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10 Best Wading Boots

Wading boots are the unsung heroes of the outside world. Any fisherman, or any outdoorsman working on the water, needs a good pair of wading boots to survive. What if, one day, he forgets his best wading boots and proceeds to hook a big one in the river? You could lose the catch of your life.

Such is the importance of wading boots, but they are also essential for your safety. Rivers and rapids, where wading boots are most important, can be slippery, filled with swift currents, and dotted with uneven or invisible footholds. If you’re not wearing a pair of shoes that will give you a secure and stable grip, it’s best not to venture out into the water.

Of course, as with any shoe, wading boots vary in terms of quality, style, and fit. In the following sections, we’ll go over several of the best wading boots, explain what’s important to look out for, what wading boots are made of, and more.

Our Top Picks

  • Best overall option: Men’s Orvis Ultralight Wading Boot
  • Best Premium Product: Korkers Devil’s Canyon Wading Boot
  • Best Value Product: Frogg Toggs Hellbender Wading Shoe

What are wading boots?

Wading boots are boots that are designed to do one thing: keep your feet safe. Modern wading boots are not designed to keep water out. Instead, they are permeable to water. This allows them to dive quickly, Dry quickly, and safely pass through the water.

Of course, any boot that is meant to get wet regularly needs to be sturdy and well made, but wading boots add the need for stability and grip to that. Swimming shoes, for example, are not designed to provide the same level of grip. They generally do not support the ankles and many can slip off easily. Both scenarios are recipes for disaster while fishing a fast moving river.

Often anglers will choose to wear socks under their wading boots. These socks are hydrophobic and keep the angler’s feet Dry and Warm while wading through the water. However, socks alone do not provide enough traction in a river.

Wading boots typically have one of several types of soles. These include:

  • Rubber soles
  • Felt soles
  • Studded soles

Rubber soles are more durable than felt soles and are also suitable for walking through the woods if you need to go to your fishing spot. Rubber soles are easier to clean and are also better for muddy and dirty conditions.

Felt-soled boots, on the other hand, are better for slippery, mossy rocks. While felt soles won’t last as long as rubber soles, they do provide better traction on slippery, invisible surfaces. However, note that felt soles arenot legal in all areas; Since felt tends to Dry slowly, as most fabrics do, they can transport organisms between bodies of water, causing unforeseen damage to native ecosystems.

As such,Before you buy any felt-soled boots in this guide, make sure they are legal to wear where you live or intend to wear them. Also, it’s always good to practice smart eco habits if you’re crossing multiple bodies of water. If you plan to fish several locations in succession, pack an extra pair of felt shoes or bring rubber shoes. Rinse rubber-soled wellies before also using them in a New body of water.

Wading boots with cleated soles are not technically a new type of sole by themselves. Instead, these studs are often added to existing rubber or felt soles to improve traction. Some can be screwed into the soles permanently, while others hug the outside of the shoe and can be removed when you’re done with them. These studs usually come in plastic, metal, rubber, or a mix.

Why wading boots?

Wading boots are very similar in construction and function to hiking boots. As such, you can technically use hiking boots as wading boots if you want. Both types of shoes are excellent at supporting the ankles and both grip surfaces very well. However, there are some specific reasons why this is a bad idea.

The main reason is that hiking boots are not made for submersion like wellies. While waders are meant to be permeable, breathable, and quick-Drying, hiking boots are not. While hiking boots would probably be fine for a night on the water, they won’t dry out as quickly as wellies, and you may have to wear or carry wet shoes.

That’s not to mention how soaking your hiking boots would affect them! While some cloth hiking boots would probably survive the ideal (although they might smell a bit more afterward), a pair of leather or suede hiking boots would be ruined.

Wading boots are also designed to fit your feet well. When fully laced and on, wading boots are designed to stay snug on your feet. If they were to come loose, you would drastically increase your chances of spraining your ankles or otherwise injuring yourself.

Plus, wading boots go a step further by adapting to the water conditions you’ll encounter. While the hiking boot style is the safest, you can also purchase boots that are lighter and provide less protection for calm waters.

