Orvis’ Ultralight Wading Boots are rubber-soled wading boots that I wear with stocking foot waders when I fly fish rivers with a rod and reel. On wider streams and rivers, a rod and reel, waders, and wading boots give you the extra mobility, reach, and precision to place a fly where trout are likely to be holding. I also fish with a Tenkara rod on small and medium-sized streams, but I can usually place my fly exactly where I want it from the stream bank without getting wet.
Specs at a Glance
- Gender: Men’s & Women’s models available
- Weight: 40 oz/pair (size 10)
- Closure: Water-resistant laces
- Sizing: 7-14, full sizes only
- Traction: Vibram lugs, extra cleats recommended
As a hiker and fisherman, I get my kicks by hiking into streams and rivers that are off the beaten track. I like pouring over maps and identifying blue lines that look promising, then hiking into them and seeing what the fly fishing is like. I frequently backpack in, so keeping my gear as lightweight as possible is a priority, especially if I have to bushwhack because there isn’t an established trail where I want to go.
The nice thing about the Orvis Ultralight Wading Boots is that they’re perfectly good for hiking moderate distances, even when I’m wearing a pair of waders with thick neoprene booties. They fit like hiking boots and don’t require any break-in time. They have foam footbeds which you can remove and replace with an insole like Superfeet if you need a higher arch, and they even have a gaiter hook at the base of the tongue if your waders have gravel guards.
While they have Vibram soles and good traction on dry ground and rocks, you really do want to add cleats to them to penetrate the biofilm on moss-covered rocks, above and below the water’s surface. Even then, carrying a wading staff or an old trekking pole is a good idea to keep your balance when traversing rocky river bottoms. The Ultralights, conveniently, have pre-drilled cleat holes that make it easier to screw in cleats. I’ve been using the Orvis Posigrip Studs with the Ultralight Wading Boots and they work nicely on mossy and vegetation-covered surfaces.
You do need to be careful however when scrambling over exposed and dry rock because the studs can unexpectedly slide off them. Think about it this way. When you put studs in your boots’ soles, you’re reducing the amount of contact you have with a rock surface to the tops of the studs’ heads. This makes it really easy to slip when you cross dry rock off-balance or with any momentum. It’s just something you need to be very conscious of if you clamber along rocky riverbanks.
Size-wise, I wear a size 10.5 shoe and need a size 12 Ultralight Wading boot to fit the stocking feet of my waders. The funny thing is, these wading boots don’t feel like size 12 boots. They don’t alter my gait in any way and I can drive my car (even a manual) with them just fine, even with the cleats. But the proof of the pudding is that I can wear these Orvis Ultralight Wading Boots all day and still remain comfortable. You don’t feel like you’re wearing cement overshoes, which is a good thing when you’re fly fishing a river!
Disclosure: Orvis provided the author with wading boots for this review.SectionHiker is reader-supported. We only make money if you purchase a product through our affiliate links. Help us continue to test and write unsponsored and independent gear reviews, beginner FAQs, and free hiking guides.