chest wader review
When the box arrived from Bainbridge Island-based Redington, I was immediately excited because I knew the contents were a pair of Sonic Pro Waders. I resisted the temptation to put them on right away, instead opting to take my time; give them a good inspection first.
I liked what I saw.
The waterproof, breathable material is supple where it needs to be (3 layers), extra thick and reinforced (5 layers) appropriately where it should be: in the knees, legs and seat. Anywhere there’s a seam, one thing you won’t find is stitching. This is by virtue of the Sonic Welding process which uses sound to replace needles and thread. I held my ear close to the seams and was unable to hear anything. That being said, I admittedly have some hearing loss so I don’t doubt Redington’s claims. It sure makes good common sense to eliminate needles and stitching when fabricating something that will be submerged. And this process also creates perfectly flat seams, reducing wear spots. I won’t take up your time with all the details, but if you’re really curious about the technical features of the waders, read about it HERE. By the way, Redington has a real nicely designed website, so check it out. There’s a lot of helpful information for the new angler just getting started.
I am no stranger to zippered waders, having purchased a pair of Dan Bailey EZ Zip Guide Waders several years ago. When I purchased the Dan Baileys, they were really the only viable option for those wanting a quality pair of waders featuring a full-length zipper. Since then, the virtues of a full-length zipper have been obviously embraced by others in the industry, as evidenced by Redington’s entry into the category. I lowered the RiRi® zipper (standard for most zippered waders), which makes getting into the waders a snap. No doubt ingress and egress are what the designers had in mind when designing these. The zipper also adds to the convenience of engaging in certain other activities, though I am sure that this added benefit is likely nothing more than an unintentional side-benefit. Sorry, ladies–it really is easier being a guy.
High density, ergonomically shaped neoprene booties and gravel guards with molded, anti-foul lace hooks are featured to provide comfort and durability. The waders come with an adjustable, neoprene wading belt and feature belt loops to keep it in place. I actually like the fact that the belt isn’t permanently integrated into the waders because I wear a
fanny waist pack that serves as both a wading belt and as lower back support. Having an integrated belt would just cause bulk and interference.
On the front are two vertical, laser-cut exterior pockets with YKK water resistant zippers which measure approximately 7″ H x 6″ W; plenty big enough for a standard size fly box. On the inside of the waders is a slightly smaller pocket suitable for a wallet and digital point-and-shoot, or similar sized items. There are zippered hand-warmer pockets on the outside, lined with micro fleece for warming the fingers. These are essential if you’re known to stand in a river in the middle of winter from time to time, as I’m known to do. Often times I question my judgment in doing so. The zippered closure on the hand-warmer pockets may initially seem unnecessary, but during the months when you do not need to warm your hands, the zip closure allows you to secure any items you may wish to place in the pockets. Two discreet but much-appreciated D-rings, for attaching things that require attachment loops, are featured at the top edge of the waders.
After pouring over the features mentioned thus far, I unclipped the suspenders and slipped into the waders (which was easy, due to the full-length zipper, BTW). Upon reaching back to grab and fasten the suspenders, I thought I might have had the straps twisted. This was easily confirmed by another ingenious feature: Redington has fashioned the suspender clips so that you can only fasten them properly. The receiver clip on the right front of the waders is a male connector; the same clip on the left side is female. The strap clips are female and male, accordingly. If your mind is in the gutter this may sound sorta kinky, but truth be told it’s actually a really nice little design feature. This may not seem like such a stroke of genius until you’ve put a pair of suspenders on and inadvertently criss-crossed the straps.
After I had the suspenders adjusted and the zipper secured in the up position, I pulled the inner drawstring tight to snug-up the top of the waders. The only thing I’d like to see changed with regard to this feature would be to have two separate drawstrings (one for each side). By the time I got the waders cinched snug, there was a fair amount of excess drawstring hanging down. Not a big deal, and I suppose if you’ve got a stouter chest than I do this won’t be an issue. Maybe this is an indication that I need to spend some time in the gym, on the bench press. Low reps. Heavy weight. Many sets.
Once the waders were in donned and adjusted, the next thing I did was, of course, a vanity test. A brief glance in the full-length mirror revealed that these waders don’t make my arse look any bigger than any other pair of waders.
Butt However form is secondary to function, so next up was a quick mobility test: some deep squats and lunges that revealed plenty of room and flex, even with fleece pants underneath. This flexibility is due to articulated seams and less bulk due to the lack of stitched seams. Then I took off at a sprint down the hallway and bounded up the flight of stairs, taking two at a time. Now you may be rolling your eyes at my antics, but this sort of physical agility test can easily be required while beating through the brush, up and down slopes, en route to and from the river–particularly when being chased by a bear, bison or other large animal. Remember, one needn’t be particularly fast–just faster than your fishing buddy. I am confident the Redington waders will not in any way interfere with my ability to outrun Marck when we’re fishing the Firehole River in Yellowstone again this year.
If you are looking for a pair of stout, high-quality waders with, among other nice features, a full length zipper, the Redington Sonic Pros look to be an excellent choice. At $379, they are not cheap, but they’re considerably lower-priced than other waders in the class, which will leave you feeling confident that you made a smart choice. I anticipate enjoying these for many years, and hope to have a chance to get them out in the water soon. I’ll report back after their first field test. If they do happen to spring a leak, I have to wonder–will I hear the telltale hissing sound similar to when a tire, or one’s fishing raft, springs a leak?
Get it? Sonic welded…using sound? Never mind.
Wow, tough crowd.