How to Replace Felt Soled Wading Boots With Rubber

Wading boots are built to function in any environment. They are quite similar to hiking boots and they provide maximum comfort, support, and mobility to anglers wading out of water. It is commonly used by fishermen due to the balance it provides against current and helps maintain a solid foundation inside water. Wading boots keep you dry and comfortable when fishing. So let me cut to the chase, you really didn’t come here to be told what a wading boot is and what it is not. I like having top fishing gear and having my wading boots gives me a sense of confidence and safety when fishing. 

Why Do You Need a Wading Boot

One major prerequisite that any wading boot should have is that they should be able to support you while walking across different surfaces and more importantly slippery surfaces without the fear of a fall. To keep your balance and to stay afloat (of course) while navigating over slippery surfaces and objects, there are three main types of soles that you may choose from; the rubber sole, the felt sole, and cleated sole.

Since some national parks have started imposing fines on felt-soled wading boots as part of a campaign to keep invasive species out. Anglers argue that the felt-soled wading boots give them more grip on slippery rocks when wading through streams and waters. The argument is that felt soles grab more potentially invasive species and unknowingly transport them across different waterways.

How to Replace Felt Soles on Wading Boots with Rubber

Having worn out wading boots can be considered good at times and in some context.  The ultimate goodness out of it is if you wore those boots out while fishing or wading as the case may be. Although it will be quite sad (at least by my reckoning) if your wading boots wear out or fail shortly after buying them. Nowadays, many of us want to try something out, build something yourself or even repairing, reusing and recycling our gear.   Repairing a loose, floppy sole on your well-worn (or not) wading boots is a relatively easy repair with the right products. 

Things to Consider When Purchasing a Wading Boot

  1. Lightweight – The wading boots should be as light as possible. This will make it quite convenient for an angler who has to walk many miles in a day 
  2. Rubber Sole Not Felt – The wading boot should have a rubber sole, not a felt sole.  We’ve discussed the reason why it is advisable to use rubber soles earlier
  3. Drains Well – And of course, the wading boot must drain well. A poor draining boot is quite heavy and apart from the danger it poses to the angler, a clogged boot is no fun.
  4. Lightweight Uppers – Look for wading boots that have uppers constructed of synthetic leather or microfiber. This type of upper material is relatively lightweight, durable, dries quickly and remains flexible over time.
  5. Laces & Lacing System – Check to see if the boot is easy to lace up (quick lacking like with hiking boots), has durable laces that won’t fall apart when wet, and spare laces are readily available (yes, you’ll eventually break them regardless of how strong they are).
  6. Rock Solid Ankle Support – The boot must provide solid ankle support. By that, I mean that it should be nearly impossible for an angler to “rollover” their ankle.

Replacing Your Wading Boot Felt Sole with Rubber Sole

Before you attempt replacing the felt sole, First pick up some the rubber soles and some cement for attaching them. Common cement that works well is the Barge cement and you can easily get it at your local hardware store.  You’ll also need a utility knife, sandpaper or wire wheel, cleaning solvent and some duct tape.

The first step involves getting what’s left of the old felt off.  Do whatever it takes to get to the flat surface of the boot.

The second step is to prepare the bottom of the boot.  You want to create a fresh rough surface so the cement glues the two surfaces well.  A wire wheel in a drill can help you get a fresh surface for your boot quite efficiently; a sander or sandpaper will also do the trick. Next use some solvent to wipe the surface clean.  This is to assure that there are no oils or other foreign materials left on the bottom of the boot that will weaken the bond.

The third step is to prepare the replacement rubber sole.  Ensure that you trim the replacement sole to size.  You can choose to fit it in perfectly or just get it close and do the final trim after the soles are in place, whichever works for you.

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The fourth step is to glue the soles on.  Evenly apply a thin layer of cement over the entire two surfaces. Let them dry for several hours without sticking them together.  You need to let the first layer of cement set a long time and reapply another layer to get the strongest bond.  Apply the first layer of cement in the evening (either on the surface of the bottom of the boot or the sole), let it sit overnight, and apply a second layer in the morning.  You can glue them together right away at this point. 

Tape down all edges of the rubber sole to the boot firmly.  I do this by wrapping the tape right around the boot.  Duct tape leaves some sticky residue, but I don’t mind.  You can use another type of tape if you care to. 

My sole kit instructional advises me to let them dry for a day.  I usually let them sit for at least a couple of days before removing the tape for more conviction or safety.  After removing the tape, you can do any last-minute trimming in order to produce a properly finished job.

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That will be all from our end. Be sure to remove all residue of the old sole and also be patient enough to allow the cement to do its thing. I hope you enjoy your wading experience with your new sole.

Kindly leave comments, suggestions, and questions in the comments section.
Wade with ease.