Simms breathable waders [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Simms breathable waders

01-24-2000, 02:43 PM
As someone who has been wearing waders for more of my life than dress shoes, I have probably tried a fair cross-section of wader styles. I can only imagine how knowledgeable you old guys are Actually, I am forty and so have no say one way or the other!

When I was about 14, I had a pair of those rubber waders which I swear my frugal mother of 5 siblings cut off the tops and made me wear as snow boots. Maybe she didn't actually, but you couldn't tell by the bott design, and they gripped about as well in the water as they did on the ice.

It was a l-o-n-g time until neoprenes came into my life, in fact winter steelheading in the early 80's did the trick. Gone were my Red Balls forever, and I mean that figuratively as well as... never mind.

Upon moving to Seattle, the concept of winter and summer steelhead graced my life, and with it came the need for more than one style of wader. Fearing the return of the plastic bag pants, I was saved by the discovery of OS Systems Waders. These are a non-breathable uninsulated super-tough wader with the most comfortable feet you have ever worn. (See separate review)

OK - so I took the long way around to explaining Gore-tex, but here I am. Even the lightweight OS/S waders caused considerable condensation when the glacial river flow meets 98.6 for extended periods of fishing. The best one can do is wear fleece, because it holds <5% of water and wicks very efficiently. OK - it's 90 degrees out, everybody put on their fleece! NADA... and neoprene's even worse.

Enter the breathable wader. So I guess instead of saying what's so good about Simms Goretex, I mentioned what is sooo bad without them. The Guide Series are guide-tough and a top notch product. I was doubtful of their durability until I beat a pair up for a season. Looks like I'll be beating them for next season too, not even a glitch. They are a bit pricey (~$359), but if you are looking for tough and top-of-the-line this is it. If you've heard good testimonials about them, you can add one to the list. I love my pair.


If I could change one thing it would be the feet. Since I bought them to escape hot weather, the last thing I wanted was black 5 mm neoprene on my feet. I suppose the boot foot would eliminate the problem, provided they are not insulated. The above mentioned OS/S waders have the most comfortable feet on the market, unfortunately they are not interested in the breathable wader market.

Simms has introduced a lower priced breathable this year. Blue Northern had these ultra-new waders at the show. Another post (or a reply to this) will 'splain the deal with those.

Hope this helps.

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01-24-2000, 05:14 PM
Juro ( and anyone else ),

I will be in the market for breatable waders this summer. I am curious as to whether most of you out there prefer stocking foot or boot foot waders.

Juro...I think you were mentioning wearing scuba booties over stocking foot waders.

Any other opinions out there?

01-24-2000, 06:16 PM

I prefer the stockingfoot waders because I like the comfort when walking long distances. Although the bootfoots score big points in convenience, they fall short IMO on ankle support. I like the more secure feeling of the boots, as my ankle doesn't feel like it is swimming like in the bootfoot models. Probably the best compromise is the breathable waders by orvis, combining the convenience of the bootfoot with the superior support of the separate boot -- Sounds a little like ad copy - sorry.

I have done a lot of wading in rivers with extremely slick substrate, and feel the separate boots have saved me a few falls. I just seem to be less clumsy in the stockingfoots, plus I think the tighter fit around the ankle allows me a more positive foot plant. If this sounds whacked out I understand, but when you prevent yourself from dunking with a fancy pirouette and some fancy footwork you'll appreciate the stockingfoots.

One thing to consider is winter wading - when temps get real cold you may not want stockingfoots as you may have to cut the laces off to get them off, or defrost them in your car/truck before removing them - then the boots come in handy.

One more thing - I can adjust the amount of foot insulation I use with the stockingfoots. In warm water I wear a thin atletic or wool sock and when colder conditions warrant I step up to a heavier sock and polypro wicking layer - affording me more flexibility and comfort level. If wet wading I can just wear the boots, and take advantage of the traction of the felt bottoms. Also, like Juro mentioned, some of those bootfoots are dark in color - the suns rays combined with some insulation equate to some hot feet.


01-24-2000, 10:30 PM

Of course I have an opinion.

