Rambling Review – The Orvis River Guard™ Ultralight Wading Boot with EcoTraX Soles

Rambling Review – The Orvis River Guard™ Ultralight Wading Boot with EcoTraX Soles

The Orvis River Guard™ Ultralight Wading Boot with EcoTraX Soles

Why?

I recently upgraded my felt soled Henry Fork II wading boots which were completely devoid of felt from the miles of walking that I had put on them. I found my way back to Orvis and upgraded to the new River Guard Ultralight Wading Boot with EcoTraX soles. Let me first explain my typical day on the water which led to my wading boot choice. A day of fishing will find me on the small streams in Northern Arizona which have me in and out of the water and, at times, hiking over extremely rugged terrain in order to get to said water. For this reason, felt was not my first choice and I turned to the River Guards. Because most of my fishing is on rocky small streams, I opted to take the screw-in studs out prior to use, knowing that my quarries heightened senses would hear me crunching long before I would spook him with a poorly placed cast.

Typical moss covered round rock...

First impressions:

  1. My first impressions when trying on these boots were that they fit a little big. With a wading sock and the boot fit wader, most boots fit a little too snuggly. These boots in a size ten (my regular shoe size) fit me perfect with a thick wading sock and waders. The Orvis website actually states a consumer should order the next whole size down. I recommend trying them on with your typical fishing get-up.
  2. The second thing I liked about this boot was the continuous microfiber sidewalls. Previous boots employed a meshing to allow water to drain out and inevitably would allow small rocks in. Walking around the store in these boots was comfortable and stable
  3. Lastly, I am sensitive to the issue of invasive aquatic species and attempt to do my part of cleaning gear and being proactive by educating myself.  Having said that, I am also sensitive to marketing strategies and could not help but take note that these boots should help with “stemming the spread of aquatic species” Whether or not they will really help remains to be seen, but it should be noted that I will list this as a pro although I am a skeptic at heart.

Vibram

Field Use:

(Note: Used without studs)

Putting these boots through several trips has proven that I made the right choice. The typical hikes up and down Arizona’s steep hill with the EcoTraX Soles were completed with more traction and stability than felt.  Most of the streams in Arizona are fairly difficult to navigate through, but these boots performed flawlessly over the round rock on the Rim. Even without the studs, my footing was secure and I bulled on as usual without a second thought as to the change of footwear.

After spending a couple of all day fishing trips in these boots, I am happy with the comfort. Some boots really do a number on my back and/or arches, but I was pleased with the support these boots offered. I also attribute some of the comfort to the lightweight feel these boots have.

Top-side

Notable Features:

The boots come with a small key in order to take out the screw-in studs. Double check the box when you buy to make sure the key is with your purchase. (After getting to the truck, I checked and had to run back inside.) As cool as the little key looks on my truck key chain, it is extremely difficult to use. Instead I used a 1/4″ socket head on my small ratchet and saved myself the misery of taking out the studs with the hand held key. The key is always with me though and the studs remain in my pack just in case I run into a situation where studs are appropriate.

Studs (Save yourself a headache and use a 1/4" socket)

Pros:

  1. Stability in water
  2. Comfort
  3. Continuous sidewall
  4. Lightweight
  5. Superior performance on dry land.
  6. Supposed superior protection against spreading invasive aquatic species

Cons:

  1. Price (but what isn’t pricey in the fly fishing world)
  2. Almost useless key
  3. Stiff upper material makes tightening boots problematic (I imagine with use they will loosen up and become easier to tighten)

Prognosis:

I like the boots and have been extremely happy with their performance. The price is steep and tough to swallow, but a quality company like Orvis stands behind their quality products. These boots are all systems go.

* Disclaimer:

The reviews at Arizona Wanderings are my honest opinion. Arizona Wanderings is not sponsored by or associated with any of the stated companies and is accepting no compensation, monetary or otherwise, in exchange for this review.  My independent status may change in the future but, as of the date of publication, no relationship other than described above has been pursued or established.

11 Responses to “Rambling Review – The Orvis River Guard™ Ultralight Wading Boot with EcoTraX Soles”

  1. Rohan

    Mate what a review! I’m not too keen on the studs but by all accounts they seem like a good pair of boots. Would be good if they made them a tad higher up the leg…..we need the protection from snakes down here, saying that waders tend to protect us from a bite from a ‘grass eel’

    Great review.

    Reply
  2. azwanderings

    Thanks Rohan. Snakes are no good and I definitely understand the desire for higher boots. I’ve heard you guys have some real mean ones down under. Glad you liked the review. I hope to be posting one every week or so. We’ll see how that goes. Thanks again.

    Ben

    Reply
  3. troutrageous1

    Thanks for the review. I might just store that for future use. Those look like a pretty good choice, I can see how the Vibram soles would be a selling point. I’ve really got to get a pair of stockingfoot waders at somepoint. I’ve been using bootfoot for the past few years and man if my ankles aren’t worse for it.

    Reply
  4. azwanderings

    Glad you liked it. Let me know what you end up buying. Thanks again.

    Ben

    Reply
  5. Carmen

    Great review. I’m in the market for new shoes. I’ve been wearing the same cheapie felt bottoms for so long, I keep forgetting I need new ones! Great blog, I plan to visit much more.

    Reply
    • azwanderings

      Thanks Carmen. Glad you liked the review. I like videos you’ve been doing for your site as well. Thanks for the kind words.

      Ben

      Reply
  6. BrgrFisher

    Agree with others, it’s a great review! I wonder if you might be able to comment on the width of the boot in regards to wide feet. I am blessed with wide size 12s and wonder if a size 13 would fit foot as well as width.

    Reply
    • azwanderings

      Brgr,

      Thanks for the kind words. Good question too. I have fairly wide feet and have been happy with how the size 10s (my normal size) fits. Going up a size may not be a terrible idea if you have those wide feet and plan on fishing colder water (using extra thick socks). Best bet would be to head into Orvis and give them a try. Best of luck and for the purpose of this review, let me know what you find. Thanks again and tight lines.

      Ben

      Reply
  7. Chuck

    These boots are awesome. I bought a pair in May without having read your review and have fished throughout CO, NM and AZ this summer. They are comfortable, even spending 10 hours on the water, and have performed excellent. No signs of wear except for the expected flex creases in the appropriate places. I have only used them with the studs and I like the out of the water as much as in because the studs really grip during the required rock hopping necessary to access some of the best fishing. With regard to the stiffness and tighting, I have found they tighten best when they are wet. These boots are setting up to be my favorite of all time. I paired them with a new set of Orvis Pack and Travel waders which in themselves are awesome. They are so light and don’t restrict movement and haven’t been phased by some pretty demanding brush and rocks. This is a perfect combination of lightness and durability. I have found that you always get what you pay for.

    Reply
  8. Rohan

    I just ordered these, based on you’re review! I ordered the size down as the Orvis site suggested. Fingers crossed!!

    Reply
    • azwanderings

      Rohan, That’s awesome. I think you’ll really like these boots. I’m still amazed at how well they hold up. They really are a great boot.

      Ben

      Reply

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