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The new Orvis PRO Waders are the most durable waders the company has ever made. They have a new fit, new materials, and new features, including removable knee pads.
To get us a closer look, Orvis sent Man Makes Fire a review unit. This is what we learned:
Orvis PRO Wader Review
Over the last year, Orvis has been delivering a bunch of new gear for its PRO line, which the company says is “designed for anglers and built for athletes.” However, Orvis sure didn’t rush the development of its PRO Wader. Orvis says it spent three years developing its new wader — including 9,000 hours of testing by fishing guides and industry professionals.
At the heart of the Orvis PRO Wader is a new proprietary Cordura fabric shell. Cordura fabrics are known for their durability in clothing and gear. The U.S. military uses Cordura, and Cordura is used in a wide variety of products, including clothes, luggage, backpacks, even boots.
Orvis set out to use Cordura fibers to create a new weave to make a flexible, lightweight, and durable fabric for its PRO waders. The result is an Orvis exclusive 100% Cordura shell, which Orvis treats with a DWR finish.
PRO Wader Construction
The Orvis PRO Waders use a five-layer lower with a four-layer upper. The lowers have the Cordura exterior shell, then a waterproof coating, then a 40-denier fabric for durability, then a waterproof/breathable membrane, and finally, a tricot interior lining. The uppers are the same but skip the 40-denier fabric lining.
As for feel, the lowers feel pleasantly stout — with a confidence inducing thickness — while the upper is lighter and more flexible. They are definitely stouter than the Orvis Ultralight Convertible Wader (review here). Despite being the most durable waders Orvis has ever made, the PRO Wader still feels comfortable in use, though.
I wore them on a section of river where I had to scramble over a lot of boulders and riprap, as well as push through brush, and the fit was about as agile as you can get for a set of fly fishing waders. Very good, in fact. Orvis designed a gusseted crotch, and it seems to work well — letting you take long and awkward steps with zero binding.
Orvis says that it’s also using a new seam pattern and improved seam tape for better strength and durability. The seam quality does appear to be very good, but until the waders have been available to the public for a couple years it’ll be hard to know for sure. Still, Orvis gear has rarely let me down, and the company seems to be staking its reputation on these waders. The reality is that Orvis is a big fly fishing company with many partners — fly shops and Orvis-endorsed guides and lodges all over the world — and Orvis needs a PRO line of fishing gear that guides can use day in and day out.
I don’t believe Orvis would have let these out the door if the durability was half-baked.
Best Features: Awesome Knee Pads
Meanwhile, the best new feature is the removable OrthoLite X25 knee pads. Orvis isn’t the first company to add knee pads to its waders, but it did a great job here. The knee pads are surprisingly thin, surprisingly small . . . and yet when you take a knee on a rock to release a fish, the pads are in the right spot, doing their job. Very good in fact.
Odds are, after having knee pads in waders, you’ll always want knee pads in waders.
Orvis paid particular attention to the new gravel guards, which feature a gridded rubber-covered mesh back that drains water fast. In addition, the gravel guards are slimmer and trimmer, which reduces drag in the water. Most gravel guards, even on the best fishing waders, have extra fabric and an elastic cuff — and they work well. Except, they also tend to collect water and drain more slowly. Not a big deal if you’re simply wading around, but once you start stepping in and out of drift boats, you want water to drain out of your gravel guards before you lift a leg over the side of your boat.
The anatomical booties fit well, and best yet, they come in a 12-14 size option. Many fishing wader manufacturers stop at size 13, and since I wear a 14, I appreciate Orvis here. In fact, the Orvis PRO Wader comes in 14 different size options, 14 for men and 14 for women, so most fishers should be able to find an off-the-shelf option.
New trim gravel guards.
Knee pad, inside view.
The rest of the Orvis PRO Wader covers what I would expect to see out of the best high-end waders — a combination of thoughtful mini features . . . and excellent pockets.
For instance, you get a front pocket, a fly patch, a front nylon-webbed daisy chain for tool attachments, a pass-through fleece-lined hand warmer pockets, a stretch mesh interior pocket, and a removable flip organizer pocket with two zippered pockets, more daisy-chain sections, plus two stretch mesh pockets.
The included wading belt has large, easy-to-use buckles and has built-in stretch for comfort.
Orvis PRO Waders: The Verdict
All-in-all, the new Orvis PRO Waders are easily the best waders Orvis has ever made. They are redesigned with an all-new supple-but-rugged Cordura shell fabric, plus they add welcome improvements like fast-draining gravel guards and perfectly sized knee pads. If you’re an Orvis fan, these are the high-end waders you’ve been waiting for. And if you’re new to Orvis, choose the PRO line if you want to buy once and spend the rest of your time fishing. Very highly recommended.