In the world of women's fishing apparel, the choices have long been too far and few between. Recently, many manufacturers have begun paying more attention to female anglers and have started to increase their women's offerings. To date, Patagonia has done a good job staying ahead of the game, by offering a much wider variety of options for female angling apparel than many of its competitors. While a pair of pants or a shirt alone do not likely warrant an extensive review, good gear is worth a mention, especially when the options are so limited for women anglers.
Patagonia's Away From Home Pant and Island Hopper Shirt arrived at my door in late spring, in preparation for the warm days I would spend wet wading in rivers in Southwest Montana during the coming summer. Over the course of the summer they have served me well, as I have worn them in a variety of rivers across the state, trekked into the backcountry of Yellowstone National Park to fish for wild cutthroat, and donned them on many hiking jaunts area surrounding my hometown of Bozeman, Montana.
Form to Function
Patagonia says, "Who says hardcore fishing pants have to look like hardcore fishing pants? Not us." And, in this case, it's evident the Away From Home Pant was designed with more than the angler in mind. These are pants you can wear hiking, camping, or just around town, all the while, still having the functionality you'll need on the river when it's time to fish. Some of the "form-to-function" styling features this pant sports are jean-front styling, a nylon utility keeper, two back pockets, double-side pockets and articulated knees.
I really liked the roll-up button flap feature on this pant, as well. The crazy weather we sometimes experience during Montana summers warrant you must be ready for everything. Having the option to turn these pants into capris made a spike in temps much more bearable.
The Island Hopper Shirt follows suit with its superlight, easy care fabric, roll-up sleeve tabs and two chest pockets, with one featuring a zipper closure for added security.
Quick Dry, Durable Fabrics
The Away From Home Pant dries quicker than any pair of hiking/fishing/outdoors pants I have ever had in the past. Patagonia's use of durable quick-drying nylon taslan fabric which is treated with a DWR (durable water repellent) finish make this pant a no-brainer for wet-wading wear in my book. The seat of the pant is constructed of a slightly different water-repellant stretch woven fabric.
On more than one occasion I found myself thigh high in the river during my fishing excursions. Upon leaving the water, the pants began to dry in a matter of several minutes and were completely dry by the time I made it back to my pickup to head to the next fishing hole.
A few added bonuses to the fabric construction of the Away From Home Pant is the durability and stain-resistance the nylon taslan and DWR-finish delivers. Mud, bug spray, fish slime, and just about every other substance known to the outdoors came in contact with these pants during my time wearing them and they consistently performed well. A plus is this fabric is 50+ UPF offering superior protection from harmful UV rays.
While it does not possess the same DWR-finish, the Island Hopper Shirt performs just as well in the quick-dry arena thanks to the all-recycled polyester/organic cotton blend of quick-drying, highly breathable fabric it is constructed of.
Sizing has always been an issue for clothing makers when it comes to women. We come in a lot of different body shapes and sizes, and it is a challenge for any apparel maker to suit every one.
I found the sizing of the Away From Home Pant to run a bit small , especially in the waist, hips and thigh area. In most other brands, I wear a size 7 or 8, but in the case of this pant, the undersizing required me to order a 10. Even in a size 10 these pants were slightly tight on me, but not enough to make me not want to wear them.
Like most women, when I have to purchase a pair of pants in a size larger than I normally wear, it doesn't exactly make me feel good about myself. I'm sure that wasn't the reaction Patagonia was going for when they designed these pants, but they might want to rethink the sizing next time around.
I had no complaints on the shirt sizing.
Patagonia reps the Island Hopper Shirt as a tropical fishing shirt, yet only provides 15-UPF sun protection in the recycled fabric this shirt is comprised of. Coming from a family with a long history of skin cancer, this bugged me a little. I'd really like to see this shirt up there with the 50 UPF that the Away From Home Pant offers. Most of brand name companies selling fishing shirts these days offer a base sun protection rating of at least 30+ UPF. While I'm no expert on this topic, I think Patagonia can improve on this one if they really want to call the Island Hopper a legit "fishing shirt."
Overall this fishing apparel combo served me well on my adventures and I'd feel confident recommending it to my women angler friends. The Away From Home Pant performs up to par with Patagonia's claims on and off the water and in both wet wading and under-wader scenarios. The lightweight, quick-drying fabric of the Island Hopper Shirt make a great option for hot summer days (just remember the extra sunscreen). If you're a woman looking for some new fishing threads, then I'd recommend you check out what Patagonia has to offer in the 2014 women's line-up.