I’ve been rocking these Simms Vaportread boots for just over a year now so I feel like its time to put down a real world review. They’ve seen about 50 long days of fishing in freshwater, muck, and salt. I’ve hoofed across jetties, down bike trails, slogged mile long treks on sand flats, and clambered down some of the most treacherous freestone rivers in New England (there aren’t many).
These Simms Vaportreads replaced a pair of LL Bean wading boots, my original pair from when I first started fly fishing. I won’t lie and say these weren’t cheap, because they were, but they held up pretty well for their $75 price tag. Unfortunately, they were felt bottoms, which are frowned upon nowadays, and offered little to none ankle support.
When looking to upgrade, I originally keyed in on the Simms Freestone boot, both for the price and the burliness of their construction. But, after wearing them around the house for a day, I had to bring them back to fly shop because I felt they were just a little too heavy. Being a light guy myself, I wanted something lighter and more nimble. Dan at Stone River Outfitters suggested I try out the Simms Vaportread boot. And I immediately fell in love.
The Simms Vapor boot are more akin to a pair of good pair of hiking boots, like my Asolo Fugitives. By Simms’ description, they were inspired by the angler who has to walk, hike, and slog to their prime fishing hole. They are some of the lightest weight full wading boot I’ve tried on and feel awesome to wade in. Made primarily of padded nylon, they are extremely soft and comfortable.
While the Simms Freestone boot is a synthetic full grain leather, they are pretty stiff at the benefit of bomb proof durability. I was a bit skeptical of the Simms Vapor’s long term durability with its mix of pleather, textile, and rubber, but was proven wrong. While I don’t fish everyday, I do fish most weekends in the spring, summer, and fair weather days int he fall and winter. They’ve shown nearly zero signs of wear, aside from a bit of the finish wearing off on the wader hook.
On The Water
The name Vaportread comes from the 4.0 mm Vibram rubber sole, which, while appearing thin by some standards, offers a you-gotta-feel-to-believe-it sense of tactile sensation through the bottom of the foot. While this might not mean anything in a fly shop, on the river this provides you a real sense of what’s going on beneath your feet while wading. You can feel difference in rock faces, curvatures, and even texture.
However, if you were a previous felt-bottom angler, you do have to make adjustments to your wading style on certain free stone rivers. While felt provides an unmatched level of traction via friction on slimy rocks, the rubber tread on the bottom of the Vaportreads doesn’t as well. It dictates an extra bit of care on algae, slime, and certain tidal boulders. That’s not to say they don’t grab, but you have to give an extra second to confirm that you’ve got a grip and you may need to search around a little.
I would highly recommend springing for the Simms Hardbite Star cleats for the soles. They help overcome the lack of slimy traction by acting like small durable studs. Due to their screw-in install, there are plenty of options for patterns to suit your preferences. I had to tweak the placement after the first few outings so I could use the cleats naturally. These Hardbite cleats, along with adding a little bit of gold bling to the bottom of your feet, are mind boggling durable. Even crunching down side streets to get to striper shores, they haven’t worn down or begun to rust. Just be careful boarding any fiberglass boats or walking across wood floors (ask me how I know).
While these boots are heavily marketed for the “backcountry” angler, I’m far from one fishing in New England. What I am is an angler who’s used to high quality hiking boots when I’m not fishing, while being a pretty light guy. I don’t require a ton of ankle support and can rely on my agility to get my foot out from between rocks. If you fall into one of these categories, or appreciate a lightweight, comfortable, rubber soled boot for long blister-free fishing days, the Simms Vaportread Boots are for you.
I’m looking forward to getting a pair of neoprene wading socks this summer to wet wade sand flats for stripers, where these boots, unlike many heavier boots, would be perfect for!
Full Specs by Simms Here.
Here a few places to pick yourself up a pair: