Orvis Pro Wading Boots – 1.5 Seasons On

David Anderson puts the rubber down reflecting on his boots one & a half seasons on

There are two extremes of car tyre. The super sticky ones that keep my, after I win lotto, Porsche GT3 glued to the road and the un-sticky all-terrains on the back of my more realistically priced off-road Mazda 4×4 ute. Of course, this isn’t a fair comparison. The only thing the vehicles have in common is the 470 N·m of torque their hard working tyres deliver to their intended terrain via a blend of tread and rubber compound.
My point, ‘steering’ this back to wading boots, is that Orvis understand the purpose – keep your keel down and the mast up while wading. So they reached out to Michelin, a tyre company, to engineer the rubber tread on their ‘Outdoor Extreme’ soles to get it done.
I bought my Orvis Pro boots and a pack of ‘Posi-Grip’ studs at the start of the 2020 season for long walk-ins where being comfortable and upright on the trail is worth a little sacrifice once in the water. It was my intention to stud the boots, but after their first outing on the lower Thredbo River, running high with snow-melt, I found the grip so good that I never bothered to stud them.
On the trail, they are exceptional in grip and as good as any boots I’ve worn, including my good hiking boots. Compared to my Simms Guide boots, studded with a mix of Simms Star Cleats and Orvis Posi-Grip studs, I have found the Pros largely equal sans studs. The only exception is the odd polished basalt boulder where studs will arrest a slide. Without studs the Orvis are quieter and have no risk of cleating a line.
Orvis claim the Michelin soles have ‘a resounding 43% improvement in wet rubber traction over the competition.’ I can attest that on the small, tight, vertical streams I fish, where flat surfaces are rare and bedrock common, the Michelin sole sure is sticky.
In build, the boots are very comfortable, with well padded insoles and a solid toe box and heel to stop my feet getting beat up after a couple of days of hard miles. The lining of the boot doesn’t bind on neoprene wader feet and the opening at the ankles is generous, making it much easier to get in and out of them. They’re light and drain quickly.
My size 14 fit is perhaps half a size bigger than my Simms – all my street shoes are size 13. This all works out great with my thick, old-man-fallen-arch insteps for wet wading or with waders.
After the last season and a half the Pros have proved tough and show little sign of wear beyond losing a touch of anodising off the lacing lugs. The soles show almost no sign of wear and still have the clean edges around the tread with many more seasons left in them.