Sunday, November 2, 2014

DIY Aluminum bars for your wading boots

So a few weeks ago I get the latest issue of the Drake magazine and see on the back page the new Patagonia wading boots with these aluminum bars on the bottom.  Years ago in Alaska we had these galosh type of things with aluminum bars on the bottom and they were like wading with velcro in the river.  It was unreal, the difference and this was back in the day when everyone had felt.

Fast forward a few years and I've been using these LLBean boots with the rubber bottoms and metal spikes.  They're ok on rocks but nothing great.  As someone who is always trying to improve my gear I thought I could replicate the Patagonia idea while saving some bucks.  I did some searching on the web.  I found a couple of folks gluing and screwing the bars in the bottoms of the boots.  I saw that one guy mentioned using t-nuts and I said that makes sense as the bars will never come out. 

I spent about $25 and a couple of hours on them.  Here it is step by step.

Tools needed
Hack saw-electric makes it faster
drill and bits
T-nuts 1/4X5/8"
screws 1/4-20 screws, I used 3/4 and 1" for my boots, yours might be different.
countersink bit
File to round edges of bars-I used a grinding wheel made this step fast

Finished product.

First step take out the linings on the boot.

 Buy Aluminum bar from local hardware store 4" is plenty for a pair of boots. Measure and cut the bars into manageable sizes. 

 I roughly measured the bars to fit along the bottoms of the boots.  Use a punch so as to have something for the bit to dig into.

 Lining up the holes and drilling one right after the other.

 Then I counter sunk the holes for the screws.

 Drill holes in sole and put in T-nut (see below).  Make sure the holes will go in the boot and not into the side of the boot on the inside.


Once the bars were done the hardest part was lining everything up and getting the screws into the T-nuts.   After they were all done I screwed them up and put the liners back in.  At first I thought they might be uncomfortable due to the T-nuts, but they were not.

  After a day on the water.  I have to say they worked as well as could have wished for.  Very sticky on rocks and easy to walk in as opposed to korkers or the like.   An easy way to greatly improve one's traction on slippery rocks.


  1. Pretty slick Robin ... nicely done.

  2. I'm putting that on the list of things I need to do before my next trip....thanks for the idea.

  3. Wow, this is a pretty neat DIY gear upgrade, especially for people who are into fishing or trekking. It adds a firmer grip for foot support, and is much cheaper than buying a new pair of wading boots. I bet these things could last for about a few years without wearing out. Thank you for sharing this tips with us, Robin.

    Bernice Parsons @ BadgeranodisingUK