Skwala Fishing, the recently launched, Montana-based apparel company staffed by a veritable horde of industry veterans, isn’t just another new kid on the fly fishing block. And I doubt they’ll be a flash-in-the-pan company. Yes, they opened up shop in Bozeman, Montana, home to other fly fishing apparel industry giants. Yes, Skwala’s products are built to compete with the best in the industry. But Skwala has enough of what some manufacturers lack that I think they’ll stay ahead of the pack for a long time: Innovation.
I’ve had the chance to use a handful of new products from Skwala, but what I’m most impressed with so far is their Fusion 3/2 Puffy jacket. This is hands-down the best insulating layer I’ve ever worn. The attention to detail is fantastic, and Skwala clearly spent a lot of time and money trying to answer the questions anglers still have about apparel.
Can my jacket be both stretchy and breathable? Water resistant, but not so much that I sweat like a pig while wearing it? Can I have great warmth without bulk?
The answer to those questions — at least for the Fusion 3/2 Puffy — is yes.
As noted, the Fusion 3/2 Puffy is the best insulating layer I’ve ever used for fly fishing (and I’d stack it up against my favorite insulating coats I wear while hunting, too). What makes it so great at retaining heat is twofold.
First, Skwala opted to not use Primaloft in this jacket, at a time when that’s the choice-du-jour for insulation. Instead, they created an all-new material they call 3DeFX+. This material stretches, unlike Primaloft, so it moves with you while you’re on the water. As you row, cast, or net fish, the insulation in the Fusion 3/2 moves right along with you.
I’ll talk more about the stretch in a moment, because it plays a key role in Skwala’s overall design philosophy. But even in some harsh Wyoming wind and a few snowstorms, I wasn’t ever cold in the Fusion 3/2. I was surprised at how well it cuts the wind, which is a blessing here in Wyoming.
The insulation choice also allowed Skwala to build a jacket that’s slimmer and sleeker than most anything else on the market. I can’t believe how much warmth it retains for the size.
Stretch and Movement
When I say stretch, I don’t mean it in the spandex sense. Skwala built all of their gear to move with the angler, so some level of stretch has to exist. The Fusion 3/2 has enough stretch that you don’t need to worry about it bunching up or inhibiting your movement. The Fusion 3/2 is designed and cut in a way that allows for easy, free movements; those designs are enhanced by Skwala’s use of Primeflex yarn, which stretches without using any elastic. But why does that matter? It matters because elastic has an achilles heel, one of particular importance to anglers: water absorption. By ditching elastic, Skwala was able to create a garment that stretches while maintaining its original shape and not absorbing water.
All this is to say that you won’t notice the Fusion 3/2 getting in the way of anything you need to do while fishing. Whether you spend all day on the oars, or high-sticking nymphs through every run, the Fusion 3/2 moves along with you, performing all the way.
I can’t overstate just how well-designed the Fusion 3/2 is. It doesn’t ride up when I’m high-sticking a drift. It doesn’t bunch up while rowing. The ease with which I move while wearing it is amazing, because half the time it doesn’t even feel like I’m wearing any sort of coat. That level of comfort and ease-of-use is tough to achieve, but Skwala hit the mark with the Fusion 3/2.
Something I really appreciate about all the fabric choices Skwala made is how breathable everything is. It’s common to pull off a coat at the end of the day, only to see your inner layers soaked through with sweat. I don’t sweat nearly as much while wearing my Skwala gear as I do when wearing competing insulating layers.
The breathability helps keep you warmer while on the water, too, since you don’t have as much sweat sitting next to your skin, chilling, and bringing down your core temperature.
Attention to Detail
Again, I just want to reiterate how much attention to detail clearly went into Swkala’s design of the Fusion 3/2. Pockets are located where they should be. The hood is cut away to allow to unimpeded vision. That the Fusion 3/2 moves right along with you while on the water is something you don’t think you’ll notice — until you do. I have to tip my hat to the entire design team at Skwala, because they clearly tried to solve all the pain points present in most current fishing jackets.
Given my praise of Skwala’s Fusion 3/2 Puffy, you likely won’t be surprised to know that I don’t have any notable gripes. If there’s something that the Fusion 3/2 fails at, I haven’t discovered it. If anyone is likely to, it’s probably the detail-obsessed team at Skwala.
Skwala’s Fusion 3/2 Puffy jacket is the best insulating layer I’ve ever used. It’s emblematic of the attention to detail that Skwala builds all of their products with. The slim profile means it fits well beneath waders, doesn’t bunch up, and moves along with you while you’re fishing. The warmth retention is amazing, as is the water resistance and built-in stretch. If every fishing jacket was as thoughtfully-designed as what Skwala built here, all of us anglers would be better off.