Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Gear Review - Simms Freestone 2012 Wading Boots

All Bum Trout gear reviews are unbiased, honest, and nobody pays me to say anything.  I wish somebody would though...

The dog had nothing to do with this, promise.

You might say I'm kinda tough on my wading boots.  These were my old Simms Freestone boots at the end of their life this spring.  They were workhorses for several seasons, but when my feet started showing through the hole in the toe, and the felt was all but a memory, I figured it was time us to part ways.

The new model.

Now before I get to the gear review part, I just thought I should mention that most of my fishing time is spent wading.  Not just short jaunts either, I routinely walk several miles each time I am on the water.  I also spend a ton of time fishing small, high gradient mountain streams.  This kind of fishing consists of a lot of boulder hopping, which can really destroy boots (and ankles) rather quickly.  Needless to say, I look for a pair of boots that grip well, hold up to a lot of abuse, have solid ankle support, and are comfortable enough to spend a solid 12 hours in.

Figuring my old freestones worked so well, I invested in the 2012 model.  After an entire summer and fall of banging them around the rivers, here's the break down:

       - I must say these boots are comfy!  After a long day of hard hiking and wading, my feet feel really good.  The fit is great all around.  The footbeds are nice and cushy, there's great padding, and these boots deliver solid ankle support.  So far so good.

       - I have been using the felt-soled version (a note on this later, I know felt is controversial) because of the kind of fishing I do, and the fact that 90% of my time is spent in the same watershed, felt works for me.  When I go on road trips, the felt stays at home!  The grip is what you expect for felted soles, they grip really well most of the time, just beware of the mud! 

       - After 6 months the boots look almost new.  The stitching is rock solid.  Toe guard rubber is holding up nicely.  Felt is in good shape.  I only have two concerns: 1. The laces are already showing some significant signs of wear, it won't be long before they will need replacing. 2. The eyelets are made of plastic which leaves me wondering about their long-term durability, I guess time will tell.

Not quite Ansel Adams.  Workin' on it.
The Verdict
       - Overall I am very impressed by what Simms has put together in what is their basic, consumer level boots.  I think for the price ($129.00ish) you get what you pay for.  Simms has really upgraded this model from previous generations and I love the addition of the hard rubber toe guards (smack into a few boulders and you will to!).  I think you could do a lot worse, just remember to buy an extra pair of laces.  You can check out the boots and spend your hard earned money if you wish at Simms Fishing Products.   

         - Important notes on felt.  When Wearing Felt, Clean, Inspect, and Dry when moving from stream to stream!  This is really important, in fact it is critical to prevent the spread of invasive species!  It's really simple to make sure your felt soles are clean and safe to wear at your next fishing destination.  First and foremost however, consider making your felt boots a home watershed only boot.  If you spend the majority of your life in one watershed and fish a lot of high gradient streams with large boulders, felt is probably a good choice.  If you are always on the road, felt should not be your first option

The following link is definitely worth a read and everyone should take this information to heart, please help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.  Stop Aquatic Invasive Species.


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