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Patagonia Forra Wading Boots

Alpine meets the river.
Kirk Deeter author.
Kirk Deeter
January 11, 2024
Patagonia | Forra Wading Boot
product description
“Engineered for trail and river, the Forra Wading Boots are lightweight without sacrificing performance. Built with Vibram Mars sole technology for traction and grip, these boots feature a high ankle, sturdy toe box and adjustable, noncorrosive lacing system for support and durability.” – Patagonia
company ethos
“At Patagonia, we appreciate that all life on earth is under threat of extinction. We’re using the resources we have–our business, our investments, our voice and our imaginations–to do something about it.” – Patagonia

Performance

Probably the best backcountry fishing boot on the market today, Forra is well suited for long hikes and rock hopping. It’s also one of the more versatile boots we’ve tested. Over several months of abuse in the summer and fall seasons, we wore them to high alpine lakes, used them in drift boats, wore them with flippers to power belly boats, wore them over waders, as well as wet wading with thin, neoprene socks.

Design

There really wasn’t an obvious flaw where we thought the boot could’ve been designed any better. These look and feel different than your typical wading boots. Some wading boots are built like winter boots; others like work boots, and others are bulky and overbuilt like Frankenstein boots. The Forra is alpine inspired, for life in and out of the water, like high-end Italian mountaineering boots. 

Versatility

They’re light and comfortable, yet supportive, and they have burly Vibram Mars sticky rubber soles that we found to grip almost as good as felt or studs on river bottoms, but not quite. You can get a variation with a grip studs traction kit, but we didn’t test those, because we don’t wear studs in boats, and we think hiking in studs is less comfortable than hiking without. It almost seemed that adding studs to these boots would take them out of character, though we certainly could see the value in that if you were to hike shorter distances, wade slicker rivers, etc. For rivers like the North Umpqua, studs would be the play. For hiking in the Apache Wilderness, leave the boots alone.

Pros

Lightweight, it’s a hiking boot for fishing, not a fishing boot you might sometimes have to hike in.

Despite pretty tough testing, we experienced no seams ripping, no stitches popped, no holes poked in fabric and the tread held up.

It’s Patagonia. We believe in the company’s ethos. 

Cons

When they dry after a day in the river, they seem to shrink and get a bit stiff, so you have to dunk them in water to loosen them up before you put them on again (a common issue).

If you’re a felt-sole die-hard, you have no option.

Pricing

They cost $300 and that’s a lot to spend on wading boots. But $300 is not out of range for good alpine/hiking boots. 

Durability

You get what you pay for here, and these boots will probably last at least twice as long as the $150-200 boots you might otherwise consider. We can’t guarantee that, but it’s a pretty solid hunch.

  • Price: $299
  • Weight: 41 ounces
  • Construction: Abrasion-resistant Cordura® nylon mesh upper for quick-drying, durable, lightweight support
  • Materials: Upper (100% nylon mesh), Midsole (EVA and rubber), Outsole (Vibram® Mars with XS Trek compound)
  • Wet/Dry Traction: Vibram® Mars sole provides a large contact area for superior grip; outsole features HexaBase lugs for maximum traction and stability. Compatible with the Patagonia® Forra Wading Boots – Grip Studs Traction Kit
  • Design Details: High collar design provides a more stiff upper for ankle protection and stability; reinforced toe caps for technical wading
  • Quick-Draining and Quick-Drying: Boots are engineered to clear water quickly; upper boot is free from unnecessary foams and backers for faster dry times
  • Adjustable Lacing System: Adjustable webbing lacing system provides in-stream security; hardware is noncorrosive and abrasion-resistant
  • Lightweight Versatility: Engineered for light weight and comfort during overland approaches and for reliability in all types of wading
  • Warranty information: Patagonia Ironclad Guarantee

Patagonia® Forra Wading Boots:

Patagonia Ironclad Guarantee.

“We guarantee everything we make. If you are not satisfied with one of our products at the time you receive it, or if one of our products does not perform to your satisfaction, return it to the store you bought it from or to Patagonia for a repair, replacement or refund. Damage due to wear and tear will be repaired at a reasonable charge.”

Conclusion

We put a number of other wading boots on time-out this summer, because we liked the Forra Wading Boots so much. They are comfortable, well-crafted, versatile and time will tell how durable. We’d be crestfallen if they all the sudden fell apart next spring, but don’t see that happening.  

The only reservation we’d have is if you know you’re going to spend a lot of time fishing notoriously slippery rivers, say, the Deschutes, or the Upper Dolores, or even certain sections of the Lehigh in Pennsylvania, we’d either opt for the studs with these boots, or punt, and go to something else with studded felt.

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