Slipping into the frigid drink when you're trying to land a steelhead is akin to sliding off an icy precipice when you're reaching for the summit. It can leave you somewhere between wet and uncomfortable and hypothermic and hurt.
That's what inspired one of the leading equipment innovators of this century, Patagonia's Yvon Chouinard, to develop crampons for walking in rivers. In lieu of studs or teeth, like you'd find on traditional mountaineering crampons, Yvon's River Crampons are made from soft aluminum bars that are malleable by design, so they can cut through slick weeds and moss on river bottoms and better grip slippery rocks. They will fit most wading boots, and give anglers an in-water advantage that won't take a toll on the interior of a boat like traditional cleats.
That's our take on them. Here's what the inventor himself had to say about his latest creation:
“In late summer 2010 in the same blacksmith shop where we revolutionized the ice crampon for mountaineering, I assembled the first prototype of the River Crampon and cobbled together a pair of boots with aluminum bars,” said Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia Inc. founder/owner. “The boot and crampon have been heavily tested over the last year... Everyone involved in the testing agreed that they would never go back to studs or felt soles, as the aluminum bars offer a level of security that can not be matched.”
Available as an add-on crampon, or integrated into the Rock Grip Aluminum Bar wading boot. Available January 2102, $199-$239, patagonia.com.