Patagonia Rio Gallegos Waders, $450, patagonia.com
The Good: Comfortable, breathable and durable. Packed with “why didn’t I think of that” design features.
The Bad: Still looking for something bad.
The Ugly: My friend’s face when I admitted that I forgot the bottle opener while packing 4 cold ones in the chest portion of the waders.
The award-stacked ( Ed.’s note: awards include Field and Stream’s Best of the Best Award, Fly Fisherman’s 2011 New and Notable, Fly Fusion’s Editors’ Choice Award and the EFTTEX Best New Clothing Product Award) Rio Gallegos Waders are the highest performing waders offered by Patagonia. The Rio Gallegos’ are breathable stocking-foot chest waders that blow all other waders that I have worn out of the water. Notable features from top to bottom:
- Waist mounted adjustable suspenders (converts waders to waist height)
- Super tough and breathable 3-layer H2No Performance Standard Fabric Upper and Lowers
- Internal Waterproof phone/camera/wallet bag at chest
- External Water-resistant tippet pocket
- Quick-release stretch wading belt
- Built-in gravel guards with concealed stainless steel boot hooks
- Fit 3mm neoprene booties with merino wool interior
I tested the Rio Gallegos waders through June and July (up to 105°F) in Redding, California on the Sacramento River and Cow Creek. Over the 30 hours of testing I hiked approximately 20 miles, jumped in and out of the drift boat numerous times, and climbed, scrambled and jumped over various obstacles.
The breathable waterproof fabric of the Rio Gallegos’ is thick and durable yet flexible. The waders have plenty of room in the chest area facilitating casting and allow the fisher to layer up when the temperature drops in the winter. I found the roomy chest to be a useful area to store a few “road sodas” for the hike in to my favorite run as well. The interior waterproof bag is amazing! The bag was easy to seal and big enough to store my iphone, car keys and George Costanza bi-fold wallet.
Patagonia put some time in designing the feet on these bad boys. The gravel guard is held in place with the standard boot hook and then puts the choke hold on your boots with the 1-¼” elastic cuffs. The merino wool inside the booties provides extra cushion and breathability. I found that the wool interior also released my foot much easier at the end of the day giving my shoulder a break from the usual tug of war experienced with the competitor’s standard neoprene booty design.
As one with a small bladder, I really liked the suspender design that allows the chest of the waders to quickly be dropped to the waist. I wish the suspenders would allow the top of the waders to drop down a bit further to minimize the need to arc to avoid “potty pants” (could be a personal problem).
The Patagonia Rio Gallegos Waders are a versatile, top of the line breathable wader that will not disappoint.
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Author: Andrew Borgic