Well being an old guy which my kids constantly remind of." border="0" align="middle"> Except when they have to chase a loose puck into the corner at practice. There's a reason us old junkyard dogs got old in the first place. The faceoff in the corner was always the other guys. <img src="

Back to the subject. After I retired the old red balls...I'm talkin about waders here! And getting over the sticker shock of breathable waders I bought the Orvis Silver Label boot foots. I got lucky and caught an Orvis promotion which gave me twenty percent off of the $225 price tag. First point, I have always had boot-foot waders so I'm used to them. Secondly last year I posted on BBS5 polling the RT knowledge pool. The concensus was that boot-foot waders held a major advantage over stocking-foot waders in respect to SAND. I cannot speak first hand about sand working it's way between the wading shoe and the stocking feet with or without gators. I do know it always works it's way into my swimming trunks. It just made sense to me. Thirdly the Orvis waders have a four or five year prorated warranty for leakage.

And if I spent more bucks on waders I wouldn't have been able to spring for the RPLXi.

01-25-2000, 06:03 AM

You bring up an excellent point, one that entirely slipped my mind (no surprise there unfortunately If you primarily fish the beaches then the bootfoot models may be better suited for you. Sand in the boots is a problem for me, and requires me to periodically exit the water and dump my boots - as my feet get very cramped by the sand, making it a neccessity. That would still lead me to try and get a pair of the hybrid models that combine the bootfoot with the lace option. However, I do an equal amount, if not more, of freshwater fishing and will just deal with the hassle for now - as I like the versatility of the stockingfoot's separate boot (as mentioned above).


01-25-2000, 07:28 AM
I think you got some excellent advise on the pros and cons of different breathables (brands) and different types (boot or stocking foot). Personally I have owned two pairs of breathables: the silver label from Orvis and the Simms guide model, both in stocking foot. I would not consider the bootfoot models because for me, walking with comfort, security, and well supported feet (flat feet syndrome!) is more important than the extra warmth and ease of entry of the bootfoot model. If you always fish the beach though, the sand issue mentioned by the other fellows is a major one. At the end of the day, I always get some sand in between my stocking foot waders and the boots.
As far as brands go and if money is no object (or you can at least live with it &lt;grin&gt;, I wouldn't think twice. The Simms are absolutely fantastic. I was so impressed with them that after fishing them a couple of days I sold my fairly new Orvis pair. The fit (comfort)and sturdiness are, in my opinion, superior to that of Orvis'. Breathability... I would guess it to be the same. In other words, just great. No sweat with them on all day.

01-25-2000, 12:43 PM
Doug -

How are ya? What I prefer to use on sand is stocking foot waders, scuba boots with soles, and wrap-around neoprene stretch gaitors. The reason? Ninja feet! I can slice through the tide rips, run on smushy soft sand, chase albies down the beach, and walk Brewster Flats at mid-day on a minus tide without feeling like Frankenstein. In fact you can swim with them in the event you miscalculate the incoming tide. The gaitors prevent sand from entering the boots, all but a few grains.

I have converted dozens of people to scuba boots after fishing together on sand. I would imagine that trend will continue.

(none of this applies to anything other than surf flyfishing on beaches)

Another benefit of stocking foot is the ability to use my Danner boots with the Simms waders in river fishing situations. Remember to disinfect with 5 parts water to one part clorox when using felt boots across geographical regions!

Scuba subtleties:

There are a few points to be aware of... the boots should be the type with soles. Scuba boots now come with deck soles (boat soles) and terrain soles (rocky shorelines) as well as the common softsole. Don't even bother with the ones that do not have a good sole.

Zippers - can't live with them, can't live without them. Until they make a pull-on stretch boot (hmmm...) zippers are a necessary evil. The good news is, you only need to futz with them twice a day and there is no problem putting them on. Taking them off - is another story. I keep a pair of heavy forceps to grab the zipper tab for those occasional tough days. Also, make sure the zippers are gusseted (sp?) meaning there is a continuous flap inside the zipper.

Gaitors - get the kind with lots of mating velcro surface area. Race point surf will rip off anything less than aggressive velcro.

All that being said, I still feel it's infinitely more comfortable to work the beach with scuba shoes than with heavy boots.

