Welcome to: “The Rundown”. In our newest editorial series, we’ll provide an all-encompassing look at the latest and greatest products from your favorite brands in the fly fishing and outdoor space. Here, we’ll run over high-level info, tech specs, and our opinions – all paired with a behind-the-scenes interview with product designers who have poured their hearts into bringing these creations from blueprints to the showroom floor.
In this Rundown Feature, we will be providing an all-encompassing look at the newest iteration of the Freestone Waders from the Simms Freestone Collection
If you’ve ever picked up a fly rod, hopped into a Bass-Boat, or stepped foot in pretty much any store that sells fishing tackle, there’s a good chance you’ve become well antiquated with the brand: Simms.
Simms Fishing Products is a Montana-based company, located in Bozeman (or Bozeangeles, as some of us know it at this point), and since its founding in Jackson, WY in 1980, Simms has been a producer of quality fishing products for anglers of all pursuits. In 1992, Simms traded hands (before being acquired by Vista Outdoors just last year) and was moved to Bozeman, where the HQ and production floor currently reside. Nowadays, Simms is one of the most well-known names in the greater Fishing industry, with their products covering a wide variety of needs ranging from fly to conventional.
An accolade Simms proudly boasts is their dedication to manufacturing their fishing waders in Montana. As we all know, being a domestically self-sustaining company has become more and more of a rarity over the years, and certainly comes with a price tag. However, Simms stays strong and shows no sign of reallocating their production efforts any time soon.
If you were to walk into Simms HQ in Bozeman today, one of the items you might see being meticulously stitched together would be the NEW, 2023 Freestone Waders.
The Freestone collection has been a staple to Simms’ wader offering for the last 20 years and has been marketed as their most “Accessible” pair of waders. Sitting at the lowest price point within Simms’ full catalog, the Freestone has been serving as a break-in point to new anglers for years and offer a high-quality, long-lasting wader option at an extremely affordable rate.
When it comes to the new Simms Freestone Waders, no one was trying to reinvent the wheel. However, that’s kind of the point of the Freestones in the first place. That being said, there are a few key differences we’d care to highlight.
The New Midnight Colorway
First and foremost, let’s address the most notable difference that has certainly caught all of our attention – one way or another. No, you there is nothing wrong with your computer or phone screen, those are in fact BLUE waders with a Simms logo stamped on the front.
While most of us associate Simms waders with the “Space-Grey” color that has seemed to have metastasized throughout the fly-fishing industry within just a few years, this isn’t the first non-grey wader we’ve seen out of the Freestone collection over the last few years. Many might remember, and some might still be using the Freestone Toray waders that came out a number of years ago. These waders departed from the usual “gunmetal” grey and offered anglers a green colorway offering. However, green waders weren’t anything too new, as you could as easily find an old pair of green waders laying around your grandfather’s basement as you could a pair of khakis in his closet.
Now, we return to the newest and bluest. Simms’ intention of releasing the newest iteration of the Freestone Wader collection in blue, particularly this shade, was to make them stand out. And that they do. Built for the non-typical angler, the Freestone’s don’t offer all the bells and whistles that higher-end waders such as the G3’s and the G4’s do, but they certainly aim to highlight unique personalities who might live their life on the outskirts of the core-fishing community. And that much, they definitely do.
Rest assured: if blue just isn’t your color, the 2023 Freestone waders are still also available in the signature “smoke” colorway.
Incorporation of the G3 Fit Block
(From Simms Senior Product Line Manager: Matt Carara): “The first, and one of the most important steps in developing the new Freestone collection was for Simms to incorporate their G3 fit block on both the Men’s and Women Freestones (respectively). This improved fit not only enhances mobility and comfort — by eliminating bunching, creasing, and abrasion areas, it also dramatically increases the longevity of the wader itself.“
Updated Front and Back Leg Seams
“Another new development that bolsters comfort, mobility, and durability even further is
the incorporation of their patented front and back leg seams. While Simms has utilized
front and back leg seams for many years in wader styles such as G3 and G4, this is the
first time this innovation has found its way into the Freestone collection.”
Neoprene Gravel Guards
“After dialing in the beloved mobility and fit found in G3, the next priority to address was
the gravel guard. While its predecessor utilized a self-fabric gravel guard, which is
essentially a continuation of the lower portion of the wader’s fabric, the new Men’s and
Women’s Freestone features a built-in neoprene gravel guard/stockingfoot construction.
Not only is this a major upgrade towards comfort, performance, and durability —
aesthetically, it gives the wader that iconic and unmistakable Simms look.”
