Is there a viable alternative to wading boots ?

My waders are as important to me in my fishing as my rod or reel, but ages ago I came to accept that what many of us put them through is far, far beyond what they were ever designed for - and as such we have to accept that when we stumble/slip/fall on sharp rocks then it is most likely time to get the wader repair stuff out. Waders ain't meant for what we do, but who on earth is ever going to or indeed can make a wader that won't come to some kind of harm on sharp rocks ?

So I am kind of on the level with waders and what they can and can't do. I am realistic and I can't do without them. The problem I am thinking about here is with wading boots. Again though, what we in the saltwater world are asking of them is unfair, but unlike with waders where I can't see a viable alternative (can you though ?), might there be some other way of going about things on the footwear front ? It strikes me that in a typical wading setup it's actually the wading boots that get the most grief, and especially if you walk, scramble, climb and occasionally trip over on the sort of ground I tend to fish. It's brutal on boots, not to say knees etc. - or is that just me getting older ?

Note though that I am not complaining about my wading boots getting trashed. I am realistic in accepting what they are made for. I have been using my second pair of the heavy duty Simms Rivershed wading boots on and off for a while now, and as good as they are, they are not going to last for ages. Sure, they are at least double the price of the Greys Platinum ones for example, and I trust that they will last that bit longer, but again they are just not really designed for what I am doing. Very comfortable, pretty tough, completely useless laces (why ?, but easily replaced), and as good as the Aquastealth soles on them are, I can see that they are not going to last for ever. The boots are good, indeed they are as good a wading boot as I have come across, but they are designed to be used mostly in rivers. I have to report though that the Simms studs I was initially so impressed with wore down to virtually nothing far too quickly for my liking (see here, truly superb grip but did not last me long), so I have been testing out these "Best Grip" studs here for a while now and they are holding up extremely well. They seem to be tough as nails and they give me superb grip.

So are there any other options when it comes to the kinds of boots we can use with our breathable waders ? Are wading boots the only things worth looking at, or could some decent hiking or even army-style boots do the job ? With the money that wading boots cost, I just can't help but wonder if that money spent on something else might get me a longer life. Or am I barking up the wrong tree here ? Wading boots are of course designed to be used in water, but does anybody know of any other boots that might work in the water as a wading boot ? I need good ankle support and proper comfort for walking long distances. If a good pair of hiking boots are dried out and not left to rot then could they do the job ? Could some kind of military sort of boot work ? Those new Best Grip wading studs I am trying out could easily screw into the sole of any of these potentials and provide good grip, but I am unsure about what kind of boot to go looking for to see if this problem can be solved (plus potential size differences to allow for socks, waders etc.). Any ideas are more than welcome, and included in that I would ask you to be honest and tell me if I am barking up the wrong tree here !! Is there a viable alternative to wading boots ? (and please note that I am not asking for other wading boot recommendations here).