The Simms Vapor felt bottom wading boot, at just 1.5 pounds per boot, is one of the lightest wading boots on the market. It is designed to be a durable, lightweight boot that is equally at home on the hiking trail as it is in the water. Simms, in my opinion, was extremely successful in accomplishing their mission.
The Vapor can be purchased with either the BOA closure system or with traditional laces. For our purposes, we’ll be looking at the lace-up model. As an aside, although I find the BOA system to be incredibly fast and easy to use, I prefer the lace-up boot’s ability to control the pressure applied to specific areas of my feet. That’s a fancy way of saying you can get a tighter fit with lace-up boots without creating pressure points.
Saying the Vapor feels like a slipper would be over-reaching, but not by much. The boot provides a surprisingly high level of ankle support for a boot that feels very “airy” on the foot. While I wouldn’t take this boot on an arduous mountain route, the vapor performs as intended on the trail and when bushwhacking through the willows. The Vapor’s sole is hard enough, and the felt soft enough so that you won’t even notice when you step on small to medium-sized rocks while traveling from the car to your secret spot on the river. Overall, the Vapor provides a steady platform for good balance while hiking or wading.
We could debate the merits and demerits of felt bottom boots—look for a discussion of felt versus rubber bottom wading in a future newsletter--but the reality is they are still legal in most states and that felt has excellent grip on slippery, wet rocks. I make no bones about it; I love felt. I am no longer sliding around the river like a dog on ice. The Vapor allows me to wade with confidence and to slip in and out of my boat without the use of boat grinding metal studs. Keep in mind that felt offers poor traction on dry grass and loose dirt, and is prone to snow build-up in the winter.
The Vapor is a wide, roomy boot (EEE according to Simms). This makes it ideal for wide footed folks and for adding that extra sock when it is cold. I have EEE feet and actually find the boot to run a bit large. In this day of online shopping, I would recommend you buy this boot the old fashioned way; try the Vapor on in a store for proper fit before pulling the trigger on a purchase.
I’ve only worn this boot for about 2 months so look for a durability update on the Vapor in a future newsletter later this year. But for now, you’ll have to buy your own pair. You can’t have mine.