Wading boots are specifically made of materials that repel or resist water. They’ll be naturally lightweight and quick-drying when you get out of the water at the end of the day. A pair of boots that aren’t designed for wading will be soaked and heavy by the end of the day.

Wading Boot Sizes

While wading boots are supposed to fit snugly, resist the urge to go down a size. It is more common thansizeupyour bootsinstead. This is because the wading socks you’ll be wearing underneath are also bulky. Plus, if you’re wading in cold conditions, you’ll need even more space underneath for your thermal socks.

As such,you’d better size your wading boots at least half the size of other similar boots you wear. One size bigger is even better. If you can, bring your wading socks with you while trying on the shoes so you can get a good idea of ​​what fit is best for you.

In general, there are several things to keep in mind when considering the best wading boots for you. They are as follows:

  • Ankle support level (proportional to the roughness of the river and the probability of slipping)
  • Craft
  • Water retention
  • Setting
  • Sole material (and if it’s legal wherever you wear them)

Also Read: Best Chukka Boots

The best wading boots

There are many varieties, qualities, and looks of wading boots on the market, so we have made sure to present a good range of them here. In the following sections, we’ll go over the best wading boots we could find. With a bit of luck, you’ll also be able to find something that suits you.

1. Orvis Boa Pivot Wading Boot

Orvis Riverguard BOA Pivot Wading Boot One Color, 13.0

Orvis is a quality outerwear company that makes several of the waders we’ll be featuring in this guide. The first of these is the Orvis Boa Pivot boot. The upper of this boot is synthetic microfiber, which sheds and repels water well, while the outsole is rubber. The boot also features several mesh areas that allow water to easily enter and exit the shoe.

This shoe has additional rubber guards along the outside of the upper to protect against scratches, punctures, and other hazards. This protective rubber lining extends up and past the rubber midsole and over the microfiber upper. The layer is found around the toe box and heel area, in places where damage to the shoe is most likely. This results in a longer lasting product.

The goal of the company that created this boot was to make a shoe that was comfortable, safe, and durable. This shoe also features a unique lacing system. ThisBoa closure systemIt is operated by one dial and features stainless steel laces for durability and longevity. While these are some of the most expensive shoes in our lineup, they’re so packed with functional and convenient features that the price seems fair.

These boots also come prepped with cleat holes. While this means you’ll need to use the cleats designed for this shoe, it makes it easy and safe to add cleats without compromising the integrity of the sole of the shoe.

Unfortunately, the Boa system of this shoe has to be treated with care. The laces are loosened and tightened using a mechanical dial. As such, if sand or debris gets into the dial mechanism, it may no longer function. While you should be able to prevent this from happening with proper care and protection, it’s an important note to keep in mind.

All in all, this wading boot is an excellent choice for the river angler and beginner alike. The lacing system is high-tech yet easy to use, and the matching cleats make putting these shoes on quick and easy.This is an extremely well-rounded shoe with good support, great comfort features, and good flow.

Advantages:

  • Robust with good support
  • Extra Leather Armor
  • Easy to install matching cleats
  • Dial-based lace system

Disadvantages:

  • The dialing system requires special care

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2. Korkers Greenback Wading Boot

Korkers Greenback Wading Boot with Felt & Kling-On Soles, Dried Herb/Black , Size 11

This Korkers wading boot is the first felt-soled boot in our line. Instead of microfiber, these shoes use a textile and leather construction that allows water to get in and out of the boots. These shoes don’t use a fancy lacing system like the Orvis Boa shoes, but the laces they come with are strong and robust.

The best part of Korkers shoes are the interchangeable soles they use. Their wading boots use a patented OmniTrax 3.0 interchangeable sole system that allows the wearer to choose which type of sole they want to wear at any given time. While this system can get expensive if you need to buy new inserts all the time, it gives you the flexibility to choose a felt or rubber sole in a snap.

This interchangeable system also eliminates the need to bring extra pairs of wading boots on your fishing trip. If you need access to rubber and felt bottoms, for example, you’ll usually need to bring two pairs of shoes. However, with a shoe from Korkers, this is no longer necessary. We present several more models of Korkers shoes in this guide that have the same system.

