Driftless Trout Anglers

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William Schlafer  
#1 Posted : Tuesday, May 15, 2018 1:17:12 AM(UTC)
William Schlafer
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Back in 2014 I purchased my first pair of "good" wading boots, Simms Freestones. I wore them for four years and have probably 75-80 days on stream with these boots. They were bullet proof from day one and have held up pretty well considering. But they started to show a bit of wear and tear, and I desired a second pair of boots to have available to swap out on multi-day trips.

Late last fall The Driftless Angler fly shop made me a deal I couldn't refuse on a new pair, so I took the plunge. The new Freestones are just as tough as the old ones, and just a bit more comfortable. They broke in nicely after a couple of outings and I expect them to last for many years rotating them with the old boots.

Here's some shots of the old boots showing some of the wear and tear. But they are still more than fine for everyday use.
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The lining around the top of the boot wore away, but doesn't affect anything other than looks. The orange interior lining is completely intact with no excessive wear apparent.
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I was a little hesitant when I bought the first pair, thinking the tread wouldn't grip well. But it turned out they do a great job in most conditions. And, they're easier to clean compared to deep tread soles. I've had few problems with them on rocks, mud and snow.
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Here's the tread on the new pair after 10 outings this year. Hardly any wear on the old boots compared to the newer ones.
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Improvements on the new boots include an improved top lining (that wore out on the old pair). The lace eyelets are also improved making it easier to remove and apply them. The laces on the new boots are also better than the replacement Simms branded ones I've bought for the old boots.
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The lining is comfy, but I added a pair of waterproof insoles to tweak the fit a bit and add a touch of foot sole comfort. They're comfy enough to wear all day and provide superior ankle support and foot protection. I haven't had a single foot problem in the five seasons I've worn my Freestones.
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These are excellent boots for the money (around $150) and are worth looking into if you seek a boot that will withstand a lot of abuse and still hold up well. I've seen them on sale at various outlets at the end of the last two seasons.
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I should note that I always clean my boots out thoroughly after every outing, including removing the laces, insoles, and flushing the interior with water to remove all sand and grit. I feel this has greatly extended their life and reduces damage to my wader neoprene.


-Bill

Edited by user Tuesday, May 15, 2018 1:18:50 PM(UTC)  | Reason: edited photos

“You'll never look back on your life and wish you had spent more time in the office." -- Brian Trautman, Captain SV Delos
thanks 1 user thanked William Schlafer for this useful post.
weiliwen on 5/17/2018(UTC)
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rschmidt  
#2 Posted : Tuesday, May 15, 2018 4:31:07 PM(UTC)
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Double down on the freestone. The pair I have is in it 2nd season, but more than 250 outings. Very comfy and durable. Putting cleats in was easy, very much improved traction, and decreased wear of the sole. I did have to repair an eyelet due to catching some barb wire and taking a spill. I was able to rivet it back on and without issues. I started this year with new Reddington Skagit boots. They are nice too but no where near as good or durable as the Simms. The freestones have some minor tears in the vents and some upper fraying. I will replace and stay with Simms freestones. R
William Schlafer  
#3 Posted : Tuesday, May 15, 2018 5:21:00 PM(UTC)
William Schlafer
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Location: Sussex Wisconsin

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FYI;

I did not receive a discount or any other consideration for my review here of the Simms Freestones. I purchased my first pair at full price (from Cabelas) and my second pair at The Driftless Fly shop (on sale $20 off). When I like something and it works well I like to let others know.

I'm an expert at nothing - but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night (no endorsement).


Flapper

-Bill
“You'll never look back on your life and wish you had spent more time in the office." -- Brian Trautman, Captain SV Delos
s.t.fanatic  
#4 Posted : Wednesday, May 16, 2018 10:53:48 AM(UTC)
s.t.fanatic
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Thanks for the real life review. You read many of them online but never know how to take them. I was considering these myself and being a very budget conscious person I haven't been able to pull the trigger. When some extra cash allows I will not hesitate to pick them up.

