Korkers Konvertible Boots
Korkers Konvertible Boots, Sizes are 8 through 14. See text for prices. Available at many fly shops, or they can be purchased online from Korkers (www.korkers.com).
h-oh," I thought. "We've got a problem."
My fishing companion apparently had the same unvoiced concern. It was the first time we'd fished together, so I didn't know what to expect. He showed up with a new wooden drift boat. I showed up with wading boots that had big, sharp studs in the soles. Those studs could turn his boat's floor into a moonscape by day's end.
He didn't have another boat, and I didn't have another pair of boots. We worked it out, but it was tricky.
Studded boots are great when you're wading a big river with a rough bottom and a plethora of algae-covered rocks. But they're not so nifty when you're climbing around a small stream. And try walking over large, smooth rocks with them; your feet are likely to go right out from under you.
Ever go fishing when the riverbanks are covered in snow? Your wading boots--felt-soled or studded--will collect snow until your soles are six inches thick.
Want to hike in the hills for some backcountry fly fishing? You'll need your wading boots and your hiking boots. That's several pounds of extra baggage.
If you play the fly fishing game long enough, you can end up with a closet full of specialized shoes.
A Solution from Korkers
Enter the Korkers Konvertible: one pair of boots with multiple interchangeable soles, a system Korkers calls OmniTrax.
Korkers boots have a recess in the bottom and a brass D-ring high on the back. The soles have thin extensions in front and along the sides, and a Velcro strap at the rear. The sole's extensions fit into the boot's recess, and the Velcro goes through the D-ring. It takes less than a minute to change soles for a pair of boots.
Korkers makes two basic boots: The Outfitter and The Wetlands.
The Outfitter retails at $129.95. It is made from leather and cordura nylon; the laces run through metal rings and hooks. The Wetlands model costs $79.95; it's made from synthetics and has no metal except for the rear D-ring. Saltwater anglers may prefer the Wetlands boot because it has fewer metal components that might rust.
Both models come with two soles: a rubber lug trail sole and plain felt. Additional options are carbide-studded rubber ($29.95 per pair), AquaStealth ($29.95), studded felt ($29.95), and a soft, non-marking boat sole ($19.95).
I tested the Outfitter boots the last couple of months. On a trip to the Deschutes, I put in the lug soles and hiked five miles upriver. Then I replaced the lug soles with the studded soles and went fishing. For the walk home, it was back to the original configuration. Frankly, I expected some trouble on the return hike: walking with wet shoes is the fastest way to get blisters. But the Korkers dried quickly and I had no problems (the desert climate helped, of course).
A couple of weeks later I was in Colorado helping my son-in-law learn to fly fish. The small river we visited was more suited to all-felt than to studs. So I replaced the soles again. And again, the boots did all that was expected of them.
I've used these boots while boat fishing, hiking into remote mountain streams, and for general drive-and-wade trips. On every trip I found them as versatile as Korkers claims. They've become my go-to wading boots. Only once did a sole come loose, and that may have been my fault for not inserting the sole properly.
One possible drawback to the Korkers Konvertible is that each sole is sized for the boot. With seven sizes and six sole options, a fly shop has to stock at least 42 soles to cover all the bases. That means the size/sole combination you want may need to be special-ordered.
There's also a logistical issue: it would be very easy to forget your extra soles and show up at the river with the right boots and the wrong soles. If you buy these boots, you're going to have to think a little before you load up your rig.
I haven't used these boots long enough to evaluate long-term wear, but other users claim to have worn them frequently; they say the boots have held up well.
Bottom Line: Innovative wading boots that let you change the soles to fit the situation. Reviewer Rating: 4
5=tops 3=average 1=low
Rated as 4 by Stoney on 03/02/2008
Comments: I have a pair that I have fished for a year now. They are still running strong. The only problem is keeping track of the extra soles and the key to replace them
Rated as 4 by jpeezer on 03/02/2008
Comments: I've been using the Wetlands model 2-3 times a week for a year now. I've loved them and they're holding up beautifully. The soles have just began to start slipping out when I'm hiking, as if they've loosened up with use. The newer models seem to have addressed this issue. I'll definelty buy these again, especially with the sole slipping fix.
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