November 22, 2011
All sizes and shapes
Women are shaped differently than men. That obvious fact makes it apparent that women need waders tailored just for them. Simms and Orvis both have excellent women's waders, and now Redington has thrown its ponytail scrunchie into the ring with the newsworthy Women's Sonic-Pro waders, with special tailoring and features just for women. Also new are Patagonia's backpackable and travel-worthy Rio Azul waders.
1 Simms G4 Pro$530-$700
"These waders are still as comfortable, breathable, and waterproof as the day I bought them," said our tester, who's logged more than 1,000 hours climbing in and out of drift boats, and hiking through burly brush. G4s have more 5-layer Gore-Tex Pro Shell material than any other Simms wader. The 5-layer build is from bootie to navel which means you get great breathability near your core where the 3-layer fabric is near your body, and maximum toughness in traditional problem areas like the butt, crotch seams, and through the legs and knees where brambles and thorns can wreak havoc on lesser waders. G4 Pros are the most featured waders in the Simms line with a zippered front pocket, two zippered handwarmer pockets, and a flip-out Tippet Tender pocket with a built-in retractor for nippers or hemostats. They are also available in a front-zip model (G4Z, $700). Available in 15 stock sizes and 5 custom sizes. simmsfishing.com
2 Orvis Sonic-Seam$230
SonicSeam waders have a lightweight, packable design that stuffs down into a 6"x11"x4.5" travel sack (about the size of a lunch sack). "I travel a ton, and I like to pack as light as possible. The pouch-size packability of these waders is a huge plus," our tester said. He used the waders on a fly-in trip to Alaska where the weight limit was 50 pounds per angler, and bag space was tight. The seams are sonic-welded, which means no stitches, less bulk, and fewer pinhole leaks. Waterproof, 3-layer breathable fabric reduces weight and bulk, but the secret weapon may be the nylon face fabric (most companies use polyester), which adds an extra layer of toughness. The legs use a stitchless rear-seam construction, and elastic hook-and-loop suspenders provide easy conversion to waist high.
3 Patagonia Rio Azul $240
The new Rio Azul waders are Patagonia's lightest, most packable waders for traveling fly fishers. They're made with a 4-layer, lightweight polyester weave with Patagonia's waterproof H2No Hydrostorm barrier for maximum breathability, and a Deluge DWR finish. A size medium weighs in at 2.2 pounds and packs down into a football-size package. They have right and left Neoprene booties—but not the Merino wool-lined booties of the warmer, bulkier Rio Gallegos waders. Suspenders and a wading belt are included, as is a laser-cut Hypalon tool keeper, and a waterproof interior pocket. We haven't had a chance to try these new waders yet, but our tester from last year is still wearing his Rio Gallegos waders that use the same proprietary waterproof/breathable barrier with no leaks. Patagonia says the elastic membrane is a self-closing barrier that is highly resistant to tiny punctures.
4 Women's Sonic-Pro $350
Stitch-free RedingtonSonic-Pro waders use ultrasonic welding to join seams instead of the standard sew-and-tape procedure. The result is slimmer seams with less chance of failure due to abrasion or from leaking along needle holes. The new Women's Sonic-Pros have stretch fabric in the upper chest area to fit a wide range of women and a half-length RiRi Storm waterproof zipper to make it easier to get in and out (potty breaks aren't just for guys you know!). The female-friendly waders also sport a brushed micro-fleece top, ergonomically designed handwarmer pockets, and laser-cut exterior zippered pockets. The other features are the same as the male version: gravel guards with molded anti-fouling lace hooks, hemostat D-ring clamp, left and right booties, and articulated seams for a better fit.