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Clothing Review

Hodgman Neoprene Wading & Flat Shoes... how do they fit?

Date: 1/26/02
Tackle type: Clothing/Wading
Manufacturer: Hodgman
Reviewer: JIP

Total Score: 8.17

Introduction: Shoes... there are many types of shoes for different applications.  Running, cross-country, hiking, biking, and much more.  Hodgman makes a neoprene wading shoe specifically for float tubing, wet wading, and other water sports.  We take a close look at the pros and cons of this shoe for float tubing.

Hodgman Neoprene Wading Shoes (#19221) Specifications

Material 3.5mm Neoprene
Sole Ripple outsoles, hard polymer midsole
Color Black
Size 6-14
Fastening Zipper
Features 3-ply neoprene construction, YKK self-locking zipper with protective inside gusset, non-marking soles, wrap around uppers for additional protection, rear and toe foxing to protect from sharp objects
MSRP $29.99

Impressions: When I go out to purchase a pair of new shoes there are some critical things I need to have - comfort, supportive frame, a perfect fit, and it has to excel in the application it was made for.  My first thoughts when I saw these wading shoes were that they were not exactly but similar to what my requirements were.  These shoes look comfortable, have a thick sole with a lot of protection on the heel, and are ideal for float tubing.  The YKK self-locking zipper features a protective inside gusset and the large teeth on the zippers provide easy zipping even with gravel/sand around it.  The #19221 has a rubber ripple sole on the bottom.  These are commonly used in water with a sandy, pebble, or small rock bottom.  Thus these wading shoes would not be appropriate for walking on large slippery rocks that has algae growth.  My primary purpose for these shoes are for float tubing, and was eager to see how good they work for that purpose.

Tests: After putting on my waders, I wanted to see how difficult it was to put on the wading shoes.  (Note: The water temperature at the local test lake was only 51F, so I put on a thicker pair of socks to keep my toes a little warmer.)  With the extra thick socks, and the waders adding more thickness, putting on these shoes was still easy due to the flexibility of the neoprene and wide opening when unzipped.  


It felt weird walking on these shoes at first.  Weird as in different feeling, not discomfort.  Walking on flat dirt and asphalt was simple and the rubber soles had excellent grip.  Next I headed down a 40 to 45 degree steep dirt & gravel slope.  At first I was afraid of falling because this was the first time I wore these shoes walking down that path that I have gone down hundreds of times, but after a few steps I had more confidence that I will not tumble all the way down.  The snug fit provided by the 3.5mm neoprene wrapped around my feet like it was a part of me.  I was able to feel each step and the hard ribbed rubber soles helped, even on loose dirt and gravel.  


Once I arrived to the edge of the water, where the loose dirt and gravel has been transformed into mud, I almost slipped.  This was on a flat muddy surface, not even slopped.  So later on during that day I stepped into other parts of the lake where it was muddy to again test out how these shoes would perform walking in mud.  After a few more "near-falling" accidents, I have concluded that the rubber ripple soles are not good for slippery surfaces.  


Walk cautiously on mud, you might slip!


While the Hodgman neoprene wading shoes have pros and cons on land or in mud, these were quite nice in the water while float tubing.  The neoprene wading shoes grasped my feet firmly with no loose flaps.  Thus these shoes glide through the water with ease and minimal resistance.


Since I was bass fishing I fished near structure and sometimes I would be a little too close to trees or even boulders that peak out of the surface of the water.  At times I would even kick them when I try to maneuver myself to a new location.  The thick rubber foxing on the perimeter of the shoes provided great protection for my toes and heel when I float tube carelessly, kicking submerged structure.  No damages to my toes, even though they were a little frozen in that cold water.


The protective edge all around prevents any damage to your feet


At the end of the day when I headed back to my car, the wading shoes were wet.  This did not cause any problems while walking up that steep slope I came down from, nor did it have any problems on harder ground.  Even when wet the rubber stuck to the ground like glue.  Taking them off when wet was as simple as putting them on.  There was noticeable dirt between the zippers, but the large teeth allowed me to unzip them without any trouble.  After taking the wading shoes home, a good rinse, and dry time in the shade they were looking ready for another day of wading.



Hodgman Neoprene Wading Shoes Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Well made with good quality material, but you won't be able to tell if the material will hold together until long term use 8
Performance Glides through water and protects your feet 8.5
Price Decent price for shoes that does it's job.  Could be slightly cheaper 7.5
Features Loaded with useful features for a shoe 8
Design (Ergonomics) Fits nicely on and around your feet.  Neoprene flexes allowing more comfort and maneuverability 8
Application Works great for float tubing, just don't walk on slippery  mud! 9

Total Score


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Snug fit L Must walk cautiously in mud
J Comfortable  
J Protective  

Conclusion: Hodgman said that these shoes would work great for float tubing and they were right.  These wading shoes are comfortable, protective, fit nicely, and they performed well for what they were designed for - float tubing.  Of course these shoes are not recommended for wading in the rivers or streams where the boulders are slippery; wading shoes with a felt bottom would be better suited in this application.  Like hiking shoes they are constructed for light trekking to the water.  The neoprene shoes are for float tubing and they excel in that arena.


When trying on any wading shoes at the store, make sure you are wearing  sock AND put on one of their waders to get a good fit.  If you put it on just with sock, you will think it's too large, but actually it might not be because the thickness from the waders will add a lot!


Have fun and keep on fishin!









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