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View Full Version : Product Review: Korker Cross Current Wading Boots


mmorgan135
03-19-2008, 10:43 PM
I have literally worn out my Red Head wading boots after three years with them, so I have been trying to decide which pair of boots to go with. I saw an article in a fishing magazine last year about the interchangeable Korkers and was going to pick up a pair last year but just never got around it. I finally bit the bullet today and purchased a pair and look forward to giving a full product review because I feel these boots will allow me to only have to carry one pair of boots with me on day hikes as well as overnight extended trips.

Initial Impression: I called LRO today and asked if they had any of the Korkers in stock, and I had them hold a size 11 for me to try on. I initially tried them on with both a wader boot and also a pair of athletic socks. I noticed that with the wader sock on, the boots fit absolutely perfect and were just a tad loose with a thin athletic sock. I brought them home and was like a kid at Christmas waiting to tear the boots apart and change the soles. The first time I tried to change the soles was a real pain but after a half dozen or so times it became really easy. I walked around my apartment all afternoon wearing the rubber soles while wearing a thicker pair of Smartwool socks and the boots felt like any other high top hiking boot. I also noticed that these boots were extremely light weight and that was another plus.

I will be fishing for most of the day tomorrow and plan on giving a follow up report on my new boots.

Grumpy
03-20-2008, 07:55 AM
Can't wait to hear your report, i've heard you had to go up a boot size with Korkers, any truth to that?

Grumpy

BuckeyeRick
03-20-2008, 02:01 PM
I first bought a pair of size 9, but with a thick sock (Smartwool, what else) I needed a ten. I use the 9's in the summer when I am wet wading and the 10's for Steelheading.

I really like them. It does take a couple of tries to get the soles to snap in, but no big deal - I just put in the toe and one side and then bang them on the floor. I like the fact that I can change from a felt to a hiking sole in case the terrain changes. I have heard that the soles will pop out, but in 5 seasons it has never happened to me. I like them so much, that when they changed to their new design, I picked up a second pair of 10's due to the sale.

Last week, when we got 15" of snow, I put on my waders and the hiking sole and had no problem walking to the store or shoveling the drive.

Gerry Romer
03-20-2008, 02:28 PM
Can't wait to hear your report, i've heard you had to go up a boot size with Korkers, any truth to that?

Grumpy

I'm still beating up my Korkers Wetlands boots. When I first ordered them from Daniel, I ordered a size larger than my shoe size. The fit was too loose and he re-ordered them in my normal size 10 shoe size. Perfect fit. At first, I was using them with a pair of Chota wading socks and had no fit problem. When I switched to my Simms waders in the fall, the fit was the same. Then, this past fall, I started using a pair of Orvis waders and ran into a fit problem. It seems the neoprene bootie on the Orvis wader is slightly thicker than either the Chota bootie or the Simms bootie. They're a very snug fit with the Orvis.

Interestingly, I had a situation last summer where I had to buy new boots - okay, I had a senior moment and left my Korkers behind in Alcoa and wasn't about to turn around and drive 2 hours back from the Watauga just to get my them! So I bought a pair of Chota boots in Bristol. I couldn't get the size 10 Chotas on with either my Simms waders or Chota socks :eek: . I had to go up a size in the Chota boots to a size 11. They fit well on dry land, but after a few minutes underwater they need to be re-laced and snugged up. Never had that problem with my Korkers. The Chotas, however, do fit well with my new Orvis waders, providing I'm also wearing a heavy sock. They still feel like they need to be snugged up after a half hour or so in the water.

Best advice when buying any boots... take your waders with you. And with the Korkers... start with your shoe size.

Gerry

nvr2L8
03-20-2008, 10:11 PM
Pete and I were talking about Korkers last week while we were hiking. He pointed out that if you hike into a stream in them and then wet wade, are you not going to be sloshing back down the trail at the end of the day? You can wear a neoprene bootie but still run the chance of water getting in over the tops.

What has been some of the Korkers vets with this situation? The concept sounded great till I thought about the hike back.

