We all know that fishing in saltwater poses its own unique challenges.
Which is why our gear has to be as tough and durable as possible in order to withstand the harsh conditions.
And as much as this is true for our tools, so it is for clothing, apparel, and footwear.
With that in mind, I’ve put together a review of the best wading boots for saltwater fishing on the market.
A buyer’s guide will follow to help you make the right choice for your needs.
Let’s wade in.
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They’re hard to beat for sheer quality and longevity, and that’s clearly evident in this FreeSalt flats wader boot.
Designed to be used with waders, it’s been specially made with non-corrosive materials to easily handle saltwater environments.
Featuring a non-marking outsole that’s ideal for use getting in and out of boats, a comfortable neoprene lining, and a TPU sheet for cleat retention, this is a tough, durable, and practical wading boot that’s built to last.
Just remember to choose a size up from your normal footwear.
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Premium quality materials and build.
Dual density EVA midsole.
Easy on and off.
Scratch-resistant rubber cap and heel.
Very highly rated.
On the pricey side.
Might be a little tall for some.
Regarded by many as one of the best wading boots you could ever own, the FreeSalt model just smacks of quality. And for more top-drawer products from Simms, check out this article on the best all-around fishing boots on the market.
Something altogether different now with this super-lightweight neoprene wade shoe from Hodgman.
They have been designed as the perfect boot for flats fishing, warm-weather wading, or even using them with fins in one of these awesome fishing float tubes.
Made using durable materials and tested in the toughest conditions, these shoes are right at home in the saltwater.
With a hook and loop cuff strap for improved ankle support and to help keep the sand out, you’ll feel protected all day long leaving you free to concentrate on catching more fish.
Affordable price point.
Lightweight and versatile.
Gusseted YKK zipper.
Non-slip, non-marking sole.
Perfect for surf-fishing.
Sizing can be a bit tricky – make sure to double-check before purchase.
Not the best protection compared with more rugged boots.
If you’re looking for something lightweight and durable for some easy flats fishing in warmer climes – then you’ve come to the right place. And while you’re at it, you should take a look at this review on the best saltwater rods – perfect for a day casting in the surf.
Did you know that Orvis is the oldest mail-order retailer in the United States? They’ve been making and posting fishing tackle since 1856, so it’s no surprise that they offer some excellent clothing, footwear, and apparel today.
Their Andros flats hiker model is a super-comfortable wading boot that has been designed for all-day use, fully lined, with an adjustable neoprene gravel cuff to keep sand and debris at bay.
The non-marking outsole is ideal for use on decks, while the screened draining holes allows water to run-off when exiting the brine. Check out this review on the best fishing waders for some more quality Orvis products – among many others.
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The Velcro strap might cause some problems collecting debris/snagging on plant life.
I’m guessing these boots have been named after Andros Island in the Bahamas – a popular flats fishing spot.
Regardless of their moniker, they provide a lot of comfort and protection, especially considering the price point compared with other boots in this class. Get them while you still can, and go fishing in paradise.
Another Simms entry now with a pair of flats sneakers, offering a nice balance between lightweight footwear and protection.
Designed to offer the best freedom of movement while still keeping your feet safe from underwater hazards, these shoes are a good choice for versatile saltwater fishing.
Made with materials that can stand up to such conditions, they have a rugged, non-marking outsole, a non-absorbing lining to keep odors at bay, and a mid-height design, so you can be comfortable and confident you won’t roll your ankle.
And the removable, Right Angle footbed prevents foot fatigue, so you can stay out there as long as you want to.
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Lightweight and durable.
Structured heel cup for additional support.
Excellent grippy traction for in the wet.
Not the best for anglers with wider feet.
Sizing can be tricky.
Probably the best flats wading boots out there, given the superior quality, comfort, and support that they provide. I’m all for shoes that prevent fatigue and keep you fishing for longer, so this effort from Simms receives top marks.
There’s a strong chance we’ve all owned something made by Frogg Toggs at some point, particularly if we enjoy fishing in the rain.
The Saltshaker boot is aptly named, an attractive, lightweight saltwater fishing shoe that’s ideal for stalking the flats.
With a super-comfortable neoprene lining for easy-on and off, you can be sure to wear these all day without fatigue.
A reinforced midsole helps with shock-absorption, while the thick, luggy outsole is cleated to provide superior grip on slippery surfaces.
Anti-corrosion hardware is suitable for use in challenging and harsh conditions, and the anatomical collar protects your ankle with extra support and comfort.
Just right for fishing on the coast for as long as the weather stays fine – and even when it’s not.
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Ideal for surf fishing.
They can run large – double-check your sizing.
Might be a little too thin for heavy-duty use.
A highly versatile saltwater wading boot that is super comfortable to wear and should keep your feet protected in most conditions. And you should check out this review for more from Frogg Toggs, and the best rain gear for fishing on the market.
Here we have another lightweight yet protective option, with these reef wading boots from Maurice Sports.
The ForEverlast Ray Guards have been designed for anglers who enjoy tackling trickier terrain, including rocky reef structures along the coast.
This is largely due to their vulcanized rubber sole, which offers four layers of protection in order to prevent punctures, as well as a defense against any underwater critters that might take a disliking to you invading their world.
The reinforced ankle helps support your watery wanderings, as well as assisting in preventing debris and sand accumulation in the boot.
Versatile enough for the beach and for rugged terrain, and they won’t break the bank while doing so.
Great price point.
Tough, durable design.
Excellent protection on the sole.
Comfortable, snug fit.
Might still be a bit heavy for some.
A great all-round wading shoe that offers unbeatable protection from sharp objects and obstacles underfoot. And for more durable fishing gear, check out this review on the best fly reels for saltwater.
