Wading shoes/sandals

I’d love to get some recommendations for wading shoes/sandals. Most recently, I have been wet wading with a pair of teva sandals, but after several minor slips and falls on slick rocks, I’m realizing they aren’t getting the job done. I am looking for something lightweight that can ride in my pack on longer backpacking trips that I can wet wade in. Any recs?


I used to wear sandals until my feet got cut up by broken glass from a beer bottle wedged between rocks
in the stream. 32 stitches later I wasn’t feeling the love. I also had a snake bite me under water in my sandals and that did it for me and sandals. It took 10 stitches to fix that mistake. Since those two accidents, I only wear shoes or mostly boots that protect my feet completely. I prefer felt soles although the popular movement calls for sticky rubber soles. I just did not feel secure enough wearing the rubber soles so I migrated back to the felt soles. I do clean, wash with soap, and soak in the shoes/boots in a chlorine solution, and wash them once more with lysol solution before sun drying the boots. I hope this takes care of the bacteria, water fungi, virus, protists, diatoms, etc. that has been a problem in recent years with transferring organisms from one stream to another. I know this is not the popular movement presently but I feel it is working for me. You might find the scandals or rubber bottom boots work great for you so experiment some to help make up your mind before settling on a decision. I’m sure other experienced members may have other ideas on what works best. I have not tried Korkers yet and that might be the ticket for interchanging the soles from felt, to rubber, and to spikes. The price for the boots is very reasonable compared to Simms and Patagonia boots. I hope this helps you.

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I take wading footwear seriously.

For me its the simms freestones, but that is not what you are asking for.

If I were backpacking, I would probably do something similar to what you are already doing and consider a folding wading staff or invest in a trekking pole to serve as double duty. Another option…limit your wading. On a backpacking trip, wading in the water creates higher risk of injury no matter the footwear.

These days all my wading boots are outfitted with carbide spikes called grip studs. They are made for dirtbikes and snowmobiles and are the best value for the money. I have a pair of vibram freestones outfitted with them that are on their fourth season in the saltwater environment…no wear on the spikes. On my freshwater boots I have the 1300s, which are a shorter spike and a shorter auger. They make all sizes.

you could outfit your sandals with them or any spike for that matter. I cannot say enough about this brand though. I have tried several, and this is the only one that gets the nod for me. The fact that they have lasted for 4 years and probably have at least 4 more in them is just insane for any product.

One thing to note…the auger screw is much more robust than the other spikes that have just sheet metal screw threading. Even so, there is always potential of tear out in wading footwear that has a softer…sneaker type rubber. Simms wading boots are made to accept spikes. If you put spikes in your tevas, you will be experimenting. There is always a chance of push through or spikes leaning over. Even with the simms, I fit each spike with a 1/4" ID washer. this prevents installing them too deep, lean over, and push through.

Spikes are not stealthy for fish, nor do they make the stream environment 100% safe. But they are safer for the angler for sure. I recently got a new pair of boots and fished them without spikes. All i can say the difference is night and day.

I hope it helps and if you need more info, let me know.

Very helpful. I think the gripstuds may be my first try…I have done some searching on wading shoes and haven’t found anything that really grabs my attention yet.

I’ve also considered just wading in my trail runners, since they have pretty aggressive tread. They would definitely be an improvement over the sandals I’m using.

At this point i am struggling with my current footwear. My hiking shoes are dyabolically slippery on wet rocks. My water shoes give little support when walking miles to the stream. My hunting boots are waterproof, heavy.and rigid ie not suitable in the water.
Those of you who love walking in to good streams and fishing, let me know what you guys use, brands models etc, thanks Howie

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I have a huge pile of wading boots and have struggled to find any I like. I decided to try out the Patagonia / Danner River Salt boots. I tried the foot tractor version and felt they were just too heavy. They stick in the river like nothing I’ve tried, but just aren’t good for hiking. The River Salt boots are amazing. Definitely the best boots I’ve owned. Comfortable with or without waders. Backcountry even has a 20% off a full priced item which works on those boots.

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Best I’ve ever used to this date is the Simms Intruder boot, I’ve hiked over 10 miles in them with no problems.

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I’m retired and all but one of my fishing buddies are still working so I often fish alone on days where I will cover 3 miles and see nobody. But that means there is a safety issue. Slipping on rock snot and injuring an ankle or a knee could have dire consequences. I let my wife know where I’m going, I transmit my car’s GPS coordinates into the global amateur radio APRS network along with texting my wife’s cell phone via that system to let her know the direction I’m heading even when out of cell coverage. So besides basic emergency gear wading boots with good support and excellent traction are important to me. And anytime I step into a stream I have a hybrid collapsible-telescoping trekking pole I use as a wading staff in a pouch on my belt.

What works for me is Korkers with their interchangeable soles for hiking and wading. When there is an approach hike of about one mile or more I use their plain rubber soles for hiking and carry the lightweight felt soles. When I get to the water, I change to felt. If I am packing in waders, I will bring a pair of neoprene wading socks for the hike in and out. If wet wading I will sometimes carry two pairs of the wading socks and bring a second pair of hiking socks to have dry socks for the hike out that helps avoid blisters.
On shorter approaches I’ll use the heavier “Triple Threat” Vibram soles with the aluminum bar cleats that provides the best wading traction I’ve used in 40 years of fly fishing.


If you don’t have super wide feet. Check out the English language Montbell Japan site. A few Japanese companies understand the concept of a good wading/hiking shoes better than most US brands. The Five Ten Water Tennies are excellent but no longer made. Astral is a US brand that some people love, look into their Hiyak shoe, maybe.


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What I found, faced with your same dilemma some years ago, was canyoneering boots.
Made for hiking, but made for in water use too.
Google is your friend for more info.
eBay will have some discontinued FiveTen canyoneering boots

I’m headed in this direction. I’ve been to a few Patagucci places but they didn’t have my size…

What @itsjaywhatsup said, I use Mont Bell sawa boots. Grippy, comfortable but it’s going to be hard to size/fit.

The Japanese wading systems are the way to go. They have a wide variety of equipment.

Thanks for all of your imput. I will make decision which way to go and let you know how i get on.
Regards Howie

Sawer Climbers are good looking shoes, but remember these are sized in JP, meaning a 29 is a US shoe size 11.

They just arrived for Christmas, Soft Science

I took Tristan’s advice from another post and looking forward to testing them in New Zealand condition’s, i like the lightness and fit, I hope the sole works reasonably regarding grip and the boots are again reasonably durable considering the price and being lightweight.


I’ve been using Soft Science shoes for 2 years and absolutely love them. I’ve probably worn my pair over 70 days and they are still chugging along.

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Nice to know😀

SoftScience has excellent customer service, too. My first pair started to fall apart at the seams after heavy use in less than a year. I sent them a picture and asked if their warranty covered it, and they said yes. The shipped me a brand new pair within the week.

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That is good news😀.

Ohh, I’m mildly jealous.

A. Those look comfortable and light weight
B. Fun Xmas gift
C. You’re in mid-summer and can go fishing to try out said fun Xmas gift

Have fun!

Looking forward to days on some new streams over the next week or so,
Cheers Howie