In waders, L.L. Bean relied on customer/angler feedback to improve its Helix waders for 2012. Helix Technology uses one continuous seam that wraps the leg in a spiral, or “helix,” pattern. This eliminates the number of seams needed by over 50%, creating a stronger construction and vastly reducing the possibility of leaks. The torso of the waders has been made more breathable for comfort on warm days. They’ve added a roomy front pocket with water-resistant zippers for small accessories. A new interior pocket adds even more storage space. Finally, L.L. Bean added nylon webbing and hypalon tabs on the chest for attaching tools and accessories. Gravel guards are built in, and neoprene booties conform to the shape of your foot. Prices: Reg. $299; Tall $319; King $319.
L.L. Bean is also introducing the first boot-foot waders in the industry with the BOA closure system, called the “Rapid River Waders.” Prices: Reg. $379; King $399; Reg. Studded $399; King Studded $419.
In the stockingfoot variety, wedge-shaped knee articulation reduces the need for complicated sewing methods and seam taping. The five-layer waterproof fabric on the legs is tough and breathable. The chest section has four-layer fabric for more flexibility and a handwarmer pocket with fleece lining. Neoprene shoulder straps have four adjustment points for an easy fit over layers. Prices: Men’s Reg. $199; King $219; Stout $219; Women’s $199.