These Korkers shoes are made with “hydrophobic materials” that repel water and help dry quickly. These shoes also have protective rubber shields, like the previous boot, but they only exist around the toe and heel areas to provide support and protection.

In theory, the Korkers interchangeable system sounds excellent. However, it all depends on how reliable and secure the system is in practice. If your interchangeable soles end up falling off all the time, the shoe immediately becomes less valuable, of course. However, if it works well, it ends up providing two shoes in one, making it an excellent value.

The faux leather and textile uppers on these shoes are what set them apart from the other Korkers in our line. While this particular set comes with both rubber and felt soles included, you can buy the boots with just one type of sole included for a cheaper price, or you can buy additional sole types, like studs, after the fact.

Advantages:

  • The interchangeable sole system is like two shoes in one
  • Sturdy shoes with good drainage
  • Very comfortable
  • Repels water
  • Middleweight Option

Disadvantages:

  • The sole replacement system can be a more than useful trick

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3. Frogg Toggs Hellbender Wading Shoe

frogg toggs Men's Hellbender Wading Boot - Felt

This Frogg Toggs wading boot is a great middle ground between shoes and boots. Rather than being a tall, constricting boot, these are slightly lower in the back while retaining a high shield in front of the ankle for protection.The result is a shoe that continues to provide incredible support while also feeling a bit closer to a shoe than a boot.

While these shoes have laces, not a Boa system, they do have something called “speed laces.” These laces and hooks are made to be quicker to tie and more natural to tighten than regular laces and eyelets. As such, you can still get a good quick fit without the need for the Boa system.

The exterior of these shoes is made of PVC and breathable and water-permeable mesh. As with the other waders in this line, this makes them great for letting water through quickly. The midsole of this shoe is made with polyurethane.

This specific boot has a felt sole, but Frogg Toggs also wears rubber and studded shoes, of course. While these do not have interchangeable soles, this means that the felt sole is more secure. However, when the felt sole wears out, the shoe isn’t ready either, just replace it with a new felt sole and move on.

Like other wading shoes in this line, the Hellbender has a toe and heel for protection and stability. These shoes have a decent spec list behind them, but they also don’t stand out in any particular way. If there is something that makes them stand out, it is their price, which is at the lower end of what we present in this line.

In addition to the excellent value for money, this shoe really shines based on its smaller size. While some anglers and women will prefer waders with a higher ankle, these tend to be more comfortable and easier to move in. They are a great shoe for beginners and a great value for experts. However, as with any low-priced shoe, beware of gaps in build quality.

Advantages:

  • Good value for money
  • PVC upper
  • Good middle ground between shoes and boots
  • Replaceable felt sole
  • Comfortable

Disadvantages:

  • Lower price may indicate lower quality

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4. Simms Freestone Wading Boot

Simms Men's Freestone Wading Boots, Waterproof Rubber Sole, Dark Olive, 11

This Simms waterproof wading boot has a rubber sole. The difference between these shoes and the other rubber soled wading boots we’ve featured in this line so far, however, is that these shoes don’t feature mesh areas for water flow. Instead, these feature a fully synthetic leather upper with supportive rubber patches.

The reason for this is that these shoes are made to handle icy and cold conditions more than the other shoes we’ve seen so far. Yet despite that, they’re also made to be comfortable and suitable for all-day wear. The neoprene lining of these shoes is made to be comfortable and nice for the sensitive areas of the feet and ankles that can rub and rub.

With such high ankles, these boots have excellent ankle support, which many users will appreciate. However, these rubber boots are not particularly useful in slippery conditions. It’s best to use cleats with them if you plan to use them on wet bedrock.Alternatively, you can buy the same boot model with felt soles.

While these shoes don’t have many visible drainage holes, they still have a surprisingly fast drying time. This may be because the synthetic leather exterior keeps most of the water out in the first place. While other wearers may prefer mesh boots due to their breathability and quick drying, these shoes undoubtedly hold up better to abuse. They should also outlast a cloth shoe.

All in all, these wading boots are a strong and protective addition to anyone’s collection, especially in conditions that could tear or puncture a cloth or mesh boot. However, you should add cleats to them if you plan to use them on slippery areas. Alternatively, you can buy thefelt versioninstead of a non-slip grip.

