Korkers is one of only a handful of brands in the world of fly fishing that seems intent on continuous innovation. It seems that rarely does a year go by where Korkers hasn’t found and managed to bring to market a meaningful new way to improve the fit, comfort, function, or durability of wading boots—the one piece of fishing gear that probably takes more abuse than any other. Today, Korkers announced its latest pair of wading boots—dubbed River Ops—which marries the brand’s most successful technologies from its existing boot lineup with a bevy of new ones in order to offer anglers a have-your-cake-and-it-eat-too boot focused on tackling comfort, agility, and long-term durability all at once.
Even as a family-owned company, Korkers never seems unwilling to take chances by bringing bold new technologies to the boot game. While not all of those efforts find a permanent home in the Korkers lineup, most do. When Korkers introduced its interchangeable sole system over a decade ago, many people scoffed at the idea, doubting its feasibility and practicality. That system, which Korkers now calls OmniTrax and is in its third generation, is a hallmark of every wading boot Korkers makes—and is a feature that separates the Portland, Oregon bootmaker from its competition.
According to the brand, continuing its accelerating trend for innovation was the driving force behind River Ops, taking inspiration from tactical armed forces gear.
“Our design inspiration for the River Ops was largely the uncompromising nature of tactical Armed Forces gear,” says CEO Brian Chaney. “Guides and hard core anglers depend on their gear to do their job. Comfortable boots alone don’t cut it, so we designed every facet of the boot with premium features to withstand seasons of serious abuse. The River Ops boot merges durability and comfort, providing the premium support and tailored fit dedicated guides and anglers require.”
Perhaps the most immediately apparent feature of the River Ops boot is the complete lack of exposed stitching anywhere on the boot. Korkers had previously debuted similar technology on other models like its Darkhorse and Terror Ridge boots, protecting stitching on molded heel and toe caps by placing them in recessed channels, but the River Ops extends this effort, protecting stitching on the entire boot.
Swapping soles on the new River Ops boot (photo: Korkers).
This additional level of durability-enhancing protection is driven by a new technology Korkers is calling “Exo-Tec”, which it describes as “a molded exoskeleton of protective armor” that fends off abrasion while being flexible enough to “allow for a high range of motion and athletic movement.”
In addition to this focus on enhanced durability, Korkers has added features designed to improve comfort and fit, such as additional ankle support and padding, and a new lacing system that offers a “bi-zonal,” customizable fit.
And, of course, Korkers’ OmniTrax is on board. The River Ops boots ship with two pairs of OmniTrax soles (either a Vibram rubber sole + felt sole combo, or a Vibram rubber sole + Vibram studded-rubber sole combo).