Simms G3 Wading Boot Review

Simms G3 Guide Wading Boot

Specifications

Upper: Full Grain Nubuck Waterproof Leather
Midsole: Molded one-piece Polyurethane
Sole: Synthetic felt
Approximate weight per pair: 66 ounces
Sizing: 7 – 14, width; EEE
Retail price: $189.95

What’s the Word…..?

I’ve always appreciated having the best shoes on my feet whenever I travel outdoors. Whether I’m rock climbing, hiking, or fly fishing, my footwear has always played an important role in my ability to perform. And, for me, that contributes directly to a more enjoyable and safer overall outdoor experience.

Having worked in the mountaineering industry as an importer and retailer of climbing shoes, and having over two decades of experience as a professional wading fly fishing guide, I’ve also come to appreciate how the design, materials, and construction of these shoes lend themselves to whether the shoes work well for their intended purposes, or don’t.

I have to say, on initial inspection from the standpoint of design, materials, and construction, that the new Simms G3 Guide Wading Boots are the finest example of wading footwear I’ve ever seen. The gorgeous full grain leather upper of this boot is what I would expect to see only on the finest quality European mountaineering boots, and the same could be said for the fused, one piece polyurethane midsole and quality hardware.

A Slippery World …

Wading boots are designed to protect and support your feet; not necessarily a big deal on a grassy meadow stream, but as the river gradient steepens, the boulders get bigger, and the water deeper and faster, things can get “challenging”, as they say. In situations like these, most anglers will be wearing a pair of stocking foot chest waders to keep the cold water out, inside a sturdy pair of wading boots with either felt, “sticky rubber”, or carbide steel studded outsoles to provide needed additional traction on mossy, slippery rocks. The G3 Wading Boot is equipped with a synthetic felt sole which provides very good traction for overall wading on most stream bottoms. Other Simms model boots are available with an Aquastealth sole, a rubber compound which is has grown in popularity due to its greater longevity than felt when doing a lot of trail hiking mixed in with your fishing. However, in my experience, felt soles grip more effectively than the aqua-rubber materials , and my choice would be to screw ten or more Simms Hardbite Studs into the bottom of each felt sole on the G3 Boots. The Hardbite stud is a hardened steel hex washer head screw that has tungsten-carbide pellets welded onto its top. With a set of these in your felt soles, you’ll greatly extend the life of the felt soles themselves, and the felt/stud combination will provide you with the best wet traction of any sole possible. The Hardbites can be removed to prevent potential damage if fishing out of wooden drift boats or fabric bottom rafts. The only situation I can think of where these additional studs would be a disadvantage, and not safe to use, is walking on mostly river or glacial polished granite, or other similar large, super-hard rock surfaces, where the studs won’t ‘bite’ effectively. So, if you’re going to Yosemite, for example, go with the plain felt.

The G3 Boot is very easy to get on and get off due to an excellent bellows tongue design, which opens wide. That’s important at the end of a long, tiring fishing day, particularly when you’re bulked out with waders and cold weather clothing, and can barely bend over! By the same token, The G3 lacing system sports expensive friction free roller guides, which makes micro-adjustments on each part of the boot a breeze. One of my pet peeves is wading shoe laces that give out after the first week; the quality Cordura nylon laces on the G3 look like they’ll go the distance.

I found the G3, like other Simms wading boots, to be extremely comfortable due to the wide box toe and the full Neoprene lining. The lacing system nestles your foot comfortably into the Neoprene foam, with probably less break-in time required adjusting to your foot than with other new, out-of-the-box wading boots. The rigid, molded toe and heel counters, along with highly durable leather upper provides support and impact protection as well, or better, than any wading shoe made.

The only problem I ran into with the G3 has to do with the peculiarities of my own feet; I wear a size 11 shoe, yet my foot is extremely narrow (for a male); B width. Plus, I have a very low arch, making for a low volume fit, indeed. The Simms G3, like most Simms wading boots, is built on an EEE width last, which makes the boot the proper width to accommodate most average-width feet, plus requisite internal wool or synthetic sock and the neoprene bootie of the stocking foot wader itself. The G3, due to the boot’s midsole construction methods, also has a wider, larger surface area footprint than most other wading shoes. The net result is a wading shoe with a more stable platform for bigger, heavier, medium to wide footed individuals. Ruggedness also comes at a price; the average pair weight of the G3 is 66 ounces, and with additional weight added when soaked, they might be a bit more of a load for smaller folks. So, if you have narrow feet, or are slightly built, you may get a better, more functional fit from other lighter Simms boot models.

