • Midsole support. Good enough, although nothing outstanding.
  • Specially made for female anglers.
  • Little to no selection. It was hard to come up with any disadvantages for this pair of boots, and, come to think of it, the limited range is the only consistent drawback.

Korkers Wading Boot — Most Stylish Wading Boots

Watertight is not a word to describe these boots. But that is not really a disadvantage. The point is, wading boots shouldn’t stay wet when out of the water, these Korkers boots do the job beautifully. First of all, they are complete with drainage ports and channels. But the top materials are also hydrophobic, which means they just don’t get wet on the surface.

The boots dry fast, but it’s far from the only advantage of theirs. They have a raised midsole and the reinforced toe cap. Midsoles are replaceable. However, I wouldn’t say that is an advantage. Instead, it’s trouble waiting to happen. Since the outsoles are replaceable, they may come off at the most inconvenient time without you intending it.

All in all, this is an extremely robust and durable pair of wading boots explicitly made for faster drying.

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  • Hydrophobic materials. The upper materials do not get wet, and that makes drying the boots so much simpler.
  • Drainage ports and channels. Even though water will get into the boots quickly, it's not going to stay there.
  • Midsole Support. Reasonably good, and definitely something you need.
  • Reinforced toe cap. That’s one of the best features to have when you can’t see your own feet.
  • Interchangeable soles. Usually, that would be a pro, but the replaceable outsoles are nothing else than a weak point. It's sure convenient when you can replace them, but they are going to be done for far sooner than regular soles.

Buyer’s Guide

The first thing to consider is traction. It is ensured by 3 components: the material of the sole, the material of the bottom of the water body, the structure of the sole of wading boots.While traction is most important, it is far from being a single factor. The boots have to be durable to last as long as you need them, the same as any other sort of boots. They have to protect your jet from water, and they have to be comfortable to wear, just like any other type of boat. Basically, you should treat them like you would regular footwear, just throw in water protection and keep in mind that water may be freezing cold.Considering all that, choosing the right pair of wading boots is not that hard if you know what to pay attention to in the first place.

The Material of the Boots

What are the boots made of? The answer to that question is more important than you might think. Depending on it, you may expect different traction on different surfaces, and then there is water tightness and warmth to consider.Wading boots are typically made of one of three materials: rubber, felt, and their combinations. They are not the only materials utilized in wading boots production, but they are definitely the most popular.Rubber soles tend to provide the best traction on most terrains, but calling all-rubber boots breathable is a considerable stretch. At the same time, even children know rubber is waterproof material, and, indeed, boots made from rubber offers the best protection from water. That doesn’t mean whole rubber boats are very comfortable, even not accounting for their lack of breathability. Thankfully, it is possible you can buy boots with rubber soles only.Nevertheless, when it comes to certain terrains, such as rocks, felt soles are just better. So they might just be better for you. It doesn’t mean you will be able to buy them if they are illegal in your state, but with any luck, you won’t come to face that particular problem.All in all, we recommend rubber sole boots. They are reliable, and often also low-cost. Plus, you’re allowed to use them in any state.


The material of wading boots is hugely important because it has a direct effect on how good traction is. While the material is vital because of that, it is not the only way to get good traction.The texture of the outsole is just as crucial for traction as the material itself. If your pair of boots come with soles that have a textured grip, you can forget about slipping for as long as you are cautious and don’t try to slip on purpose. I still advise to watch out for any unpleasant surprises, but other than that, a textured sole is a lot better than a flat outsole, even if the material of the flat sole boots offers better traction than that of the other pair. The point is, you can just do your thing and stop worrying about falling in the water as you wade.I can almost hear your objections. Indeed, some terrains are exceptionally slippery. Even textured outsoles may not be enough to ensure good traction on them. Well, I may have exaggerated earlier, but those terrains are pretty rare. If you do expect to walk on them fairly often, boots are not going to solve your problem. But cleat studs might.If you want to increase your traction further, cleat studs are the ultimate answer to your problem. That said, you may run into two issues: 
  • Studs are almost guaranteed to be sold separately
  • Your boots may not be capable of having studs installed on them
That is why you should make sure your wading boots are stud compatible if you expect you might have to install studs on them at some point in the future.


It should have come up sooner or later, and it’s coming up now.Water is the reason you need wading boots in the first place. Should they protect you from the water entirely? Well, it’s pretty good if they do, but first of all, the manufacturers need to ensure that your feet are not splashing water inside your boots when you get out of the water. It doesn’t mean they are 100% dry, although such a result would be quite desirable.In the end, it comes to one of two things:
  • Don’t get your feet wet
  • Allow them to dry as soon as possible
When I say feet, I mean the neoprene socks, but it doesn’t make it any better. While your skin does not come into direct contact with water, it tends to be cold, and if the water stays in the boots for too long after you’ve come out of the water, you may even catch a cold. 


Surprisingly, wading boots do not have to be waterproof, although it’s better than they are. In fact, 100% waterproof wading boots may cause you quite a few problems if they don’t quite fit you. While the boots themselves are waterproof, they may be unable to grip your ankle tightly enough to call them watertight. If they actually do, they may end up cutting up your blood flow, and that means they are more or less loosened. But that implies water may occasionally slip through, which defeats the purpose of using watertight boots. That’s quite unpleasant if you count on them to be, but that is not the problem. The real challenge begins when you finally get out of the water. You may be out, but the water that found its way in your boots is still there,  and because your boots are watertight, getting that water out is difficult.But the thing is, you don’t wear wading boots without neoprene socks at the very least. As you can guess, those already are waterproof. Your wading boots must allow the water that found its way in finding its way out.

