It seems that gear is just getting more and more expensive. And it is. The cost of everything seems to creep up every year and as a result, so do retail prices. As prices go up, at some point most people will ask themselves “is it really worth it?” I’m not going to go into the whole spiel about why prices are going up or why manufacturing costs have been increasing steadily. That’s a whole novel in and of itself. But the fact remains that good gear can be expensive.
When Patagonia announced their partnership with Danner to create a whole new line of wading boots I was excited. Danner is one of the most respected boot companies in the United States, and for good reason. They hand-make every pair of boots right here in the U.S. and have a reputation for some of the most durable and comfortable boots on the market. Our men and women in the military use Danner boots, and if they like them then they have to be good. Of course when I discovered what these boots were going to retail for and I was shocked. What’s more, Patagonia made the decision to no longer carry any other lower-priced boot. If you wanted Patagonia boots it was the Danners or nothing. To say that I was skeptical would be an understatement. We all were, customers and Compleat Angler team alike. How could they possibly have the most expensive boot on the market be the only option? It was a bold move.
Well, some time passed and we finally got our hands on these boots. Our Patagonia rep came in and walked us through them, went over the warranty info, and gave us the boots to try on. This is our take on the new Patagonia Wading Boots built by Danner.
Right out of the gate, the first thing I noticed about this boot was that it did not look like anything special. It is not a “flashy” boot by any means. In a lineup of other wading boots, it certainly does not stand out. The Patagonia boot is essentially all grey in different shades and looks fairly nondescript. It comes in four configurations. For stocking foot waders your option is the Foot Tractor boot which comes in, Felt, Sticky Rubber, or Aluminum Bar soles. For wet wading and the Tropics there is the River Salt Boot which only comes with the Sticky Rubber sole. So, there are options to choose from. The Sticky Rubber soles will take studs which come with the boot. And all boots come with extra laces. A nice touch by Patagonia.
So what is so great about this boot, then?
After my first initial impression it was time to try these boots on and see what they were really all about. I can honestly say that these are the most comfortable boots I have ever worn. And that was unanimous for everyone here at the shop. For myself personally, they have redefined what wading boot should feel like. In both the Foot Tractor and River Salt, they are extremely comfortable on the foot. The boots are also nice and wide. Not so much that they are too loose, but there is certainly ample room throughout. Even with waders and thick socks on, I could move my toes freely. There was no restriction whatsoever, which was welcome change from narrower boots I have fished in the past. There was also great arch and ankle support which is sometimes lacking or even nonexistent for other boots. Both boots are also very easy to get on and off. The material around the ankle is rigid enough to be supportive but pliable enough to easily slip on and off. I was impressed. In short, the second I put these boots on my opinion changed completely - I went from being skeptical to “wow”. They were THAT comfortable.
The Danner Difference
Another benefit to the Patagonia Wading Boots by Danner is the infrastructure behind them. By choosing Danner to construct the boot you know you’ll have great support if you ever need it. Even if Patagonia decided to discontinue the boot years from now, you know Danner will always be able to service and repair them. And that, as it turns out, was the whole idea. These boots were designed to truly be the last pair of boots you will ever have to buy. Their initial construction is second to none using the most durable materials. If and when there is ever an issue, you send these boots back to Danner and they will fix it. There is essentially nothing that cannot be fixed on them. There are even programs to have the boots reconditioned or serviced every few years. Now it is important to note that (just like every other company’s warranty) there is a price associated with these repairs. Depending on what needs to be done, repairs range from $130 to $240. But don’t get discouraged. Dealers are provided with a list of services available and it is quite extensive. You get a lot for your money when your boots need to be serviced. It is also gives you piece of mind that your 550 dollar investment will actually be an investment that will save you money in the long run.
Testing It Out
Here is what Scott, who runs the shop here at the Compleat Angler, had to say about the River Salt Boot:
“On my recent annual trip to Pleasant Bay Lodge on South Andros in the Bahamas I had a chance to test out the new Patagonia River Salt wading boot. I have to say I was skeptical; they are not the most attractive shoe and with a $450 price tag I was prepared to be underwhelmed.
After 7 days of wade fishing and many miles of walking, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. Worn in conjunction with a Simms wet wade sock they proved to be quite comfortable right out of the box with no break in. They were very easy on and off, which I like. I prefer to fish sans shoes from the boat deck to minimize noise. They laced up quickly and fit snug around the ankle providing good support. With the sock folded over it covered the laces from tangling a fly line and effectively kept sand and marl out of the boot. The stitch-down sole provided a nice wide stable platform. Not a big deal on a sandy flat but a noticeable improvement from my neoprene booties when on some of the uneven flats I encountered.
So, I have to say I was impressed and would recommend these boots. Factor in that they are US-built by Danner Boot with the fact that they are “rebuildable” and super comfortable and it’s not hard to justify having a pair for your next flats trip.”
So, what is the take away here? Yes, the Patagonia Wading Boots by Danner have a price tag that is double the average price of other boots on the market today. However, if there was ever a boot you could count on to last year after year, this would be it. It’s backed up by two reputable companies with a system already in place to ensure that these boots will outlast your expectations. Patagonia and Danner have collaborated to create something unique in this industry and in my opinion, I think it was a smart move. My boots tend to blow out every two years or so which means am spending about $220 on boots every two years. That’s $1,100 every 10 years. When you look at it like that, why wouldn’t you buy the Patagonia Wading boots? I recognize that this product is not for everybody. It’s pricey. But I think these boots will surprise you. I like that Patagonia finally said: “that’s it! We are going to make the best boot we can, price be damned.” It speaks volumes about their commitment to sport and the customer. It was conscious decision on Patagonia’s part of offer a quality product instead of a boot that was easier and cheaper to manufacture that they were guaranteed to sell hundreds of thousands of. So in that respect, I tip my cap to Patagonia. Well done! We have taken notice. And if you get a chance, get down to the shop and take a look at the Patagonia Foot Tractor or River Salt Wading Boot firsthand. It is an incredible product.
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