What is your opinion of Aquastealth soled wading boots?

Question: I recall that you were using a pair of wading boots that had Auqa Stealth soles.  Do you still have as high an opinion of them as you did a year ago?  Have you had any problem with them?  Feel the traction is adequate? David.


UPDATE 8-2-08: Simms to introduce new sticky rubber sole that performs like felt


Gday David,Yes I really do like the Simms L2 with the aquastealth. But you should know Simms whole boot lineup is being revamped for ’08, we are expecting our first stocks in at the end of March, but more on that in a minute.

 I have put some wear on them now, as you can imagine I spent a lot more time on the water than the average fly fisher so they are now losing a little grip on some surface but still wearable.

There has been lots of debate on the Flylife magazine website and I have written a fair bit about Aquastealth for my gear column “Latest and Greatest” so Ive spent a fair amount of time pondering this. To my mind there are a few rules.

 Remember no sole is perfect on all surfaces, they all slip on something, whether its felt, AS or studs.What sort of wading do you do most of the time? What is the bottom like? Do you have lots of gravel like a lot of the White, heavy algae, that superslick limestone like at Roundhouse and patches at Wildcat?

 The next thing to consider seriously is what sort of wader are you? Do you slip and slide a lot, take a lot of spills, or do you have great natural coordination and feel, lots of lower body strength. For the former categories I’d look for a boot with the widest felt or AS platform and perhaps recommend a wading staff. The latter can get away with almost any boot even rubber and still stay upright. Most of us fall somewhere between the two.

Now personally Aquastealth has equal grip to felt on a lot of gravel, better on grass etc, and pretty decent on most of the White. Its grip doesn’t for far short of felt, for me, but Ive always been fairly clumsy so slipping doesn’t concern me too much! I have good recovery skills hehehe. Then the environmental issue with didymo makes me feel better, even though Im in didymo water all the time. Put it this way Ill be buying AS again. 

Finally look for fit. Taking your waders into the store and your normal socks is a great idea. All neoprene feet aren’t equal, so you need to know what you are getting. 

Now back to the Simms lineup. The L2 with straight Aquastealth is a great boot (and we have some limited sizes left in stock). But under the new lineup the only Aquastealth without studs will be the totally new Headwaters Boot pictured at left.


The L2 is a great boot but it was built for people with narrow feet. I was one it fitted really well but for a lot of people it wasn’t wide enough. From what we have heard the Headwaters will fit a lot more people.


Its light, easy to clean and will be $10 cheaper than the L2 was with the same sole. Actually I had given Simms a bit of a spray over not offering AS in cheaper boots in the next issue of Flylife, but I do think this is a step in the right direction, to reduce the spread of things like didymo.


The rest of the boot lineup looks good too, even the entry level Freestone now have a modern touch.

Here are the specs on the Headwaters from Simms. I hope this all helps.


Lace up our lightest boots without taking a hit to your budget. The Headwaters carry a featherweight price tag and deliver rugged performance.

  • CleanStream™ design utilizes synthetic leather upper for easy cleaning and lightweight comfort
  • Schoeller®-dynatec mesh panels with NanoSphere® treatment for easy cleaning
  • Fully gusseted neoprene tongue prevents entry of debris
  • EVA wedge midsole construction offers super lightweight footbed protection
  • Molded rubber toe and heel wraps provide abrasion resistance
  • High quality, non-corrosive hardware
  • Pull-on heel loop
  • Contoured speed lacing system and high quality nylon laces
  • AquaStealth® sole features “sticky rubber” for exceptional tracking and durability; these soles are particularly good for backcountry fishing and easy cleaning




  • Great! Didymo was one of the issues I was concerned about and hoped the AquaStealth sole would be efficient with, both in navigating while wading and effective cleaning up between trips to prevent possible spread. I definitely fall more into the “clumsy” catagory due to knee and back issues so I want a grippy, stable boot to wade in the White as well as streams in New Mexico.

    Too bad I waited so long to take up the chase though. I have narrow, low-volume feet and would probably have been very happy with the fit of the L2 boot. I’ll have to locate a pair of Headwaters and try them on.

    Thanks for the info.

  • The Headwaters will be available most places end of March, we are expecting shipments then.

    The uppers will still hold didymo spores, but the cleaning process is far easier with this type of boot.

    10% household detergent solution
    10 minutes should hill them off.

    Great to see you are concerned about these issue David, kudos mate!


  • The reports l have had from friends is this.
    They are ok when wading rivers that felt is good. If wading rivers that felt does not give you good traction, these boots are worse, and you will need studs, either as boot or screw in your own, which is the better option as you can remove and add them as needed.


  • I’ve been using Aquastealth for the last 9 years and enjoy them more than I did felt of which I owned 2 pairs. Mines are studded and double as hiking boots as well. Recently on a 5 mile hiking trip through the canyons of the Gunnison River, I blew out both soles of my Salomon hiking boots and was left hiking with a 45lb pack on my lasts alone. I had used my aquastealths before for short hikes and this time it was a necessity. It handled the 5 mile hike up the rocky slope with pack in tow without issues. No damage was noted at the top. Mine are LL Beans and I’ve used them everywhere I can remember. Do they hold in slippery water, heck yeah, but then again I wade carefully and with a staff90% of the time.

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