Simms StreamTread Sandal Review

simms-shoes-1Much of the year I like to wade wet.  Something about being in cold flowing water on a 75-90 degree day, it just makes me feel more part of the river than having my legs separated by several laminated sheets of GoreTex fabric.   This season my very old Orvis wading shoes finally bit the dust, they were literally falling apart and needed replacement.  Over the last few years I’ve waded in Keens, Vibram FiveFingers, even my Luna Leadvilles but found all of these to be a bit lacking in either traction or protection so I decided to look for something built for the job.  Since I’m pretty loyal to Simms for waders and wading boots I decided to give their StreamTread Sandals a shot.

I’ve worn the sandals almost exclusively for the last four months, fishing over 60 days in them during this time in creeks, small to large rivers, and a few lakes.   The sandals, like all Simms products, are well constructed and seem pretty durable.  As you can see from the photos, aside from dirt, they are in great condition after so much time in the water.   They fit my foot well and are very comfortable to walk around in.  They are very easy on/off with the quick-pull lacing.  They offer good foot protection from rocks, I especially like the heavily protected toe compartment, I’ve yet to stub my toes in them.   So, they are the best I’ve found for comfort and protection among the things I’ve tried recently.

simms-shoes-2What about traction?   The soles use Simms/Vibram StreamTread™ soles that are a sticky rubber designed to be good at gripping rocks when wet.   Well, they are better than non-specialized Vibram soles found in Keens and Lunas and much better than the Vibram Five Fingers for traction and protection but compared to my old felt Orvis shoes these things are like being on ice skates when on slippery, slimy granite stream beds.    On slick bottom I find myself sliding across instead of stepping – plant one foot and slide the other into place then repeat.   Felt just has always felt more secure but I want to be environmentally conscious and since I do travel with wading shoes the rubber sole seemed like the way to go so now I always carry a wading staff.   Looking at the bottom one day  after an especially slick wade I noticed the little mounts for cleats and thought, “hey, I can fix this traction problem.”   I have a pair of StreamTread wading boots with as many cleats as can be fit on the sole and they offer much better traction than rubber alone  though still are not as grippy as my old felt/stud combination.   Unfortunately, according to the Simms site, the sandals are NOT compatible with cleats or studs, argh.

Overall I’m pretty happy with the sandals.  While I’d love the option to add cleats/studs to the bottom for better traction in the water but then they wouldn’t be as good for hiking into streams with so I can live with a bit of traction limitation and I’ve gotten pretty good at shuffling around the slick parts.