At the time of writing autumn is landing and she’s showing some late season teeth with cold mornings, icy rivers, and a who-knows-what-the-day-will-bring weather forecasts. For some, wearing waders is strictly a winter and shoulder season affair, often preferring to wet wade over summer – but thanks to the superior breathability and seasonal layering options, a good pair of Simms Gore Tex waders really are the year round fly fishing tool for those that appreciate having the option up their sleeves.
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of suiting up in your Simms waders, chucking on a good jacket, and just getting out into the elements knowing that you’re going to stay warm and dry, and the only things stopping you from staying out there is eventual hunger and running out of daylight.
With so many great options of waders available these days it can feel like a tricky category to navigate when you’re looking at making a purchase. And while the non Gore offerings from Simms are also excellent waders that live up to the promise of breathability and durability, but with price accessibility in mind, once you get yourself into a pair of Gore-Tex waders, there's really no looking back.
BUT WHY ARE SIMMS GORE TEX WADERS BETTER?
Now without getting too geeky on it, here’s a quick overview of what makes this fabric so unique and some of the science behind how it works.
WHAT IS GORE-TEX?
Gore-Tex wader fabric is made up using laminated layers of ePTFE (expanded polytetrafluoroethylene) and polyurethane to form the breathable membrane, which then has an exterior layer of polyester applied as a barrier layer, and interior layer of tricot for comfort. This is what we'd call three layer Gore fabric that is mostly used on the upper section of the waders, and in the legs a four layer system is used for added durability due to higher wear demands.
Here's a staggering fact - every square inch of the Gore-Tex membrane has nine billion pores. That’s a lot of little holes. You would think that with so many holes it would be impossible for the membrane NOT to leak, but this is where science comes in to flex a little muscle. Each of these holes is 20,000 times smaller than a water droplet, but 700x larger than a water vapour molecule, so what you end up with is a barrier that keeps the big water bits from getting in, but allows the smaller stuff to escape with ease.
THE GORE & LAYERING ECOSYSTEM
Having an efficient layering system is super important with any breathable wader material. If you have a good wicking base layer in use then that will pull sweat and condensation away from the skin and closer to the breathable membrane for removal. A fabric like cotton soaks up the moisture instead, making it difficult to expel and resulting in that feeling like your new waders are leaking, when in fact it’s just a day’s worth of your own sweat. Yum.
So, starting with a core base layer only for those baking Central Otago summer fishing missions where you’re likely to cover a lot of k’s in the sun, and then adding in an insulating fleece layer for when it gets colder, like rod guides frozen cold.
It might be time to retire those old neoprene waders now.
Simms Proprietary G4 4-Layer Gore-Tex Pro Shell
Featured in the lowers of the G4Z and G4 Pro Stockingfoot waders. The Simms proprietary 4-Layer Gore-Tex Pro Shell fabric has been engineered for unrivalled durability, excellent breathability and maximum puncture resistance. It is 32% lighter and has a 58% improved hand feel compared to the 5-layer, which was previously used in the G4. The comfort factor drastically increases because of these improvements.
Simms Proprietary G4 3-Layer Gore-Tex Pro Shell
Using identical shell textile as the G4 4-Layer in a 3-Layer laminate package, the proprietary 3-Layer Gore-Tex Pro Shell fabric excels with maximum breathability while maintaining excellent durability and puncture resistance. The revolutionary multilayer membrane system is bonded between a proprietary shell textile and a robust inner lining which resists wear and tear and enhances durability.
These fabrics are put to the test with 20,000+ hours of field testing and extensive laboratory analysis which gives confidence in the fact that the G4 Gore-Tex Pro Shells are the highest performing fabrics Simms has brought to market.
COMFORT AND TECHNICAL FEATURES
Because all of Simms Gore-Tex waders are hand made in the USA it means they have the ability to be flexible in making custom sizes, as well as wider size ranges of models off the shelf. The Simms G3 Guide wader has literally a size for any wild and weird body shape or gender, so you know that by taking the time to get sized up properly you’ll end up with a wader that fits perfectly, gives you an excellent range of movement, allows the Gore-Tex fabric to do its job efficiently, and eliminates bunching and rub points so they last longer.
