L.L. Bean Releases Details of New Wader Design

December 5, 2008 By: Marshall Cutchin

L.L. Bean Helix WadersBack in September we noted that L.L. Bean was working on an innovative way to construct fly fishing waders (see “L.L. Bean Waders Getting Radical Redesign“). Well they’ve just released some details, along with images, of the new seam pattern, and now we’re really curious about how these new waders — called Helix — will perform.
The basic concept of the Helix design depends on fabric cuts that allow fewer seams and greater “articulation” in the legs. As anyone who has worn waders to the point of no return will tell you, seams are a focal point for wear and leaks. Bean says the new design has eliminated the number of seams needed by 50%, by spiraling the seam up the leg. The “darts” that popularly used for knee articulation are not necessary with the new design.
Here’s what a Bean spokesperson told us about the reasons for moving in this direction: “The premise behind any wader is to develop a pair that does not leak. One of the highest leak rate points is in the seams. To become waterproof, seams are sewn and taped. The waterproof tape is added to cover any gaps and the stitch holes made by sewing. Seams are often the culprit due to the angles and difficulty in taping around corners. A standard tape size used on a wader is 22mm and when the tape is glued over the sewn seams, many times the curves are too tight for the tape’s width causing wrinkles on the inside edge and stretching on the outside. The Helix design only has 6 seams that are much more subtle around the corners to make the taping easier — and by default, more effective. In addition to sharp corners, every time the machine stops the tape needs to be cut and new tape needs to be started, making the intersection a high risk for leaks. Another seam saving area is in the articulation around the knees. In typical waders, there are ‘darts’ cut in to the knee area to allow a more ergonomic shape to the leg. The Helix shape has eliminated that and all the additional stop and go taping that used to occur.”
Now we just need a few anglers to go out and buy the new Helixes — they will be available to customers around early/mid February for $399 — and let us know how they perform in the field.