Grumpy
03-20-2008, 11:18 PM
To late, a pair of Streamborn's came home with me today, i had to go up a size even with a narrow foot:eek:
Comfortable-YES, it's the first boot i've ever worn that has an arch in it, wore the felts on carpet & hardwwood floors-NICE, swithched to the hiking pads with a lil difficulty(practice makes perfect)NICE, i've got to get a pair of the Aquastealth soles next, then there's that neat looking sandal for wet wading during the warm months & i already have 3 pairs of sandals from Teva, Mion & Chaco, looks like they'll find a new home:eek:
UGH, you reckon i oughta wear them fishing first?

Grumpy

Gerry Romer
03-21-2008, 10:19 AM
Pete and I were talking about Korkers last week while we were hiking. He pointed out that if you hike into a stream in them and then wet wade, are you not going to be sloshing back down the trail at the end of the day? You can wear a neoprene bootie but still run the chance of water getting in over the tops.

What has been some of the Korkers vets with this situation? The concept sounded great till I thought about the hike back.

I don't have any experience with the new models, but I haven't had that problem with my Wetlands. The leather/fabric upper drains and dries well and quickly. The idea of the interchangeable soles makes hiking/wading/hiking much more doable. The soles are very lightweight and I carry mine in my vest or suspended from a D-ring by hooking the Velcro straps together. That way I can wear the lug soles to the stream, change over to the felt soles at the stream, wade to my heart's content and then change back over to the lug soles when I'm ready to hike hike back out. This also gives me the chance to rinse the felt soles off in the stream before stowing them for the hike out. I also like the fact that, this way, I'm not dragging a bunch of forest and stream debris back to my truck. It's amazing how much cleaner my floor-mats stay!

PeteCz
03-21-2008, 11:35 AM
So your feet stay dry on the hike back out, after wading? This has been my primary concern with them: hiking after fishing (after getting them wet). Wet boots lead to wet socks. Wet feet + hiking (3+ miles) = blisters

I had my eye on some new Chotas (and packing my hiking boots when me), but if your feet don't get wet in the Korkers on your hike out, I may have to rethink my decision on my next pair of boots. I do really like the concept of the Korkers...

Gerry Romer
03-21-2008, 12:13 PM
Pete --

What size do you wear? Might be able to test drive mine... I've never put them through the rigors of a 3 mile hike, so I can't guarantee no blisters, but they might work for you.

I've got to get my flies over to you anyway. I could bring the Korkers, too.

Gerry

PeteCz
03-21-2008, 01:42 PM
Gerry, I wear a size 10 shoe, but aren't you going to be fishing anytime soon?

I'll be home most of today...do you want to swap boots for a weekend?
You can call me at 228-0006.

I think I sent directions to our house to your e-mail, or we could meet up somewhere....Pete

mmorgan135
03-21-2008, 02:00 PM
All I can say is wow…I love these new boots. I wanted to do a short hiking and fishing trip with them yesterday so I hiked from Tremont to above where the Panther Creek trail connects to Middle Prong Trail. I wore just the boots with the hiking soles in and had my waders on my backpack. Once I got to where I wanted to fish, I put my waders on and changed out my soles to the felt. I then fished for a couple of hours and brought two fish to hand all on a red bead head copper john. The water also seemed a bit high from some of the rain but it was still fun to get out there. I then took my waders and shoes off to dry while I cooked a lunch and by the time I was doing that, my waders were 99 % dry and so were my boots. I had wondered how I was going to keep my feet dry since I didn’t want to hike out wearing my waders, so I simply wore a pair of neoprene socks over a pair of liner socks and my feet stayed completely dry and no discomfort what so ever.

I really like these new boots and had no trouble with the soles coming loose. I am glad that I got the Cross Current boots for wearing with the waders because I had thought about getting the Torrents instead but think I will hold off on these until I am wet wading in the summer. I think the Torrents will provide better protection for my toes than the sandals. Overall I would recommend these shoes for anyone that does day hikes into their fishing spots.

PeteCz
03-22-2008, 09:38 PM
Last night Gerry let me borrow his Korker boots for a few days so that I could test them out for myself. First off I can't thank him enough, because not only did I get to use his boots all day today on a hiking/fishing excursion up to Fish Camp Prong (right at the start of the Goshen Prong Trail) but he dropped off a few extra flies for our Spring Fly Swap II and I caught my first fish of the day on a #12 Doc's Cork that he tied!

