When you spend as much time in wading boots as I do, decisions on purchasing a new pair carry a degree of consideration not far short of buying a car. So, when my loyal (and long suffering) old pair were looking at one trip too many to the bootmaker, I was faced with an important choice. After several years, which boots could fill the shoes, so to speak, of my faithful but discontinued old boots?
First step was a call to colleague Craig Coltman. In terms of days-per-year on the water, Craig must be right up there. Not only does he guide most days of the Tasmanian high season, but when that’s over, he guides at Millbrook and right through winter. And when Craig isn’t guiding? Yep, he’s out fishing. If sheer durability of gear (or not) is an issue, Craig can provide insights no glossy ad can match.
Craig’s experiences after a year or so with a pair of Orvis Pro boots had been positive, so that was a good start. However, I still needed to investigate their construction. I like solid ankle support in the event of an unseen wombat hole or a too-tight gap between riverbed boulders. I also want a very high level of sole protection from bruising sharp rocks at, say Jindabyne or Fyans’ dam wall. One of my worst wading boot experiences was many years ago chasing gum beetle feeders along the eastern shore of Tasmania’s Bradys Lake. The fishing was great, but my feet were brutalised by the endless kilometres of periglacial rubble. From that day on, sole protection has been at the top of my wading boot list.
The Orvis Pro blurb was encouraging: partnering with Michelin for the soles, and space-age-sounding insoles. Meanwhile, the upper boot was tall and thick, while generous heel and toe caps appeared to address unwanted impact in those areas.
Next step was to try a pair on. One reason I prefer to fit any footwear instore, is that it seems (to paraphrase the iconic Castrol ad) sizes ain’t sizes. Good thing I did – the first pair were just a fraction too small despite supposedly being the identical size to my old boots. The size up? Perfect.
On the water, the Orvis Pros have proved extremely comfortable, and have more than lived up to their instore promise.
Just as importantly, after roughly 200 days on the water, they are completely intact: so far, no cracks, holes, bits coming loose or delamination. The only ‘failure’ has been one of the laces, which lost its outer in a freakish accident involving a jammed-in sharp stick. The lace still worked, but with a new potential weak point, I played it safe and replaced both laces, keeping the originals as spares.
All up, the Orvis Pros have proved to be the real deal: good traction, great comfort, and decent foot and ankle protection. Most importantly, they are holding together beautifully after a lot of hard work on lake, estuary and stream.
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