Closer Look: Simms G4 Pro and Patagonia Rio Gallegos II Waders
Simms G4 Pro Waders
Not long ago, I used to hate waders and made every effort to avoid waters and situations that required them. I donned my first pair of acceptable waders only 10 years ago (I’ve fished for over 40).
My gradual change of heart coincided with not-so-gradual developments. An item that has undergone radical development and transformation over the last few years is the wader. Waders were OK in the 90s. Fit and finish were starting to be addressed by some manufacturers. By 2000 – 2005, reduced weight and functionality were part of the game if you wanted to be taken seriously as a maker of waders. Over the last 5 – 8 years, leaps have been made in durability, usability and – to a certain extent – breathability. The best examples will set you back several hundreds of dollars, with some models approaching thousand-dollar territory. Are they worth it? My short answer: yes. I’ve tested 6 different waders (from five manufacturers), over the last 27 months, and these are the two gold-level standard bearers.
The Simms G4 Pro wader is what I consider to be the Rolls Royce of the Simms line, being the most feature-rich. As you’d expect, all the bells and whistles are there, and they combine to make up a supremely comfortable, flexible and durable wader.
From the moment you put them on, you’ll note that the G4 Pro wader is designed, cut and built to provide a near pant-like fit. It’s this next-level tailoring that results in superior fit, and superior fit equals superior comfort. Add in the most comfortable padded suspender system currently available, and you can see why visions of a Rolls came to mind when I began considering this item.
Simms maintains that their rugged 5-layer GORE-TEX® Pro Shell technology enhances your internal A/C capabilities by upping breathability considerably. I can personally confirm it. Breathability is an important factor even on a short stint on the water but becomes crucial when you’ll be spending the better part of a day in them. These waders rate 9/10 in that department. Also, the Pro Shell technology means that the waders slide very easily over other layers – a nice touch.
Those bells and whistles? Large zippered chest pockets plus a flip-out tippet tender to keep all your river mainstays in order; comfortable lined hand warmer pockets with room for heater packs for quick/easy hand warm-up; and a built-in retractor and fly patch.
Final note: I spent several months testing the G4 Pro waders. They boast exceptional tear strength and internal abrasion-resistance. Mine look nearly out-of-the-box new. They are made in the USA
Patagonia Rio Gallegos II Waders
If you’re less Rolls Royce and more high powered sports car, then the Patagonia Rio Gallegos II waders are for you.
The Rio Gallegos II is the result of Patagonia’s obsessive drive to reduce construction panels to the bare essentials, while keeping fit and performance at the top of the agenda.
As per Patagonia: “Our highest-performing, most durable, feature-rich waders utilize our H2No® Performance Standard midweight fabric at the chest and heaviest-weight fabric throughout the body; wool-lined booties have abrasion-resistant soles. An improved upper-body fit, articulated legs, streamlined gravel guards and anatomical booties take the Rio Gallegos to a new level of comfort, performance and durability for the most dedicated anglers….” Quite a bit for a wader to live up to, but after extensive testing, you’ll note that it’s all in the details, and that these materials, fabrication processes and technologies together make up one of the most highly tweaked waders in the industry.
They are very light, and probably the most stowable multi-layer waders available.
Patagonia’s tightly controlled factory processes ensure that varying weights of waterproof/breathable 4-layer H2No® microfiber are strategically placed according to specific breathability and toughness needs. The result is durability and flexibility without resorting to excessive, heavy layers. Single Seam Construction (SSC) also factors in the overall weight reduction, but Patagonia didn’t stop there: there are no interior or exterior leg seams – only one up the back of the leg – and it is strategically positioned out of the wear zone.
Additional features include anatomically curved knees (with removable knee pads), merino wool-lined 3mm neoprene booties, and an innovative internal suspension system that allows easy conversion to waist height and quick relief without having to remove your jacket or fight sticky zippers.
There is ample storage for tippets, nipper, as well as an interior, welded TPU pocket to provide waterproof security for cell phone, camera and keys.
Final note: the 3mm neoprene booties are lined with a merino wool grid, providing the same warmth and better breathability than standard 5mm neoprene.
Field repair kit included.
You can spend 8, 10 or even 14 hours on the water. On days like that, the quality of your waders will be a central factor in how enjoyable that day is.