Product Review: Upgrading my waders...

2021 Blog Gear Review Waders

Ladies in waders trout fishing at Bings Landing, Sterling Kenai Alaska

Being relatively new to the sport of fly fishing, I have to admit: Before this summer I only had chest waders because I dipnet with my family.

I bought them in a last minute frenzy of supply grabbing on our way to Kasilof Beach one July for the opening weekend of Dipnetting.  Not much thought was put into the purchase other than fit and price point.  To be honest the fit wasn’t great, but waders can be slim pickings come dipnet season, and I was happy to have found a pair that wasn’t going to break the bank.  

J.Garza with Native Trout on the Kashwitna River, Willow, Alaska

A simple pair of Caddi’s Waders, with an internal zipper pocket that can flip to the outside of the bib.  They did a pretty good job for several seasons of dipnetting.  They never sprang a leak,  seams stayed in great condition, they were comfy and pretty durable.  They survived my use, and the rough and tumble stresses of my son the summer he was 10 and fit in them.  Without loops, it was a challenge to keep the belt in place, but in general, I had no complaints.        

Summer of 2020, I was introduced to fly fishing.  I went out on three floats before I remembered I had waders in my dipnetting supplies and ditched the hip boots.  I spent every weekend, and any weekday I could, on the river after that.  Realizing that I was falling in love with Fly Fishing, I promised myself a new set of waders for the next season.  

"Realizing that I was falling in love with Fly Fishing, I promised myself a new set of waders for the next season."

I did some research over the winter on various brands and their attributes, but when I would try them on, the fit was off… like, way off.  I could not justify spending so much on something that was so odd on my frame.  Super long legs or huge booties; way too much chest room, or an inability to get them over my hips if they did fit my foot or leg length.  Frustrated, someone suggested I try some from Orvis, because of the diverse size selection, so off I went to hunt down a pair that might fit.  

 

Orvis Clearwater Chestwaders www.fishewear.com

Orvis offers three options from their Women’s Collection.  A Clearwater Wader, which is the most affordable for your investment.  They are great for beginner anglers and have a kangaroo style lined hand warming pouch under the chest pocket. 

 

Orvis Ultralight Convertible Waders www.fishewear.com

Secondly, we have the Ultralight Convertible Wader in the mid-price range, coming in at just above $300.00.  It has a few subtle differences versus the Clearwater, such as additional accessory tabs on the suspenders, an integrated tool dock and fly patch on the chest, and Fidlock Snap fasteners to allow for conversion.  I really like this feature because it allows you to raise and lower the bib with a single hand and is quick to convert.  They are also reinforced at the knee and below. 

 

Women's Orvis Pro Wader www.fishewear.com

The final option is the Women’s Pro Wader.  These are their top of the line Women’s Wader.  They offer a lined kangaroo pocket with waterproof zippers on both sides, similar to the Clearwater (the Ultralight's  lack that feature, and the Clearwater's lack the zippers), a fly patch on the chest, removable knee pads, a removable accessory pocket, and are made of a heavier fabric with additional reinforced layers at the knee and below. 

 

The Clearwater and Ultralight Convertibles have a more feminine cut to them, losing some of the bulk of traditional men’s waders, and the Pro Waders have a more athletic fit.  All three have an interior patch to accept a detachable waterproof pocket that is sold separately.  

I personally felt like the Pro’s were overkill for my intended usage. Although I would love to be, I am not on the river everyday and I rarely have the opportunity to really beat brush on hike out adventures, so no need for the thicker, most durable Pro option.  We raft or powerboat more than put a foot to it, so the pros in the shop suggested I didn’t really need the thicker fabric or extra weight, and I was ever grateful for their input. 

"Before I ever fished with them, I was confident in my choice, and so happy for the upgrades versus my old pair.  I was already so happy!" 

Before I ever fished with them, I was confident in my choice, and so happy for the upgrades versus my old pair.  I was already so happy!  I loved the way the bib snapped back into place when I was converting them to and from waist height. I loved the attached internal mesh pocket.  I loved the fly patch and I was really attracted to the tabs on the suspenders and dock on the chest for tool fastening options.  (Until I decide if I like my vest, sling, or hip pack best, I want my tools on person.)

I couldn’t ignore the benefit of the fit on all three options.  Orvis offers sizes XS, M, L, XL, and XXL in three lengths: Petite, Regular, and Tall.  At 5’6” and 180ish pounds, I went with a Regular L and not kidding, I felt like Goldilocks.  They were juuuuust right.  (Just for reference, if my childhood wishes were granted and I was an inch taller, I would have needed the Tall’s.) 

"From dipnetting in the ocean to fry catching in local lakes with my daughter, they were perfect."  

Waders were the best gift I have given myself in years!  From dipnetting in the ocean to fry catching in local lakes with my daughter, they were perfect. The upgraded fit… the ability to freely secure my tools in various places… the ease of conversion to waist height and lightweight packability… lets just say, I am one happy camper! 

J.Garza fishing for Native Trout in Orvis Ultralight Convertible Waders on the Kenai River in Alaska
Jacquelyn Garza is the current Administrative Assistant at Women's FlyFishing.  She joined the WFF™ Team in July of 2021 to pursue a career in the Sport Fishing Industry after a 13 year trucking career in North Slope Oil and Gas Production.  Mother of two amazing humans and one pretty cool Mini Aussie, she resides in the Mat-Su Valley of Alaska and can more than likely be found, year round, on one of the many waterways within minutes of her door.     


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