Sunday, March 17, 2013

Product Review: Simms Rivertek Boa Boots - Updated

Wading is hard on the feet. Walking across cobblestone-sized rocks, slippery shale and unnerving boulders cannot be confused with a stroll on the beach or even a hike in the woods. Several years ago while fishing the Little J in Pennsylvania, a friend had to stop fishing his feet hurt so bad. He blamed it on the rocky bottom. I blamed his boots.

Good wading boots can make wading much easier on the feet and therefore the angler. Last year I bought a pair of Simms Rivertek Boa Boots to replace a rapidly fading pair of studded Simms boots. (These were the old model with the studs riveted into the bottom and the rivets were beginning push up through inside of the boot -- sort of like walking on nails.

I posted my initial review of the Boa Boots last year, and now after several months of wear I wanted to provide an update. The boot remain very comfortable and the boot's neoprene lining makes it ridiculously easy to get in and out of the boot. I've got a terrible back and bending over to pull of my boots at the end of a full day on the river sometimes caused so much pain that I could barely drive home. Not anymore.

The Boa laces - also used on snowboards -- are easy to tighten and loosen. And once tightened down, the steel wire laces stay tight. No more stopping to re-tie shoes. No more cold fingers fumbling to untie the laces at the end of a long day. Just pull up on the nob, pull the tongue to loosen the steel laces and step out of the boot. Sometimes the nob can get stuck and it takes several tries to pop it. Also, both laces frayed in the exact same spot. The first one frayed in the early fall and the second frayed this winter. Boa -- the company that makes the laces -- is kind enough to provide replacements for free. It took more than an hour to fix the first boot; partly because I'm lousy at following directions and partly because it takes some effort. The second lace -- replaced this week -- was much easier an took about 15 minutes. I'll be ordering more replacement laces, just in case.

Even with the fraying laces the biggest drawback remains Simms' insistence that it charge extra for the stud screws. (And you definitely need the studs as rubber soles are slippery when when wet...) While the screws probably won't push through the boot like the studs did, the extra fee for the screws pushed the total price of the boots north of the $200 mark. Pricey yes, but worth it; particularly if the replacement laces hold up a little longer.

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