In developing the Aluminum Bar boot Patagonia has created the new standard in wading boots. They grip as good, if not better than felt, are easy to clean, and after several months of medium to hard use show minimal wear. They work great on snow, mud and grass. Whether the rocks are smooth or jagged, these boots just stick.
A case in point: Last weekend we fished the Metolius River near Sisters, Oregon. It was running high – a little over 2000 cfs on the gauge near Grandview, OR – and even during low flows, the section we fish is big, pushy and fast, with great holes on both sides of the river. Opting not to cross in-stream means a three-plus mile hike up to the nearest bridge, and time hiking is not time fishing.
For Chris and me, crossing the Met is normally not a big deal, we are both strong waders and haven't ever had a problem (well I haven't ever had a problem, Chris has dunked at least once), but this weekend we had a newbie with us and she is only 5'2". Crossing at our regular spot, the river regularly hits us at the bottom of the rib cage translating to near top of the waders on our newbie. Not a great option. Luckily Chris had on his new Aluminum Bar boots.
We sent Chris into the river and let him wander around a bit. In the 10 minutes of searching for the ideal location, he traversed the width of the river twice, working his way 50 yards upstream, then 50 yards downstream. He waded through raging mid-thigh deep water and fast belly button-deep water and never once did he even look like he might slip. I swear a group of hikers stopped just to watch him wade. It was impressive. Thanks to his "research" we crossed with no problems even with the high water.
The following week he convinced me to try to cross at a location that was fast and at least waist deep. I, being the strong wader that I am, didn't even hesitate to try. But halfway across he was forging easily and I was tip-toeing down the river to avoid tipping my waders. I eventually crossed successfully, but 25-yards downstream from where he had seemingly strolled across.
On their own, and as an alternative to felt, these boots impress! Check them out here