Five years ago I purchased my first pair of waders, which happened to be made by Orvis. After five years of heavy use, I was ready to upgrade to the all new Orvis Women’s PRO Wader. It only made sense as every week I was finding myself fishing in all types of water and weather conditions and whenever possible I strike out for a travel adventure to fish new territories.
So this fall I flew up to British Columbia with Team Flylords and it was time to break these waders in. We helicoptered into lakes and 4 wheeled to various rivers. The woods and the waters were beyond cold but my Orvis Pro Waders kept me warm and dry.
Not only do my waders keep me warm and dry but they fit me well. I am 5’9” tall and I fit a small-tall which are still roomy. Another one of my favorite features is the removable knee pads. I had no idea that was even an option!
The other key features I’ve come to depend on are the hand warming pockets, the handy flip out pouch where I can store all my fishing gear and phone, and a new clip style to their shoulder straps as well as new gravel guards. Orvis waders are not only well made with key features, but they have really stepped up their sizing options for the female anglers.
So we decided to go straight to the source and ask Jim Kershaw the Senior Designer for Fish/Hunt products at the Orvis Company a little bit more about these all-new waders.
Flylords: How long does the overall design process take for a new line of waders?
Orvis: Typically, with a new wader program, the research and design phase is a two year process. For the PRO Wader program specifically, we spent two years working with CORDURA® to develop the fabric in addition to our normal design and development process. Ultimately the additional time spent on the fabric and testing helped us create the best wader Orvis has ever made.
Flylords: How does R&D work when designing?
Orvis: It’s all about trial and error. We spend a lot of time listening, exploring, testing and failing. What we learn through the process often helps guide our design direction. Here at Orvis, function drives Form. In order to build the best gear possible, we need to make sure that it can stand up to the abuse and is rigorously tested, even the smallest things (like a screen-printed logo) gets tested to ensure that the quality meets our requirements.
Flylords: What sets the Orvis PRO waders apart from the rest?
Orvis: CORDURA®. Given these were built with Alaskan guides in mind, guides that are wearing these 12-14 hours a day, jumping in and out of boats and airplanes, they want a reliable and durable wader that is fail-safe… Something they can wear and NOT worry about. CORDURA® uses a blended nylon that’s certified to meet their quality standards for high abrasion resistance and durability. Given the nature of their business, a partnership made sense in developing the most durable wader fabric we have seen. We could have taken the easy way out and chosen one of the traditional wader fabrics, added some new features, changed the fit, but essentially it would be the same as the competition. We wanted to do better.
Flylords: What is your favorite design feature on the new waders?
Orvis: Honestly, it’s the CORDURA® fabric. We had quite a bit of pushback when we started to develop the fabric with the mills… They didn’t want to do it because they said it would be too stiff and heavy. After a couple years of development, we finally had a sample we were comfortable moving forward with to test on a wader. When we got these into the field we learned a lot. We tweaked the weave and finish to get a softer hand, worked on making sure the fabric could live up to the same puncture requirements as our briar pants and wasn’t too thick or stiff for manufacturing. After the tweaks, the fabric and additional testing the fabric exceeded our expectations and was truly something game-changing for our industry.
Flylords: Can we expect a zip-front or convertible model?
Orvis: The product development team is exploring the possibility of a zip-front and boot foot version of the PRO Wader.
Flylords: Tell us a little about the design features for the women’s model.
Orvis: Through a lot of our testing and feedback we heard time and time again that our women’s gear needs to be comparable to the men’s. For the women’s PRO Wader model, we wanted to focus on perfecting fit and offer the same features as the men’s waders.