Monday, October 21, 2013

Redington Sonic Pro Waders Review

If you were to ask a Die Hard Steelheader what is the most important equipment in their arsenal waders wouldn't be far from the front of the list. Aside from ones Rods and Reels there is nothing more near and dear to a die hard steelheader than his/her waders. Just think about it. As tried and true all season steelheaders we rely on today's modern fabrics to provide a barrier between us and the elements while maintaining a comfortable dexterity that affords us the ability to hike miles of river basin in pursuit of our quarry. We rely on our waders to keep us dry, warm, and injury free from sudden puncture, abrasion, or the like. In the most extreme conditions that couple millimeters of fabric means the difference between keeping warm and dry or getting wet and hypothermic. On the other end of the spectrum we rely on the same fabrics to provide a breathable barrier that mitigates internal condensation to keep our layering system dry and functioning. Most of us take our waders for granted. We overlook just how far today's modern fabrics and waders have evolved.
I can remember borrowing my father’s rubber hip boots back in the early 80's and wading the rapids of the Little Ausable in Inverhuron Provincial Park. They were heavy, cumbersome and often developed cracks that almost always leaked.  Back then rubber was the best and only game in town. Wow have we come a long way. Although neoprene still holds a market for the hard core Waterfowler it has almost entirely disappeared from the steelheading scene aside from the fitted boots that compliment a set of Breathables. This is namely in part to advanced layering techniques and thermal fabrics that complement the breathable wader system. Today’s breathable waders allow for comfort and dexterity second to none and do so in the most extreme cold weather scenarios as long as proper layering techniques are employed. There is no longer a need to wrestle into the heavy and constricting 5 mm neo's and waddle ones way down the snowy trail for a winter steelheading adventure. I hung the neoprene waders up about 10 years ago and have yet to look back. I can honestly say I have put the entire system through the paces and tested the extremes. One time we even had to de-thaw at a nearby Coin-op Car Wash in order to melt the ice off of our frozen waders and wading boots. I can truly say with conviction that the breathable wader system is the way to go hands down.
Three years ago I was looking to replace a two year old set of Cabela's breathable waders that were starting to develop a leak. Typically I would get two hard seasons out of a set of waders and then need to replace them. I started to weigh my options and discovered a new offering from Redington that afforded a stitchless seam technology that they referred to as the "Sonic Weld System". The Redington advertisment stated that their Sonic-Pro waders seams were welded with sound, not sewn with needles, thus eliminating thousands of stitch holes found in traditional waders. This intrigued me and led me to reach out to them via an email. After an in-depth introduction and multiple back and forth emails they graciously offered me an opportunity to put their product to the test at prostaff pricing for the blog. To be fair to the process I have put any formal written review on the shelf until a time I felt I could offer up an honest and sincere review of these waders. This meant time on the water. Well...three years have passed and I am still running the initial pair of waders hard without any compromise to the watertight sonic welded seam system. I now own three pairs of Sonic's…Two Sonic-pro stocking foot chest waders and recently one pair of Sonic-pro zipper waders. I keep one pair at home in Ontario for the Huron Flows and two pairs at the cabin for the Michigan river adventures.
The Sonic Pro wader line offers an aesthetically pleasing product in a two tone color arrangement with a multitude of sizing options to meet the masses. I run XL's and find there is ample room in the leg and torso sections to allow for proper thermal layering. The ergonomically shaped neoprene boots are adequately sized with foot comfort in mind. This is important to me as I do a great deal of deep winter fishing and adequate room for blood circulation in the feet after heavy socks are worn is essential. The suspender system employs a quality, easy to use, buckling arrangement that readily adjusts to meet a fair range of end user height scenarios. There is ample storage located in the front compartment that is accessed via a water tight Ykk zipper system. There is also another internal storage pouch that incorporates a forceps dock and Hypalon retractor. I find it best for storage of more delicate items like a cell phone, car keys, and identification. It flips out from the inside of the waders at chest level for easy access.
Behind the front storage compartment is a built in hand warmer lined with brushed microfleece. It is also zippered with waterproof Ykk zippers and can double as yet another storage compartment. I can't say enough about having quality waders with a decent hand warmer system built in. Redington has a great system with ample room for both hands when a quick reprieve from the cold is in order. The Sonics’ 4 layered breathable wader construction has proven to be durable and wear resistant and has proudly stood up to my abuses. The incorporated gravel guards are snug and tight and stay securely fastened and in place thanks to a cleverly designed lace hook that claims to have been designed with a “line snag” free approach. They certainly do a stand up job of protecting the neo booties and stones in your wading boots are a thing of the past. The included wading belt is robust and sized adequately to provide a secure fit around ones waste. It employs a heavy duty buckle that fits ones hand perfectly and allows for quick and easy one handed operation.
The Sonic Pro Zipper waders employ all of the above features with the added bonus of a front waterproof zipper for unparalleled access to ones under layers. One cannot say enough about this feature when nature calls…especially in the dead of winter when all of the outer layers do not need to be shed in order to address the call of the wild. It is equally as nice to have easy access to ones under layers and pockets for additional secured storage or under layer adjustment. Along with the incorporation of the front waterproof Ri-Ri zipper system some minor changes in the storage compartments had to be addressed. Redington did a great job. There are now two ergonomically designed laser cut hand warmer pockets each incorporating brushed micro fleece for comfort and warmth. Again, each have a water proof Ykk zipper so they can double as secured storage as well. The large front storage compartment of the standard chest wader model has been broken down into two individual vertically zippered storage pockets on each side of the main zipper.
Along with these storage options is an additional large internal micro mesh storage pocket on the inside for one’s delicate items. Eg keys, cell phones, ID etc… These waders are top of the line and no compromises were made in the design.
The Sonic Pro Waders have served me well over the past 3 seasons. They fit me well, keep me dry, and have stood up to the abuses I have bestowed upon them.  These Breatheables have climbed, hiked, slid, stumbled, fell,  bushwacked, ice broke, froze, thawed, flew to Alaska, boat fished, and have seen countless river miles in pursuit of my quarry. They continued to perform in the most extreme conditions that could possibly be thrown at them. Along the way the fabric integrity has withstood thick brush, stabbing branches, thorn bushes, sharp river rock, jagged ice, gravel beaches, and abrasive sand shores. They have yet to leak, puncture or succumb to any of my abuses and keep on performing. They have proven to be comfortable to fish in and allow a dexterity that only assists with the rigors of hiking back to the river and along its overgrown banks.
I have always taken a common sense approach when spending my hard earned money on waders. My philosophy has always been on the practical side. Breathables waders range from $160 to $800 a pair. There are certainly bells and whistles than come with the more money spent but once a certain plateau is reached in fabric and seam integrity I have always employed a personal strategy. My thinking has always been if you can replace a set of waders 2-3 times versus the price of a single pair one would be better off running new gear more frequently. The Sonic Pro’s have challenged this thought process. First off I would be hard pressed to sway from this line of waders having now run them for the past 3 years. The looks, comfort, functionality, and performance fully exceed any of the lower priced wader lines I have utilized in the past. Secondly the price point for this level of performance gear is considerably lower than their direct competition.
A set of Sonic Pro chest waders has a MSRP of $299.95. An Internet savvy shopper can find them on the web for as low as $225. An incredible bargain for the level of performance one gets. Zippered waders are a top shelf, high end option and the Sonic Pro Zipper model is extremely value priced when compared to its competition. The Sonic Pro Zip’s retail for $399.95 and can be found on the web for as low as $299.95 A comparable set of Simm’s G4Zs waders retail for upwards of $799.95 and Patagonia Rio’s for $699. This certainly warrants some much deserved attention.

