Sold on Simms Vibram

I’m not going to endorse the “studies” being touted which suggest felt soles are evil (and frankly, I think those engaged in the outcry should be ashamed because of the weak show they’ve put on). I bought Vibram-soled boots because 1) I needed some new boots, 2) because Simms Riversheds, which I believe are the best value in wading boots, are only available in Vibram, and 3) because I was tired of felt, which is sticky like roof tar while in the water, but downright dangerous while walking on trails or standing on grassy banks.

Further, I don’t need any long term testing, like swapping boots in and out on different feet, to come to a conclusion as to what works. Vibram soles, when combined with studs – in this case the Simms “Star” cleats – provided as firm a footing as felt while wading. And the same configuration blew the laces off felt-soled boots when out of the water. Note: I was using the same model boot, just with felt, immediately prior to the present pair.

MG signing off (because that’s all I have to say about soles)

FTC Disclosure: These boots were purchased for MSRP less a small preferred customer discount, and no compensation whatsoever was provided for the declaration made above.


Bjorn says:

I’m going to fish my felts until they are actually illegal. I haven’t fished the Simms, but have fished the felt alternatives from one other maker… nearly died… several times. I just don’t have confidence in them. Long live felt!

I’m going to have to get a pair of those Simms with the studs out on the river some time.

I agree wholeheartedly with your stance – I was very skeptical about these soles. Until I used them.

Shawn Madison says:

I recently purchased a pair of Simm’s Blackfoot Vibram Soled Boots. I wish Simm’s would carry size 15 in these and sell them to Bass Pro… The Vibram Soles are very comfortable and that have great lateral support. However; they are slick as hell on the tailwaters in East Tennessee. I miss my felt soles; but, I support the change toward healthier waters. Besides this performance issue; the boots are very well styled and look just as nice as most hiking boots.

Did you know that the tread is different on the Blackfoot than the others?

Salmo78 says:

I’m absolutely willing to accept a minor loss in grip for the ecological safety net vibram soles provide. That said, I’ve been less than pleased with the durability. As a fish biologist, I hike more than 100 miles a season in-stream conducting surveys. This year, I went through a new pair of Riversheds in four months. In addition, the star cleats wore out in 2.5 months – stripping the screw head to a point where I can’t back them out. I applaud Simms for taking a stand against invasive in their product line, but these boots are only going to work for the weekend warrior. At $180 plus $40 for the studs, I hope Simms will work on making their product more durable for those of us who truly put it to the test!

A bit disappointing to hear, particularly as my previous Riversheds wore like a brick shithouse. I’ll be watching those cleats closely too.

Granted the Simms Vibram soles are much easier to keep clean but the traction is still not up there with the felt. I have the Simms Guide Boot and my wife has the Simms Rivershed boot, both with the Vibram soles and the carbide star cleats. I have to say that these boots are the most comfortable boots we have ever owned, and they go on and off so very easy. The only problem is that they are still a little slippery on alge covered rocks or bedrock. We are slowly getting use to them and overall they are fantastic boots.

Ian Rutter says:

As a guide who uses a drift boat I really wince when I hear how great the boots are with cleats. Even when they’re removable folks tend to remember after you’ve seen the floor get carved up. Really hoping for a better alternative.

I love my Riversheds. They are just a damn solid boot. The new Simms rubber is a vast improvement over past wading rubber I’ve used in most situations. They still do not compare to felt for all-around stickiness, but rather than comparing felt to rubber, I view either as a trade-off. They both have their advantages and disadvantages. As someone who often fishes in and out of a boat however, I’m reluctant to throw studs on. As someone who often hikes to and from places to fish, I’ll take a rubber sole any day.

That said, there is NOTHING inherently wrong with felt from an ecological standpoint, despite the prevailing media blitz. This isn’t just a matter of opinion, it’s the truth. Regardless of whether one uses felt or rubber or whatever, you should still be treating your boots prior to every time you go from one body of water or another. Simply opting for rubber soles doesn’t exclude you from that.

The prevailing wisdom is that rubber-soled boots dry out faster and are easier to treat, and there is logic to that. The flipside of it tough,, and the thing that concerns me, is that hordes of misinformed people will now think they don’t need to treat their boots at all (much less the rest of their wading gear) because they mistakenly think they’ve opted for the “eco-friendly” option. A change in boot soles isn’t going to prevent transmittable nasties – only aggressive education and a change in habits will.

@Dennis – They are darn comfortable – a big reason why I bought another pair of the same.

@Ian – Agreed. I go the multiple boot route for such occasions, although I think Orvis has a slip-on solution.

@Hammerzilla – The only reason I use Riversheds (other than the fact they provide great support, are very comfortable, and super easy to get on and off) is because you wear them. 😉

Joseph Strong says:

Amen, I have been using Redington felt boots for year(s) now and really did not see the to-do with all this anti-felt studies. Yeah I have the point of view that for statements made there is about 30% truth in there. I am not really a multi-stream fisher, I have a River I like and stick with it, but as all people I may wonder a bit and when I did I would clean my waders and my boots, not because of the little evil things that may or may not be in or on them, but because moving rivers meant caring in my gear and dirty gear is no fun to carry. It was when I started seeing that hiking in felt was just like skating on ice is when the lite in my head clicked. (it may have been the hard hit my hip and rear took.)

Non the less I had some money and it seemed that not only were my boots not meant for the hiking I was wanting to do, but they were starting to show some age also. So I decided to buy some Simms Freestones, 1) cause they were on sale 2) they looked like they could hike and wade 3) I wanted to be proactive in a way. Now I have to say I am using these as my primary boots instead of my backups, like I intended, due to the fact that they hold great in and out of the water.

So I have to say spot on Simms, I hope I am working to help the rivers I try, but government (my boss) is not really good at “fixing things”. I like to think that “we” as anglers will take care of our own and do what is right, not just follow a trend cause someone claims it is the right way. Not to discredit any study like I said earlier, “about 30% truth” which now a days could be a whole lot.

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