Advantages:

  • Excellent scratch and impact protection
  • Comfortable
  • Good ankle support
  • Choice of felt or rubber

Disadvantages:

  • The rubber sole has grip problems without studs
  • Drainage is slower than mail boots

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5. Orvis Encounter Wading Boots

Orvis Encounter Wading Boots - Felt/Only Encounter Wading Boots, 14 Tan/Olive

These Encounter wading boots are yet another option from Orvis, albeit without the Boa system included this time. These shoes also don’t have speed laces included, but that shouldn’t bother most users. Conspicuously, these shoes are missing a rubber heel cap for protection, though the toe area has an extra-large one.

These shoes have felt soles, but also come in aversion with rubber bottomFor those who prefer rubber. These shoes also come in men’s and women’s versions for the fisherwoman. Like the other Orvis wading boots we looked at before, these feature the same optional screw-in cleats that are Orvis proprietary. They also work quite well, although they are a bit expensive.

This is another fully synthetic shoe, just like the Simms boot above. While this shoe doesn’t have any mesh areas, the synthetic material it’s made of allows water to get in quickly. While nothing can compare to the drying speed of a mesh shoe, these have the advantage of increased Warmth and protection.

Interestingly, Orvis markets them as a basic shoe. While the cost of this shoe isn’t really basic, it may be worth it for the Orvis name. The quality of their wader boots is durable and strong, so it may be worth paying a little more for a more durable shoe.

These shoes have a high, padded ankle collar, just like several of the other options in our line. This addition means that these shoes also support the ankles well.

Please note that Orvis has already designed these shoes to support sock waders. As such, you may not need to size up in these boots. However, this all depends on your feet, how many layers of socks you wear, and if you add your own insoles of course.

Advantages:

  • Comfortable and versatile
  • Excellent grip with optional studs
  • Quality and durable shoes
  • Shoe “entry level”

Disadvantages:

  • Expensive for a basic shoe
  • No speed lacing options

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6. Chota STL Plus Outdoor Gear Wading Boots

Chota Outdoor Gear STL Plus Felt Wading Boots, Size 10

While the previous entry may have been a somewhat questionable answer to entry-level boots, this wading shoe from Chota is a much more in-between option. While these lack the ankle support that previous boots have, these wading boots are still tough enough to get the job done.

If you’re looking for bells and whistles, these Chota shoes are not the place to look. They’re durable, supportive, and reliable, but don’t have any extra features that might unnecessarily increase their price. For example, these shoes have elastic laces instead of true laces. While it’s easy enough to replace the elastic with something more durable, this cost-cutting mentality may annoy some people.

That being said, it’s this same cost-conscious vision that makes them a long-lasting choice for beginning anglers as well as women and experts. While these shoes are still made with genuine leather uppers, they also feature mesh ports for easy air and water flow.

You might be wondering why there is a pair of wading boots made out of leather, which is notoriously weak to water. While water will wear down the finish and weaken the leather on these shoes over time, leather is still an incredibly durable material. While it doesn’t dry out as quickly as synthetics (and tends to shrink a bit, too), it’s still a great shoe for wading if you know your limitations.

Like the best shoes in our line, this budget shoe has an ankle and toe guard, although one is leather and the other is not. Also, these shoes come with cleats already installed, although these wading boots tend to last so long that the cleats wear out. However, it may be better to purchase studs that don’t wear out as quickly rather than buying replacement ones.

If you’d rather not have felt-soled wading boots, these come in avariety with rubber bottom, also. That choice makes this shoe a great choice for anyone looking for an entry level wading shoe.

Advantages:

  • Long duration
  • Robust
  • Choice of leather or Fleece
  • Comes with pre-installed dowels

Disadvantages:

  • Leather can shrink and fade over time
  • Cheap shoelaces

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7. Korkers Devil’s Canyon Wading Boot

Korkers Devil's Canyon Wading Boot with Kling-On and Studded Kling-On Outsoles, Black, 9

Next up is another trade-in compatible wading boot from Korkers. These boots have an ultra-high ankle guard that is in stark contrast to the other options in our line. While this turtleneck might irritate some people, it does provide a great amount of support.