Thanks again
OTC_MN  
#5 Posted : Wednesday, May 16, 2018 1:57:57 PM(UTC)
OTC_MN
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Another thumbs up for the Freestones. Love mine.
"Our tradition is that of the first man who sneaked away to the creek when the tribe did not really need fish."
- Roderick Haig-Brown
mmalyuk  
#6 Posted : Wednesday, May 16, 2018 3:13:42 PM(UTC)
mmalyuk
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Bought a pair about a month ago. So far...top notch.
Buckman  
#7 Posted : Thursday, May 17, 2018 11:52:51 AM(UTC)
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I'm another staunch supporter of the freestone boot. I like the support and comfort even after hours on the water.
weiliwen  
#8 Posted : Thursday, May 17, 2018 12:52:08 PM(UTC)
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I slipped and fell on my ass in the mud weekend before last up on Timber Coulee, having crept down the bank to release a fish, so I am done, baby, done with my felt boots - they work great on Western freestone streams, but not here. I have never bought Simms products before (sorta spendy, generally), but next time I'm up in Viroqua, I'll get a pair of Freestones at The Driftless Angler.

Wading boots are the kind of thing that I cannot understand buying online - how will you know if they fit right? And, of course, putting a few bucks into the local economy can't hurt. These days, anything I can get up in Vernon County, I buy up there. Lake County Illinois has more than enough money, and more than enough of my property tax!
Bob Williams, "Weiliwen"
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s.t.fanatic on 5/17/2018(UTC)
William Schlafer  
#9 Posted : Thursday, May 17, 2018 5:44:10 PM(UTC)
William Schlafer
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Originally Posted by: weiliwen Go to Quoted Post
I slipped and fell on my ass in the mud weekend before last up on Timber Coulee, having crept down the bank to release a fish, so I am done, baby, done with my felt boots - they work great on Western freestone streams, but not here. I have never bought Simms products before (sorta spendy, generally), but next time I'm up in Viroqua, I'll get a pair of Freestones at The Driftless Angler.

Wading boots are the kind of thing that I cannot understand buying online - how will you know if they fit right? And, of course, putting a few bucks into the local economy can't hurt. These days, anything I can get up in Vernon County, I buy up there. Lake County Illinois has more than enough money, and more than enough of my property tax!



Felt is fading away pretty fast. It's really not a good idea around the DA as they can easily spread invasive bugs and plants. And as you said, they suck on mud and wet grass.

Be sure to call Mat or Geri at the Driftless Angler if you intend to buy any equipment on your next trip. While they have a nice selection, but may be temporarily out of stock on what you're looking for, or your size. I believe they can get almost anything delivered to the store in a day or two if you let them know in advance when you'll be there.

Simms also makes a boot called Vaportread which I've tried on. These are a lighter version of the Freestones with thinner sidewall material and are more like a lightweight hiking boot. Less protection for the sides of your foot, but probably more comfortable for walking longer distances on asphalt or gravel.

And yes, with boots always try them on for proper fit. The Simms Freestones are sized to wear with heavy neoprene boot waders. I'm a 10 4EEEE and they fit perfectly with the added insole. If you have a narrow foot, getting a proper fit might require adding an additional neoprene socks to compensate. They will be a little stiff to start with, but after you walk on them a day or two and get them wet a few times, they will break in smoothly.


-Bill
“You'll never look back on your life and wish you had spent more time in the office." -- Brian Trautman, Captain SV Delos
thanks 1 user thanked William Schlafer for this useful post.
weiliwen on 5/18/2018(UTC)
rschmidt  
#10 Posted : Friday, May 18, 2018 12:30:52 PM(UTC)
rschmidt
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Simms recommends one size up from your shoe size. That proved to be a good fit for me. I will buy some new ones online when I see a sale. I have enough trial with them to get the right size from an online merchant. R
thanks 1 user thanked rschmidt for this useful post.
weiliwen on 5/18/2018(UTC)
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