Which one should I get...bootfoot or stockingfoot waders?
Things like material, breathability, fit, and of course price all must be considered when buying a new pair of waders, but simply deciding between bootfoot or stockingfoot can be a bit of a head scratcher. Is one necessarily better?
Out of the last five pairs of waders I've owned in my life, exactly one was stockingfoot. I've always just preferred the simplicity of bootfoot...not to mention the ones I found were always cheaper! Regardless of the pricing structure today, the pros and cons of bootfoot and stockingfoot waders remain. Let's go through some that will hopefully help you make up your mind!
Convenience- I've always loved the convenience of bootfoot waders. With the boots and waders all being fused together as one single piece, you just slip them on and go fishing.
Fit- My main gripe with bootfoot waders has been the boots never offer an optimal fit and are always somewhat sloppy/loose. Because of this, walking in the ones I've owned always felt a bit clumsy. Since separate boots must be bought to go along with stockingfoot waders, several pairs can be tried on to see which feels best. These boots also typically feature high tops and laces for a more snug, supportive, and secure fit overall. If you plan on doing a ton of walking or hiking, stockingfoot should allow for a more comfortable and fluid stride.
Sole Options- Bootfoot waders usually just come in rubber soles (good for rocks, mud, and scrambling down a trail...they are also easier to clean which helps prevent transport of invasive species) or felt soles (good for slippery surfaces). The separate boots you buy for stockingfoot waders offer these same styles but with more options for treads and adding removable studs. In addition, you can alternate between more than one boot style if you wish.
Rocks/Sand- Fine grit and sand can't get inside bootfoot waders since the boot and wader are permanently bonded together in a smooth package. Purchasing separate gravel guards, which tightly wrap around the top of the boot and shin area, is one way to help keep grit out of the boots worn with stockingfoot waders.
Wet Wading- When the weather is warm, keeping the waders at home and doing some refreshing wet wading can be the way to go. If you have stockingfoot waders you'll be able to wear the boots for added traction and protection while wet wading.
Packing- Bootfoot waders are often heavy and awkward to handle. This makes them tougher to pack and they do take up quite a bit of room. Stockingfoot waders can be folded up in a tidy, slimmer fashion and the boots store away on their own.
Line Snag- Bootfoot waders have a nice smooth transition from leg to boot so there's no laces or anything else to catch your loose fly line.
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