The Best Women's Wading Boots

Three of the five women’s wading boots in this test were designed expressly for women—with a women’s-specific last. And not all models are intended for entry-level anglers: The Simms Women’s VaporTread Boot ($180) and Patagonia Women’s Ultralight Wading Boots ($189) are both built for diehards—and their price points make the most sense for those who wear such boots regualrly.

Fly-fishers who are looking for a bargain might consider the Orvis Women’s Encounter Wading Boot ($119) or the L.L. Bean Women’s West Branch Wading Boot, Studded ($149), which is an exceptional value in a studded sole.

Anglers who are sure-footed in the water—and fond of long approaches to less-trafficked fishing holes—should consider the Simms Women’s VaporTread Boot. Although it didn’t deliver best-in-test traction, it was the lightest, most agile boot we tested.

And women who have slender or low-volume feet should try the Patagonia Women’s Ultralight Wading Boots. Not only did they offer the best, most foot-hugging fit of this test, but they also delivered superior traction, comfort and support. For any angling ladies who believe it’s impossible to love your chunky, blocky wading boots—try these, and prepare to swoon.

What Are Women's Wading Boots?


Until the last two or three years, there simply were no women’s wading boots. What stores sold were shrunken versions of men’s models, and they tended to fit women poorly: They were too roomy, too blocky, and too dumbed-down. Even now, most women’s wading boots cater to the beginners and occasional anglers. And most boots make no attempt to mimic the V-shaped foot (narrow at the heel and broader across the toes) that women tend to share.

In part, that’s due to manufacturing norms. “Wading shoes have horrendously large minimums,” explains Tom Rosenbauer, Orvis’s Marketing Manager. Whereas the factories that produce waders will agree to make smaller runs, footwear manufacturers expect to roll out huge quantities—or they’ll make nothing at all. And since women are still angling’s minority gender, that makes it economically challenging for brands to commit to women’s boots.

Review Year
Best in Class
Overall Rating
Name Overall Rating Ratings The Good The Bad Price
Patagonia Women’s Ultralight Wading Boot
Best in Class
Fit 10
Traction 9
Support 10
Weight 8
Features 8
Durability 8

Women’s-specific design/Lower-volume interior

Outstanding traction & support

Comfortable ankle wrap

Laces don’t loosen over time


No hook for gravel guard

Simms VaporTread Boot
Fit 6
Traction 6
Support 7
Weight 10
Features 9
Durability 9

Very light weight & durable

Feels sensitive, not blocky

Neoprene liner boosts warmth

Dries very quickly

High-volume fit compromises support

Traction is better on dry trails than wet rocks

Uncomfortable ankle wrap

Redington Siren Boot
Fit 9
Traction 7
Support 9
Weight 7
Features 7
Durability 6

Women’s-specific last

Adequate traction

Comfortable ankle support

Fits a low/medium volume foot

Questionable durability

Orvis Women’s Encounter Wading Boot
Fit 7
Traction 8
Support 7
Weight 7
Features 8
Durability 7

Versatile lacing options

Solid support

Sneaker-like flex and comfort

Hook for gravel guard

Good value

High-volume toe

Somewhat weighty

Cabela’s Guidewater BOA Wading Boot
Grip 4
Comfort 7
Wet Weight 5
Durability 8
Treadlife 8
Value 7

BOA lace system

Secure, comfortable fit

Solid footing on uneven surfaces

Durable construction

Effective interior drainage

The boot feels heavy and clunky while walking

Heaviest boot out of the box and out of the drink

Slippery on slimy rocks if studs not applied

Patagonia Women’s Ultralight Wading Boot

Although expensive, the Patagonia Women’s Ultralight Wading Boots offers best-in-test fit, support, traction and comfort.

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