For the last decade or so, Patagonia has been on an ongoing mission to build the perfect wading boot. Or, perhaps better put, the perfect wading boots. This calling has led to a number of Patagonia partnerships with venerated bootmakers with long running pedigrees, such as Wolverine and Danner. Those efforts have brought us notable innovations, such as use of now-ubiquitous aluminum bars for wading traction, which it’s fair to say Patagonia was the first to push in a serious way with its Foot Tractor line of boots. They’ve also delivered some of the most durable and long-lasting boots on the market. With its latest collaboration, Patagonia is aiming to deliver another memorable piece of technical fly fishing footwear that will serve anglers well for many years to come.
That latest partnership is with Fitwell Boots — a small Italian company that has been hand making some of the world’s best technical mountaineering boots for more than 4 decades. Originally known as ONESport, Fitwell was started by Giuliano Grotto more than 40 years ago. Grotto learned the bootmaking trade as an apprentice in Italy’s world famous Asolo-Montebelluna shoemaking district, in whose 28 towns and villages you’ll find the headquarters and factories of of some of the most famous technical footwear makers on the planet, such as Alpina, Asolo, Crispi, Dalbello, Dynafit, La Sportiva, Lowa, Mammut, Scarpa, Scott, Tecnica, Trezeta, Zamberlan and more.
The two brands have joined forces to develop the new Patagonia Forra wading boot, aimed at anglers that move — a lot — both in the water and out.
Those and other anglers have had very little to complain about when it comes to the last several wading boot offerings from Patagonia. But, if there’s been one gripe, it’s been weight. Some of Patagonia’s most well-loved wading boots, like the Patagonia Foot Tractors by Danner, are undeniably heavy. The new Forra not only sheds the heavy moniker, but bucks the trend entirely. Patagonia calls the new Forras "remarkably lightweight," and it’s a description that seems apropos given that, at a measly 41 ounces, the Forra wading boots weigh in below “superlight” and similarly-termed offerings from other prominent wading boot makers — and might just be the lightest wading boot currently on the market.
Other design highlights include robust and quick-drying Cordura uppers, Vibram Mars sole tech for grip and Vibram XS Trek with HexaBase Lugs for traction, and a lacing system built entirely of corrosion-proof materials (which should make the Forras saltwater friendly, as well). The new boots also are designed to take a tungsten-carbide stud system that Patagonia designed specifically for the Forras.
“The Forra Boots exceed expectations in every way,” said Patagonia Fly Fishing’s Matt Millette. “They are remarkably lightweight, tough and as good in a swift boulder run as they are on a technical canyon descent to the water. Their versatility and performance are simply fantastic, both overland and underwater.”
We’ve been testing the new Patagonia Forra wading boots for a couple of months and thus far the results are seriously encouraging, both in terms of the boots’ lightweight and agile nature, robust support, and traction, but also in regards to other notables, such as their incredibly quick drying time.
Full review to come.