If you’re anything like me, you put a fair number of miles on your wading boots each year. From short one-mile wades after work, to long Saturdays spent alone in the high country. The distance racks up quickly — as does the wear and tear on boots not designed for miles of hiking rugged terrain.
Thankfully, manufacturers have started building boots to perform well in and out of the water, although it’s taken a few years for anyone to find a reasonable solution that balances the need for rigid stability on a rocky, unpredictable river bottom, and flexibility for longer hiking.
Enter the new Korkers Terror Ridge boot. It checks off nearly every box on my list of must-have features for wading boots here in the Rocky Mountains — including excellent comfort when hiking. And at a wallet-friendly $179.99, the Terror Ridge boots could be the best-value boot currently on the market.
Heel Lock System
I’ll start right away with the shiniest feature of the Terror Ridge boots — the new Heel Lock system. Anyone who’s put serious miles on hiking boots or trail runners knows the value of heel locking. Honestly, I’m surprised it took this long for the feature to transition over to wading boots.
The Terror Ridge Heel Lock System works by running the laces through a heavy-duty nylon strap that spans the rear of the boot and, when pulled tight, locks your foot in place.
Since I started wearing the Terror Ridge boots, I haven’t ended a day of fishing with toes sore from jamming up against the front of my wading boot or discomfort from my heel lifting off the insole. Climbing up and down steep banks is a breeze, and my feet really don’t move once I’ve pulled the laces tight. Even if the laces come loose, the Heel Lock system stays fairly tight.
Comfort and Support
The Terror Ridge boots slide on easy, and it doesn’t take too much effort to snug them down tight. The footbed is comfortable and soft, but doesn’t feel slippery. I love the ankle support throughout the 9-inch high boots, as well. For someone with chronically weak ankles, good ankle support that moves with me while in the water — or on land — is an absolute must.
And, as I’ve mentioned above, the Terror Ridge boots are supremely comfortable when hiking long distances between fishing spots. They feel more like hunting boots, and I don’t think I’d mind wearing them all day while trekking through the Uinta or Wind River Mountains.
The weight of these boots needs to be mentioned as well. At 3.2 ounces, they’re one of the lightest boots on the market. You won’t be worn out from wearing the Terror Ridge boots all day, unless you slap on a heavy aluminum-studded sole.
I’ll catch some flak for this for sure, because not long ago, I whined about the lack of the BOA system on other wading boots. With the Heel Lock system, though, I’m not sure the BOA system would work. The Heel Lock depends on laces being able to move and flex in ways that BOA cables just can’t.
I have a pair of Korkers Devil’s Canyon boots that I bought when they first came out, something like four years ago. Those boots are still going strong, and show no signs of slowing down, even with me fishing around 130 days a year. The Darkhorse boots sit in the back of my truck (along with an old pair of waders) so I’m ready to fish at a moment’s notice. The Darkhorse boots are just as dependable now as the day I got them.
While I haven’t had the Terror Ridge boots that long, they’re built with the same quality materials that Korkers is known for. Korkers opted for an upper built from material they say is stronger than leather, along with PU-cast quarter panels and a cast toe cap.
The rest of the materials are all hydrophobic, and the internal water drainage system works as intended. If their past boots are any indicator of what the future holds, the Terror Ridge boots will still be in top shape in three or four years.
Korkers' interchangeable, multi-sole system, which the company dubs OmniTrax, has been a fixture on Korkers boots for well over a decade now. Over the years, Korkers has consistently improved and expanded this system, and it's an offering that is still unique to Korkers. And that's saying something, given that being able to swap between uber-grippy aluminum, steel carbide spikes, plain rubber and good old felt soles as the situation demands adds an immense amount of versatility. Depending on what you choose at the time of purchase, the Terror Ridge boots come with two soles (either rubber + felt or rubber + spiked) and you can add additional soles—from Korkers' customizable selection of 10 different soles—as you so choose.
What Doesn’t Work
While I like the laces and the function they serve on these boots, I’m not a fan of how long they are. I have a devil of a time keeping them tight throughout the day, especially if I’m wet-wading and don’t have the same snug gravel guard I do when wearing waders. Replacing the laces with a shorter pair would help.
For $179.99, I don’t know if a better deal exists for wading boots. Korkers' Terror Ridge wading boots are light and nimble but sturdy in the river. They’re comfortable enough to wear while trekking through the high country, but feel right at home in the water. I love the new Heel Lock system, and it’ll be interesting to see if other manufacturers include that in the future.