PRODUCT REVIEW: HYBRID HIGH-TOP FELT-SOLED WADING BOOTS
Can you believe that summer is almost over? The kids are back in school, and it won’t be long before the leaves start changing and the air begins to cool for autumn. Likewise, it still feels just yesterday that we were fly fishing in Chama, New Mexico during #ChotaGoesToChama. To wrap up our coverage of that trip, it’s time for our in-depth review of our new wading boots set to release in November, the Hybrid High-Top Felt-Soled Wading Boots!
High-Quality Features in a Lightweight Boot
The name “Hybrid High-Top Felt-Soled Wading Boot” can be a mouthful in casual conversation, so we also call these boots the Chota 14s for short. They certainly live up to their name, as each boot weighs a mere 14 ounces! However, we have packed plenty of our fan-favorite, high-quality features into these boots while building off of the successes of our Hybrid Felt-Soled Wading Shoes, which released last year. The Chota 14s have durable mesh panels along the sides that drain water quickly while keeping out rocks and other debris, and the felt soles provide added traction on slippery surfaces. Finally, the Chota 14s have the QuickLace system, which uses a drawstring to hold the laces securely in place even in the swiftest current. The main structural difference between the Chota 14s and the Hybrid Felt-Soled Wading Shoes is the high top to provide additional ankle support.
Use as a Standalone Wading Shoe
Before even reaching for the waders, the Chota 14s function beautifully for wet wading, kayaking, or any other situation where you might use wading sandals or water shoes. I used the Chota 14s while kayak fishing from the foot-powered Hobie MirageDrive kayaks at Chama, New Mexico, and they’re now my go-to footwear for kayaking, boating, or any other water-related activity. The high-top boots were still low-profile enough to fit into the straps attached to the foot pedals of the Hobie MirageDrive, and their low weight meant that I didn’t experience any foot or ankle fatigue from pedaling for extended periods. Launching and landing the kayaks required wading in the shallows, which were full of algae and silt, but the mesh panels kept that debris out of the boots while the felt soles kept my feet firmly grounded.
Use with Chota Waders
The Chota 14s live up to their status as a hybrid boot by functioning equally well as water shoes or fly fishing boots paired with waders. Each boot has a removable insole that frees up enough room to accommodate Chota Hippies or the Bob Clouser Series South Fork Waders. I paired the Chota 14s with a pair of Camo Hippies while fly fishing the Poso Creek at Chama with great success. The boots drained water effortlessly, so I never felt like I was carrying extra weight around my ankles while hiking to another fishing spot. Despite the boots’ minimal weight, they felt secure and sturdy, and my footing never once faltered thanks to the felt soles.
Can’t Use Felt? No Problem!
Due to the risk of transmitting invasive plants or diseases between sensitive water ways, some states maintain a ban on felt soles for fly fishing. Other folks may prefer rubber soles if they spend more time kayak fishing rather than traditional fly fishing in waders. If that’s the case, no problem! We’ve got you covered with another new boot coming out in November, the Hybrid High-Top Rubber-Soled Wading Boot! These boots are identical to their felt-soled counterparts, except for the soles.
If you want to streamline your footwear and use one pair of boots for the majority of your fishing needs, then I highly recommend the felt-soled or rubber-soled Chota 14s. The felt-soled Chota 14s work equally well for kayak fishing or stream fishing, while the rubber-soled Chota 14s provide a great alternative for folks who cannot or prefer not to use felt soles. Despite their light weight, these boots are incredibly durable for long hikes to and from your fishing destination while providing Chota’s legendary comfort and support. We also recommend them for women and youth anglers with smaller feet who prefer a lighter boot.
Overall, these boots are winners, and we can’t wait for the Chota 14s to hit store shelves in November! The boots I tested were a prototype, and the final version of the felt-soled Chota 14s will have the same color scheme as the rubber-soled boots shown above. Both versions of the boots will retail for $119.95.