New gear: Patagonia Foot Tractor wading boots

At last summer's International Fly Tackle Dealer Show in Orlando, Fla., Patagonia turned heads with its new Foot Tractor wading boots, a cooperative partnership with the venerable boot-maker, Danner. This partnership seems to be part of a trend—Orvis teamed up with tire manufacturer Michelin to make the soles for the new Orvis Pro wading boots.

But the Danner partnership opened some eyes—wading boots have always been utilitarian ... a set of bulky boots that will help you keep your footing in the water and protect your feet and ankles from the hazards that come with wading tough trout water. Now, with its partnership with Danner, Patagonia is putting an emphasis not only on safety and function, but also on comfort and long-term durability. Sure, all wading boots make those claims, but Danner has been making some of the best footwear on the planet since 1932. 

When I checked out the boots at the show in Orlando, I found them to be really solid, if a bit heavy, at least on my initial inspection. But when I started to look at the specs, I realized that the added bulk is likely what will make these a long-term investment instead of a pair of wading boots that might just last a season or two. 

First, the water-proof leather used in the boots' construction is heavy-duty, and treated with a PFC-free saline solution that's supposed to improve resistiance to breakdown, even in salty water. And, as with all Danner boots, the leather can be reconditioned as needed. The boots also incorporate a 5 milimeter rubber midsole and a second lower midsole made from polyether polyurethane for comfort and support, and both sides of the boots have perforated drains to help them shed water when you're not in the river, and to help them dry faster. 

With the stitch-down construction, the boots provide a wider platform (more stability and comfort), and this also allows the boots to be resoled by Danner (again, these boots are built for many years on the water). 

I like partnership with Danner (and I like Orvis' partnership with Michelin, too)—this might be the start of a trend, where traditional fly fishing soft-gear makers turn to proven performers in related industries to really make fishing footwear and apparel more appealing, more durable and longer lasting. That's why I wasn't deterred by the price tag of the new Foot Tractor boots—if they last more than three or four seasons, they're worth the initial output of $500 or so. 

— Chris Hunt




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