Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

I'm thinking that a viable alternative to (expensive) wading boots doesn't actually exist

I am absolutely gutted that these Five Ten Canyoneer 3 boots have gone and failed on me, because without a doubt they have been the most comfortable wading boots I have ever worn - bearing in mind that of course they are not actually wading boots in the first place. Towards the end of my most recent Ireland trip I noticed that the sole was just starting to come away from the boot as per the photo below, so I changed over to my Simms Guide (wading) boots for the last couple of days. What a difference - they felt like blocks of concrete when compared to the lightweight and nearly brilliant Five Ten Canyoneer 3 boots that I have been wearing for a few months now (check here and here).

Since mid-April I have worn only those Canyoneer 3 boots with my waders, and that includes all my fishing at home, Ireland, my guiding work in Ireland, and that striper trip to the US. You need to bear in mind here that I have always worn shoes and boots really hard, as in they all fall apart on me faster than anybody else I am aware of. I am hardly lightweight, I walk fast over all kinds of ground, and I just go through shoes and boots like you would not believe - but that aside and after my attempt last year with the previous generation Five Ten canyoneering boots, I must conclude (sadly I might add) that these type of boots are just not up to being used as wading boots in saltwater. And my profound thanks must go to Five Ten UK for so kindly letting me try them out to see if I could find a viable and cheaper alternative to these expensive, fairly heavy, but ultimately pretty good Simms wading boots (save for their perfectly garbage Vapor boots).

Because I have worn these Canyoneer 3 boots for nearly three months, I have got very used to how light and comfortable they are to yomp around in, and in no time I came to implicitly trust the grip on the soles of the boots. Whilst wading studs in the soles of my Simms Guide boots do give a pretty decent grip, without a doubt I prefer the grip on the (non-studded) Five Ten Canyoneer 3 boots - in my opinion it’s just a better level of grip for the sort of terrains that so many of us fish over. Put all that good stuff into the melting point (hell, I even forgot about that yellow colour on the boots), plus the fact that the price of these Canyoneer 3 boots is considerably cheaper than a pair of Simms Guide boots (sadly they don’t make the awesome Rivershed wading boots anymore), and perhaps you can understand why I am so gutted.

Over the years I have worn a heap of different wading boots, and it drives me loopy that the only ones I can get to last any meaningful time (Simms) cost so much money - if I had got say six full months out of these Canyoneer 3 boots then I reckon that would have worked out ok when you compare the cost of them to the Simms boots I tend to use. I really, really wanted these Five Ten boots to work out, but in reality I don’t think that under three months’ pretty hard use is long enough. OK, so I could have been unlucky with the sole starting to come away, but the previous generation didn’t work out as wading boots for me as well, and I must conclude that canyoneering boots just aren’t up to being (mis)used as wading boots. It is no fault of the boots, rather it’s me trying to find out if a pair of non-wading boots that are designed for use in water might do job that they were not intended for - and I don’t think they are tough enough at the end of the day. If you fished over sand only then I would hazard a guess that these Canyoneer 3 boots might last you much longer.

Oh well. I have given it a damned good go, but unless I stumble upon something else worth trying as a pair of wading boots, for now I must conclude that there isn’t a viable alternative out there. By no means am I saying that you absolutely must go and spend some fairly serious wedge on a pair of Simms Guide boots for example, but in my experience the high-end Simms wading boots are the only ones that have ever lasted properly for me - and please bear in mind that until I got my first pair of their Rivershed boots a number of years ago, I had thought my previous non-Simms wading boots were doing ok. Which in comparison they weren’t really.

Nothing is ever perfect though - my first pair of the newest Simms Guide boots had to go back to be replaced. I put a stud in the middle of the sole and it ended up coming up through the sole - not great!! I have subsequently found out that there is plenty of reinforcing around the outer edges of the Guide soles for the use of wading studs, but there is no reinforcing in the middle of the boots, even though there are holes there for you to put wading studs in. Why? I ain’t got a clue, but I will ask Simms at the iCast show next week. I wish it wasn’t the case, but I need to wear chest waders and wading boots for my bass fishing, and I can’t find a viable alternative to Simms wading boots. In some respects it’s a lot of credit to Simms for making such tough wading boots, but in reality I must wonder how hard it is for other companies to make wading boots that stand up to what we put them through - I can’t help but wish that a company like Five Ten could use their water based boots expertise and actually make a pair of tough but lightweight wading boots.  And as for breathable waders? I am having one of those “leaky” years…………

Are you feeling nearly ill with excitement this morning that at 11am the Ashes starts? Perhaps the most important day of the year so far, until later in the year of course when England will be contesting the Rugby World Cup Final - dream on perhaps? Australia might start as favourites in the cricket, but I have a sneaking suspicion that this could be a monster Ashes series all over again, with our boys coming out on top. After years of turgid one day cricket, we suddenly discovered how to play that game recently, and I am wondering if the momentum will carry over into our Test side. Epic stuff.