I read somewhere that breathable waders come in two types:
1. Those that are leaking.
2.Those that are about to leak.
As much as people laugh at this it is absolutely and totally true. Of course what you want to know is the time it takes between your waders getting from the 2nd type to the 1st type. Many aspects of wader design can be considered to lengthen this time:seams, layers, materials etc and of course where you fish as no fancy seam will guard against a barbed wire fence. So choosing what waders are going to be bought next stress a lot of guys out.
My fishing buddy Alex was in the market for a new pair of waders and we got to discussing the pros and cons of various types. We met up in the Glasgow Angling Centre where we had a fair selection to examine closely and compare notes about what works with waders and what does not. He was actually considering buying a pair made by Airflo however I scared him away from them as two of my pals had complained about the fact they have weird bladders in the legs that fill up with water as you wade. Obviously it is some kind of feature of the wader however instead is an epic fail.
So we examined all the waders and discussed where the waders usually fail, the classic place is at the seams. All that bending, squatting and stretching puts a strain on the leg area.I pointed out that my new Redington Sonic – Pro’s do not have seams made in the normal way and then remembered I was supposed to write a review about them and instead have been enjoying them without any responsibilities at all (they sent me a pair to review last year)I rushed home and started thinking about why they are a fine pair of waders. I was glad that I have been out in them a good few times to give them a workout.
To be fair I suppose us urban fly fishers are kinda rough on waders as we climb over rusty fences, slide down walls and squeeze along brick buildings. Additionally considering you are usually driving between beats on an urban river (especially my home river the Kelvin) they have got to fit well. Of course it helps matters if you do not look like a total wahoo walking through the suburbs.
So where to begin? For a start traditional wader construction consists of sewn fabric then sealing with water-proof tape to cover the many stitch holes. These holes are where waders fail and start to leak. Usually after a season you can start finding damp patches on your legs or embarrassingly around your crotch and you end up using aquasure on what feels like a new pair of waders. Redington’s new method features “Ultra Sonic Welding”, which is where holes are eliminated. Through the welding process the materials are just as (if not more) durable as sewn seams, but the welding process leaves the seams flat and eliminates wear and stress at this vulnerable point. I imagine someone standing in their factory shouting at the waders to “not bloody leak” for a couple of hours however obviously it is all a bit more technical than that. The construction of the waders feel great, I ordered a pair simply from inputting my body shape (short and a wee bit tubby) and the cut feels like they are individually tailored. They have a zippered, brushed micro-fleece hand warming pocket and a laser cut exterior pocket with a water resistant zipper, obviously do not trust this zip too much to keep your phone or camera dry however for other things it should do the job.
Additional inside storage is provided by a flip-out interior welded storage pocket with a mesh pocket with additional places to put your gear. The waders come with a 2-inch stretch wading belt with Redington buckle, Gravel guards with custom moulded lace hook and Hemostat clamp d-ring. The belt is the comfiest I have worn and it sits nicely on the waist. I found the lace hook slightly too small to fit over the laces of my Orvis boots however I am not going to grumble about it too much as probably all it needs is some extra effort. The built in gravel guards are great, I have no idea why not all waders have them.
I chose the size of the waders through the Redington website – the sizes were spot on and I have a kinda of a funny shape. When crouching down I did not feel like the seems were being put under any pressure.
The uppers of the waders feature 3-layer DWR fabric and a large portion of the lowers are 4-layer (the darker color). The front has 4-layer up to mid-thigh. And in the rear, the 3 extends all the way to the wading belt for added protection. I like that as I find that these are the areas that get the most damage when barging through brambles or sliding 5 foot down almost vertical banks.
You can see the 4 layers come up to mid thigh…handy going through brambles and other scratchy bushes.
I have mentioned how comfy these waders are and I would just like to reiterate this fact again. I wear my waders with a pair of thermal long johns underneath whether it be blazing hot or just a bit chilly and I have found them comfortable at all times. They just feel like you are wearing a nicely fitted pair of trousers. The belt is tight enough that it actually does the job of pulling the waist in and keeping the waist where it is supposed to be. Obviously I could not test the safety aspect of the belt (to keep water out if you fall in) however it feels tight enough and wide enough to do the job. Redington have certainly not been in my list of makes of waders to go for in the past however these bad boys have propelled them into top off the class territory.
It has two inside pockets and a place to keep forceps etc.
They have other types (some with zips) that you can ckeck out over on their site.
In the car it is easy to drive with them on and I get lots of admiring glances from women out walking their dogs next to the river. Well, the driving bit is true anyway!
My usual benchmark for checking out prices is the GAC and they currently have them at the price of £250 which places them firmly in the middle market of waders. The middle market of price however with the features and durability of waders a lot more expensive. I did find them for a touch under at around £225 so it pays to shop around. Always make sure you do a spot of the haggling when it comes too waders, often you can get a discount on a pair of boots if bought at the same time. For some reason breathable waders appear to be the one piece of gear that are consistently discounted every year.
Bottom line I think they are great and if you are in the market for a new pair of waders you could do a helluva lot worse for your money (although not much better)