Now for the review: One of the problems with getting a wading boot is trying to decide between single purpose or multi purpose functionality. I'm trying to decide if I can get one boot to be able to wet wade, wade with waders and also hike in. That's a tall order for one pair of boots, so if I can get two functions out of one pair, that would be great. The Korkers could almost provide all three functions, but with a few considerations.

I hiked today up to the Goshen Prong Trail with the lug soles on and a pair of thick wool socks. The fit was a bit loose, so if I had used a thin pair with the wool socks, it would have been close to perfect. Once I got to the stream (just a hair over an hour to cover the 3.7miles), I quickly changed into my waders and popped on the felt soles. The fit with my waders was very good and the stability of the boot is much better than my current wading boots. The traction seemed to be just as good, if not better than my current felt sole boots (since the Korker felt soles rarely/never see mud, they are grippier than mine. I wind up hiking some in my current wading shoes and getting muddy - a definite advantage to the Korkers).

Once I finished fishing, I switched back to the lug soles and put on two pair of socks for the hike back (a much better fit that way). Unfortunately, the boots did not have any chance to dry out (I didn't bring a picnic lunch with me...I need to plan ahead better, like MM:biggrin:). Within 10 minutes my socks/feet were damp. They never felt soaked, but they were uncomfortable when covering the 4 miles back to the car. I never actually got a blister, but I was close. Also, there were several spots along the trail that were wet, and since the boots aren't waterproof, I needed to carefully pick out my crossing spot, or just get even wetter...

So what's my opinion? I'm not convinced that the Korkers should replace my hiking boots. My initial response after hiking back to the car was that while they were a great idea, the problems keeping your feet dry on the hike out, might not be worth the effort. I would just continue to wear my waterproof hiking boots during the hiking phases and pack in my wading boots for fishing.

However, now that I've thought some more (and taken a nap), I need another pair of boots anyway and the Korker fit is the closest I've come to having a boot that would do both kinds of wading. They don't seem to shrink/stretch like my others (and apparently like the Chotas). I could keep the felt much cleaner by swapping out the soles during short hikes and the support and feel of the new Korkers seems better than many of the other similar priced boots. All those things together have me leaning toward the Korkers (probably the Streamborns).

Since they are about a half size larger than what I need for wet wading, I have enough room to create a water proof solution with a neoprene sock and a wool sock. I may try that in the next couple of days to see if that fixes my wet foot situation. If so, I may have one boot for three uses. If not, I may get them anyway. They seem to be great boots, even if you never tried hiking in them.

mmorgan135
03-23-2008, 12:07 AM
When I was going through a course to get certified for scuba diving, we were instructed to buy a pair of neoprene socks to where with our wet suits and to keep our fins from rubbing blisters on our feet. I never got rid of them and thought that they would be great for keeping my feet dry. They are just like the bootie on your waders but has alot more contoured fit. I wear a liner sock under them to help with moisture and to keep from getting any chance of a blister.

Pete,
You should try this out and see how they work for you. Make sure you take the boots with you when you are trying the socks on so you get a good fit, because the thickness can change.

Gerry Romer
03-23-2008, 12:59 AM
Pete --

Sounds like the test drive was a pretty good idea!! A little fine tuning and you've got it...

The Wetlands boot - the ones you borrowed - apparently have been discontinued. I got a sale circular in the mail today from Sierra and they indicate that the wetlands are a discontinued model. Which is fine since Korkers has a replacement series in place. I think they're actually less expensive and the utilize the new, improved sole system. The step-up model utilizes the new "lacing" system which seems to be a bit controversial but has been getting good reviews.

In any event, it sounds like you've figured out what your own particular needs are and how to plan for them. I almost suggested packing in an extra pair of heavy socks... I guess I should have just spoken up. I'm hoping that this exchange will help others.

Thanks!

Happy about the Yellow Neversink (AKA Doc's Cork)!! It usually works best in the hot, dog days of summer, but is makes a great searcher/stimulator pattern and a good "floater" for a dry/dropper setup.

I'm really looking forward to testing the Hare's Ear Pogo flies you gave me. I suspect they'll do quite well in the park!!

Gerry

ccmmcc
03-23-2008, 09:30 AM
Has anyone else had this problem?

