Review: A Season with Patagonia’s Danner Boots

// BY LEONARD SCHOENBERGER
// PHOTOS BY LEONARD SCHOENBERGER AND PATAGONIA

Wading boots are like ski boots. You only know what’s possible once you’ve tried the best. Say hello to the Patagonia Danner Boots.

 

The idea

 

Wading Boots are one of the crucial components when you spend a lot of time at the water. Ideally they need to fit and feel like great hiking boots. On top of it they have to perform well under water in terms of grip and stability.

 

That’s what Patagonia’s founder, Yvon Chouinard who is a passionate fly fisherman himself, had in mind when the company decided to rework the entire line of Patagonia fly fishing boots. He gathered feedback from designers, ambassadors and guides. Then the company set a few key criteria that the new line of wading boots had to meet.

 

The boots must be absolutely comfortable even when you spend an entire day walking around. They have to support the foot and provide excellent grip when wading. On top they have to drain water quickly and last for a long time.

 

Patagonia Foot Tractor Wading Boots Sticky Rubber

 

Since Patagonia was not really experienced in footwear design and construction they decided to partner up with Portland based Danner boots. The result is a wading boot that is handcrafted in the US from a supple, waterproof leather. The welted construction forms a wide, solid base. On it a new sole can be sewn at any time making sure the boots can last a lifetime. 

 

The side of the boot features a number of small holes to drain water from inside the wading boots. A variable lacing system has traditional eyelets on the forefoot and an additional quick lacing system in the ankle area. This gives stability when wading and walking on uneven ground. 

 

Patagonia Foot Tractor Wading Boots Sticky Rubber

 

The Patagonia Danner fly fishing boots are available with different soles. This way you can choose the sole system best suited for your needs. We spent a whole season with the new wading boots and want to let you know what we think. 

 

The fabric

 

When you unpack the Patagonia Danner Boots for the first time you instantly realize the build quality. The soft leather has a nice natural smell to it compared to the plastic odor of most wading boots. The soles of the boot and the stitching immediately emanate a long lasting product. 

 

Patagonia Foot Tractor Wading Boots Felt SoleGreat build quality: Patagonia Foot Tractor Wading Boots

 

The fit 

 

I was even more pleased when I put them on for the first time. The fit, mostly due to the soft, supple, leather is unlike any other wading boot I have ever used. It really feels more like a hiking boot than a wading boot and especially comfortable around the ankle without missing out on stability. Due to their solid construction the Patagonia Danner wading boots are not the most slender ones and slightly resemble a snowboard boot.

 

Top view of the Patagonia Foot Tractor Fly Fishing Boots

 

However, the comfort and fit easily make up for that. I’ve spent multiple days walking with them along and in rivers and never had the slightest symptom of a blister. 

 

Patagonia Foot Tractor Wading BootsPatagonia Foot Tractor Fly Fishing Boots

 

The sole 

You can choose from different options regarding the bottom of the boot: the Foot Tractor Wading Boots Sticky Rubber, the Foot Tractor Wading Boots – Aluminum Bar and the ones with a felt sole. 

I opted for the Sticky Rubber ones and added some spikes from the Foot Tractor Aluminum Bar Replacement kit. The rubber sole without the aluminum bars in the best option if you walk along the river a lot. The sole of Patagonia Danner Sticky Rubber is made with Vibram rubber for grip and durability. 

 

Patagonia Foot Tractor Wading Boots Sticky RubberPatagonia Foot Tractor Wading Boots Sticky Rubber

 

If you want the ultimate in traction you should consider the aluminum bars. 

 

 

Patagonia Foot Tractor Wading Boots Aluminum BarPatagonia Foot Tractor Wading Boots Aluminum Bar

 

Some fly fishermen love felt soles as they can provide excellent grip on slippery river beds. 

 

 

Patagonia Foot Tractor Wading Boots Felt SolePatagonia Foot Tractor Wading Boots with felt soles

 

The facts

The Patagonia Danner Wading Boots certainly don’t come cheap at a price point of $499 – $549. Once you’ll experience their comfort and fit, I am pretty sure you will think they are worth it. In previous wading boots I’ve used I had to replace after a few years (I spend about 50 days on the water a year). With the Patagonia Danner Wading Boots instead, I can really see them last a lifetime especially considering the fact that the sole can be replaced. And already after one year of using them, they feel as if they only get more comfortable over time. 

 

Get them here: Patagonia Foot Tractor Wading Boots built by Danner

The rod in the pictures is a custom build by the fantastic Renato Vitalini of V Stick Custom Fly Rods in Scuol, Switzerland.