SIMMS Rivershed boots with Vibram StreamTread soles were first introduced in 2009. The fact that this workhorse wading boot is still on the market over four years later is a testament to its well-rounded feature set and quality construction. After outings to everywhere from local streams to the backcountry of Yellowstone, the Riversheds never failed to deliver. Besides typical wading, these boots were used for wet wading in many situations with either wool or neoprene socks. Size 11 Riversheds clock 66.5 ounces with generic studs installed, which is just over two pounds on each foot. While this may sound heavy, in reality the boots are perfect for hiking long distances on trails and river banks to reach the next fishing spot. Lighter boots can be had, however the Riversheds offer well-rounded durability, comfort, and protection in and out of the water.
At $179.95 these aren’t the least expensive boots on the market, but when it comes to a balance between price, quality, and functionality it’s hard to beat the Riversheds.
SIMMS details the materials and construction of the Rivershed boots to highlight the main selling points of the design. The company states that a “full perimeter of burly rubber” fuses “exceptional support” and durability. The pull-on heel strap simplifies putting them on, and tightening the laces through metal hardware makes for a comfortable fit. Here are highlights of the official specs:
- CleanStream™ design utilizes high abrasion-resistant panels with water repellent treatment for minimal water absorption and easy cleaning
- Full perforated neoprene lining with closed-cell foam and full-coverage molded rubber toe cap
- Full perimeter rubber rand offers superior durability, 100% synthetic construction is lightweight and quick-drying
- Non-corrosive hardware and high quality, long lasting nylon laces
- StreamTread™ sole with patented 360-degree lug pattern, made from a proprietary mix of rubber compounds
Entire days wearing the Riversheds in and out of the water never caused any blisters or cramped toes. Firm ankle supports with EVA foam midsoles do the trick, and the tongue is clearly designed to stay put. The toe box is spacious enough that feet are never cramped, while around the ankle these boots don’t slip around on land or in the water. SIMMS recommends that men purchase Riversheds in the next size up from their normal shoe size, while women should go for a size down. The key to these boots is their ability to function outside of the water, for hikes on dry land. If you’ve ever brought separate boots for hiking then switched over to wading boots after arriving at the fishing spot, the Riversheds make this redundancy a thing of the past. Tightening up the laces once the boots hit water might be necessary, resulting in a snug fit all afternoon. In fact, even with long days covering several miles of stream, these boots blend into the background and simply do their job, which is more than can be said about some of the gear we bring along.
A few years ago, there was more discussion about felt soles vs. rubber. For anyone who hasn’t yet made the leap to rubber soles, products like the StreamTread Vibram® sole should allay any fears of transition. Rivershed boots feature this technology, which works remarkably well when paired with studs. Anglers who make the leap from felt to rubber often lament the high additional cost of adding studs, which usually clocks in around $25-30 or more if you want to heavily stud your boots. For those who aren't interested in investing in the studs sold by current boot manufacturers, there are solutions which offer dramatically enhanced grip while saving significant coin. Goat Head Gear offers a higher quantity of their premium Sole Spikes (now being sold by Redington, as well) at a fraction of the cost of traditional studs. Or, if you're really looking to maximize your savings, we've highlighted studs from other manufacturers that you can stud your boots with for a total cost of under two bucks per pair (though you'll have to pony up for a higher quantity of studs).
Not only do the StreamTread soles carry their own on all kinds of aquatic terrain, they clean up quick and easy after the day is done. The traction and hiking ability of the Riversheds on river banks and dry land beats felt hands down, and renders separate footwear an unnecessary addition to your daypack.
Hose down the Riversheds and let them dry. If CleanStream technology is a marketing gimmick, then I’ve been fooled. SIMMS describes CleanStream as a “design philosophy” that features “less exposed stitching, fewer ridges and pockets” and non-absorbent materials. Add these design features to the rubber soles, neoprene interior, and synthetic leather and the Riversheds quickly lose mud, debris and stowaway plants. Occasionally the drain ports on the inside arch would take on some dirt, but this was easily remedied while cleaning. Once clean, the Rivershed boots dry relatively quickly, in some locales overnight. SIMMS claims drying times will be reduced when the boots are positioned upside-down, however I didn’t notice a difference.
After using the boots exclusively for over a year, it’s difficult to come up with anything negative to say about the SIMMS Riversheds. Over four years on the market has proven this model in the field again and again. While the weight might be heavy by some standards, superior durability and dry hiking capabilities make up for the extra ounces. The full perimeter rubber rand and the reinforced toe box provide more than adequate protection in rock-laden streams. Premium wading boots for under $200 is not a bad deal. Grip overall is top notch in and out of the water, and you can rest easy that aquatic invasive species won’t take a ride on the Riversheds with proper cleaning. On top of it all, the Rivershed Boot sports a slick, athletic design, which is arguably the most attractive in the entire SIMMS lineup. If I had to guess, the Rivershed Boot with Vibram StreamTread soles will be available for years to come.
Buy with confidence.