Redington's Sonic Pro Wader line-up provides top shelf form and function while remaining to meet my personal philosophy in relation to price point versus replacement frequency. I can still get two sets of Sonic Pro’s for the price of a single pair of their competitions. This keeps the cost and risk of ownership extremely low. I do not hesitate to recommend this brand and line of Breathables to anyone. I love my Redington waders and can stand behind this product without issue. They have yet to let me down and have exceeded any previous wader performance that I have owned. I am looking forward to running them hard in the coming months as the Great Lakes Steelheading Season ramps up as well as packing them along in the Spring for another Alaskan adventure.


Steve K said...

How does this compare to the Orvis Sonic Pro Waders?

lambton said...

I have not seen or am familiar with Orvis Sonic Pro Waders but just so you know...Orvis owns Redington. I am a simple man but I'd tend to think they are made with the exact same Sonic Welding Technology. Probably manufactured in the exact same facility. Just private labelled for each division.
I bet they cost more though ;0)

Greg said...

Gotta to get some egg spooge on that! Nice looking jacket, looking for a new one.

Andrew C said...

Enjoying the blog!

Just curious what your approximate weight/height is and what size waders you have. I'm thinking of picking a pair up online and cant decide between the M-Long and Large. I'm 6'0 180lbs for reference.


lambton said...

Hi Andrew glad you are enjoying the blog. I am 6'1" at 225lbs. I keep it sime and run XL's. The stocking foot is perfect and there is lots of room in the pants and body for winter layering for my frame. I could probably run Larges but I enjoy the room for dexterity reasons. Hope this helps