12 months of use and hard labour – Patagonia Rock Grip boots review

Patagonia Rock Grip boots are the first product to be reviewed for our new Used and Abused: Gear reviews by the guides page. To qualify for review, products must be used by the author for at least one full-season, which makes these write-ups standout from the usual product testing reviews and new product announcements.

Patagonia Rock Grip Wading Boots. 100 day's old.

Patagonia Rock Grip Wading Boots. 100 day’s old.

Patagonia Rock Grip Boots: tested for approximately 100 days.

Fly fishing the Tasmanian rivers and Western Lakes are hard on wading boots. In fact, out of the six or so brands, and dozens of models that customers and guides have used with us this season, only two models have never failed: the Patagonia Rock Grip wading boot, and a boot we’ll call ‘Brand X’.

The most common failure in wading boots this season was sole de-lamination, which happened at a rate of almost one-boot-per-wilderness-trip among our customer base. The hard dolerite rock and thick scrub plays hell on the front toe of the boots, and most models and brands just weren’t up to it.

Out of the two successful boot models, there wasn’t much differentiation in wear-and-tear. Both the Patagonia Rock Grip, and the Brand X competitor have important features: high rubber-rands around the boot, sticky rubber soles, studs, and solid boot construction for maximum support. But look a bit closer, and a few features come to the fore, separating the Patagonia Rock Grip from Brand X in performance: weight, and water-shedding abilities.

There’s no point having the strongest boots in the world, if they are also the heaviest. A poorly-designed boot will weigh up to three-times that of a well-designed wading boot, and retain lots of water. A brilliantly designed boot will weigh as much as a running shoe, and shed water in a matter of steps. It’s in these areas that the Patagonia Rock Grip excels, making it my favourite of the current wading boot choices.

At 655grams per boot, or thereabouts, these are seriously light boots. In fact, they are amongst the lightest made, yet still extremely tough. Continuing with their points of difference, as soon as you leave the river or lake in a pair of Rock Grips, the boots shed almost all of their water within two footsteps, and are damp-dry within minutes. By the next morning they are often bone-dry, ready for packing prior to your trip home.

Tough, light and quick-drying.

These are the features that make the Patagonia Rock Grip my favourite pick from the current crop of boots.

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