I’m notoriously hard on gear. It’s part of the territory, given that I review so much of the stuff on a regular basis.
Waders especially have taken the brunt of my abuse. I’ve been known to scale barbed-wire fences in them, bust through thorny brush, and slide down steep riverbanks. I like to push my waders to see just how much wear and tear they’ll take before finally springing a leak.
And that’s a big problem with reviews of waders, too – they’re not done in the long-term. Companies always want to push the newest and greatest gear onto us before we’ve had a chance to see how an $800 pair of waders will actually last. That’s the genesis of this article – to hopefully give you insight into how the G4s have fared for me over the past three years.
While Simms recently updated the G4 line of waders, they didn’t make any drastic changes to the construction or materials used. The new G4s are lighter, and more flexible, but they’re essentially the same wader I bought three years ago.
I fish about 130 days a year, and my waders see the bulk of their use during the winter months. I try to wet-wade as often as possible, but I fish year-round, so my waders are often busting through ice, snow, and frozen foliage to get to the river. A few times a year, I’ll use them while float tubing, but I’ve quit float tubing as much because it’s hell on my back.
With that said, I still put my waders through the same sort of abuse most anglers do. They sit in the bed of my truck, or hang in my garage, when not in use. I don’t clean them regularly, and I expect them to hold up to their end of the $800-bargain I made three years back.
For the most part, they’ve done just that.
What I Still Like After 3 Years
Simms has long been synonymous with durability. I have fishing shirts of theirs that are 5 or 6 years old now, and they’re still in great shape. A bit small, thanks to my growing gut, but the shirts have lasted me longer than I expected.
The G4 waders have, too. They’re built with a 3-layer GoreTex shell in the upper section, and 4 layers of that same material through the seat and legs. The variation in layers allows for more breathability up top, and added strength on the areas of the waders that take the biggest beating.
With the exception of a factory defect on the seams (that Simms promptly repaired), I haven’t run into any durability issues with the G4s. They keep me as dry as they did three years ago, and even after scuffing them on rocks, branches, and the occasional brush with barbed-wire, they haven’t popped a leak.
The only real indication of serious wear is the neoprene gravel guards, which is common on all Simms waders that get real use. The buckles all still work, straps haven’t loosened, and all the zippered pockets still close. The welded belt loops aren’t pulling away from the shell, and I haven’t noticed any undue wear on the neoprene stocking feet, either. The seams are still taped tight with no visible gaps. From a longevity standpoint, the G4s have lasted me longer than any other pair of waders. And they show no indication of slowing down, either.
I really don’t like wearing waders much. I sweat to death in them, no matter how much breathability is touted as a worthwhile feature.
With that said, the G4s are comfortable. They don’t feel like they add too much bulk when I’m in them, and they move well with me in the water. One of the toughest things to get right in wader design is the placement – and number of – seams, especially along the legs. Simms found a winning formula with the G4s, because I don’t ever feel like I’m stretching the waders out, or putting too much pressure on one area when kneeling, bending, or hiking.
Speaking of hiking – I have worn the G4s on extended walks through the woods, to water too cold to wet wade. You’ll sweat to death, but they’re not uncomfortable to wear on an all-day backcountry trip, either.
Simms didn’t skimp on storage, either. There’s a big zippered chest pocket on the outside, fleece-lined handwarmer pockets, and a drop-pouch on the inside. You won’t have a problem finding room for your gear in these waders, and everything fits reasonably well without adding too much bulk.
What I Still Don’t Like After 3 Years
The G4s start at $749.95, and after tax, you’re looking at just about $800 for a pair of waders. That’s a sizeable chunk of change – enough to buy a really nice new fly rod. And that’s where I always have a hard time with Simms. They make incredible gear, but it’s priced just too high for a lot of anglers to justify buying them.
With that said, I do think the G4s are one of the few pieces of gear worth paying full price for. They’re rock-solid waders that will last most anglers a decade or more. If you fish 20-30 days a year, you could spend the money on these waders, and likely not buy another pair for the next decade. In the long run, you’ll probably save money with that approach, and most anglers don’t spend 100 or more days a year on the water, either.
Final Verdict After 3 Years
If you don’t mind spending the money, and you want the best waders you can possibly find, then I can’t tell you to go look anywhere else than Simms. Their closest competition is the new Orvis PRO Wader, but those aren’t made from GoreTex, and haven’t been around long enough to know if their durability will match – or exceed – what the G4s have done so far.
I’ve been more than happy with these waders, and it’s nice to have a pair of rock-solid waders I don’t have to worry about springing a leak halfway through a big fishing trip. And, as I’ve said a few times, I don’t see any signs that the G4s are about to stop performing at an exceptionally high level anytime soon.
Spencer Durrant is a fly fishing writer, guide, and bamboo rod builder from Utah. He’s the News Editor for MidCurrent, and a regular contributor to Hatch Magazine. Connect with him on Twitter/Instagram, @Spencer_Durrant.
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