Patagonia Spring River Wader
The Spring River Wader's front pocket and a monster trout.

Review: Women's Waders - Patagonia Spring River Waders for Women

Editor's note: This review is part of our 2013 series of reviews of women's waders. If you've not already done so, please read the other reviews in the series. The first review in the series, of the Orvis Silver Sonic Waders for Women, provides some background on where women's waders have been, where they are going, and what women need most in a pair of waders.

As finding women’s waders that fit and function the in ways that make sense for women has always been a challenge, I was very excited to learn that Patagonia was “joining the women’s wader party.” Patagonia's Mark Harbaugh, in an interview with Midcurrent, stated that these waders were designed from the ground up “by women for women.”

Patagonia Spring River Wader

Unfortunately, when the time rolled around to put Patagonia’s new women’s waders to through their paces, Patagonia did not have available my size to review. However, my friend and fellow fly fisher, Rachel, was the perfect candidate for these waders. So, we both headed out, working together to test the Spring River Wader -- both in and out of the water -- to give our assessment. The following review is a compilation of our thoughts and findings.

Construction

I immediately liked the color of Patagonia Spring River Wader – a nice shade of slate gray. Of course, you can't judge a pair of waders by their color alone, but it will certainly help keep most of my scuff marks from my fishing adventures hidden. The material and construction of these waders feels very durable and -- although we’ve yet to put the Spring River Wader through long-term testing -- suggests these will stand up to a considerable amount of abuse, which is an important feature for someone like me who often tumbles, both in and out of the water.

Here are the specs:

  • Drop-down suspenders to easily convert waders to waste high
  • 2 water-proof pockets (outside and inside)
  • Hand warmer pocket with micro-fleece lining on one-side
  • Belt with 2 loops
  • Wool-lined booties
  • Drop-down seat for easy response to nature
  • No-Seam technology

Being blessed by having access to fly fishing in town, I wasted no time testing these waders. The fall weather was cool and crisp, and the thought of having wool-lined booties sounded very appealing. Even being close to town, I had plenty of rocks and some brush to go through.

Fit

The Patagonia Spring River Wader's fit was aesthetically pleasing. It conformed to the unique shape of woman's body, but still allowed room for additional layers – such as a winter jacket – if needed. And, without excess material in all the wrong places, worries of familiar waders woes for women like “saggy wader but” were set aside. In the chest area, there are adjustable elastic pulls on both sides to allow for a customizable fit for each woman's unique size. Rachel felt the fit of Spring River Wader were right on as is, and they even looked great on her. For my part, even though the waders I was testing were a size above what I would normally wear, I was able to utilize the adjustable chest design to produce a more accurate fit.

Comfort

I always wear extra layers when the temperatures drop as it tends to be much cooler on the water and I would rather be safe than sorry. As noted above, the fit of the Spring River Wader allowed for extra layers to be worn without becoming uncomfortable. In fact, they were very comfortable, not restrictive at all. They are easy to walk in both in and out of the river and -- at times -- we felt almost as though we were not wearing waders at all. Producing a women's fit that is conforming, stylish and roomy at the same time is no easy task, but Patagonia seems to have done it with the Spring River Wader.

Patagonia Spring River Waders

Perhaps most notably, my feet felt very comfortable in the Spring River's wool-lined booties. This is of particular importance for women, who's extremities get colder much more quickly than those of our male counterparts. Plus, there's nothing worse than having cold feet cut short a day of otherwise fine fishing.

Functionality

Patagonia's Spring River Wader offers up some unique features in an attempt to meet a woman's need to access nature with ease. The feature getting the most attention, the "drop-down seat", allows you to bring down the waders while keeping the suspenders over your shoulders. Given that I’ve often noted the pretzel-twisting frustration women often face streamside in an effort to accomplish a similar feat in your average pair of waders, I was eager to test this feature. I released the clip (connected to the suspenders) in the back to allow the drop down seat feature to work its magic, and although I was able to pull down the seat, it was not without some effort and was not very gracefully executed. Additionally, it was a challenge to try to reattach the clip in the back. I found that simply sliding the suspenders off my shoulders to drop my seat was a much easier solution than attempting to wrestle with that back clip.

That said, the more traditional but far from standard drop-down suspenders are a big plus. They serve as a conveniently employed feature when used to convert these waders to waist highs without removing them.

Patagonia Spring River Wader

Now, for someone who is always tumbling in the water – water-proof pockets are always a big bonus. The front pocket is of generous size and has a water-proof zipper – perfect for stashing toiletries and a small fly box. The inside pocket is more like a mini dry bag – perfect for my phone.

The hand-warmer pocket is also a big plus – especially with the cold season upon us. I was most pleased with it's generous size that accommodated both hands at the same time.

The belt was held by 2 wide belt loops in the back – which helped keep them in place when unfastened. But, because the belt was elastic all around, I found that I did not have to unfasten it in order to pull my waders up and down. A good thing when nature calls.

