Yesterday, at the Hell Or High Water Festival at the West Branch Resort near Hancock, NY, I had the opportunity to take a pair of Patagonia's size 12 Aluminum Bar Boots out for a test drive. They flat out stuck to rocks, slimey or clean. The galled aluminum was noticeable on some of the rocks I trod upon. Could be because I weigh North of 250 lbs., who knows. The pair I tested were well broken in by the time I got to them. After examining the worn bars on my test fleet pair, I can tell you with authority that the grip does not come from the sharp edges of the bars.
Only three pieces of constructive feedback for Patagonia on these boots:
1. Even slightly muddy banks / side hills make for very iffy footing with the horizontally mounted bars offering very little traction. The boots I trialed had a few traction studs screwed into the instep area, but they were still slippery. Perhaps a vertically mounted bar or a rubber bottom with some traction would help?
2. Maybe it was an issue with my feed, but these boots felt a little narrow. They seemed to stretch out a bit after walking for about a half an hour. No blisters or anything severe, just a very snug fit width-wise.
3. The boots are made in Thailand. I know that's where most of our sneakers are made and they have factories specialized in shoe manufacturing. I'm willing and have paid more for products made in the U.S.A. It would be nice to have that option.
Overall these boots exceeded my expectations for river bottom gripping ability. I'd like to give them a real test drive on Penns Creek in early June. I've not yet found more treacherous wading. I'm glad to have Patagonia products available at The West Branch Angler Fly Shop now, and hope to purchase a pair of the improved Gen. 2 boots there.