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Clothing Review

Hodgman brings the latest technology and design to market with their "Wadetech" wading shoes

Date: 3/17/03
Tackle type: Clothing/Wading
Manufacturer: Hodgman
Reviewer: Zander

Total Score: 7.91

Introduction: Anglers now have a large selection of high quality wading shoes in which to choose from and the latest shoes are able to bring hi-tech materials and functional designs to anglers at surprisingly reasonable prices. Hodgman, one of the oldest and most respected names in the business updates their already robust lineup with the advanced Wadetech shoe. How well does it stack up to the competition?  

Hodgman Wadetech Wading Shoes Specifications

Material Mesh with P.V.C. Reinforcement
Sole High Density Felt (replaceable)
Color Olive/Brown
Size 7-13
Fastening Laces
Features Durable mesh upper, "rough skin" reinforced heel/toe, padded collar and tongue, speed lace system, replaceable felt outsole, nylon heel pull
MSRP $69.00

Impressions: A few years ago the standard wading shoe started to transform into a fashionable hi performance piece of tackle that any fly angler, salt flat fisherman, or wader shouldn't be without. Anglers that have tried to wear an old shoe, or the wrong boot for wading applications know that this is not only hazardous but also makes fishing difficult as simply staying afoot suddenly becomes your primary goal.


Hodgman has been making quality wading products since 1838, but in the last decade has begun to lose some marketshare, especially in the premium wading category where smaller up and coming companies began producing highly specialized technical waders and shoes. Not to be outdone Hodgman's Wadetech shoe is a dramatic departure from the traditional shoes in their lineup, and is refreshingly modern in outlook, features, and overall performance.


The feature breakdown of the Hodgman Wadetech

Features: Most anglers are surprised by the plethora of new features that are found on the latest wading shoes. In the past if the shoe provided ample stability in water then it had done its job well. Today wading shoes are judged by their comfort, stability, durability, drainage capabilities, and flexibility in application. The Hodgeman Wadetech is considered a mid cut shoe and provides support beyond your ankle. The Wadetech's main body is constructed from mesh and is bolstered with synthetic P.V.C. reinforcements to provide more structure to the shoe. Getting in and out of the shoe even while wet is easy with the nylon heel pull on the back of the collar which provides an excellent point for leverage. Both the heel and toe of the Wadetech are protected with scuff resistant "rough skin" to provide more armor to the areas of the shoe that come in the most contact with abrasive surfaces. Finally to increase the usable lifespan of the shoe the felt soles can be upgraded or changed out with glue on replacements.


The Wadetech feels stable even when walking on slippery rocks


Comfort: The laces are made of durable taslan and are attached to the shoe via a cordura material rather then metal loops or grommets found on most other boots. While this system is very fast it also reduces the overall weight to the shoe. To tighten the boot quickly their is still one metal speed loop on the collar. Once on these shoes feel light and comfortable on almost any surface, but once wet they do take on quite a bit more weight. In the water the extra weight adds confidence but once outside of the water you feel burdened. While there are two drainage holes on each shoe the water doesn't abscond from the shoe as fast as we have seen on other boots, and at least for a few minutes you feel as if you are walking on saturated sponges.


The mesh upper portion of the Wadetech is comfortable but a bit too soft and when you walk there is some give in the center of the boot. We would have liked to see more reinforcement either on the inside or with synthetic straps on the outside of the boot to provide more stability.


Where the Wadetech excels is in the padding department. Whether you are wearing membrane or micro fiber waders the stocking feet tuck nicely into this well padded boot, and Hodgeman did an excellent job on one of the most generously padded collars and tongues that we have ever tested.


The "speed lace" system consists of fabric and metal speed loops


Soles: The application is the most important factor when choosing which wading shoe is right for you. There are some boots that have the ability to instantly change from a variety of soles (rubber, felt, spikes) in a matter of seconds, but for the most part most shoes are application specific. This is the wrong shoe to pick for sandy or coral flats fishing but an excellent choice for most fishing applications. The Wadetech's felt soles are quite thick and do a fine job gripping rocks on the bottom of rivers. In fast moving conditions or in areas with large algae growth metal studs would have been a nice upgrade. While these soles were fantastic in and around the river we found the pure felt soles to be horrible when standing in the drift boat where they extremely slippery on the fiberglass. In the excitement of landing a fish it is easy to lose your footing if you are not properly braced. The answer if you enjoy fishing in and out of a fiberglass or aluminum drifter....get a shoe with interchangeable soles. 


The Wadetech's thick felt soles are good for most applications, and can be re-soled


Protection: The mid height Wadetech provides enough support for most situations, and is lightweight enough to walk form destinations with ease. While some anglers like sandals that are designed to fit over waders they are not necessarily the best choice for hazardous conditions. The Wadetech on the other hand proved to offer very good protection from sharp obstacles in and out of the water. While testing the shoe by deliberately kicking and knocking my heel against sharp rocks and branches I garnered many peculiar looks from nearby anglers that wondered whether I had gone completely mad or perhaps I was extremely frustrated that I hadn't caught any fish yet. While the tests were rudimentary I walked away with little more then cosmetic scrapes to the reinforced heel/toe and with no harm to my feet whatsoever.


The heel of the boot is well reinforced with Hodgeman's "rough skin" material


Durability: Our tests put the Wadetech in harms way of debris and sharp underwater obstacles and the boot emerged from the water every time in first-rate shape. The quality of the synthetic materials used in the construction of the boot survived all the torture we dealt. Every panel, reinforcement, and mesh section is double stitched to ensure that every section of the boot is securely bonded together. Even when covered with mud you can spray the boot with water and brush off all the grime with little discretion. This boot is built to last. 


While not the ideal surface the Wadetech does an admirable job of maintaining a grip on muddy and sandy areas


Price: Hodgeman does a great job of delivering quality products to market at reasonable prices. When you buy a Hodgman product you know it is well built and while it may not necessarily sport the latest materials and innovations it will perform exactly as the manufacturer intended. For 69 dollars the Wadetech is more affordable than most branded wading shoes, and considered a good deal for a product of this quality.



Hodgman Wadetech Wading Shoes Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Good materials that are not premium but still durable and well put together in a package that will take a real beating and still perform as promised 8
Performance Passed all our tests with some minor gripes about stability and drainage 8
Price A great price for a pair of wading shoes that perform well and come from a company that has a proven history of quality products 9
Features A average amount of features like the speed lace system and reinforced heel/toe, but nothing too outstanding 7
Design (Ergonomics) Fits well and very comfortable, would like some stability reinforcement on the mid section of the boot, but nonetheless very comfortable in and out of water. Considered lightweight. Would be much more flexible if the design incorporated any type of rubber or steel cleat options. 7.5
Application Great for the majority of wading applications as long as you are not spending the most of your time on sand and coral reefs. 8

Total Score


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Comfortable, well padded L No added grip options
J Speed lace system L Does not drain quickly 
J Quite durable L Mid section stability
J Great value  

Conclusion: Hodgman is the company that pioneered quality wading shoes and their longevity is a testament to the quality and value that their products offer. The Wadetech represents a big step for Hodgeman in design, style, and performance. The inclusion of advanced materials and features like the quick lace system and reinforced "rough skin" heel and toe allow this product to compete with premium wading options that can cost much more. While the Wadetech is a great choice for most anglers it does lack some of the refinement and advanced features and flexibility that new premium wading shoes are beginning to offer. We recommend the Wadetech as an excellent starter felt mid height shoe for most anglers, but experienced anglers looking for that extra edge, additional features, and further refinement will want to keep shopping.


Until next time...Tight Lines!









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