Patagonia Spring River Waders

Final Word


As someone who fly fishes every week in all types of weather and terrain, I look for waders that are durable, functional and comfortable. At the same time, I also appreciate waders that fit well.

Patagonia's Spring River Wader offers a number of important features women look for in waders:

  • Aesthetically pleasing, conforming yet roomy fit for women; including comfort without excess material
  • Durability
  • Ease of getting them off and on with the slide-down suspenders – especially when nature calls (in this case, the drop-seat feature is not necessary)
  • Adjustable chest area to accommodate each women's unique size
  • 2 water-proof pockets

Overall, I was very pleased with Patagonia's Spring River Wader for women.

BUY THE PATAGONIA SPRING RIVER WADERS (via PATAGONIA)

Comments

Thanks for the reviews! I currently own a pair of men's Simms G3 waders. They fit me much better than my first pair of potato sack waders but are a bit tight in the thighs, esp when layering during wintertime. Timely answering Ma Nature can get a bit nerve-racking with these waders. At the time of purchase I didn't have much opportunity to try on true womens' waders and some were so lightly colored I wondered who would ever functionally use them for fishing. I like my G3s and went for quality and longevity. However, I really wish the women's version had been available. If you get to try out the Patagonias in the summertime, I'd be curious to learn your thoughts about the wool-lined booties. Frankly, I'd rather adjust my foot warmth with sock layers, esp during a Midwest summer when I occasionally have to wear waders, but perhaps my skepticism is misplaced. And hurrah for those who make waterproof pockets and provide more belt loops!

Hi Lisa! Actually, the wool-lining is thin, I don't think they will make summer time wading uncomfortable. Of course, my home waters tends be have cold water temps even when the outside temps run in the 100's. Thank you so much for checking out the reviews!

These sound great, but yet another pair of waders with fleece-lining on only one side of the hand-warmer pocket.

I've still yet to EVER see a pair of waders with fleece lining on both sides. Why would anyone want/build it any other way?

Yes, fleece lining on BOTH sides would be wonderful. As consumers, we need to let companies know what we want and look for to meet our needs. A companies are starting to take notice, and not all waders made for women may meet our needs. We just need to continue giving them our feedback and what we want. =)

These waders gets 2 thumbs up!

And the lastest report from Shellie is that the Patagonia Spring River Waders kept her feet very warm!

Great review! I have a pair on the way and I'm excited to give them a try. Any chance you could comment on the sizes you test verses the size you normally wear? I traditional wear a size small and ordered the size small, but Patagonia suggested the size XS might be a better fit.

Ah, great to hear these are available earlier than expected.

I would love to hear comments as well on Sizes. I normally wear a Large but the Patagonia size chart seems very small when converted to inches. Still not sure if I need to order an XL. Although most waders tend to have extra room around the waist (which can be cinched with a belt), will it be hard to pull on? Plus, I'm 5'9" and hope a 32" inseam won't be too short.

One thing I noticed, is that the foot size does run much bigger. My friend normally wears a small, but she went down to size xs because of that.

I just received my pair of these waders in the small, petite size. I am 5'1" and about 120-125 lbs. Both the small and XS sizes say they fit someone "up to 5'4". However, the waders practically come up to my neck. I can't get the straps tight enough. Also, the reason I ordered small instead of extra small was because the waist sizes listed were incredibly small. Who has a 24" waist? I wish a company would actually make waders for very short people like me. These waders are not for petites.

I just tried on the new 2014 women's Patagonia waders and again asked myself if serious product testing is ever done. I have fly fished for 25 years, have owned a fly shop and guide service and spend 150 days a year fishing. Why do testers weight 125 lbs and average 25 yrs. I am 5'5", and a lean 135 lbs. the new women's medium wader is so slim that I can't wear fleece pants and put them on. And they wonder why they don't seek more women's gear. God forbid women have hips.

Renee, I understand what you are saying. I wrote the review, but the tester in this is my friend, R. She is 5'8 (beyond 25 years of age) and a very curvy woman - and she has hips!! who fit well in the size M. (They did not have my size at the time of testing). On the other hand, my friend P, is a petite woman- She fit in the size small and it fits her well, however the bootie size were waaaayyy too big. After reviewing 4 different waders, I have come to the conclusion that it is not possible for one company to accommodate all women unless they start custom-sizing.

Manufacturers have not woken up to the fact that a lot of middle-aged, extra curvy women with large hips and thighs are fly fishers. And by extra curvy, I mean plus size. They don't realize that this demographic has the income and time to spend on fly fishing gear. It reminds me of the scene from Fried Green Tomatoes where Kathy Bates hit the car of the skinny 20 year old that stole her parking spot. "I'm old and have more insurance!" Unfortunately, I still have to wear men's large waders which means the sock is twice the length of my foot. The fly shops always want to send me to Simm's custom made waders, but there is no way I'm spending $700 on something that will leak after a year.

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