Simms StreamTread™ traction Wading Boot Sole by Vibram
Yes, Simms has done it again! The new Simms StreamTread™ Wading Boot Sole is the biggest advance in wading boot traction in nearly a decade, with greater durability, easier cleaning, and greatly improved performance over other aquatic rubber compounds so that you can wade with confidence.
For over a hundred years, fly fishermen have relied on felt soles, both natural and more recently, synthetic, as the traditional wading boot sole material. Felt’s fibrous, soft composition effectively conforms to and grips slippery streambed rocks, even those coated with slimy algae. However, a recent and serious problem related to felt soles is the growing spread of aquatic nuisance species (ANS), such as Didymo algae and New Zealand Mud Snails, and other fish-killers like Whirling Disease. The slow drying and porous nature of felt can provide refuge for these micro-organisms and allow them to be unknowingly transported by the boot owner from one river system to another. Simms has been an industry leader with their "CleanStream” design initiative, aimed at stopping the spread of these invasive species by building their wading boots with less exposed stitching and fewer ridges and pockets that could potentially hide stowaways. For 2009, Simms is again the industry’s environmental leader by announcing that they will phase out the use of felt, with only StreamTread Traction soled boots to be available in 2010. Simms President K.C. Walsh says, "We know felt is not the only material that has spread invasive species and disease, but felt is surely part of the problem. At Simms, we've decided to be part of the solution." The use of felt soles is already discouraged in New Zealand and will be banned there starting with the 2009/2010 season. Many other countries, and states, are currently considering bans on felt soles, as well.
“The Solution” for fly fishermen is the remarkable StreamTread Traction Sole. Simms has teamed up with Vibram, the unquestionable world leader in outdoor sole design and manufacturing, to bring you a radical new compound that grips better than anything before it. Vibram IdroGrip Technology uses a proprietary rubber formulation in combination with innovative and patented 360° lugs, specifically designed for use in wet, mossy wading environments. This multi-level sole pattern grips in all directions and, essentially, sheds dirt and sand as you wade. These lugs are able to penetrate aquatic vegetation in a manner similar to felt, and much more effectively than other “sticky” rubber sole patterns currently available. These soles have undergone years of scientific development and extensive testing by hundreds of outdoor professionals and the results are impressive. Testers claim that the Simms StreamTread sole is, at minimum, 15 to 20% “grippier” than other rubber compounds, with some testers feeling that is was twice as effective, approaching or exceeding that of felt soles. The IdroGrip compound works well in a wide range of temperature conditions and, additionally, has very good traction on dry rock. Another significant advantage of the StreamTread outsole is the molded built-in receptacles that accept the optional Simms HardBite Studs. This takes the guesswork out of the exact location to place the studs and provides a firmer foundation at the stud base. These steel screw studs have a welded surface of super-hard tungsten carbide beads that are incredibly durable; they literally dig in to all but the hardest rock to provide ultimate control. Since they’re so hard, they also reduce sole wear, potentially doubling the life of your wading shoes. If you wade mainly in fast slippery currents like I do, I’d strongly recommend adding these studs to your wading shoes. You can replace the studs when they wear out, or temporarily remove them for, say, waltzing around on the floor of your friend’s wooden drift boat.
The Bottom Line? The new Simms StreamTread Traction Sole is easy to dry and clean. It's design directly and responsibly addresses the growing threat of Invasive Species in our aquatic environments, something we fly fishermen simply can’t afford to ignore. At the same time, this new sole material improves wading performance over other rubber soles and can equal that of felt in many fishing situations. The StreamTread lug pattern also offers greater stability and durability over felt when trail hiking in your waders. And, when you torque a set of HardBites into the StreamTread sole, you’ve got yourself the longest lasting, highest performance wading boot bottoms known to man. What could be better? At a cost of about $30 extra over comparable felt models, it’s a wise investment by my reckoning. The new StreamTread Traction outsole, for 2009, will be available on six of the eight Simms Wading Boot models, including the G4, Guide, Rivershed, Headwaters, Women’s Headwaters, and the entry level Freestone.
To learn more about how you can take responsibility for preserving our precious fisheries, take a moment to visit the Center for Aquatic Nuisance Species on the web and take the “Clean Angling Pledge”. You’ll find out how to thoroughly clean your gear, so that you don’t become part of the problem. Then, get out there and wade!
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