Patagonia Wades in For 2009
Get ready for an avalanche of new product announcements in the next few weeks. With the Fly Fishing Retailer show happening September 12-14 in Denver, manufacturers are putting the finishing touch on new-product details so that shop owners can figure out what to buy for spring 2009.
If you understand Patagonia, though, you know they’ve been ready for a while. I’m always amazed at the lead times these guys work with. Not that they don’t have product that is truly new and different, but they don’t subscribe to the “we need something new and we need it now” theory of product marketing. It’s a luxury that may come with the terrain, from decades of having their stuff riding surfboards in frigid oceans and parked on top of glaciers.
Here’s a good example: ’09 Guidewater Waders. Patagonia’s most durable waders will incorporate a patent-pending merino wool liner in the booties — which came from their work on wet suits. The addition of the wool liner means they can actually increase warmth (by 91%, they say) and reduce the thickness of the neoprene in the booties to 3mm. The new Guidewaters will also eliminate any corrosion-susceptible elements. TPU post and slot attachments for suspenders replace the old metal snaps. Product line director Steve Stracqualursi, who has long felt that water-logged neoprene wasn’t the right answer to gravel guard design, has also paid a lot of attention to new gravel guards that are lighter and drain water better.
Also new for spring 2009 are Patagonia’s Watermaster Hip Highs. Plenty of manufacturers have moved to roll-down systems that allow uppers to be stored at the waist. And you may have noticed a trend toward “pant-style” waders (Cloudveil sold a lot of their Crystal Creek Wading Pant when they first came out in spring ’07). Patagonia decided the time was right to offer lower-cost waders to anglers who value the comfort and convenience of pant-style waders but want something very practical as well. They decided to go with hip-high waders that incorporate quick-release buckle hip adjustments instead of suspenders or belt loops. Reports from field testers have them expecting that these new waders are going to be very popular for backcountry treks and float trips, where comfort is a huge factor. Not to mention the fact that they will cost less than $200.