Orvis PRO Approach Wet Wading Shoes Review
Don't you love those days when you can leave the waders home?
Whether it's a mountain stream in the summer or saltwater flats just about any time of year, wet wading is refreshing and a lot of fun. With a little help from the Michelin Man, the new Orvis PRO Approach Wet Wading Shoes were specifically designed with a host of beneficial features for wet wading fresh and saltwater anglers.
A few of the most prominent features include a breathable built-in Ariaprene sock to keep out debris, Michelin Outdoor Extreme non-marking rubber treads that are said to provide a 43% improvement in wet rubber traction and 25% better abrasion resistance than the competition, removable 3D molded OrthoLite insole, and integrated lace hoods to tuck loose laces away. Initial impressions out of the box were excellent. I really like how these don't look much different than an everyday shoe and the quality seemed extremely high after a thorough inspection.
Let's start off with the good...
Support- In this regard, the shoes did well. I put some miles on these shoes and never felt the support was lacking. As mentioned, the OrthoLite insoles are indeed removable which is good for cleaning or if they need replacing.
Socks- The integrated socks do a great job of keeping debris out of the shoes. I have tried other water shoes in the past (without an integrated sock feature) and it never took long for them to absolutely load up with sand and shells. Not only can that be uncomfortable and downright painful, but it was also a hassle each time I had to dump my shoes out and put them back on again. Of course some sand does make it inside of these, but on the days I wore them (in mostly minimal wave action) I never once felt the need to take a break from fishing to flush them out.
Weight- I like the fact that they aren't heavy. Even when wet, I never felt bogged down by the weight.
Sizing- These seem to be true to size. I take a 12 in a typical shoe and the same size fit just fine here.
Washing- At the end of the day I am able to wash the shoes out quite well. It's impossible to get all the sand out of most any shoes unless maybe you stand there for several minutes hitting them from all angles, but a good quick blast from a hose (with insoles removed) does a great job in washing out the vast majority of particles.
Grip- The tread does indeed offer tons of grip. I've only walked on rocks and some wooden structures a few times, but I could quickly tell the tread was excellent. I can't comment on durability because with these seeing 98% usage on strictly sand, that's not much of a toughness test.
Now, the not so good...
Putting On- There is always some level of challenge for me getting these things on. I found this especially true when sweaty or wet. The entry is a bit tight but there are finger loops on the front and back of the sock top which does help get some added leverage and torque. Luckily, I find they come off easier than they go on.
Discomfort- To put it mildly, I experienced a lot of discomfort while wearing the PRO Approach Shoes. When just starting out the day, they feel comfortable and everything seems just fine. However, as more ground is covered the issues start to arise. Each time I wore these and walked any significant distance, the area of my heel/achilles would begin to get chafed which eventually made walking pretty unpleasant and left very unsightly and raw red marks.
It seems the cause of this irritation likely comes from the area where the shoe and sock meet. When I run my finger over the inside back of the shoe, I can detect a little hard/rough zone here which would seemingly be causing the irritation. Honestly, if I wasn't testing these shoes I would've quit wearing them after the first day. If Orvis could re-design the inner portion to make it totally smooth and soft, that should solve the issue and make these truly awesome to wear.
In my testing, I found the Orvis PRO Approach Wet Wading Shoes to be well made and stylish, but come up way short in all-day comfort. While after my experiences I can't recommend them for anglers actively walking all day, I could see these probably being good for short jaunts or maybe something like wearing on a drift boat where an angler might want to hop out here and there. PRO Approach Wet Wading Shoes are available in Storm (tested) or Camoflauge in sizes 7–14 at a price of $149.
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