Patagonia Forra Wading Boots

Sean Fitzgerald delights in the new Forra wading boot

I’ve been wearing Danner inspired Patagonia River Salt wading boots for years, with their leather and nylon uppers and stitch down replaceable soles, and have loved almost everything about them. The slightly retro look must resonate with my inner hipster and the super wide, sharp-edged Vibram Megagrip Sole with the option of metal studs has made these boots an extremely reliable, rock-grabbing platform. Drying them is probably the only nuisance factor as the leather does tend to hold on to water and I’m mindful that, in the past, I’ve had leather boots shrink when I dried them too quickly, so I’ve resisted the urge to throw them down by a fire or out in the blazing sun. I was interested to add a lighter option to my kit.

The Patagonia Forra couldn’t be more different to look at, and I treated myself to the purple laces (they come with black as well). Right out of the box they were super comfortable and despite the many differences to the River Salt boots, they share a feature that I really like, which is great ankle support and what I would call a soft transition from the top of the boot to your leg.

Some of my previous wading boots had good ankle support but I found the top edge of the boot was inclined to rub and become uncomfortable after long and multi-day trips. Not so with the nylon upper and speed lacing system which gripped my foot and lower leg with a wrap-around feel that locked my foot in place. There’s no chance of my toes hitting the end of the boot with the inevitable bashing around in a river, and the toe and heel of the boot has a sturdy rubber toe-box construction that completely protects both ends of my feet.

The Vibram Mars Sole Technology on the Forra doesn’t offer the option for metal studs and as I approached the river on my first outing I was fixated on the feel and grip, bouncing around on rocks and roots to see how they felt. The funny thing is, as soon as I got into the river and threw a line, I completely forgot about my new boots. As I shifted up the river, I was able to prod about and find the next underwater spot to place my weight, and I felt as if I’d been wearing them for years.

The grip is ‘moss defying’ and the high rand gives great protection the whole way around the boot. They have a much more rounded edge to the sole than I had grown accustomed to, but the aggressive tread pattern and super grippy compound, in combination with the high rubber rand just makes these boots work.

The whole upper of the boot is constructed out of tough Cordura, and holding them up to the light reveals hundreds of small mesh-covered round holes that results in an almost instant release of water as the boot is lifted out of the river. Drying time is crazy quick.

All up these boots are everything they had promised to be in weight, comfort and performance. In photographing the boots for review I made the tactical error of allowing my son to wear them and he has taken to telling his mates what a good fella I am and how much he loves his ripper new lightweight wading boots!