Review: Korkers River Ops BOA wading boots

Improving on Korkers best wading boots yet
Korkers River Ops BOA wading boots
The Korkers River Ops BOA wading boots (photo: Spencer Durrant).

Almost a year ago, I reviewed the original Korkers River Ops boots. If you didn’t read that review at the time it was published, it’s worth referring back to for the nitty gritty on the River Ops design. At the time of the original review, my only notable criticism of the River Ops was that they weren’t available with the BOA lacing system. Now, Korkers has introduced a BOA version of the River Ops, which only improved upon what I think is the best boot Korkers has built to date.

The Korkers River Ops BOA boots retail for $299.99 and, with the exception of the addition of the BOA lacing system, are identical to the lace-up River Ops boots. As a result, this review will serve as a one-year-in recap of how the River Ops boots have held up, as well as how the BOA system performs after months of heavy use.

What Works

Whether I’ve been jumping in and out of the drift boat all day, or hiking deep into the backcountry, the River Ops are still as bombproof as the day I pulled them from the box. That’s largely thanks to the lack of exposed stitching on the boot, a design feature that Korkers was really proud of when the River Ops were first released.

The seams are all encased in a proprietary Exo-Tec skeleton, paired with the traditionally bulletproof toe caps and heel cups Korkers uses. Enclosing the stitching reduces the opportunity for the thread to rub on rocks and dirt and wear away, ultimately extending the life of the boot.

I was originally impressed with the comfort of the River Ops boots in all situations — both hiking into the backcountry or walking a few hundred yards from my truck to the river. A year later, the River Ops are still just as comfortable to wear. The extra foam padding around the ankle in the River Ops hasn’t worn out or compressed beyond its usefulness, making these boots ideal for long days of hard use.

Korkers River Ops BOA wading boots
Image credit: Korkers

BOA Laces
The BOA lacing system is quick, easy, and keeps everything snug in the boot. While laces may sometimes provide a “locked in” fit that can’t be replicated by BOA (look at the Terror Ridge boots for an example of that in practice), there’s a reason so many anglers demand BOA on their wading boots. This lacing system works wonderfully, and is far more durable than traditional laces.

In the time I’ve owned the BOA River Ops boots, I’ve worn out a pair of regular laces on a different pair of wading boots. From a durability standpoint, there’s just no way to best what BO offers.

After a year of heavy use, the River Ops boots still offer more than enough ankle and foot stability. I have comically bad ankles that I roll just walking down the street, but I haven’t had an ankle problem yet while using the River Ops boots. Additionally, they provide a nice, stable platform that helps you feel secure when wading treacherous rivers.

What Doesn’t Work

I can’t point to one aspect of these boots that I actually dislike. I’d prefer a slightly narrower body and a more tapered tongue, but those are personal preferences that shouldn’t impact whether or not I think a product is great for most anglers.

Final Word

At $299, the Korkers River Ops BOA wading boots have the highest sticker price of any boot Korkers makes, but that price tag represents a long-term investment in a boot that has proven its mettle over time not just in performance but in durability. The River Ops exterior skeleton material, its unique design that keeps wear-prone seams protected, and Korkers’ commitment to build quality make the River Ops a value despite their initial cost. And, with the introduction of the BOA laces, I think the River Ops make as great a case as any other boot for the best wading boot currently on the market. They’re durable, comfortable, stable, and wonderfully convenient. What more can you ask for from your wading boots?