For years, I used to leave my waders clipped to an I-bolt in the bed of my pickup (so they wouldn’t fly away). That’s a convenient way to store waders, but sitting in direct sunlight for days on end will quickly cause some serious UV damage. I’d leave my boots in the pickup, too, and they often fared the worst from this bad decision. Take it from me — most companies don’t consider leaving your gear in the truck bed for all of summer “normal wear and tear,” so they won’t warranty them. It’s almost like we’re supposed to take care of our gear…
At any rate, I learned the value of properly storing my waders and boots while traveling. For a while, I used an old plastic tote, but it — and more importantly, my waders and boots — started to smell bad after a full summer of fishing trips, so I started looking for other options.
I was leery of using a boot-and-wader bag, mostly because I figured I’d just end up recreating the plastic tote incubator in bag form and I worried it wouldn’t last. In addition to fly fishing, I ski a fair bit, and I’ve had ski bags rip and tear midway through a season (even ones that were specifically built to not rip from encounters with ski’s sharp edges). I didn’t think wading boots would be any easier on a similar bag, especially boots with studs or aluminum bars on the soles.
I finally broke down and picked up a wader bag a couple years ago, assuming I’d thrown away $60. To my surprise, that bag lasted the better part of two seasons before ending up in the bin.
As I was looking for a new boot-and-wader bag this winter, I heard that Simms was coming out with a new one. I got my hands on the Simms RiverKit Wader Tote a few months ago, to really put the thing through its paces.
The RiverKit has all the features you need in a good wader bag: tons of space, vented sides to let the stink air out from your gear, and it’s built from durable materials that should hold up for years. And at an imminently reasonable $79.95, it doesn't feel overpriced.
With all that said, let’s dig into some of the features of the Simms RiverKit Wader Tote.
A waders-and-boot bag is no good if it falls apart quickly. That shouldn’t be a problem with the Simms RiverKit. Its outer fabric is built from 600 denier polyester, which is a pretty common material often used to make backpacks, camping chairs, and heavy-duty tents, according to this post from Outlife Expert. There’s actually a really cool video that shows just how tough 600 denier polyester is, which you can see below. It takes 25 pounds of pressure to start degrading the integrity of 600D polyester.
In addition to the tough exterior, Simms backs the 600D polyester with a PU coating that’s water-resistant. That PU coating is soft and slick, but strong, which makes it a great material for a changing mat (more on that in a minute).
I’d be surprised if I run into durability problems with the RiverKit sooner than five or so years. It should hold up well to all sorts of use.
Who loves doing the one-legged dance while getting into your waders, so you avoid stepping on the ground with your neoprene stocking feet?
Yeah, not me. I’m not that graceful anymore.
When I first started fly fishing, I scoffed at other anglers with fancy changing mats (even if it was as simple as a piece of carpet). Then, I bought a pair of expensive waders, and realized how important a changing mat was for protecting my investment.
The RiverKit has a foldable cover that doubles as a changing mat. You’re stepping on the PU coating I mentioned earlier, so your neoprene stocking feet are protected from any sharp rocks or other debris—not to mention, they’re kept clean so you don’t end up filling your boots with sand and gravel before you step foot in the river. The changing mat is padded, which should increase both its comfort and longevity.
The official dimensions of the RiverKit are 16.5 inches tall, 20 inches wide, and 12 inches deep. What that means in practical terms is that you can easily use it to store a pair of boots, waders, gloves, and a wading jacket while you’re traveling. There’s even an accessory pocket that has an internal key clip.
I’ve not yet stuffed my RiverKit too full, so I think it’s safe to say most anglers will find it has plenty of room for all their on-the-water gear.
What you’ll really love, though, is that the RiverKit keeps all of your waders and boots mess contained to a smaller area. If you use the RiverKit, you’re not getting dirt, water, and wader stink all over your car. You keep the mess contained to a smaller area until you get home and can hang your waders up to dry.
What Doesn’t Work
Changing Mat Size
While the padded changing mat is a wonderful feature, I do think Simms could stand to make it wider. There’s about an inch of room on either side of the mat where Simms slimmed it down, for no reason I can discern.
All told, the Simms RiverKit Wader Tote is a nice piece of gear that you’ll probably find is more useful than you anticipated. And, it’s only $80, which is a reasonable price given its longevity, storage space, and usefulness.