Felt Sole Wading Boots Vs Vibram Sole Wading Boots

Felt Sole Wading Boots Vs Vibram Sole Wading Boots

For many years felt soles were the only option for wading boots but there is another option available now with boots being made with rubber or Vibram soles. 

In this product review we will look at the pros and cons to both soles. 

As mentioned, felt has been the staple sole for many years felt prevents slipping on the algae covered rocks. Vibram or rubber soles are quite a bit slipperier on the river rocks and we are typically adding cleats to the boots to help aid in this.

Vibram Soles

Vibram Sole Wading Boots

Vibram soles are better when walking on muddy trails and are exponentially superior when walking on snow, with felt snow can build up on the bottom of the boot and make already uncomfortable conditions more uncomfortable. 

Now you’re probably starting to think Vibram is the only way to go and they’re good but one thing that felt has over them is consistency when walking in the river.

Simms Vibram Sole Wading Boots

Felt Soles

Felt Sole Wading Boots

The way that felt feels on the river rocks no matter which river (the one exception would be the Thompson River, it has the slipperiest rocks around) is the same, consistent from river to river, where Vibram’s with cleats can have a different feel from river to river with different shaped rocks or different amounts or types of algae.

Simms Felt Sole Wading Boots

Cleats and Studs

Cleats or studs do increase the cost of the boot as some of the cleats can be over $3. Typically, we are using 10 cleats per boot but there’s no doubt that the sole on a Vibram boot does last longer than the felt sole so the extra cost can be justified.  There are three types of cleats/studs that can be purchased for these boots.


Simms HardBite Studs

The HardBite Studs are the cheapest of the bunch. They perform well but do have a tendency to wear down faster than the others. Please note that there are Simms HardBite studs for felt soles and Simms HardBite Studs for vibram soles.

Simms HardBite Star Cleats

Our favourite cleat is the Simms HardBite Star Cleat, these ones last the longest and grip very well as they have a larger surface area.

Simms AlumiBite Cleats

The last kind of cleats are the Simms AlumiBite Star Cleats. these ones grip very well to rocks like the HardBite Star Cleat does but the downside to these though is they do wear down faster than the HardBite’s but they are not as expensive.

Are Vibram Soles Better than Felt Sole Wading Boots?

In summary both soles are good it’s a matter of figuring out which ones better for you as the jury is quite split on which one is superior. It really seems to boil down to personal preference. 

Check out our selection of Simms Wading Boots.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact us by email, by phone at 604-931-5044 or stop by the shop at #110 1140 Austin Avenue in Coquitlam BC.


  • by Bill

    Or how about getting into your car and driving with cleats? Are they okay on the floor of your car or the foot pedal? Do they do damage to the floors of tackle shops and other establishments where you may wish to enter while wearing them?

  • by Jeff

    1 important point not discussed here is the transfer of invasive species with felt bottom boots. This does not seem to be a big concern here in BC at this point (correct me if I am wrong). However, if you travel to other provinces or down south to fish, (Jasper National park as an example). It is prohibited to wear felt soles there for that reason.

  • by Mark

    What about moving in and out of a boat with cleats on? I think that they would do a number on an aluminum hull. example: The Harrison River, usually travel by boat from Harrison Mills to a creek mouth, then get out and wade.

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