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Searching through the many online shops to find information about how to choose the best fitting wading boots is painful because there is no one answer.
That’s until I put together this sizing chart from the top five wading boot manufacturers.
Choosing the right wading boot size works like this. Some brands recommend going up one size from your shoe size, while others advise staying with your shoe size. For a half size, the advice varies. Here’s the sizing advice offered by the top five brands:- Orvis, Patagonia, Simms, Redington & Korkers.
Wading Boot Size Selection Chart for the Top Five Brands
|Brand||Men’s Wading boot size|
|Orvis||One size up from your shoe size. (1.5 sizes if you are a half size.)|
|Patagonia||Buy to your shoe size.|
|Simms||Go up one size from your shoe size. For half size go to the next full size.|
|Redington||Buy to your shoe size.|
|Korkers||Buy to shoe size. For half size go up to the next full size.|
Knowing your shoe size then choosing your boots relies on some careful consideration if like me you can’t visit a specialist fly fishing equipment store.
That’s why the following information will get you a great-fitting pair of boots. It’s worked for me so I hope it’s worked for you.
Step One: Measure Your Feet
- Place a piece of paper on the floor, against a wall.
- Stand with your bare foot on the paper, with the heel touching the wall.
- Mark the tip of your longest toe on the paper.
- Measure the length from the wall to this mark.
Points to remember:
- Measure both feet as most people have one foot longer than the other and this is the foot that footwear size should be selected on.
- Measure your feet at night after you have been walking on them during the day.
- Measure your feet standing up.
- Remeasure your feet every few years as they do change as we age, mostly due to our feet getting flatter as our arches lower.
Step Two: Select your wading boot size
Use the chart above to work out how much allowance you need to make from your normal shoe size.
Special Information on buying Women’s Wading Boots Ladies, I’ve put together a separate article for you here on how to choose the right size.
Choosing what to wear inside your wading boots
If you are buying breathable waders or wet wading in neoprene wading socks then you will need to allow for the space that the booties take up.
As I’ve mentioned the wading boot manufacturers have factored in this extra thickness into their advice, but take care to wear whatever you will be wearing on the river when trying on your boots for the first time.
You may also wear woolen socks inside your neoprene socks or booties. I talk about the options and my strong preference for merino inner socks in this post.
Another alternative for wet wading is to wear thick warm woolen socks, such as you would wear with hiking boots.
While not as warm, this is a very comfortable option for summer fishing. I like to let my feet breathe by wearing well-padded merino wool hiking socks.
How to know if you have the right size?
Wear your boots around the house for a few hours, using the wading socks or waders you will be wearing on the river.
You should be able to wear your wading boots all day, without getting blisters or your feel feeling tired and sore.
If your boots are too big, your feet will slip around with your heel sliding up and down the back of your boot. This is definitely not what you need. Not only is it uncomfortable you are also increasing your risk of a sprained or broken ankle.
There is a big advantage to having good support when clambering over rocks, whether in or on the river bed.
If your feet feel tight inside your boots, or your toes are touching the end, then your boots are too small. Blisters and bruises will result. And you’ll have an uncomfortable or even miserable day on the river.
What to do if my wading boots feel too big?
Wearing boots that are too big can damage your feet, and you will also miss out on the support that the boots are designed to provide could result in a sprained ankle, or worse.
Before you return the boots and get a smaller size, try these options:
Adding an inner sole. However, since water gets inside your wading boots chose a material that will withstand getting wet.
Wear two pairs of socks, or thicker woolen socks, inside your wading socks in summer, or wading booties in winter.
What to do if my wading boots feel too small?
You could look at reducing the thickness of your wading socks.
If you can’t do that then return them! Don’t wear them. Walking for miles in under-sized boots will damage your feet, and spoil your day.
I once wore hiking boots that squeezed my toes, especially on the downhill sections of the trail. As a result, I lost 3 toenails over the next month. Ouch! The pain and damage meant I couldn’t get outdoors for several months.
Wading boots are great for protecting your feet from cold and potential damage but will spoil a day’s fishing if they don’t fit well. Follow these guidelines and I can’t guarantee you’ll catch more fish, but you’ll have a better fishing experience. Tight lines!