As a fly fisherman dreading long hours on the river because of a pair of old, inflexible and very uncomfortable wading shoes our tester owned, it didn't require too much arm-twisting to get him to test the new Bite Upstream wading shoes. In the spirit of full disclosure, he already owns a pair of Bite wading sandals which, he tells us, he swears by for small stream fishing on backpacking and day hiking trips. In fact, he considers the Bite wading sandal the perfect backcountry fly-fishing footwear despite their added weight in his pack.
Anyone first slipping into the Bite Upstreams will appreciate their comfort. The uppers are soft yet supportive and snug down comfortably around the ankles. The D-ring and hook lacing system makes snugging down the uppers easy and quick, and proved secure (don't come unlaced) even in the roughest waters.
Comfort aside, the ultimate test of any wading shoes is how their felt soles grip. To test grip we instructed our tester to head out for a full day of fishing on his local version of Kipling's famous "great, gray, greasy Limpopo River," a river noted for its slime-covered rocks. The Bite felt soles did well on the rocky riverbed that normally requires a felt and aluminum cleat sole combination. On less greasy rocks and on lava rock in other streams, Bite's felt soles gripped with authority.
Not all is fly-fishing nirvana with the boots though as the Upstream is a tad too flexible for serious river use. Granted, the flexibility in the forefoot is great for walking along the river banks and hiking down into and back from harder to reach waters, but for solid in-stream support on rocky and slippery footing in rushing currents, the boots need a bit more stiffness in the midsole.
SNEWS Rating: 4 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested Retail: $80
For more information: www.biteshoes.com