My first pair of “nice” waders were one of Redington’s early models. I forget the name of the product line but remember being so excited to own a pair of real, honest-to-goodness fly fishing waders that I used them as an excuse to fish more than I ever had before.
Unfortunately, they only lasted seven months before I had an unfortunate run-in with a rather large tree in Utah’s backcountry. Since then, I’ve worn a series of waders from other brands, many of which fell prey to similar foes (branches, rocks, cattle fences) as my original Redingtons.
The new Sonic-Pro HDZ wader is Redington’s cream-of-the-crop wader, and after fishing steadily in them for a while now I’m disappointed I didn’t return to Redington waders sooner.
Constructed from a proprietary DWR-coated nylon, the HDZ waders feature the welded seams and ergonomic build anglers expect from a top-notch wader. But the HDZ’s biggest draw is its waterproof TIZIP zippered front. It provides a much easier experience for getting in and out of waders, as well as for streamside relief when you’ve had a few too many canned beverages.
The HDZs offer a supremely comfortable wading experience. At $499.95 they’re not cheap, but they’re considerably less expensive than other premium, zip-front waders.
The first day I wore the HDZs was on a stream in a slot canyon. I was with my buddy Clark, and aside from the mountain lion (which killed an elk and drug it under a tree while we were fishing— something I’ll surely never see again) and two other anglers, we were alone in the deep powder.
This stream and I have a reputation for knowing each other all too well. I’ve fallen in so many times I think I’ll always have a bit of water from the stream stuck in my ears. This day proved no different. I took a plunge down to mid-chest, but emerged dry. The waterproof TIZIP zipper, which extends from the top of the wader to just below the waist, worked as advertised. And, after several falls and countless other belly-deep wading situations, the TIZIP has faithfully kept the water out.
The performance of TIZIP zippers really shouldn’t come as a surprise—they’ve become industry standard on everything from some of the most rugged waterproof packs and duffels to YETI’s wildly popular Hopper line of soft coolers—but somehow they always manage to inspire wonder.
The zipper does come with a price. The HDZs are $100 more than the Sonic-Pro HD waders ($499 versus $399, respectively), but it’s completely worth it. The HDZs are the first pair of zippered waders I’ve worn and I won’t go back. The zippered front is adds convenience in so many ways, it’s hard to imagine giving it up.
Redington included a tool dock on the left chest, for holding hemostats, zingers, and anything else you like to dangle from your waders. The right pocket is a great spot for a slim fly box, and there are two fleece-lined hand warming pockets as well, tucked away inside water-resistant zippers.
The HDZs suspenders are soft, comfortable and easy to adjust to multiple sizes.
A detachable waterproof pouch for valuables. Two inside pockets—one waterproof, the other a Velcro pouch—with enough room for three or four fly boxes each. One waterproof pocket on the chest, another pocket, then two hand warmer pockets lined with fleece.
I thought my old pair of waders had enough pockets but I feel like I need to buy more fly boxes, rolls of tippet, and other odds-and-ends just to fill these waders out. If you feel like you never have enough room in your waders, try the HDZs and get back to me.
The neoprene booties clock in at 3.5mm thick everywhere except for the sole, where they’re 4mm thick. That additional .5mm on the soles is greatly appreciated, where it helps to prevent pinhole leaks.
The gaiters on the HDZs have remained stiff and resilient, even after considerable use, thus wear on the gaiters shouldn’t be an issue for most anglers.
The nylon is thick—I never worried about the odd branch or rock which spelled doom for so many pairs of my previous waders. But despite feeling burly, the HDZs don’t feel bulky. They fit comfortably and move well.
What doesn’t work
Perhaps I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel here, but he wading belt provided with the Sonic-Pro HDZs feels a bit cheap for such a nice pair of waders. It’s thin nylon, as opposed to a thicker belt you’ll find on other premium waders. Redington built it that way intentionally, to accommodate sliding on bear spray, a knife or wading staff more easily. But, personally, I’d like a thicker, more utilitarian belt and fewer belt loops on the wader itself.
They’re tough. They’re durable. They’re comfortable, move well with your body, have enough storage space to run your own on-the-river fly shop complete with floatant, spare tippet, and nippers, and a waterproof zipper. I’ve put the HDZs through their paces since getting them and have yet to see, aside from some dried mud, any real signs of wear.
They’re $499.95, but are backed by Redington’s warranty (a service I’ve used before and vouch for). If you want to take the next step in the wading game but aren’t sure if you want to spend $600+ on other big-name brands, the HDZs are your best bet.