This Devil’s Canyon shoe is also our second wading boot with the Boa system built in. As we explained, the Boa system allows you to lace and unlace your boots with the turn of a dial instead of lacing them. This system is not only superior in terms of longevity and tightness; it is also faster and more convenient.

However, as we also mentioned, the Boa system is prone to mechanical problems, such as sand and particles clogging the dial. While the stainless steel laces will stand the Test of time, the mechanical parts are certainly a weak point. However, this is the price you pay for a more convenient lacing system.

While these shoes don’t have visible mesh areas to let water through, the synthetic upper material repels water. Water entering the shoe can exit through channels in the midsole, just like with the other Korkers shoes in our line. However, whether this is a top drain system is entirely up to you.

These shoes feature rubber guards on the toes and ankles for support and protection. The main difference between these boots and the other Korkers options in our line, however, is the soles they come with. Instead of a Fleece option, this boot comes with a plain rubber option and a studded rubber option. However, if you want to use felt with this boot, you can buy it separately and it will work as well.

Something to note about these shoes is that they are probably the sturdiest option in our lineup. As such, they are great options for wading in saltwater where thinner mesh shoes may not hold up.

Advantages:

  • High quality resistant material
  • Suitable for salt water
  • Comfortable and light
  • Interchangeable soles

Disadvantages:

  • Expensive
  • The height may bother some people

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8. Korkers Buckskin Wading Boot

Korkers Buckskin Wading Boot with Felt and Kling-On Outsoles, Chocolate Chip/Black, 11

Korkers laTest option in our line is the Buckskin wading boot. The difference between this model and the previous two is that it is a medium weight model, somewhere between Devil’s Canyon and Greenback. Also, unlike the other two models, this shoe has rubber side panels, just like our first wading boot. These additional side panels help protect the wading boot from punctures, cuts, and other wear and tear.

While this model doesn’t have a Boa lacing system fitted, it does feature the iconic interchangeable footbed that Korkers shoes are known for. These Buckskin boots are also uniquely designed compared to the other Korkers boots in this line, as they also feature synthetic leather, rubber, and textile material.

As such, these shoes are made with the same hydrophobic materials as other Korkers shoes. Water flows down through the boot and out through midsole channels built into the sole. Felt soles and rubber soles are included with this shoe, so you can switch them up as you see fit. Alternatively, you can buy any other Korkers outsole to use on this shoe, such as the studded rubber version.

Unfortunately, while the interchangeable sole idea is great in theory, it’s a little lacking in practice. The soles tend to come loose when they get stuck in mud or sharp objects. This can be remedied by gluing or taping the soles in place, but that can also make them more difficult to remove when you need to change them as well.

All in all,While the interchangeable soles feature is a bit tricky, it’s a great idea in theory. If you can find a way to keep the soles firmly in place until you need to change them, these are really great wading shoes (all three models we feature on this list). However, until Korkers fixes the problem or a consumer finds a better solution, they can be more annoying than convenient.

Advantages:

  • Interchangeable soles
  • Strong Construction
  • Good ankle support
  • Full rubber side protectors

Disadvantages:

  • The interchangeable sole system could use some improvement

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9. Simms Tributary Wading Boots

Simms Tributary Rubber Sole Wading Boots Adult, Waterproof Fishing Boots, Carbon, 10

These Simms wading boots are a shorter, scaled-down version of the ones we saw earlier. The Tributary shoe is not as high on the ankle and is also a more affordable shoe. In fact, it is much closer to a “shoe” for wading than it is to a “boot” for wading.

If you’re looking for a lighter, less expensive version of the Simms boot we looked at earlier, that’s mostly what you’ll get with this shoe. This version is smaller (and therefore lighter) and very comfortable.

However, it’s worth noting that without a decent amount of ankle support, this shoe tends to be loose and clunky. As such, it is not ideal for navigating rocky bottoms with slippery footholds. As with all Simms Footwear, it’s also available in a felt version, but that doesn’t change the clumsiness of the shoe, unfortunately.

