Pete Caron comtemplates the descent into the canyon without Patagonia's bar boots.....
Finished up a shoot for Patagonia over the weekend for their new wader product video and it got me thinking. Everyday time you step into a river to fish you are taking your life into your own hands. One slip can literally mean life and death. It's no joke. Most of us just try not to think about it too much or we wouldn't be out there. At 6'5" and 255 .... I'm a big wader when I want to be. I'm not steelhead stupid though like I used to be when I was younger. I figure if a fish is out beyond my reach and it's the difference between me going home to my family or taking one more step out beyond my wading ability, I'll leave that fish alone.
These days though, my main problem is I'm always wading out there with 5G's worth of camera gear in my hands. One slip and it's an awfully expensive swim and I've already soaked one Canon 7D.
I figure if you're not drowning a camera you're not making flyfishing films. However one dead camera is enough. And that's where Patagonia's aluminium bar boots come in. Nothing sticks like the soft aluminium of the bar boots. I've spent one season in them now and everytime I wear them I'm confident I am NOT going to slip. This summer on a shoot in Wyoming, I stepped out up out of the river on to a giant wet boulder that was at a 45 degree angle. As soon as I put weight on that one foot on the rock I thought this is it, I'm going back into the river backwards with my Canon 5D MKII, to my suprise the soft aluminum bars grabbed the rock and I stuck to it like my foot was glued to it. This fall climbing down in to the canyon on the Bulkley I thought for sure I was going to fall flat on my face and wipe out several others below me with all my gear. Mark Harbaugh the Fly Fishing Sales Manager for Patagonia told me the trick to the boot was instead of turning my foot sideways as we would all do on a descent, to keep it pointed faceing straight down to allow the bars to grab the steep wet trail. It was almost impossible to do at first but after awhile I slowly changed the way I walked in the boots and I never slipped down that trail. Just over the weekend I was shooting again for Patagonia in a canyon section of my homewaters the Kettle River. A light dusting of snow made the canyon a pretty treacherous place to shoot and walk. I was running around with a steadicam not really watching too closely wear my footing was, I was more concerned with loooking in the viewfinder and getting the shot right the first time and getting the hell out of there. At one time I found myself looking down over the edge of the canyon into the river some 90 feet below and thinking, wow I'm probably going to fall here and die, that's shitty... but this shot is cool! Anyway I didn't fall and for one reason, the Patagonia bar boots. They grabbed the crumbling rock beneath me and I stuck right to it. I got the shot and got the hell out of there.
Now I'm not saying the Patagonia bar boots will ensure that you never slip and fall again. And for sure they are not cheap. But for me, the bar boots are the best traction on the market for wading boots out there and you can't put a price on going home to your family.