As finding women’s waders that fit and function the in ways that make sense for women has always been a challenge, I was very excited to learn that Patagonia was “joining the women’s wader party.” Patagonia's Mark Harbaugh, in an interview with Midcurrent, stated that these waders were designed from the ground up “by women for women.”
Unfortunately, when the time rolled around to put Patagonia’s new women’s waders to through their paces, Patagonia did not have available my size to review. However, my friend and fellow fly fisher, Rachel, was the perfect candidate for these waders. So, we both headed out, working together to test the Spring River Wader -- both in and out of the water -- to give our assessment. The following review is a compilation of our thoughts and findings.
I immediately liked the color of Patagonia Spring River Wader – a nice shade of slate gray. Of course, you can't judge a pair of waders by their color alone, but it will certainly help keep most of my scuff marks from my fishing adventures hidden. The material and construction of these waders feels very durable and -- although we’ve yet to put the Spring River Wader through long-term testing -- suggests these will stand up to a considerable amount of abuse, which is an important feature for someone like me who often tumbles, both in and out of the water.
Here are the specs:
- Drop-down suspenders to easily convert waders to waste high
- 2 water-proof pockets (outside and inside)
- Hand warmer pocket with micro-fleece lining on one-side
- Belt with 2 loops
- Wool-lined booties
- Drop-down seat for easy response to nature
- No-Seam technology
Being blessed by having access to fly fishing in town, I wasted no time testing these waders. The fall weather was cool and crisp, and the thought of having wool-lined booties sounded very appealing. Even being close to town, I had plenty of rocks and some brush to go through.
The Patagonia Spring River Wader's fit was aesthetically pleasing. It conformed to the unique shape of woman's body, but still allowed room for additional layers – such as a winter jacket – if needed. And, without excess material in all the wrong places, worries of familiar waders woes for women like “saggy wader but” were set aside. In the chest area, there are adjustable elastic pulls on both sides to allow for a customizable fit for each woman's unique size. Rachel felt the fit of Spring River Wader were right on as is, and they even looked great on her. For my part, even though the waders I was testing were a size above what I would normally wear, I was able to utilize the adjustable chest design to produce a more accurate fit.
I always wear extra layers when the temperatures drop as it tends to be much cooler on the water and I would rather be safe than sorry. As noted above, the fit of the Spring River Wader allowed for extra layers to be worn without becoming uncomfortable. In fact, they were very comfortable, not restrictive at all. They are easy to walk in both in and out of the river and -- at times -- we felt almost as though we were not wearing waders at all. Producing a women's fit that is conforming, stylish and roomy at the same time is no easy task, but Patagonia seems to have done it with the Spring River Wader.
Perhaps most notably, my feet felt very comfortable in the Spring River's wool-lined booties. This is of particular importance for women, who's extremities get colder much more quickly than those of our male counterparts. Plus, there's nothing worse than having cold feet cut short a day of otherwise fine fishing.
Patagonia's Spring River Wader offers up some unique features in an attempt to meet a woman's need to access nature with ease. The feature getting the most attention, the "drop-down seat", allows you to bring down the waders while keeping the suspenders over your shoulders. Given that I’ve often noted the pretzel-twisting frustration women often face streamside in an effort to accomplish a similar feat in your average pair of waders, I was eager to test this feature. I released the clip (connected to the suspenders) in the back to allow the drop down seat feature to work its magic, and although I was able to pull down the seat, it was not without some effort and was not very gracefully executed. Additionally, it was a challenge to try to reattach the clip in the back. I found that simply sliding the suspenders off my shoulders to drop my seat was a much easier solution than attempting to wrestle with that back clip.
That said, the more traditional but far from standard drop-down suspenders are a big plus. They serve as a conveniently employed feature when used to convert these waders to waist highs without removing them.
Now, for someone who is always tumbling in the water – water-proof pockets are always a big bonus. The front pocket is of generous size and has a water-proof zipper – perfect for stashing toiletries and a small fly box. The inside pocket is more like a mini dry bag – perfect for my phone.
The hand-warmer pocket is also a big plus – especially with the cold season upon us. I was most pleased with it's generous size that accommodated both hands at the same time.
The belt was held by 2 wide belt loops in the back – which helped keep them in place when unfastened. But, because the belt was elastic all around, I found that I did not have to unfasten it in order to pull my waders up and down. A good thing when nature calls.
As someone who fly fishes every week in all types of weather and terrain, I look for waders that are durable, functional and comfortable. At the same time, I also appreciate waders that fit well.
Patagonia's Spring River Wader offers a number of important features women look for in waders:
- Aesthetically pleasing, conforming yet roomy fit for women; including comfort without excess material
- Ease of getting them off and on with the slide-down suspenders – especially when nature calls (in this case, the drop-seat feature is not necessary)
- Adjustable chest area to accommodate each women's unique size
- 2 water-proof pockets
Overall, I was very pleased with Patagonia's Spring River Wader for women.