Gear Review: Korkers K-5 Bomber Wading Boots

Korkers has long been my preferred wading boot manufacturer. I put in a solid 150-175 days/year on the water, and that means I blow through gear at a rapid-fire pace. In the past two years, I’ve ruined four pairs of waders. Up until about a year and a half ago, I’d gone through three pairs of wading boots in a year as well.

The reason I go through gear is due to my love of hiking while fishing. I spend a ton of time in the backcountry, which means my waders and boots are worn not only while in the water (where they’re designed to perform) but also on the trail.

And that’s the reason I love Korkers. Their boots – especially the Devil’s Canyon – are built to withstand that sort of use, and they come in at more affordable prices than most Simms offerings.

I’ve owned the Devil’s Canyon boots for some time now, and decided it was time to see how Korkes’ other $200 boot (their most expensive) fared against what I consider to be the best wading boot on the market. The Devil’s Canyon boots are incredibly light, with an athletic build that suits my hiking mentality perfectly.

Enter the K-5 Bomber, a boot built to be basically bombproof. They feature a 5-ply fit system, real laces (as opposed to the BOA Cables on the Devil’s Canyon boots), a triple-layer of synthetic material in the upper portion of the boot, and molded toe and heel caps. These boots do feature stitching, but it’s protected by extra material on the boot.

The result is a boot that’s rock solid, comfortable, and perfect for anglers spending time scrambling over rocky riverbeds. As someone with notoriously weak ankles, I can attest that I believe it’s impossible to twist an ankle in the K-5 Bombers. They’re tight without being constricting, and provide just enough flex to make walking in them as enjoyable as walking in wading boots can be.

Photo courtesy

Combine that with an attractive $200 price tag and Korkers’ amazing customer service (that statement isn’t pandering – I’ve worked with Korkers on numerous occasions and their customer service department rivals Winston’s for tops in the fly fishing industry) and you have a rock-solid wading boot that’ll last the average angler at least two-three seasons, if not more.

Now, lets dig into the nitty-gritty of this boot.

What I liked

Build quality

Korkers didn’t skimp on the build quality for the K-5 Bomber. Every piece of material used is high-end, and from the moment I pulled the boots out of their box, I could tell they’d be a piece of gear that’ll last. The 5-ply fit system is felt immediately when you slip the boot on – your ankle is locked in solid, almost like a ski boot. Although these boots are nowhere near as uncomfortable as ski boots.

The laces are strong and have survived three weeks of me stepping on them, so props to Korkers for not skimping there. While the BOA Cables are all the rage on most boots, laces are nice for a couple reasons:

  • Laces enable the angler to tighten the boot in specific places, allowing for a custom fit. BOA Cables tighten every part of the boot equally.
  • Laces provide a more sung fit than BOA Cables. The BOA system is nice, but you’ll always have a tighter fit with laces, in my opinion.

Of course, the K-5 Bombers come with Korker’s proprietary Omnitrax sole system, and switching soles on these boots is as simple as any other Korkers boot. The Omnitrax system has been redesigned of late to address the issue of soles slipping off or sticking in the mud. Since I’ve been wearing Korkers, I haven’t experienced any of those issues, and certainly not on the K-5 Bomber.

Rock-solid fit

As I mentioned above, I have ridiculously weak ankles. A soft breeze can twist them. That makes wading rocky streams a precarious proposition, but the K-5 Bomber boots lock my feet into place so well I don’t have to worry about twisting an ankle. I honestly tried to twist my right ankle while in Wyoming a few weeks ago, just to see if it was possible in the K-5 Bomber. It’s not.

For the casual angler who fishes big water and spends more of the day in one spot as opposed to moving miles up and down the river, the K-5 Bomber is your boot. As an added bonus, if you only fish 50 or so days a year, these boots will easily last 3-4 years, if not more.

Sure footing

While the Devil’s Canyon boot offers more flexibility and an athletic fit, the K-5 Bomber is a boot that gives you mountain-goat like footing. I scrambled some steep slopes, and even a limestone cliff, in the K-5 Bombers and never once felt as though I was going to slip. Granted, scrambling up limestone cliffs likely isn’t what the folks at Korkers had in mind when they designed the K-5 Bomber, but rest assured that if your trout life takes you to such a situation, the K-5 Bomber will handle it with grace.

What I didn’t like

Lack of flexibility

The K-5 Bomber isn’t a boot to wear when you’re putting 5+ hiking miles in during a given day of fishing. It’s a heavier boot with less flex in the ankle – a great feature for stiff currents but not the best when you’re walking long distances. That being said, their lack of flexibility is by no means a dealbreaker for me, since I also own a pair of the Devil’s Canyon boots.

No BOA system

I’m a big fan of the BOA system, even though I defended the use of laces on this boot. While I do appreciate the ability to create a more “custom” fit with the laces on the K-5 Bomber, nothing beats the ease of the BOA Cables. I guess they’ve spoiled me.

No gaiter hook ring

Just like the Devil’s Canyon boot, the K-5 Bomber doesn’t come with a gaiter hook ring. I’ve just attached my waders’ gaiter hook to the laces on the front of the K-5 Bomber (the same way I do with the Devil’s Canyon boot, by the way) and haven’t experienced any adverse affects. I spoke in depth with Korkers about the decision to forgo the gaiter hook ring on the Devil’s Canyon boot, their reasoning being there just wasn’t a logical place to put the ring and maintain the functionality of the boot.

I assume that same logic made its way into the K-5 Bomber design, which is a decision I respectfully disagree with. There’s room for a gaiter hook ring on these boots, but again – this is nothing close to a dealbreaker. The fact that I’m whining about where my waders hook onto these boots is proof of how few problems these boots have.

Final word

I’d recommend these boots to anyone who needs something to see them through their casual fishing. If you put a lot of miles on your wading boots, you’d be better off with the Devil’s Canyon boot. If you have weaker ankles, or want more support in swift current, then the K-5 Bomber is the boot to beat. At $200, Korkers has outdone themselves by offering an outstanding product.

You can buy a pair of Korkers K-5 Bombers here.

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Posted in:Gear Reviews

Spencer Durrant

Spencer is a fly fishing writer from Utah and author of the soon-to-be-published YA novel, “Learning to Fly.” He’s a regular columnist for the Standard-Examiner, where he authors the monthly Trout Bum column, in addition to writing the Cutthroat Chronicles for Fishwest. His writing has appeared in Hatch Magazine, On The Fly Magazine, The Orvis Fly Fishing Blog, and If he’s not on the river, he’s at home tying flies or writing. Connect with him on Twitter or Instagram @Spencer_Durrant.

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