I was using Simms lightweight wading boots with a felt sole on the bottom. I wore them out. Went and bought the Korkers. When I put the felt bottoms on and went fishing, I would slip climbing rocks. I busted my shins a couple of times. What I figured out was that most wading boots have the felt soles covering the entire bottom whereas the Korkers have a small piece where the interchangeable sole fits into the bottom that is not felt. Therefore, when I try to climb up rocks, I put the toe on a rock, put pressure on it and I slip. I didn't have that problem with a full felt sole. Anyone else had this experience? Now, that was a number of years ago, when the Korkers first came out, and I am not as an aggressive wader as I was back then.

mmorgan135
03-23-2008, 09:21 PM
Has anyone else had this problem?

I was using Simms lightweight wading boots with a felt sole on the bottom. I wore them out. Went and bought the Korkers. When I put the felt bottoms on and went fishing, I would slip climbing rocks. I busted my shins a couple of times. What I figured out was that most wading boots have the felt soles covering the entire bottom whereas the Korkers have a small piece where the interchangeable sole fits into the bottom that is not felt. Therefore, when I try to climb up rocks, I put the toe on a rock, put pressure on it and I slip. I didn't have that problem with a full felt sole. Anyone else had this experience? Now, that was a number of years ago, when the Korkers first came out, and I am not as an aggressive wader as I was back then.


I actually found that when I would be climbing out of the stream up any type of bank that the full felt soles made it difficult to get up with out slipping because the felt did not have any grip on leaves, dirt or loose vegetation. I didnt even notice that the entire sole wasnt felt while wading because I am not going to be placing my entire weight on just that one inch of sole that is not felt on the front and sides. I make sure each foot step is deliberate and not just hanging on by "a toe" literally. Especially if I am two or three miles from my truck with no one with me. But you bring up a good point that really depends on alot to how each person wades differently

Gerry Romer
03-23-2008, 10:04 PM
Wish I had paid more attention...

I was in The Creel last week and I noticed some boots stacked up on a clearance rack. They had partial felt soles - a felt section under the ball of the foot and another under the heel. Not sure of the model, but the boxes they were on were Simms and Orvis boxes... And I have definitely seen wading sandals with this split configuration. So it must not be a problem.

Grumpy
03-24-2008, 08:29 AM
I can't wait for the water to drop here, i'm going to spring for a set of aquastealth soles for the Korkers.
I've worn them for several years on my Chaco sandals & they grip, they may even give me to much grip, from time to time, i'm wondering why i'm in such conditions while fishing, being no one else was able to reach certain spots:eek:

Grumpy

BuckeyeRick
03-24-2008, 03:09 PM
Unless I'm missing something, don't your feet always get wet when you are wet wading as soon as the water is higher than your boots? I wear a thin liner sock + Simms neoprene booties + my Korkers and have walked miles in water and out with no blister problems. I had some Cabelas booties, but the Simms are the bomb.

mmorgan135
03-24-2008, 03:37 PM
Unless I'm missing something, don't your feet always get wet when you are wet wading as soon as the water is higher than your boots? I wear a thin liner sock + Simms neoprene booties + my Korkers and have walked miles in water and out with no blister problems. I had some Cabelas booties, but the Simms are the bomb.

Yes your feet always get wet when wet wading but I think what has been discussed is while wearing waders when you change back over to the hiking sole on the Korkers and walk out, how do you keep your feet from getting wet after you put your Korkers back on. That is what the neoprene booties are for. After you take your waders off, your Korkers are still wet. So the booties keep your liner sock and your feet from getting wet and causing blisters.

BuckeyeRick
03-26-2008, 07:06 AM
Sorry for being a little dense. I just walk out with my waders on and even drive home in them. Maybe I don't hike as far as others, but I've never had blister problems.

Gerry Romer
03-26-2008, 01:42 PM
I do the same - but I think I'd pack my waders in and out if I were looking at a 3 - 5 mile hike...

I'd also be looking into lightweight, portable respirators!!

