To coincide with my new found fly fishing passion, recently I purchased my first pair of Gore-tex waders and wading boots. My previous experience with waders were a pair of “Boot foot” waders that were a couple of sizes too large for me. Handed down from Josh, they served their purpose – keeping me dry, but lacked any obvious hints of comfort.
The last trip in these waders, on a warm, steamy day, had me wondering if I wouldn’t have been better off without them, as the perspiration inside the waders had me far from dry. The boots are uncomfortable, and not for walking long distances in, and the actual waders fit me poorly.
Josh and I researched Gore-tex waders for a while, and decided that we needed to find a compromise between price (some waders models are up around the $700 -$800 mark) and quality. They would be used maybe 8 to 10 times a year and I personally couldn’t justify spending that kind of money.
We settled on the Simms Headwaters Stockingfoot waders. At less than half the price of some of the top of the range models, these have a lightweight 3 layer Gore-tex construction with reinforced front leg panels, and they come in a size that actually fit me.
The first time I wore these waders was on Trout opening weekend. It was a pretty warm day and we walked conservatively about 10-11km. A pretty good test of their breathability and durability in my opinion. They were comfortable, and I didn’t really feel over-heated at any point during the day. They seemed to hold up well to the bush bashing and rock crawling, and the stocking feet fit me well which had been a concern.
My only complaint so far is the light colour of the waders. They show all of the dirt that you accumulate from a day on the river, but in hindsight, this may end up working in my favour. Nothing like standing out like a bright beacon on the bank when you’re trying to stalk a fish.
As far as boots go, I settled on the Korkers Redside Boot. These fit in my price range, and are a lightweight boot with an interchangeable sole to allow you to adapt your boot to different river systems. They come standard with a rubber and a rubber + studded sole that can be quickly interchanged.
I preferred the standard laces of this boot, as opposed to the “Boa Speed lacing” system that other models from this manufacturer seem to employ. The “dial, tightening/loosening adjustment” of these boots use a fine metal “lace” similar to that found in some ski boots, and my thinking was that if they break in the river or on the trail, there’s no way to repair them easily. Shoe laces however can be re-tied to get you home.
The boots are comfortable and I purchased 1 size larger than my normal shoe size to accommodate the stocking foot of the waders. The 11km hike on their first outing was a fairly good indicator of comfort. No blisters or rubbing to report, and they didn’t seem much heavier than wearing a pair of sneakers. The boots drained and dried quickly, which also kept the weight of the boot down as we constantly traversed the river.
The Boots and waders have been worn a few times now, and so far so good. Now for my 3wt to arrive…