Chances are there’s a style of Simms Gore-Tex wader that is best for you and your fishing style. For example New Zealand fly fishing guides tend to prefer the G4 Zip wader for a number of reasons, like the premium straps and belt that offer all day comfort, ergonomic booties that won’t bunch in the wading boot, two big easy access front pockets, and most importantly the zip for ease of river side relief.
Our competition guys can’t look past the super stealthy Simms G3 Riparian Camo waders for sneaking up on unsuspecting fish, and the new modular pack compatible Simms Flyweight waders will be the pick of the lightweight back country crew this season.
WADER DURABILITY & LONGEVITY
Blackberry, gorse, matagouri, barbed wire fences, or that nail you caught your waders on, can all have a swift and detrimental effect to any fabric. One way your waders can combat this is by beefing up the fabric in the legs so the top half can run a bit lighter, while the bottom half is tougher thanks to an extra layer.
Recent improvements to the Gore-Tex fabric itself means they are lighter and softer than ever before while at the same time being tougher and more durable. And that suits kiwi and aussie anglers perfectly because we like to be out there and covering a lot ground in pursuit of our fish, most of it inhospitable.
Where Gore-Tex separates itself from other breathable fabrics is its ability to be cleaned, restored and repaired giving you exceptional product life and getting the most out of your investment.
WASHING YOUR WADERS
Washing your waders once or twice a season is recommended to get rid of any build up of dirt blocking the microscopic spores to allow the Gore-Tex fabric to do its job properly again. Quite often what might be first thought of as leaky waders is really just a pair that hasn’t been cleaned for a while and isn’t allowing the moisture to escape. This leads to a build up of wetness in the waders and a sensation of leaking.
The process of cleaning your Gore-Tex is basic and can be done in any home washing machine. Follow the cleaning with a final DWR treatment to aid with water beading on the exterior.
FINDING AND REPAIRING LEAKS IN YOUR WADERS
Finding and repairing pin hole leaks from blackberry (and everything else pointy) is a simple affair of turning your waders inside out, spraying them with isopropyl alcohol and waiting for the leaks to show themselves as small black dots. Once you’ve found them, circle them with pencil and then work your way through each one with a small dab of Aquaseal and it’s job done.
This method of locating leaks is a real eye opener to just how many pinholes you might have in your waders but they still don’t let any water through. Magic.
PATCHING GORE-TEX FABRIC
The you have the level of catastrophic failure the comes with getting your leg stuck on a barbed wire fence and tearing a decent sized hole in your precious waders. This might spell the end for any other breathable material but we can easily patch tears and holes in Gore-Tex fabric using the bespoke heat press in our Simms repair department, or you can give it a crack at home yourself.
By keeping your waders clean, checking for and repairing leaks regularly, and having the ability to easily repair holes, it just makes sense to invest a little bit more into a product you’ll be able to keep going for season after season after season.
FINALLY, WHAT THE ELITE NZ GUIDES HAVE TO SAY
“Quality waders have become an indispensable piece of gear for me over the last decade or so, simply because I feel the cold more than I used to. If I get cold either guiding or fishing, the sense of fun disappears pretty quickly. And either way, I want to enjoy my time on the water. Simple.”
Mike Kirkpatrick – Latitude Guiding
“Wet wading may seem refreshing, especially in the heights of summer but when you're on the water day in, and day out you really have to consider the long term effects of cold water on the ankles, knees and hips for prolonged and repeated periods. Gore-Tex is super lightweight and offers optimum breathability so you stay dry, and warmer for longer. You hardly notice you are wearing them such is the comfort factor, fit, and fabric quality of Simms Gore-Tex waders, your waders will simply stay waterproof for much longer than other comparable products on the market.”
Chris Dore – www.chrisdore.com
“Spending long guiding days on the water requires me to be in my waders from dawn till dusk - so comfort, durability, and waterproofing are all non-negotiable requirements. It’s Simms Gore-Tex all the way for me, and nothing else comes close.”
Russell Anderson - Check him out here