G

Bullwinkle
03-27-2008, 09:53 AM
has anyone tried the guide boot with the wire crank up lacing system (boa tech) ?

swipper 74
03-27-2008, 11:18 PM
Got a pair Bullwinkle and I absolutely love them! I've had them for about 8 months now and wouldn't trade them for any other boots on the market. I had trouble stomaching the cost of them at first, but after just a few uses, I was confident that I made the right choice. The boots can be as snug or loose as you see fit and the support is great. Want to take them off, pull the dial out and your foot slips out easily.

Bullwinkle
03-28-2008, 08:07 AM
yes the 'easy out' is really a good thing.. I hate trying to unlace wet boots and get free. plus the ease of adjustment while fishing looks to be a good thing.

think I'll stop and get the ones I tried on a couple of days ago.

swipper 74
03-28-2008, 10:29 AM
I'm sure you'll love them!

kthmarks
04-19-2008, 05:30 PM
I am seriously considering a pair of the Streamborne. While researching these on the web (again), I stumbled across this thread.

I have been contemplating how to resolve the dilemma of carrying two pairs of boots while backpacking into a remote location. I am glad to see that the past couple of years have benefited to the design of the boots and worked out a few of the kinks of the earlier models.

Thanks to the guys who helped on the R&D at their own expense while the rest of us watched and waited.

However, my concern has also been with soggy socks on the trek out. I fear neoprene booties will not allow your feet to breathe while hiking.

Perhaps Gortex socks are a better alternative? Although a bit pricey, they will allow your foot to breathe and keep them dry too.

Anybody have experience with these?

PS...A new member here...a long time NGTO'r, Looks like a great board.

Grumpy
04-20-2008, 07:16 AM
I've had my Streamborns for a month now with no wadable water, ordered a pair of Aquastealth soles for them, has anyone tried those?

Grumpy

mmorgan135
04-20-2008, 04:03 PM
I bought a pair of SealSkin socks after the first trip with my Korkers. You should check them out. I went after some smallmouth today and just left the hiking sole on my Korkers and man did it making walking on the road and climbing up grass banks 10 times easier. I did do a little dance a few time when I stepped on some flat rocks that didnt have any moss on them. I am still wondering how I got by without these boots for so long.

PeteCz
05-28-2008, 09:38 AM
Last week, after much discussion (thank you, mmorgan), thought and even a field test (thank you, Gerry), I finally purchased a size 11 pair of Korker Streamborns at LRO. I really needed a 10.5, but since they only come in full sizes I opted for the slightly larger pair, to which I have added a foam insert ($11 from CVS) to make a near perfect fit (Thanks for the idea Bill Hey).

I suppose my only comment is: what took me so long.

I absolutely love the new boots after taking them on two tests last weekend. On Saturday I went above Elkmont and hiked for about 3 miles (both dry and wet) and had no problems. For the amount of hiking I did, having wet feet posed no problem. My guess is that blisters need two things to develop. Dampness and heat (or friction). I think at some point I may hike up to Goshen Prong, fish, then hike back out without changing my socks, just to see if the "wet foot+hiking=blister" issue is even a concern.

The Streamborns offer great support (ankle and arch) compared to my Cabela's UltraLight Wading boots and are a lot more comfortable to hike in without adding much, if any weight. I tried wading in the lug soles on the LR at Elkmont and while I could probably do it in a pinch, the felt soles do make all the difference in the world on wet rocks.

On Sunday I climbed around up on Road Prong and became even more impressed. I hiked up to the stream in the lugsoles then swapped them out for the felts (Still not as quick as a pair thats broken in, but I'm sure it will be easier soon). Spent the next several hours crawling and climbing on numerous wet, dry, moss covered and smooth boulders and have never felt better about my traction. The rubber on the toes actually helps when hoisting yourself up and over a boulder and the felt (being much cleaner than had I hiked in them) gripped very well to the wet rocks. A great combination. When it was time to exit the stream I sat down, swapped the soles back out and hit the trail.

Two thumbs up!!

If you are in the market for some new boots, you need to check out the Korkers, you won't regret it.

buzzmcmanus
05-28-2008, 03:30 PM
Pete, After reading your review, quite a long time ago. I checked out a pair of Korkers. Ended up buying Korker's Torrent Shoe. I would highly recomemd them for anyone hiking into their fishing destination. I couple them with a pair of Smartwool footies and hiking out with wet feet haven't produced any blisters, yet.