Patagonia Rock Grip Boot – Aluminum Bar – Review

I’ve been wearing Patagonia’s new Rock Grip wading boots with aluminum bars for a couple of months now. If you haven’t seen them yet, they look like something Frankenstein might wear, were he a fly fisherman. Patagonia has taken a pair of rubber-soled boots and screwed 5 rather large aluminum bars into the soles. According to Patagonia, these metal bars provide superior traction on slippery rocks. Being a rather clumsy wader with a propensity to take unplanned swims, I decided that I’m just the one to test that claim.

My first outing with the boots was to the Gallatin River, with its deadly bowling-ball rocks. I have also waded a number of times in the Yellowstone, where the stream bottom is composed of smaller, silt-covered rocks, as well as in the Boulder and a few other spots. What’s the verdict? I’m very impressed with the traction and comfort of the boots. Not one slip during any of my forays. You read that right; I haven’t fallen once due to footing-related issues (I’ve tripped a couple of times, but the boots can’t be blamed for that). The soles really do securely grab on to the rocks, even when I’m somewhat off-balance. They feel at least as stable as felt soles, and easily best the rubber-soled boots that I normally wear. Given that they should be easier to rid of invasive critters than felt soles, the Patagonia Rock Grip boots with aluminum bars may be the answer for eco-aware anglers who are tired of amusing their companions with impromptu dances and plunges.

The boots sport a grey synthetic leather upper, which is easy to clean and which doesn’t stiffen up when it dries. A full-coverage rubber rand and rubber toe bumper keep the sharp rocks at bay. The fit of the boots (a 1/2 size larger than my usual shoe size) is good and comfortable, even with extra-thick socks. There is just a little heel slip when I’m walking to the stream. The toe box is plenty big to allow me to wiggle my piggies and fight off toe-numbness for a few extra minutes. Walking is not as awkward as it might appear, though I wouldn’t want to do any extended hiking. The soles did collect some snow during my early-season trips, but not the inch-thick ice clumps that you tend to get with felt soles in the winter. Patagonia claims that the aluminum bars are more boat-friendly than traditional cleats; that said, I sure wouldn’t let anyone scrape around my boat with these on their feet.

Overall, Patagonia’s Rock Grip Boots with aluminum bars are a legitimate option for anglers who want to remain upright on slippery rocks. Whether they’ll supplant felt soles as the go-to choice remains to be seen. One word of caution – be careful not to step on your fly line; the aluminum bars will leave quite a divot. I learned this the hard way.


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