As fly fishermen, we know (and have experienced firsthand) the parity that exists between fly rods. By and large, you get what you pay for when it comes to rods. Given the parity that exists between rods, we here at Fishwest were curious to see if the same parity exists between waders.
So we decided to do a mini-shootout of waders. We took a pair of Orvis Silver Sonic Convertible waders ($279), Redington SonicDry Waders ($399.95), and Simms G3 Waders ($499.95) to see how they compared at their respective price points.
We rated the waders on a scale of 1-10 in 3 categories: breathability, durability, and aesthetics. After all, waders are meant to be worn and we all want to look good out on the water.
Obviously, these ratings are subjective and they’re just our opinion. However, we’re not just shop guys or writers – we’re fishermen too. I spend around 250 days a year on the water, while JC works the Fishwest shop in Sandy and spends plenty of time out on the water himself. We know what anglers look for in a pair of waders and think that we made some objective judgements.
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at how the waders fared in their respective categories.
Orvis Silver Sonic Convertible (Spencer’s Review)
Breathability – 10/10
The SS waders are very light and they breathe exceptionally well. I wore them for 10 straight hours, hiking over 3 miles in 70 degree heat, and they didn’t get me nearly as sweaty as I’d imagined they would have.
I did notice that water tends to bead off these waders, meaning they’re water repellent as well as water resistant.
I wore the waders in pretty cold runoff water, hiking around at high elevation, and they did a good job of letting my legs breathe so I didn’t freeze too badly.
Durability – 9/10
I’ve had these waders for a solid month, and they look brand-new. The neoprene booties have a thick rubber lining along the seams, which is absolutely brilliant engineering on Orvis’ part. The rubber lining will reduce wear along the neoprene seams, the most common place for neoprene to leak.
The only knock I have in terms of durability relates to how thin the material is. While I’m sure it’s a material that will stand the test of time (if these waders last two seasons that’s a win in my book – I’m pretty rough on my gear) it’s thin enough that a well-placed branch could tear a nice hole.
Aesthetics – 9/10
These waders look great. They’re colored in the classic Orvis green and gray, and the waders match the blank color of the Superfine Glass rods, for the fashionably astute angler.
The waders come with “anatomically correct” neoprene booties (and attached gravel guards, of course) according to the Orvis website. I do have to say, I’ve noticed a HUGE difference in fit and comfort in these neoprene booties compared to the Redington SonicDry Waders.
I do enjoy the green Sonic logo on the left leg, and the large Orvis logo across the front. I do think Orvis could get a bit more creative, though, which is why I knocked off one point.
Average Score: 9.3/10
Redington SonicDry (Spencer’s Review)
Breathability – 9/10
These waders are made from Redington’s patented 37.5 active particle technology. It’s supposed to dry up to five times faster than similar materials, as well as breathe better and be lighter.
Truth be told, these waders do dry quickly, but the Silver Sonic waders dry faster. However, the SonicDry waders fit a bit more snug along the leg, and it seems to me that they breathe a bit better when walking longer distances than the Silver Sonic waders.
Durability – 4/10
This is the big knock I have against the SonicDry wader. The material is a rouger nylon than most waders – it’s almost abrasive. In theory, that’s a great thing because it reduces the likelihood of the waders tearing on a stray branch. However, the welded seams on these waders (the same as on the Silver Sonics) started splitting after only 7 months of moderate-to-heavy use. While I know that waders aren’t supposed to last forever, having the seams split after less than one full season on them isn’t good.
To make matters worse, because of the abrasive fabric, the traditional Aquaseal doesn’t hold to the fabric as well as it should, and I’ve had to apply it three times before getting a seal on the seams that holds water.
All in all, Redington should have some way to fix this issue, and until they do, I’d stay away from the SonicDry waders if you walk longer distances in them, as I tend to do.
Aesthetics – 10/10
These waders do look nice. The two-tone coloration has a certain flair to it, they fit very tightly, and I like the look of the thicker wading belt. If you were to buy waders purely based on how they look (let’s be honest, fly fishermen are more vain than we’ll ever admit) then these would be the ones.
Simms G3 Guide Stockingfoot (JC’s Review)
Breathability: 9.5 / 10
All I need to say is Gore-Tex. The Gore-Tex Pro Shell material is both lightweight breathable. The G3 waders use a combination of both 5 layer and 3 layer fabrics to make up the body of the wader. I (JC) have found this combination keeps me dry and comfortable no matter the season. The 5 layer from the thighs down can get a little hot during the summer months depending on the situation, otherwise it is pretty close to perfect.
Durability: 9.5 / 10
People who come into the shop always ask me if these waders are worth the $499.95 that Simms is asking for these waders. My answer is always the same. These waders are worth every penny based on how long they will last. I put my waders through the angling ringer of thorns, sticker bushes, and drift boats and sure, they do spring a leak from time to time but that is nothing a little Aquaseal can’t fix. I retired my last pair of Simms guide waders with 7 seasons of heavy wear and tear on them and they could have lasted longer. Bottom line is that Simms built these puppies to last, and they most certainly do.
Simms hit a homerun with these in the looks department. Features like the left and right articulated feet as well as built in gravel guards are just two of the things that set these apart from other waders in our test. The fleece lined hand warmer pocket is also perfect for those days when the temp drops.
Total: 9.7 / 10
The Simms G3 Stockingfoot won this shootout, but narrowly over Orvis. For the budget conscious angler, the Orvis Silver Sonic Convertible Waders are a great buy, and in all reality they should last a solid 2-3 seasons, at the very least.
Either of these waders would be a great pair – it’s just up to you to decide which one you like better.