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Review: Skwala RS Wader

Fly Fisherman's Best New Wader for 2023 is tough against punctures and abrasion and quiet while hiking, with an articulated fit.

Review: Skwala RS Wader

$799 | skwala.com

The first time I wore Skwala’s new RS Waders was on a remote Montana stream I’d never heard of—and I’ve fished in Montana for 35 years. The creek ran beside a long-abandoned railway line within a massive ranch. The old railway bed—the obvious line of foot travel—was shouldered by Russian olives, buckthorn, and miles of barbed wire. Not just barbed wire fences mind you, but abandoned coils of barbed wire on the ground, strung across the river in places, and also tangled in the riverbed as a testament to the rancher’s annual losing war with spring floods. It was a harsh place to bring a new pair of waders, but I pushed through the tangle of thorns and wires, and six months later, they are still keeping me dry.

The durability comes from a dense 100% polyester face fabric, which makes it not only tough against punctures and abrasion, but quiet while hiking. Underneath, a 4-layer waterproof/breathable laminate in the top and bottom creates a durable, submersible barrier. An antimicrobial finish on the wader lining prevents odor and mildew.

Upon first inspection, the most noticeable difference with RS Waders is likely the lack of a traditional wraparound belt. Instead, in the lumbar area, the waders have an internal heat-bonded polyurethane lattice from the Italian company Framis. The internal lumbar panel is connected to a partial belt in the front that you can cinch up tightly and buckle. The result is a wider, more comfortable back support, and a belt that doesn’t sag. You can even hook bear spray or a water bottle on the belt, and it won’t pull the belt down. It can’t—it’s part of the wader.

You’ll also notice that the panel design is different, with fourchette (forked) side panels in the wader legs to create an articulated fit. The comfortable heat-set shoulder yoke is buckle-less, with adjustable G-hook connectors that are hidden inside a mesh sleeve, so there’s nothing to catch or snag on your other layers.


Anatomically patterned left and right booties are glued and taped 4mm neoprene, with an abrasion-resistant panel on the outside of the sole to deal with sand and grit. The gravel guard is a little different as well, designed more like a cuff on snowboard pants. There’s no extra material sewn on the outside to provide for a gravel guard. The waders merely continue down to the ankles, with the neoprene booties hidden up inside for a smooth, snag-free design. The men’s waders come in seven sizes and two different foot sizes, for a possible 14 different combinations. 

$799 | skwala.com

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