I’m pretty rough on waders. In the past two years, I’ve blown through four pairs of the things. Two of them have been from the same company, and both pairs failed due to welded seams splitting after less than seven months of use.
I finally decided that enough was enough, so I plunked down the coin for a decent pair of waders – the Orvis Silver Sonic Guide waders.
I went with Orvis over Simms (largely regarded as the best waders you can buy) for one reason: I have a pair of Silver Sonic convertible waders, and aside from the giant gash I put in them during a nasty fall on the Green River this January, they’ve been bomb-proof. (The gash was big enough, by the way, that I would have needed about 8 tubes of Aquaseal to fix it.)
I decided to stick with the brand that had served me the best so far, and after 3 weeks of heavy fishing, I have a ton of praise for the Silver Sonic Guide waders.
They’re noticeably more durable, and thicker, than the convertible Silver Sonics. The handwarmer pocket is a much-needed addition, and the four other zippered pockets spread throughout the wader make losing gear in this pair of waders a strong reality.
The straps that go over your back are padded, a nice touch over what any other Orvis wader offers, although the wading belt is still made from the same thin polyester material seen on the convertible Silver Sonics. Personally, I like the thicker belt that Redington uses on their SonicDry series of waders.
The main issue I’ve had with the Silver Sonic Guide waders has been the fact that Orvis doesn’t offer the best sizing options in the industry. As Brett Prettyman wrote in his review of these waders, “Orvis can be tricky for folks, like myself, caught between two sizes. I tested the extra large/long size and it was just a bit big, particularly in the chest. My feet were happy with not too much space or too little in the ‘sculpted’ and anatomically correct booties. The waders fit better from the waist down. Needless to say, I didn’t feel confined, but I also didn’t feel like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.”
Regardless of that shortcoming, I’d still highly recommend these waders to anyone who spends over 100 days a year on the water.
What I liked:
The Material: By this point, everyone in fly fishing is fully aware of Simms’ 3 or 5 layer GoreTex waders. Orvis opted to go with nylon for these waders, but don’t let that scare you away. It’s a thick, abrasion-resistant nylon that’s, “40% more puncture resistant and 300% more abrasion resistant than Silver Sonic Convertible waders,” according to the Orvis website.
After spending three days in Oregon, and another seven hiking through brushy Utah and Idaho streams in these waders, I can attest they seem to hold up to abuse more than any other wader I’ve used to this point. The nylon is very breathable, and on the one day I fished when the temps climbed to nearly 80, I didn’t feel like I was too warm.
Storage Space: These waders have pockets upon pockets – in addition to Orvis’ standard waterproof phone/wallet pouch that attaches to the inside of the waders via a convenient Velcro system. There’s a honest chance you’re going to lose a fly box or five in these bad boys.The handwarmer pocket is a welcome addition to the Guide waders, as the convertible Silver Sonics don’t offer it.
Gravel Guards/Neoprene: Orvis took time to add reinforcement to their gravel guards on these waders, placing the reinforced material on the inside of each leg. In my mind, that not only prevents against more abuse from rocks and sticks while wading, but also brushing your wading boots up against the inside of your waders while walking. This is a good design move by Orvis, and should be standard on all of their waders.
What I didn’t like:
Sizing: As I mentioned above, the sizing was off just a smidge. Even after using their chart online, these Orvis waders feel about two inches too tall for me. But, that’s far from a good reason to not buy them. As far as I’ve been able to ascertain, they’re just as bomb-proof as the Simms G3s, or at the very least Simms’ Headwaters waders.
Wading Belt: This may seem like I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel here, but I really wish Orvis would go with a thicker, higher-quality wading belt, especially on their designated guide waders. I’ve been known to hang things from my wading belt from time to time (I’m not exactly an angler who lives by the industry’s status quo) and I’m not a fan of the thin material used in the current wading belt.