This past June I had the opportunity to tour the Simms factory in Bozeman, Montana, to see just how their GoreTex waders are made. The tour was very informative and quite fascinating from start to finish. With over twenty-five people putting their touches on every pair of waders . I came away with a new appreciation for that Made in Montana label.
The G4 wader I’m currently wearing is about 20 months old and has yet to leave me with wet feet while standing in cold water. The durability of the wader and the breathability of the fabric are the main reason I stepped up from my old reliable Simms G3 wader. I had been wearing the G3s since they were introduced and really had come to rely on the comfort and convenience of that design. I liked the hand warmer pocket and the handy fold out tippet/fly box pocket. Although very reliable, I did manage to put a few holes in them, but those were quickly repaired with alcohol and Aquaseal. (See repair notes at the bottom.)
My first use of the G4s involved a recovery mission on the Klamath River with my buddy Jason. He had decided that the abandoned section of culvert pipe we spotted lodged in the brambles above the high water mark would be handy back on the ranch. We finished off the day of fishing and headed upriver to claim his prize. I was elected to scamper down into the thorny brush and attach the tow rope. After extracting myself from the blackberries and other natural razor wire I was pretty sure my new waders were toast. Yet to this day after plenty of other brush crashing trips they still do not leak.
The Simms G4 is made from Gore’s New Pro GORETEX, which, if we are to believe the press release, is 25% more breathable than the old Pro GORETEX. I have found that even with the five layers of fabric through the hip area the wader is very comfortable on hot days. It also seems to be very rugged. With the proper layers underneath the G4 is a four season wader. As will all GORETEX waders it is very important to avoid layers that will retain moisture. I find wool to be my favorite base layer, with fleece used for extra insulation. In the summer I wear a nylon flats style pant. I always wear wool socks to keep my feet dry and comfortable. Whatever you choose, avoid cotton in all under wader clothing.
When new, the G4 seems stiff and heavy, yet is surprisingly comfortable right out of the box. They do soften up a little over time with wearing. The wader retains the same handy tippet/flybox/retractor pocket as the G3 and has a zippered hand warmer pocket. The suspenders are padded and a very nice upgrade.
On the plus side:
Very durable. Five layers through the hips and seat make for a nearly bulletproof wader. Nearly. All waders will leak if you poke hole in them.
Very breathable. The new Pro GORETEX fabric is great at moving perspiration out of the wader as long as you layer properly.
Very comfortable even with the heavier fabric.
I love the new suspenders and the wider wader belt.
I still use the tippet/flybox/retractor pocket a lot. On most occasions that is all I need for storage. Love it.
Simms customer service. The best in the business.
On the minus side.
Zippered hand warmer pocket. The zippers on the pocket are not waterproof and the pocket fills with water if you wade too deep. Answer? Add a drain hole ( ATTENTION SIMMS R&D) or don’t wade that deep. I keep a towel handy to dry out the pocket, but seldom need it. I don’t wade as deep as I use to.
Price. These waders are not cheap. At $699.95 they cost twice what my first car did. Although my first car did leak a little. Add a zipper and now you're at $799.95. What you are paying for is the GORETEX fabric, the Made in Montana label, the Simms customer service and the knowledge you're wearing the best wader on the market. Are they worth it? Yup.
As I said, all waders will leak if you poke a hole in them. Holes are not the wader's fault. Simms offers a 30 day/ new pair if you have a failure and a first year free repair warranty. Seam leaks and failure of the material is covered by Simms and GORE through the life of the water. For other damages Simms offers a repair service for any Simms wader that can be repaired. Depending on use and age, most repairs run $40-50. This includes sealing pinholes, repairing tears and replacing neoprene feet. Waders that have outlived their normal lifespan or have excessive wear may not be repaired if Simms cannot guarantee you dry feet the next time you wear them.
For small leaks all GORETEX products can be simply repaired with Aquaseal or any repair adhesive. Turn the wader inside out and rub or spray alcohol (Rubbing, not Jack Daniels) on the area you expect the hole to be. Pinhole leaks will show up as a dark spot in the fabric. Circle the spot with a pen and let the alcohol evaporate, then cover with a thin layer of Aquaseal and let dry. This technique will not work on non GORE-TEX fabrics.
Storing waders in a cool dry place will add to their lifespan. Rinse off your waders after use and dry them inside and out. If wearing them for multiple days, turn them inside out to dry overnight before wearing the next day. I suggest rinsing off the inside of the wader on occasion to prevent odors.