That being said, though, these wading boots work as they should: they pass through water relatively easily, dry quickly, and protect your feet from slipping, sharp objects, and other underwater hazards. As a bonus, these shoes are pretty stylish looking too. Of all the options in our line, these shoes are the most attractive street shoes to wear.

Additionally, users may find a shorter shoe like this more comfortable to wear while cruising trails and such. Since high-heeled collars tend to restrict your ankle movement, they can chafe, make climbing difficult, or both.

One solution that could make this a better shoe would be to increase the flexibility of the sole. As it is, it is quite stiff, making it difficult to grip rocks and other surfaces. A more flexible shoe would go a long way to eliminate clumsiness and improve grip strength.

Advantages:

  • Smaller Profile Wading “Shoe”
  • Comfortable
  • Robust
  • Attractive
  • Also works as a street shoe

Disadvantages:

  • Less ankle support
  • A little clumsy
  • Inflexible

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10. Orvis Men’s Ultralight Wading Boot

Orvis Men's Ultralight Wading Boot, 12

Our laTest entry is another one from Orvis, and another low-profile, lightweight wading “shoe.” This shoe advertises the function and durability of a wading boot without the bulk and weight, and we think so in this case. Unlike the Simms Tributary boot from the last section, this boot is also grippy and flexible.

With this shoe, we go back to mesh shoes. This means that While this shoe isn’t as good in freezing conditions (you’ll probably want a taller wading boot for cold conditions anyway), it’s great at letting water and air through. As such, this shoe moves easily through the water and dries quickly afterward, too.

As a low-profile boot, they tend to run a bit small, so it’s a good idea to go up at least one size when choosing them. Some wearers may need two sizes up, especially if they intend to wear thick socks (or multiple pairs).

Because this is a low profile wading boot, they don’t have the same level of ankle support as the taller options. So if you have weak ankles, tend to trip and fall frequently, or are just concerned about your stability, these may not be the shoes for you. Despite the support, however, these boots have excellent grip, even without studs.

As with the other Orvis shoes in our line, these shoes come with a patented cleat system that is very easy to install and use.

Despite their lightweight construction, these “wading shoes” are surprisingly durable. They can handle wear and tear just as well as a heavier boot can. While the thinnest material may not protect your feet as much, it will still suffice for most anglers.

All in all, as long as you keep in mind what this shoe is intended for, it’s a great choice. If you have your heart set on a low profile shoe, this one is worth another look.

Advantages:

  • Smaller profile
  • Mesh zones for breathability
  • Robust
  • Light
  • Comfortable
  • Good grip and stability

Disadvantages:

  • Less ankle support
  • Less foot protection

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In Conclusion

In the end, all of the shoe options on this list are great choices for wading boots, but some stand out more than others. While each shoe has its niches, its strengths, and its weaknesses, some have more strengths or weaknesses than others.

We think the best all-around shoe on this list is our laTest entry, theMen’s Orvis Ultralight Wading Boot. Because these boots are so lightweight and portable, it’s easy for the beginner to get Used to wearing them, and experienced anglers will appreciate the lightweight feel as well. While some may prefer a taller boot for more ankle support, this shoe is infinitely easier to wear and more accessible due to its smaller size.

Our favorite premium pick on this list isKorkers Devil’s Canyon Wading Boot. This boot offers the ultimate in freshwater and saltwater protection, and it also comes with all the bells and whistles. While it may be too high for some people, others will appreciate the extra support and protection it offers. The interchangeable sole system, on the other hand, can be a bit frustrating in practice, but if you figure out the secret, it’s an innovative system.

Our budget pick from this list is, unsurprisingly, theFrogg Toggs Hellbender Wading Shoe.These shoes are easily the least expensive in our lineup, but are still a respectable, rugged wading shoe. While they don’t have a lot of bells and whistles, they are an attractive shoe that’s just the right size for beginners and experts on a budget.

While these are our three favorites, don’t forget that all of the entries on this list are excellent shoes that deserve recognition. You can’t go wrong with any of these options! However, if nothing on this list won you over, don’t be afraid to do some research on what might be the best wading boot for you. After all, we’re not even mentioning women’s wading boots, although there are several such styles on the market.

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