May 3, 2016

Killing my Guide Boots

Its official: I have worn my Simms G3 Guide Boots into the ground.  

Two and a half years of solid abuse, still in great shape
I have never been able to wear a boot all the way through the felt before.  In my fifteen years or so of being a professional fishing bum I have owned a dozen or so pairs of wading boots.  Brands like Hodgman, Chota, Patagonia and Orvis have all had their chance, and most all of them have failed before I had worn them out.  In my history of abusing gear, I have found that it is usually a seam, stitch or eyelet that fails with wading boots.  I have owned a few sets of boots that have had the soles separate.  My first pair of Simms split open above the toe, and I duct-taped it right up and finished the season out.  But there is something special about these G3 Guide Boots; they have been abused beyond what any “typical” fisherman could do to them and they have come out the other end valiantly.

How do I know that my boots are finally dead?  My first clue is that there is nearly zero felt left on the soles.  The studs are worn down to nubs and they are faded, worn, scratched and beaten.  I am going to keep them around for a few years to use with my float tube, and for “emergencies” (misplacing my other boots) but it was definitely time to move on for the sake of safety... and because I really wanted to check out the new Simms Headwaters Boots.

Felt and studs worm down to almost nothing.  
Safety is seriously a top priority for me, so even if they are still comfortable and technically functional, I have to look at other options now.  Proper felt and good studs are a necessity for me to go anywhere near the Deschutes and a few of our other slick, basalt-laden rivers.  I take a swim in the Deschutes about every six hours of fishing even with studs and felt.  Without good studs and felt, I might as well just jump in when I get to the river and save myself  the trouble of worrying about whether I will stay dry or not.  Without good felts and studs, these boots are no longer river worthy for me, but they can have a nice, comfortable retirement for a few years kicking around in the local lakes.

I had bought these G3 Guide Boots in November, 2013.  I had intended to keep wearing an old pair of Orvis boots for a few more months as they seemed to have some life left in them.  Fortunately, I made the mistake of trying on the Guide Boots after a long day of fishing in my overly-tight, fairly uncomfortable Orvis boots sometime in early December of that year.  It was immediately apparent how superior the G3 Guide Boots were before I had even laced them up.  They were so comfortable I couldn't believe it.  I let out a muffled groan at the realization that I had been needlessly sporting inferior footwear.  The Guide Boots were incredibly easy to get on, comfortable and lightweight.  I threw out those Orvis boots on the spot and never looked back.

What I liked about them:

Everything about the G3 is oversized, extra strong and bulletproof, yet the boot maintains a very lightweight feel.  The high-ankle support is a solid feature that provides fragile ankles with extra stability and also provides the anglers attached to those ankles with peace of mind when wading in sketchy, slippery spots.  The rear pull-strap that is used to help get your feet into the shoes is big, beefy and easy to use.  They are very comfortable to hike in, which is a big deal for those of us that put the miles on our feet to get to the big ones.  The extra tough, oversized toe guard is a great feature that provides protection against painful encounters with big rocks underwater.  

The primary material used for the boot is just soft enough to be really comfortable on your feet, yet it stays rigid enough to keep your boots roomy and sturdy.  Solid stitching and strategically placed reinforcements do a good job at preventing the separation of materials.  The shoelace eyelets have been functioning fully with no concern about failure.  I didn’t even replace the laces in two and a half years of fishing hard. 

What I didn’t like about them:

There were no serious issues for me in over two years.  They were incredibly durable, comfortable, lightweight and easy to wear; hands down the best boot that I have ever had.  There are lighter boots on the market, but they don’t have anywhere near the ankle support that these do.  I would not hesitate to purchase the Simms G3 Guide Boot again in a heartbeat. 

Minimal toe guard separation, but nothing serious
One minor gripe is that the upper hook eyelets for the laces were not super easy to get my laces into.  I had the laces slip out a time or two while in the river, and I had to dig them in really tight to get them to seat well.  I found when my laces were wet and swollen, they were not as easy to work with in the hook eyelets.  Very minor issue in the grand scheme of things.   

Other than the felt wearing out, the only “failure” with my boots was the toe guard.  The softer boot material began to separate from the rigid toe guard.  The separation is very minimal and I honestly did not notice it until I started taking pictures for this article. 

My G3 Guide Boots have served me well over the past two and a half years.  Through thick and thin, three pairs of waders, winter steelhead, spring trout, summer steelhead, fall Chinook, bass, carp, muskie and shad, they had a great run.  These boots have set a new standard of excellence for both durability and comfort for me, but it is time for me to move on to other boots.  I now have the new Simms Headwaters Boots and am looking forward to finding out if they will hold up as well as these did.  

Andrew Perrault
Columbia Gorge Fishing Reports
Gorge Fly Shop | Product Specialist

"Fly Fish the World with Us"


  1. Why didn't you buy the G3 guides again? Instead you rolled the dice on a slightly cheaper pair that have been given a new facelift. Hope it works out for you! However, a boot that gave you durability, protection and no broken bones during its life should be rewarded back, don't you think. Just my thoughts..

  2. Greg here, Thank you for your comment. While Andrew has since moved on I can fill in for him and answer your questions. All of us at GFS would certainly wear and endorse the Simms G3 Guide boot until we found something better (which may be never), but in order to continue to evaluate and review new products we must sometimes make a sacrifice in order to provide our customers with the best advice possible. And who knows, sometimes we find a lesser product that we end up liking better. I doubt that will happen in the Headwaters Pro to G3 Guide case but we must give them a chance. Thanks Again

  3. Yup! Third review I have read on the G3 boots. I am heading to the store tomorrow. Thanks for the informative article. I am buying with confidence now.


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