Patagonia Rio Gallegos Wader Review
They say all good things must come to an end. Waders are no exception, and the life of my most trusted pair ended in magnificent fashion after an impressive seven year run. After years of busting through streamside brush, crawling over jagged rock, and jumping in and out of drift boats, one of the seams finally blew out while kicking around in my float tube. With soggy drawers and some financial anxiety, I researched replacements. After a positive experience with my Patagonia Foot Tractor Wading Boots and some prodding from my local fly shop, I went back to the well with Patagonia and their newly designed 2016 Rio Gallegos waders.
The 2016 Rio Gallegos wader offered a more trim and streamlined profile. At 6’3 and 230lbs, I am not exactly a slim fella, but I appreciated the new fit. My previous waders were boxy and large in the chest with a less than flattering fit. Not only did this impact comfort, but also function with the extra material resulting in increased drag when wading in deep water. The new design offers improvements in both fit and function. These waders look great without being constrictive, and feel like a second-skin when wading above the waist. The cut in the crotch and legs allowed for enough range of motion for easy entry in and out of boats without feeling like the seams are about to burst. Patagonia offers a range of sizes and inseams to fit every human imaginable. Regular/Large (42-45” chest/32” inseam/11-12 foot) was true-to-size and fit me well.
The storage features on these waders are spartan, but well-executed. The chest pocket has a rugged, water-resistant zipper and the reach-through handwarmer pocket has a soft inside liner. The waterproof, flip-out pocket fits oversized smartphones, which is a nice touch.
My favorite feature on these waders is the EZ-Lock suspender system which allows me to go from chest height to waist height and back in a matter of seconds. Having the flexibility to make a deep river crossing and then lock-in the waders at waist height to cool off is an appreciated feature on those early summer days where the water is high and cold, but the air temperature is hot. In fact, I spend the majority of my time in these waders wearing them at waist height whether it’s in the drift boat or poking around freestone streams in the summer.
I’m not enamored with Patagonia’s gravel guard design. The design drains well, but I have some concerns about the durability when compared to the design Simms has been utilizing for years. The wader-to-bootie seam looks well constructed on the Patagonia waders, but don’t seem as stout as those on the Simms Guide series waders.
Any shortcomings in the gravel guard design are made up for with the comfort of Patagonia’s impressive bootie design. The merino liner effectively wicks away sweat, and the fit is efficient and true-to-size -- no more bunching or scrunched toes. My feet have been noticeably more comfortable and less clammy with these waders -- a nice touch when you hoof it as many miles along riverbanks as I do.
Verdict: Only time will tell if the new Patagonia Rio Gallegos waders can live up to the durability standard set by my previous two sets of waders (2010 Simms G4 Pro Wader and 2008 Orvis Guide Series), but they blow away any model I have worn for breathability, comfort, and style. These waders compare favorably with the similarly priced Simms flagship G3 Guide Waders while providing better comfort and breathability. Paired with Patagonia’s Foot Tractor boots, the new Rio Gallegos waders provide me everything I could possibly want to stay comfortable and dry in any wading scenario.