Cold, high-mountain lakes require long, hot, summer hikes. Those are horrid in waders. They're a bit less horrid if you carry your waders instead of wear them, but they're still horrid. That’s why I like wet wading season. I fish and hike in the same shoes. Likewise on clothes.
But wet wading season is shorter than vacation season so you’re bound to drag around your waders at some point. Patagonia knows this and they’re thinking of all you ounce-counting or gear-hoarding backpackers with their new Middle Fork Packable Waders.
Patagonia's new waterproof, breathable Middle Fork Packable waders weigh in at a surprisingly light 1 pound,10 ounces and shove into a stuff sack that’s smaller than my snack bag for trail runs. Impressive pack size overall. Now zero in on the feet, which are no small part of the reason that these new waders pack down so well and weigh so little.
Bart Bonime, Patagonia director of fishing, described the booties as "sort of a liquid neoprene." I pried for more, but he wasn’t willing to give up the secret recipe. The best way to describe the booty is seamless, durable rubber. We watched the folks from Patagonia abuse the booties through various forms of stretching, pulling, prodding and ripping and they simply snapped back into shape once the torture was over.
Beyond backpacking, there’s airporting where size really matters. The smaller and lighter, the better. When traveling across the country or across the globe, every ounce and inch counts. And many of today's waders can easily eat up half a duffel. Packing in luggage or even carrying on is no sweat with these packables.
Speaking of sweat, drop down the top of these waders using the strap suspension system when it’s hot. And crawl around all you want. Or chase the full fly box that’s floating away. The leg pattern is gusseted at the crotch and scuff guarded at ankles. Three layers of recycled nylon up high. Four layers of recycled nylon down low.
The Patagonia Middle Fork Packable waders will be available beginning January 1, 2018 at a retail price of $349.