I’ve been testing a new boot from Patagonia call the Rock Grip Aluminum Bar Wading boot. As you can see, this new traction design has an industrial look to it with 6 aluminum bars bolted into the bottom of the boot. If you have ever caught a rock with a aluminum drift boat, you can understand how the soft aluminum grabs the rocks with a magnetic like stick. The uppers of this boot are a little more attractive, made with what looks like a durable rubber & waterproof synthetic material and an improved more user-friendly lace system.
After a few days on the water fishing the Deschutes River, my initial feeling is that this is a well-built boot that is one of the best traction alternatives to a studded felt sole. The Rock Grip boot is fairly easy to put on & lace up, has a good amount of ankle support and doesn’t change size (stretch out) once it gets wet.
I found the traction of the aluminum bars to be exceptional on bare rocky bottoms found in faster water. Almost too sticky grabbing rocks as soon as contact is made instead of sliding into position with each step like you’re use to doing with a studded felt sole. I found there was learning curve to wading in these boots for the first time, and I sort of stumbled through the first couple of runs getting use to them.
The traction was noticeably less when wading in slower water where the rocky bottom is covered with silt and moss making wading a little more challenging. In all fairness, that type of wading environment is more challenging no matter what traction sole you have on your boot.
One of my only questions at this point is the longevity of the aluminum bars and only time will tell. I’ve been told the estimates based on pre-testing are somewhere around 100 days of wear before needing to replace the bars. The replacement bars will be sold as a kit and will cost of around $35.00.
The one downside I noticed was that in shallow water, dry ground or rock hopping, the bars tend to be line grabbers if you don’t manage your running line well and keep it away from your feet. There is also the potential of the aluminum bars cutting your line if you stepped on it.
The Rock Grip Aluminum Bar Wading Boot will be available the end of January and will retail for $239.00
We’ll keep you posted on how well these boots hold up as we put more days on them.