01-25-2000, 07:07 PM
Thanks for all the input! A couple more questions concerning scuba booties. Do you go 1 or 2 sizes larger to accomodate the wader stocking feet? How thick is the material on the feet? Being an ex-scuba diver, I remember the occassional battle removing booties. I did have ones with "sneaker type" soles. In fact, I still do...but I don't see wader feet fitting in them!

As for the boot foot waders, I have seen Reddington and Hodgman breathables in the $140-$150 range.

01-25-2000, 08:55 PM
Doug -

On second thought as you are a north shore guy boot foots might be the ticket. The sand is hard and the walks are not like the outer cape, flats or Monomoy. There are a number of rocky areas like Ipswich northside and the refuge. My perspectives were largely from the soft and vast sand deposits I walk on the cape.

As far as size, I always just try them on before I buy. Once again, I like to be able to put on my river boots and fish the freestone with my goretex too.

good luck,

01-26-2000, 06:28 PM
Hi Doug,

I have the bootfoot Simms Goretex and love them. Done a lot of walking and wading in them - winter and summer - the last two years on Puget Sounds assorted steelhead rivers. They're great waders with just about the best boots (comfort, ankle support, etc) I've found on a bootfoot wader!

The $$$ tag is steep, but you'll appreciate your investment every time you put them on.

Brian Lencho
Seattle, WA

01-27-2000, 02:50 PM
Once again...thanks for all the info. This leaves me with quite a few options!

Doug B.

04-12-2000, 07:25 PM
Hi Doug,

For eastcoast stripers, i've been very happy fishing with the following:
stockingfoot goretex waders with lightweight (llbean) sticky rubbersoled boots (like hiking boots)
wetsuit or dry suit bibs with neoprene surfing boots

I remember a hike out to nauset inlet from coastguard beach when Juro was wearing conventional wading boots and i had my surfing boots on - i felt like i had wings on my feet. For long walks on the beach you _cannot_ beat them, and i personally really like being able to feel the sand & stones beneath my feet.
Wearing a wetsuit or drysuit is something i used to do for safety when i thought i'd be gambling with time on a far sandbar as the tide came in. I'm getting a little too comfortable with goretex now though :)

Because my surfing boots are too tight to pull over my goretex waders, and I wanted something that could do double-duty on rivers, I got the lightweight llbean sticky rubber sole boots for them, and they also cruise very well over sand, as well as being just the trick for rocky areas. If not for them, i'd surely have gone for a pair of larger dive boots. BTW, neo boots are also a very nice item to have on hand if you ever get a chance to fish the tropics.

( Also, don't expect the sticky rubber soles to work well on streambeds that have algae on them (i see they now come optionally with carbide spikes ) )

Now that i've purchased a pair of (Simms Guide Model Goretex) bootfoots to keep my feet toasty in PNW rivers, i have to say that i really like the convenience of just slipping them on and off, and if i ever move back to boston, i'll be eyeing a pair for myself. The Simms Guide model bootfoots are _really_ expensive, but i agree with Brian that walking in them is quite comfortable and they seem to offer adequate support.
I couldn't agree more with the bootfoot's value of not having to deal with the ordeal of double gaitors, which often still don't keep the sand out if standing right in the wash.

However, i strongly suggest against using felt soles on the beach unless you are looking for a _lot_ of extra exercise. I don't know if they are still available, but last year the Simms Guide Model goretex bootfoots could be ordered with a treaded sole instead of a felt sole, but you've got to be really prepared before you peek at the price. At least the guide models come with a two-year warrantee instead of just a one-year.

A bit off the topic, but the dry suit which i have is a two piece bib & top combo - the top has a comfortable neoprene neck unlike the totally hardcore ones which have a latex seal neck. I keep it rolled up and tied to the back of my chestpack for when it is either pouring rain or when i think i need a measure of safety ( when i think i might have to do some swimming :). pulling it down over the top of my chestwaders, drawing the double waistband tight and velcroing the neck gives me almost the equivalent of a drysuit, and eliminates the sea-anchor effect of swimming in chestwaders - considerably more so than just a wading belt.

Lastly, in case anyone has not yet experienced goretex waders for hot summer fishing - the luxury is something you'll appreciate every time the temperatures warm up.

good luck,