Materials and Construction…

Durable wading shoes that can withstand the constant wet abrasion of streambed rocks have to be built with rugged materials. Each component of this G3 Wading has been selected for that purpose, and since Simms is, arguably, the leading manufacturer of higher quality wading boots in the world, consider the G3 Wading Boot their flagship. Even though we are blessed with a myriad of high tech synthetic materials these days, it’s surprising to many that natural leather, when selected and processed in the correct manner, can still provides the greatest durability, comfort, and fit. As before, the leather used in the G3 is to die for; a full grain waterproof Nubuck from the German/Chinese consortium producer, ISA. This leather should withstand wetting/ drying, UV light exposure, and abrasion from rock cuts better than almost any synthetic, as well as mold comfortably to the foot with minimum ‘break-in’ time. The protective rubber rand covers the area where the upper and midsole join and is fully stitched. Simms, with the G3, has led the way in the fly fishing industry with their “CleanStream” design that provides for easy cleaning after use, and helps prevent the spread of harmful invasive aquatic species, such as New Zealand Mud Snails.

The G3 interior is fully lined with a high quality, dense Neoprene foam, which absorbs minimal water and conforms to your foot for comfort and control. A modern construction feature of this boot is the molded one piece polyurethane midsole which fuses the upper and lower components of the boot together. This is a huge technological upgrade over the poorly designed Goodyear stitched welts that have haunted the American boot market in past decades. The superior molded toe and heel counters are responsible for protecting your feet from hard impact and won’t collapse after repeated wear, like some others will. These are the only wading shoes, that I’m aware of, that have high tech metal roller guides at the eyelets that reduce friction for easy lacing adjustments, and reduce wear on the laces themselves.

The G3, first released in 2008, is a relatively new boot, and so, like all newer products, only time will tell how they truly hold up in the field. Yet, based on past experience with other Simms models, and the strong array of construction details already discussed, I would expect this shoe to hold up well with extended use.

Waterproof full grain leather upper Minimum exposed stitching for increased durability Fully neoprene lined with closed-cell foam for minimal water absorption Molded toe and heel counters provide better fit and minimize toe box collapse Fully stitched rubber rand for superior durability Generous tongue gussets for ease of entry High quality non-corrosive hardware and Cordura® US-made laces Perimeter cable-stitched outsole 7/16″ black high-density black felt soles are cemented and stitched to the midsole – incredibly durable materials and construction.

Company Profile … Warranty

Here’s what Simms says about their warranty; “At Simms, we stand behind everything we make. If your Simms product fails due to workmanship or material defect during the life of the product, please return it to us for repair or replacement. This warranty does not cover damages caused by improper care, accidents or the natural breakdown of materials over extended use and time. All defective or damaged products should be returned to Simms for evaluation and will be repaired or replaced at the discretion of Simms Fishing Products.”

Simms was the pioneer in the fly fishing world, creating the first waterproof/ breathable Gore-Tex waders in 1993. Since then, they have successfully grown to become the largest domestic supplier of waders, boots, and fly fishing clothing in the fly fishing industry. Simms is one of only three manufacturers worldwide licensed to make Gore-Tex waders, and the only one that does so in the United States. Simms’ staff is largely comprised of committed anglers and they’re located in the heart of trout country; Bozeman, Montana. In a continuing effort to improve their products, at any given time, Simms has two to three hundred prototypes being tested in the field by professional male and female fishing guides, and other outdoor professionals. I can’t think of many other manufacturers that are that dedicated to getting things right. On this success, so far, I would guess that Simms will be around to back their warranties for a long time.

Overall Rating; 4 Stars out of 5

The Simms G3 Wading Boot is the most feature laden boot from the maker of the most popular line of high quality wading shoes in the world. The materials are top notch, the design is environmentally friendly (and Simms should be commended for taking the lead on this primary issue), and the construction techniques point the way to how most quality wading shoes will probably be built in the future. Is this your dream wading boot? Well, like all footwear, it’s got to fit you properly to be utilitarian, and I think the majority of medium to larger sized anglers with average to wider width feet will love its fit and quality.

Pros

Beautiful, full-grain Nubuck Leather with superior support that should outlast any other wading shoe upper. Fully neoprene lined and fully stitched rubber rand for comfort and durability. Simms CleanStream design minimizes spread of invasive species, makes cleaning easy. Easy to adjust, contoured speed lacing system with nifty friction-free roller guides.

Cons

In this case, as you might expect, top quality costs to the tune of $190. The G3 has a wider footprint and is a bit heavier than other Simms models, so it probably won’t match up well with lighter, lean folks or narrower feet.

Bottom Line

The ‘Rolls-Royce’ of the river, with the best materials and the best design of any wading shoe ever made. Modern boot construction methods fuse and seal parts together. Available in felt soles only, so if you need supreme traction, screw in some Simms Hardbite Studs.

Reviewer. . .

Having been in the fly fishing industry for over 25 years as a professional guide, fly fishing school director, writer, and manufacturers sales representative, I’ve been fortunate to fish with a wide array of equipment from almost all of the top makers.