Another great all-round wading shoe from Simms that’s perfectly suited to saltwater use and ideal for surf fishing. And at this price point, you can’t really go wrong. Check out this review on the best fishing vests for more quality Simms apparel.
How to Choose the Best Saltwater Wading Boots
Below you’ll find a handy buyer’s guide with some points on what to look out for when you’re in the market for a new pair of saltwater wading boots.
Do I Need a Saltwater Boot?
Saltwater can play havoc with your fishing tackle, equipment, and clothing. It’s totally merciless and non-selective.
Unless you’re using the right gear and/or you’re not taking proper care of it, your stuff can get destroyed in next to no time.
As such, it’s well worth choosing and using products that are specifically designed for saltwater use.
Your footwear is no exception – and arguably the most important part of your saltwater loadout. Wearing the right boot can make a real difference to your comfort, health, and overall fishing success.
And while you don’t need a dedicated saltwater boot, it’s highly recommended that you get one – especially if you’re doing a lot of fishing in such environments, and you don’t want to go through footwear as quickly as the weather changes.
Type of Boot
When it comes to saltwater wading shoes, there are generally three types to choose from.
Saltwater boots will offer you the most protection, both to your toe, ankle and foot. Nobody wants to stub their toes into hard coral or rock – and yet it happens regularly.
A solid boot is going to make sure you don’t collapse head first into the water in pain. They also offer the best protection from rolling your ankle, which I believe to be one of the most common fishing injuries in the world.
And a high ankle design helps to stop sand and debris from entering the boot – which can seriously prevent your day from being ruined. Nobody enjoys the feeling of walking on Lego when they’re fishing.
However, boots are obviously much heavier than other designs, and will be more cumbersome as a result.
They’re not so good if you’re looking to stay light and nimble while moving from spot to spot, and for many anglers they’re overkill when fishing in warmer weather from the beach.
Flats sneakers or wading sneakers take a small step down protection wise, but they are much lighter and more versatile. As such, they probably make the best wading boots for surf fishing.
Their hybrid design is extremely popular with anglers who want to retain a degree of foot protection, while offering the speed and dexterity of a sneaker.
They’re usually cheaper than boots, too, which makes them a better choice if you’re on a budget.
Neoprene Wading Booties
Neoprene wading booties are the most lightweight option, but – you’ve guessed it – they offer the least amount of protection for the feet.
While they’re a more sensible choice compared to going barefoot, you should still take great care if you come up against hazardous undersea terrain.
Obviously, the type you choose will depend on where you’re fishing, and what’s important for your needs.
Personally, I prefer the hybrid option which offers the best of both worlds, but your choice should be based on whatever the location and conditions demand.
Many keen anglers have a variety of boots in their arsenal to cover every eventuality – so it might be worth getting more than one.
Check out this guide for some awesome tips and tricks on beach fishing – so you’re fully prepared when you next head to the surf.
Ventilation and Drainage
Look for wading boots that offer the best possible drainage systems. We know they’re going to get wet, but they should have the ability to drain water, so you’re not carrying extra weight anytime you’re entering or exiting the water.
As such, shoes that are quick-drying are highly recommended. Especially for when you’re getting back in your vehicle to return to home base.
Likewise, they should be breathable, as nobody wants to spend the day in a sweaty boot. A well ventilated boot will also help prevent odor build-up, too – which can be a nightmare after a day of saltwater fishing.
Now, here’s where things can get a little tricky, and you need to do a bit of extra research in order to select the right size first time.
Obviously, you need a boot that’s going to fit you well, so you should check with the manufacturer’s sizing guide beforehand.
Don’t simply rely on your normal shoe size, as when it comes to wading boots, in particular, you might have to go up or down a size for a snug fit.
Also, consider if you’ll be wearing the shoe with socks or going barefoot and adjust accordingly.
Soles and Lug
If you’re attempting to traverse sharp, rocky terrain, then you’re going to want a thick, puncture-resistant sole to help keep your feet protected.
Likewise, if the bottom is treacherously slippy (or anywhere your ass might go over your head) you need a thick, grippy lug to prevent that.
And a non-marking outsole is essential in most places, but particularly useful if you find yourself frequently on the decks of boats.
Adequate soles with good grip are vital for good wading shoes. Look for options that have interchangeable soles for versatility, or that are compatible with a set of cleats for extra traction and stability.
Materials and Durability
Another important consideration for wading boots is how durable are they doing to be?
You certainly don’t want something that’s going to fall apart after only a few trips out – which is possible if using inferior quality boots in saltwater conditions.
Look out for premium materials and construction. How the boot is put together is every bit as important as what it’s made from.
Check the stitching and seams in particular, as it’s at these stress points that problems can occur if the work is not up to standard.
Wading boots vary quite dramatically in price, but a rule of thumb is that the more rugged and protective it’s going to be – the higher the cost.
Again, consider your own needs, when, where, and how often you’re going to be using them. You don’t have to spend a fortune to get something suitable, especially if you’re not saltwater fishing regularly.
Care for Your Saltwater Wading Boots
Any angler worth their “salt” should already have developed a TLC system when it comes to looking after saltwater fishing gear.
The same must be said about your wading boots. Treating them well, conditioning them when required, and storing them properly will ensure they will last for years to come.
Always refer to the manufacturer’s care instructions – as they will vary from boot to boot, depending on the materials.
At the very least, you should be washing them in freshwater as soon as you’re possible, and leaving them somewhere away from strong heat sources to dry naturally.
While it is possible to fish barefoot in some situations, having the right kind of footwear will keep your feet comfortable and protected all day long.
And the best wading boots for saltwater fishing are particularly useful when it comes to those harsher, more unforgiving environments.
Let me know which boot you’ve gone for and why, or if I’ve missed your favorite product.