Patagonia Forra Boot Review

Tested and Reviewed by Aaron Alexander / St. Peter's Fly Shop South

In 2019, Patagonia introduced one of the finest wading boots on the market with manufacturing help from Danner.  Instead of trying to craft something from the ground up, why not partner with one of the best in the business and create a one-of-a-kind wading boot?  The resulting Patagonia/Danner Foot Tractor and River Salt boots were, and still are, some of the best, long-lasting boots you can buy.  However, some of the feedback we heard was they were heavy, bulky, and not necessarily something you wanted to fish all day or hike miles in.  Patagonia has taken this feedback and followed the previous collaboration model to introduce a new, super lightweight boot.  Introducing the Patagonia Forra Wading Boot!

Patagonia has now teamed up with Italian boot maker Fitwell, to collaborate on one of the industry's lightest, most comfortable and grippy wading boot.  Fitwell is known for their hand-made mountaineering/climbing/hunting style of boots and they have put years of expertise into the new Forra wading boot.  Without sacrificing durability or performance, Patagonia and Fitwell have created a boot with ultralight construction and only the necessary features to wear like a burly wading boot in an astonishingly light package.  I have been fortunate enough to wear these boots over the last few months and have put them through the ringer.  From miles-long hikes, full wader-wearing spring runoff to wet-wade season, to day trips up the Poudre and beyond, I have tested the limits of the Forra and have come out the other side with a new favorite pair of wading boots.  They will soon make a trek to Alaska with me as my go-to boot.  As you read on, I will offer some "tech" and what that really means to me and the angler.

-Vibram Mars sole with XS Trek traction - Starting from the ground up, my impression is that the Patagonia Forra boot has best in class traction for a rubber sole.  The Vibram Mars with XS Trek sole has a super aggressive tread pattern that translates perfect from the trail to the river.  The rubber compound is specifically designed for wet, slippery rocks and the over-sized heel is perfectly suited to grip river rocks while wading.  In fact, the heel is so large that it took me a minute to get used to walking with them over flat ground (it's meant to grip as soon as your foot touches the ground).  This allows you to more quickly "get a grip" when walking on slick, rounded river rocks on the streambed, or when we are scrambling down the riverbank to get to the water.  If you have fished anywhere in the Poudre or Big South, you know exactly how important this is.  I also enjoyed the grippy confidence when hiking off trail in Northgate canyon.  The Forra is the perfect mix of hiking boot and wading boot.  Speaking of the tread pattern, the oversized 90 degree hex head lugs grab almost anything from the trail to instream and won't "round" out on you over time.

-Welded Rubber Rand - The entire lower of the Forra boot is wrapped in welded rubber rand.  This allows for durability and protection when scraping your feet around and over rocks.  I've found the rubber rand to be superior to leather as a leather lower on wading boots can sometimes create unneeded drag when trying to scoot your feet around submerged rocks...basically, creating a smoother, more balanced wading experience.  The rubber rand is also super durable which helps reduce wear points.  I have a nasty bunion on my right foot and continue to put holes in ALL my wading boots at this pressure/hing point.  So far so good with the protection of the rubber rand on the Forra boot.

-Fully Knit Mesh Upper - As we saw in the minimalist design of the Foot Tractor and River Salt boots, more material and "padding" in the boot upper does not necessarily make a more stable, supportive, or comfortable boot.  The Foot Tractor and River Salt boots had virtually no extra material built into the upper and the Forra boot follows suit.  A simple, knit mesh upper with NO extra foam is key to keeping these boots ultra lightweight and provides more stability, whether wet or dry.  The more material and "padding" that is packed around the ankle and upper is just more material to keep your ankles loose, to soak up water, and is impossible to drain while wearing them, making most wading boots heavier than they need to be.  Most of your ankle support originates in the Vibram XS Trek sole and the insole of the Forra boot, leaving the ability to keep the upper super lightweight, simple and quick drying.  This feature also allows the boot to "break in" with the utmost of ease...much like a running shoe.  Additionally, much like a running shoe, the Forra boot features an adjustable, noncorrosive lacing system for all day support and durability...AND an extra pair of laces which I have not come close to needing yet.  I did notice you will want to keep your wader gravel guards / wet wading sock gravel guards in the down/foldover position to help keep extra sand and grit out.  If I would change anything about the boot, it would be to add another boot lace position at the extreme top of the boot to help the upper close off any potential sand and grit from making it's way into the boot...but hey, that's what gravel guards are for.

At first glance, the new Patagonia Forra Boot is seemingly underwhelming.  They are simple, lightweight, and no frills...all traits that we are used to expecting from Patagonia...but don't let that fool you.  They are purpose-built and ready to get you on the water, whether that be 3 miles in on the Platte Wilderness or 50 feet from your vehicle in the Poudre Canyon.  If you are looking for a super lightweight, durable, and most importantly, comfortable out of the box wading boot, I encourage you to stop past either shop and try them on.  Your feet, ankles and knees will thank you later!

Additional Notes:

-Patagonia Forra Wading Boot hand-made by Fitwell - $299.00 - Available in-store and online now

-Available in Men's size 5-14 (Boots are "true to size."  Smaller sizes meant to be unisex.  I would size up one size from your street shoe for optimal fit)

-Fit is great with wet wading socks or waders.

-Extra pair of boot laces included.  Stud kits now available.