Hydrophobic Coating

It’s not complicated: either it’s there, or it’s not. That’s it. But if one of the pairs of wading boots among the ones you’re choosing, is, indeed, hydrophobic, you should definitely pick it over any less refined product.But why, though? It’s simple. It something’s hydrophobic, it just can’t get wet. You will save lots of time on drying the boots, in fact, it may be possible never to have to dry them. I actually recommend that you look into hydrophobic sprays for your regular boots. I assure you are going to be pleasantly surprised. I know I poured a bucket of water on my old shoes after I used hydrophobic spray on them, and it was amazing to watch.If your wading boots are not hydrophobic, it’s okay, most aren’t. However, it is essential that they get dry as soon as possible. First, packing wet boots can hardly be called pleasant. Second,  wet boots are much harder to put on than dry boots, that’s just how clothes and footwear work. Third, wet boots — any damp surface, really — make an excellent habitat for mildew and any other miniature lifeforms, bacteria, and fungi alike, and we surely don’t want that.

Salt Water vs. Fresh Water

All wading boots that are any good will work in freshwater. However, salt water is extremely corrosive, as far as naturally occurring easy-to-find substances go, and that complicates things exponentially. You don’t have to think about anything like that if you only plan on fishing at lakes and rivers, but if you’re going to go fly fishing at the edge of a sea or ocean, you need something stronger than regular wading boots.Now, it is not a situation that is likely to arise for every angler out there. Wading boots are typically used when fishing in lakes and rivers. Salt-proof wading boots are not really needed in most scenarios. But when they are, you shouldn’t substitute them with something that is not definitely salt-proof. One or two times won’t do any permanent damage to the boots, but if that’s going to be a recurring thing, you will end up throwing your brand-new wading boots out, all because of the salt in the water ruining them.That being said, finding a pair of wading boots that are not salt proof is more of a challenge these days.


Since we’re talking about footwear even though it’s meant for water, support is essential. Watertightness, hydrophobic coating and drainage are necessary for wading boots, but other aspects should not be disregarded just because other aspects are more important.


Obviously, when you want your boots to be comfortable, you want them to provide your feet the proper support. By that, I mean the midsole support. If your boots have it, you probably won’t take note of it at all, but wait until you get boots that are missing that support. You are going to notice that quite quickly.Wading boots without midsole support are going to end up killing your feet by the end of the day. Trust me, I know how that feels from experience, and because of that experience, I am completely sure you do not want to experience the same thing.I would recommend a cushioned midsole, but as long as it is raised, it’s going to be fine for most situations. Not ideal, but at least you won’t have to go to sleep dreaming of having your feet amputated. 


Although cushioning is not essential, it will definitely add to the comfort. It’s going to make walking more comfortable, and it’s going to eliminate rubbing or reduce it considerably.Ideally, you want your boots cushioned as much as possible. The bottom of the boots is visible, but cushioning around the ankle is just as important. Even more so, because it adds not only to the level of comfort but also water impermeability.Some would think that cushioning would soak and retain water. However, wading boots usually are cushioned with polyurethane foam or similarly waterproof cushioning material.

Toe Protection

You can always see where you are going when you’re wearing your regular boots. Not because of how they are designed, but because you’re using them in an environment where you can clearly see your own feet.It’s different for wading boots. When you’re ashore, they are no different from any other pair of boots in that regard. Enter the water, though, and you’re going to lose sight of your own feet fairly quickly. Seeing your own feet and the obstacles is an exception rather than the rule.It’s not surprising you may end up bumping your toes into a rock when you’re walking like that. That is why toe protection is quite essential.I suppose wading boots without that kind of protection are usable, but I would only advise using them on a familiar terrain or in those situations where you can, in fact, see your own feet. Or, alternatively, you may move ahead making tiny steps, probing your way. I think you understand why that can be called inconvenient.In the end, I strongly recommend choosing reinforced boots, but you should in mind that boots that are not reinforced are still usable.

The Looks

Now, this is something that you can safely ignore. While having good-looking wading boots is nice, if they are not good looking, they are just as good for fishing.That said, you won’t be able to wear them when you’re not fishing if they are ugly or even just silly looking. If you don’t care about looks at all, you can safely skip this section. If you have doubts, it’s best to choose wading boots that look exactly like regular boots or shoes.

The Size

Unlike the looks, the size of wading boots has the same level of importance as the size of regular boots. After all, not only does it define if your boots are going to be comfortable for you, it is also critically important to ensure steady gait when you’re wading.That’s a very obvious parameter. Choose boots that are just right for you or slightly larger. They shouldn’t be too broad, getting longer but narrower boots are better than getting shorter but wider boots.

Ladies’ Boots

Unfortunately for ladies, the manufacturers are quite biased when it comes to wading boots. There are very few wading boots for women to the best of my knowledge. Hopefully, that is going to change.Fortunately, there is a way to remedy that problem. You can use men’s wading boots, even though they tend to be a little bit larger than needed. As long as those boots are narrow, they will be reasonably comfortable for you.That’s the best I can advise you, regrettably, gender stereotypes tend to affect the market and supply at times. In the end, many men in the world love fishing, but fewer women do. Then manufacturers know that, and they will make things that are more likely to make them extra money.

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