Here is a high-level tech-spec breakdown of the new Freestone Waders from Simms’ Website:
- Durable and breathable Toray QuadraLam 4-layer upper & lower
- Stretch elastic suspenders with Simms custom opposing male and female buckles for easy waist-high conversion
- Upper chest pocket array features a top access stretch woven storage pocket, micro-fleece lined hand-warmer pockets and integrated loop fly patch
- Patented front and back leg seams deliver articulated fit, improved mobility, and increased durability
- Dual rear belt loops; 38mm stretch elastic wading belt included
- Built-in Tippet Tender Pocket
4-layer Toray QuadraLam Upper & Lower
Our team was lucky enough to have heard about the upcoming release of the new Freestone waders around this time last year and were able to get our hands on a pair to play with in the Fall of ’22. Since then, here’s what we’ve gathered:
We would describe the new Freestone waders as a minimalist’s delight. They’re an incredibly versatile pair of waders, without feeling the need to be anything more than just that: waders. These are a pair of water pants you won’t feel bad shoving in your duffel and tossing in the back of the truck when headed out for a weekend trip on some new water. They’re good for just about anything, which is just about what we put them through.
Something we really admire about these waders is their focus on maneuverability. Whether you’re camping on the banks of a Northwestern river well before sunrise, watching your breath dissipate beneath the spotlight of your headlamp, or trudging through the pouring rain of canyonous landscapes in search of Colorado Cutthroat, these waders will do two things: 1. keep you dry 2. keep you going.
No, the blue is not some sort of new patented river camouflage (while that is something Simms is well known for) that is guaranteed to catch you more fish. It is, however, a new and exciting way to show off your snazzy new pair of waders on the water without having to awkwardly jam it into conversations with passer-byers. (We’re all guilty of it. It’s okay to be excited.) All jokes aside, if you’re looking for something just a little different from every other river rat on your side of the Mississippi, it’s nice to know an option like the Freestone waders is out there.
In summation: We feel that the new Freestone waders are for those who may not be ready to break the bank on a pair of waders, but respect good, American-made gear that’s going to last. In an age of rapidly advancing technology within the sport of fly fishing, the Freestone Waders serve as a no-BS, accessible option for any angler who just needs a good pair of waders – plain and simple.
An Interview with Simms’ Product Marketing Manager: Connor Flanagan:
In this portion of, “The Rundown”, we had a chance to sit down with Simms Product Marketing Manager, Connor Flanagan, who has been working diligently with the Simms design team over the last year in bringing the new Freestone Collection to life.
Flylords: Why did Simms feel the Freestone collection was next in line to receive an upgrade?
Connor: When it came to revamping the Freestone collection, our goal was to create a high-quality product that was accessible to any and all anglers. The thought process behind Freestone is really “everything you need, nothing you don’t”. Throughout the Freestone collection, there is trickle-down tech and DNA from our top-of-the-line wader offerings. We are especially excited about the improved fit and comfort we achieved in the newly updated Freestones. These improvements came directly from the design lines of our multi-award-winning G3 Stockingfoot Waders.
Flylords: What kind of angler are these waders made for? Who do you see best fitting into them…
Connor: Our slogan for the new Freestone’s is: “From first cast to lasting obsession.” Whether you are new to the sport or an avid angler, the new Freestone collection caters to individuals looking for a reliable, performance-driven wader at an accessible price point… I’d say that sums it up pretty well.
Flylords: What are some of the new design updates and improvements anglers can expect to find in the new Freestones?
Connor: As I mentioned previously, we are really pleased with the Freestones’ new and improved fit profile. When you dial in the fit of a wader, you’re not only enhancing comfort, you’re also creating a wader that’s built to last for the long haul. The new fit profile is derived from our multi-award-winning G3. We are also really excited about the Freestone’s 4-layer, waterproof/breathable Toray Quadralam fabric package. It’s extremely performative in terms of breathability and durability, but it also offers anglers a completely unhindered range of motion. Another aspect of the Women’s Freestone that makes a huge difference is the inclusion of stretch side panels on the upper portion of the wader. Once again, that’s really going to increase mobility and comfort, but also provide female anglers with a flattering fit.
Flylords: What was the thought process behind deviating from the iconic grey color and releasing a blue [Midnight] wader?
Connor: Keep in mind, in addition to the Midnight wader, the Men’s Freestone is also available in Smoke which is certainly more “traditional” for Simms. But to answer your question, in truth, we just wanted to try something a little different. We recognize that a lot of anglers gravitate towards more traditional colors, but considering this is one of our largest and most diverse consumer groups, we wanted to offer something a little different, something that would appeal to those anglers that want to stand out from the herd.
Flylords: When can consumers expect to see the new Freestone Collection Available?
Connor: The new Freestone collection is available NOW on our website and at a Simms Dealer near you.
Thank you to the Simms team for allowing us to be a part of this project over the last year. To learn more about the new Freestone Collection, Click HERE. To find a local fly shop and Simms dealer, you can do so HERE!
This article was published as part of a paid campaign between Flylords LLC and Simms Fishing Products. All opinions presented in this article are genuine and solely reflect the opinions of Flylords LLC.
The Rundown: An All Encompassing Look at the New NRS Slipstream Raft