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  • Writer's pictureAllen Crater

Gear Review: Simms G3 Stockingfoot Guide Waders

Fishing waders hanging outside a lodge


In the scheme of things I fish a good number of days each year (never as many as I would like, but probably more than many), and my waders see heavy use, even during the warmer months in Michigan when my friends out west are happily wet wading. I typically wear mine year round if I'm wading (versus floating) due to the tick-and poison-ivy infested spots I bushwhack through to get to my favorite runs. And, unlike western rivers, Michigan's waters tend to hold a sizable amount of logs, sticks, and other debris that bang up my feet and legs if I wet wade.

So, for me, choosing waders has always been a bit of a dilemma. Any pair that I purchase needs to stand up to frequent use in fairly rough terrain/conditions and needs to be cool/breathable enough for the warmer months but warm enough to work in cold weather too. And then I have to figure cost versus longevity knowing that over time, even with proper care, all waders will fail at some point.

Thus the dilemma – do I just buy super cheap waders and replace them every year or two, or do I spring for more expensive models and hope I can get longer out of them? In the past, I've attempted to split the difference, buying mid-priced waders and trying to squeeze as much life out of them as possible.

My first "real"pair of waders were Simms Freestones which retailed for about $380. The freestones were fine for what they were, a mid-tier-quality but budget-friendly option. Besides a few nice-but-not-needed features, the most notable difference between the Freestone and other, more expensive, waders was the make up and durability of the material. The Freestone material is thinner-feeling, four-layer Toray QuadraLam material versus GORE-TEX. Mine held up pretty well and eventually got passed to my oldest son when he moved to Montana.

From the Freestones I moved to Redington's Sonic Pro HD waders which retailed for around $450. The Sonic Pros felt more durable/thicker than the Freestones, featuring SonicWeld seams and four-layer waterproof-breathable construction, but again not GORE-TEX. In general I really liked the Sonic Pros, they were tough, fit well, proved decently comfortable in all weather, and lasted me about three to four seasons of serious use before they would begin to develop slow leaks in the seems.

As I was about to transition out of my second pair of Sonic's, Simms was relaunching their award-winning G3 Guide series, which would be another step up. The new G3's promised an "update to the material package (33% more breathable and 23% more puncture resistant), improved fit, and an enhanced feature set while remaining the most comfortable, reliable, and performance-driven wader ever." I was sold.

Fly fisherman wearing waders holding a brown trou

The G3's offer a number of smart features:

  • Updated material lamination package with even more durable, breathable, and comfortable proprietary GORE-TEX three-layer upper and GORE-TEX Pro four-layer lower

  • Adjustable spacer air-mesh suspender system with a fabric suspender divider and integrated webbing attach point for net carry

  • Top access zippered stretch pocket plus zippered, reach-through micro-fleece lined hand-warming chest pocket

  • The upper organization also includes a removable Tippet-Tender Pocket and a zippered stretch-woven interior flank pocket on wearer's left

  • Built-in low-profile back belt loops with high and low options; 2 inch stretch nylon belt included

  • Front and back leg seams distinctive to Simms waders

  • Abrasion-resistant, built-in Gravel Guards

  • Anatomically engineered neoprene stocking feet with anti-microbial finish

  • Made in USA of imported materials

  • Warranty: 60-Day replacement for leaks, no questions asked, and 365 days repairs

  • A huge range of sizing options (21 stock and 6 custom)

The G3's are made in Bozeman and because virtually every single step of wader making from design to delivery happens under one roof, Simms has the ability to control the entire process, ensuring an unmatched level of quality. They retail for $700.


Man rowing a raft while someone fly fishes from the front

I'm now heading into my second season with the G3's and here are my thoughts.

What I like:

Materials. It's tough to beat GORE-TEX. The G3's feature a three-layer waterproof, breathable GORE-TEX shell for the upper and a four-layer waterproof, breathable GORE-TEX Pro shell for the lower. It has already become evident that these waders are extremely durable, having endured heavy use in fairly harsh conditions. And, because of the materials, they are waterproof, windproof and still offer superior breathability.

Comfortable. In addition to being tough, the G3's are comfortable to wear in all seasons. The adjustable shoulder straps create a snug fit with a "can't-even-notice-them" feel, the pockets lay out well (I especially love the pass-through chest pocket), the stockingfeet are snug (not sloppy) without being too tight, and the material is comfortable to wear.

Simms Wader Guarantee. The G3's offer a 60-day wader replacement for leaks, and 365-day wader leak repairs for free. Beyond one year, the cost is $60 for most repairs.

Made in Bozeman, MT. Simms proudly designs and manufacturers G3 Guide waders in the USA using imported materials. There are 100+ Wadermakers that craft each pair at their factory in Bozeman.

Microban Antimicrobial Stockingfeet. The G3's provide microban antimicrobial protection that inhibits the growth of odor-causing bacteria and fights the growth of mold and mildew in wader stockingfeet – a nice feature when your waders stay wet or feet sweat like mine do.

Fly fisherman wearing waders and sunglasses holding a brown trout

What I don't like:

Fit. Okay, this one is partially on me. Because the G3's are offered in so many different size combinations, I probably suffered a bit from analysis paralysis. I'm 6' 1" and 190 pounds with a 34" inseam and 42" chest and found myself right in between the Medium and Medium King (my previous Simms and Redington waders were Medium Long). I ended up ordering the Medium Kings and they are probably a bit roomier than I needed. They are perfect for cold weather layering, but a little roomy when wearing light layers in warm weather - particularly through the chest. Generally speaking these waders just fit a bit "baggier" than any of my previous pairs.

Belt Loop. This one is pretty minor, but I will admit it bothers me. The G3's only have one high/low belt loop option (on the back) and I preferred having two or three loops (some on the sides).

Gravel Guards. There are two things about the G3 gravel guards that are different from any of my previous waders. First, they don't have a boot attachment (although my G4 boots have a spot to connect one). Second, they fit very snug (probably the reason they don't have/need a boot attachment). This doesn't create any issue while wearing them (in fact they are really nice) but because they are so snug around the bottom they tend to make the rest of the lower seem baggy. A picky consideration.

Fly fisherman wearing waders and blue shirt tying on a fly

Of Note: I have always been a huge fan of the Simms wading boots and have used them with every pair of waders (Simms or otherwise) I have ever owned. For a budget-conscious pair you can't beat the Freestones, the G3's I have owned have been durable and comfortable (I owned the previous generation), and I absolutely love my G4's - everything about them is comfortable, durable, and top-notch.

Perfect For: The G3's are top-of-the-line GORE-TEX guide waders offering bombproof, comfortable, and proven performance – with everything you need, and nothing you don’t. Perfect for folks that spend a lot of days in the water and want a durable, American-made wader that holds up to it.

Stars: The G3's average 4.7 stars with 212 reviews on the Simms website, and I would tend to agree, giving them 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Learn more here.

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