Two weekends ago I finally pulled the trigger on a trout trip. I heard a rumor that the Farmington had cooled enough to fish and sure enough when I arrived late on a Saturday the water in this stretch was at sixty four degrees.
For this trip I selected the Headwaters Stockingfoot Waders as equipment for a trial. The Headwaters are the middle of the Simms wader line-up. They'll set you back $300 at list price.
The Pro Guides are heavy-duty, bullet proof waders. I am tough on equipment mostly because when I'm in the field care of equipment is secondary. I'm focused on the mission; briars, sharp rocks, and rabid beavers are merely distractions that waders should handle.
The first thing I noticed about the Headwaters is how trim they are. Compared to my Pro Guides, they're skinny jeans. Part of that is in the construction and part of that may be due to sizing.
The construction is lightweight but not thin. I get the sense that they'd suffer a wade through raspberry bushes but maybe not something spikier. I also think the styling seems to be a bit slimmer than the Orvis product. My ass doesn't look half as fat in these waders.
I got the Pro Guides in Orvis' Large/Long to accommodate my gun boat feet but the Headwaters arrived in Large (i.e. not Long). I've always found the Pro Guides a bit baggy. The Headwaters are just a titch snug but not too uncomfortable to wear. I suppose that's due to my odd body shape but definitely consult the sizing guides before you purchase a pair (and ideally try them on in a shop).
On the stream the Headwaters are comfortable. Plenty of give where you need give. Clambering over dead fall and doing unplanned splits whilst wading hasn't been a problem.
One design point I think is very good is the pocket on the front of the waders. Along the top edge of hand warmer pocket is a velcro strip. Pulling this apart opens up a huge front pocket that will easily hold a fly box (including a Bugger Barn) or a cigar case, a cutter, a lighter, and a smaller fly box if one were to carry such things.
|A Bugger Barn inside the front pocket.|
If the Headwaters were going to be my only pair of waders, I'd return them and get a size bigger to allow for plenty of layers during cooler weather but I wouldn't get another model. They're a fine wader. After two trips these waders are now in the rotation as my "fair weather" waders.
I like the construction. I like the fit. And, so far, I've not been able to break them.
I'll post an update in a few months after I've had a chance to abuse these some more. We'll see if they can stand up to the true test.
Full Disclosure: As stated above, I got these waders for free. I also fished and shared beer with Rich Hohne, Simms Marketing Manager and had lunch and killed Lake Trout with KC Walsh, President of Simms. Regardless of what influence you think free stuff and friendship have on me, I stand by my words.