Two things are true, for me and for New England.
First, this summer in New England has been hot — record breaking hot. With climate change, the long-term forecast only looks hotter.
Second, I already sweat like a pig in waders in the summer. When I hit a river, or even rock jettied and beaches, I know that at the end of the day, when I open up my waders, there’s going to be some serious funk, not to mention discomfort throughout the day.
I’ve tried some of the sturdier sandals out there, but they never seemed like quite what I was looking for. Does it have to be that way, I wondered?
One thing I love about the Intruder is that its rugged and yet comfortable. You can walk a beach, a river, or a jetty for hours in these things, and not experience discomfort. It looks like a classic Simms wading boot — well-built, stable, with a touch of style — and yet feels like a shoe. The Intruder boot is also a true to size boot, meaning it fits to your normal shoe size.
Part of this comfort comes from the integrated neoprene sock. You slip the boot on, and then lace it up, combining some of the elements of a flats bootie with a regular wading boot. I have found the neoprene to be keep my foot comfortable in cold water, and did a pretty darn good job of keeping gravel out of the boot — it’s a tight, warm fit.
The soles on these gripped the wet rocks tight. Even without metal studs, the Vibram soles sport deep treads that grip slippery surfaces. Simms makes two models, one with felt and one without. I found the one without to be entirely sufficient.
I also found it tremendously freeing, and more comfortable, to be wading without waders. I sweat less, was more comfortable, and found it generally more enjoyable.
This may be a bit morbid, but let me also state one benefit of the waderless boot: you don’t worry about drowning. Give me a second on this one. I was fly fishing for atlantic salmon on a big river in Canada a few years ago when, at the end of my turn through the pool, I realized that I had, with every step, moved unknowingly out onto a sand bar. I was now up to my nipples above a deep and fast moving pool and, as I turned around, I was being lifted and deposited downstream, taking on water. I yelled to my guide, who was above 70 at the time, to throw me the net, which I knew has a rope attached to it. He did, and he dragged me in. After that, I sat, panting on the bank. Since then, I haven’t been able to get out of my head on deep river crossings.
With these, I haven’t worried about that. Crossing a river? No worries. Fishing an offshore sandbar during the oncoming tide? No worries. I may lose some gear, I figure, but I won’t lose myself. That’s given me a lot of confidence — something I can’t put a price tag on.
In the end, I’d highly recommend these for anyone who wants to wade wet in New England — or, anywhere for that matter. They’re built to the Simms quality, and won’t disappoint.