Simms Headwaters Waders – A Review

Simms Headwaters Waders – A Review: Last spring calamity struck. I was up in Connecticut wading the Farmington River when my waders let go. Oh man, not good. The river at that time of year is running in the 50’s so getting soaked is zero fun. Back at the car I peeled off the wet pants and got warm clothes. Fortunately for me, just down the road was Upcountry Sportfishing. A quick trip there was in order.

After some conversation with Grady, the shop owner, I steered toward a pair of Simms Headwaters stockingfoot waders.  I knew they were extremely popular. And the construction was

Simms Headwaters Wader – A Review

clearly top notch – and built to last, real tough. Yet were they worth the asking price? Ummm. Over the years I’ve likely had 30 pair of waders, but these were the most expensive I had ever purchased.

Well, I walked out with them. And I have to say they have been excellent waders. The best I’ve ever owned. Nonetheless I do have two things I should tell you about. One is  – mildew. The other is sizing. Lets deal with sizing first.

Most waders I’ve owned are cut generously; some too generously. Hell, I’ve had some that practically flapped in the breeze. These Headwaters waders, on the other hand, run tight. I mean it. A Milwaukee goiter is going to be a problem. And NFL Offensive Guards and Sumo wrestlers need not apply.

The best size for me was L12-13. It fit my feet, my inseam, my height, and midsection. Yet it proved snug at the chest. Still the main issue lie down below. My calves (17″ in jeans) were wedged in solid. Never had that happen before. And it made getting the waders on, and especially off, a job. Grady insisted the waders would loosen in time. Okay, he was right. Now in the second season, the calf issue is resolved. Glad that’s over.

Onto the mildew. After using the waders all season up north, I took them to Florida in the winter. You may be asking yourself why on earth would anyone wear waders in the Gulf of Mexico? After all, the water is piss warm. Well, on occasion folks in Florida waters contract flesh-eating bacteria. Yes its extremely rare, but its nasty, nasty stuff. So if I had a cut, scratch, mosquito bit or anything that broke the skin, I wore the wader for protection. (with shorts underneath).

Mildew Stains

Mildew Stains inside Waders

Soon I notice a tan colored stain appearing on the inside of the waders. Turns out it was mildew or worse. Frankly in all my years wading, that has never happened to me before. Never. But it was time to take care of it. I asked around, looked on the net, and then took action. Turning the waders completely inside out, I dropped them in a bathtub filled with water and Dawn liquid detergent. After a 15 minute soak, I was able to remove the stains by lightly rubbing with a soft sponge. Then I took the waders outside, hosed the soap off, and let the waders thoroughly dry. Inside and out! We’ll see if the stain returns anytime soon.

Simms Headwaters Waders taking a bath

Here’s one last though. Wearing these wader with just shorts underneath may never be a good idea.The moisture from your skin is apt to promote mildew. Consider long pants, even in the summer months, or shorts with knee socks. I’ve been going that route. And take time after every trip to be sure the waders are dry inside and out.

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2 Responses to Simms Headwaters Waders – A Review

  1. Ted Rzepski says:

    Thoughtful look at waders.
    Wearing waders is unpleasant even if they don’t work. I own boot footed waders for saltwater and stocking feet for freshwater. Bottfoots are so easy to put on and take off.

    Currently using Bean’s waders. When they leak I try to figure if it’s a defect or me walking through tons. If it’s a leaky seam I’ll return them. If it’s my fault I purchase a new pair/ consider a tax on stupidity.

    Didn’t know about flesh eating bacteria in Florida. That plus algae blooms and nasty snakes makes me appreciate New England.

    • Ed Mitchell says:

      Hope I didn’t exaggerate the flesh-eating bacteria problem. Its a bit like the Hanta virus. Both are scary, but your chances of getting either are slim. Still it pays to be aware of your surroundings. Knowledge is power.
      Glad you liked the wader piece. Like rods and reels, wader are essential equipment. But unlike rods and reels, waders have a limited life span. They come and go, often without warning. So in the end we develop a love/hate relationship with them. That said, today’s waders are far better than what we donned years ago. Far better.

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