While not as numerous as the boys' choices, the wading jacket selection available to women in today's market is fairly reasonable. The usual suspects – Simms, Patagonia, Redington, etc. – all have at least one jacket option when it comes to fishing apparel of the female persuasion. In March of this year, long-time outdoors apparel brand Eddie Bauer (EB) launched its new Sport Shop fishing outerwear, apparel and gear collection among which were several women's fishing apparel pieces, including the new Immersion Wading Jacket.
I was glad to hear EB was throwing another option into the mix as I'd been in the market for a new wading jacket. I was having trouble deciding on which one was "just right" for me and jumped at the chance to field test the Immersion Wading Jacket.
Bombproof, Lightweight Construction
The first thing that stood out to me about this jacket was its durable, yet lightweight construction. This jacket is durable enough to stand up to the wear and tear of avid anglers like myself. Yet, it is lightweight enough that I didn't feel bogged down with unnecessary weight in my fishing pack when I chose to carry it along on those chance stormy days we always have in Montana summer.
Made of an ultra-durable 75-denier cordura nylon fabric shell, the Immersion Wading Jacket features what EB calls WEATHEREDGE PLUS technology. 3-layers of cordura fabric work together to provide 10k/10k waterproof, windproof and breathable performance. Seam-sealed construction adds to this durability. For those unfamiliar with waterproof ratings, a 10k rating means this jacket is rated to keep you dry in moderate rain or on an average snowy day. The outer layer of cordura is coated with StormRepel durable water-repellent (DWR) finish to bead water and keep it from soaking into the fabric.
This technology played its part well on my first field test of the jacket. I floated the upper Madison near Ennis, MT with some friends on a cool, but very stormy weekend in May. It rained hard on us for the first half of the day and all the while, I stayed perfectly dry. In addition, the handy feature of hidden, full neoprene cuff gaskets on each sleeve ensured water wasn't running down my arm every time I made a cast.
Fit and Style
One thing I can't say enough about is the women-specific cut and design of this jacket. I've had issues with this in the past when it comes to things like waders, pants, and shirts – they never seem to fit the way I wish they would. I didn't run into that issue with the Immersion Wading Jacket. It fits nearly perfectly, with enough room for layering a down jacket underneath while wearing it over waders.
It is also worth nothing that I have, on more than one occasion, sported this jacket on a stormy night to meet friends for a beer downtown.
As far as functionality goes, this jacket includes all the same features its men's equivalent does. Pleated, secure zip chest pockets with hidden tool attachment points offer tons of options for odds 'n ends gear storage. You'll find a cozy place to warm your digits in the secure zip handwarmer pockets with knuckle-side fleece. And a plus, the exterior pockets are self-draining. Throw in the rear D-ring attachment to hang your net and the adjustable, foldaway hood and you have yourself a solid, dependable wading jacket any angler would appreciate.
I thought long and hard on this one. Frankly, I couldn't pin-point any specific construction or functional features to criticize. I only have two suggestions to offer up to EB. Number one – offer a few color options. Currently "Guide Green" is the only one available. I actually like this color a lot, but I know how women are, and I know that some would appreciate one or two other choices to pick from.
Price also made the list of minor gripes. Originally offered at $349.00, the Immersion Wading Jacket was on the high end of what is currently offered on the market. However, Eddie Bauer has since brought the price down to $299, bringing it more in line with offerings from the competition.
As I said before, this jacket is solid. It's got every feature an angler could want, the fit is spot on, and it will withstand the rigors any female fly fishing junkie is going to put it through. If you're on the hunt for a new wading jacket, I highly recommend you place this on your list of considerations.
Photos by Merri Ann Eshelman.