Go farther and catch bigger fish. The Korkers DarkHorse wading boot gives anglers a light, durable, versatile boot for wading deep in the backcountry.
Late last year, I got an itch to make my life a little wilder. To scratch it, I packed up my truck and left Denver to spend a few months fishing and attending guide school. To gear up for my trek, Korkers out of Portland, Oregon, was kind enough to send me a pair of its DarkHorse wading boots to put to the test.
In short: The Korkers DarkHorse ($180-200) is an awesome wading boot for myriad situations and terrain. It makes my time on the water much more enjoyable thanks to the dialed and versatile design.
Korkers DarkHorse Review: Interchangeable Soles
Fly anglers know Korkers for the unique interchangeable sole technology called the OmniTrax system. OmniTrax allows you to choose from over a dozen different sole types — from felt to studs — in a matter of seconds. This ensures that you always have the best traction for any fishing situation and can always comply with local regulations. Felt soles outlawed on a stretch of water? Simply unclip the soles you’re wearing, clip in a different pair, and you’re good to go.
The replacement soles are lightweight and easily carried in your fishing pack. I found this particularly helpful when I wanted to hike to a remote fishing spot in the DarkHorse. Let’s face it, wading boots aren’t always great for hiking. Trek in with one set, and then switch to another in a snap.
Korkers DarkHorse: Fishing Guide Test
Korkers sent me three different soles to try out. I put them to a test while backcountry fly fishing. The Kling-On Sticky Sole ended up being my favorite for all-around use. It’s the sole I used most often. The Vibram Idrogrip Sole made an awesome companion for covering miles on the trail on the way to fishing spots. It has lots of grip on dry dirt, although I didn’t love fishing in these when I had other options. They didn’t seem to have the in-water traction of the others.
By far the best performance in the water came from the Felt Sole. Normally, I’d shy away from a felt-soled boot because of how quickly they fall apart when you use them outside the water. The trade-off in performance simply isn’t worth how quickly you’d need to replace the felt or even the whole boot. With the Korkers OmniTrax system, I had no need to worry about wearing out my felt soles by hiking in them. Even better is that if the felt ever does wear out, I can get a brand new set of soles for about $30. Korkers finally found a way to get the most out of felt sole technology.
It’s also worth noting that, because felt can transfer invasive aquatic species, felt soles are illegal in quite a few waterways. It’s nice to be able to have a felt option when wanted and the ability to change it out for various reasons.
Do-All Wading Boots
But enough about the OmniTrax. You can get that system on any of Korkers’ wading boots (which is pretty awesome). But the DarkHorse offers a lot more.
First, these are the do-all boots in the Korkers lineup that are designed for the perfect balance of weight, performance, and durability.
Second, the DarkHorse uses M2 lacing from Boa Fit Systems. If you’ve never used Boa laces on your hiking, ski, or snowboard boots, you’re missing out. The thin wire laces totally eliminate any struggles with wet, icy, or tightly knotted laces. Twist the dial to tighten them down, and when you’re done, give it a pull and your foot slides right out.
My feet and ankles felt super stable on loose river rocks thanks to what Korkers calls 3PFS Achilles stabilization that wraps around the heel. This paired with the molded toe cap ensured total foot protection both in and out of the water.
These boots not only looked cool on paper (with an awesome name), but they also didn’t fail to impress when I got them wet and muddy. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed chasing trout all over Colorado in these boots. While I haven’t done much long-term testing on them, I see no reason they shouldn’t last me for many seasons to come.
Korkers has a real winner in the DarkHorse. It puts all the different boots you could need in one well-made package.
After 4 years in Denver, Josh Taves headed out into the wilderness. He’s currently living in the back of his truck in western Colorado, attending backcountry guide school, and learning about the simple life. Other than that, you can find Josh fly fishing, shooting, mountain biking, hunting, and horseback riding as much as possible.