Expert Review: Simms Freestone WadersPublished on 01/27/2023 · 9 min readThis review is my own honest opinion of the waders, which I bought with my own money in November 2020.
Photo by Rylyn Small
About this review This review is my own honest opinion of the waders, which I bought with my own money in November 2020.
The Simms Freestone Stockingfoot Wader has comfortability, functionality, and durability, and comes with an extensive sizing chart for a perfect fit! These waders are great for anyone looking to purchase an affordable, breathable wader option that is built to last.
About the waders
- Model: Simms Freestone Waders - Stockingfoot - Mens
- Size: Medium King
- Material: Breathable 4-layer Toray waterproof shell
- Type: Chest Waders
- Boot Style: Stockingfoot
- Height: 6’1”
- Weight: 195 lbs
- Preferred type of fishing: Fly Fishing and a rainy tournament week for bass fishing
- Preferred fishing style: Nymphing
- Experience: 20+ years
- When I bought this: November 2020
- Days tested: 145
- Waters I’ve used it on: Rugged terrain with brush and obstacles to climb over and work in between
- Boots paired with waders: Simms Freestone Wading Boots, Size 12
How it performs
What I was looking for
When on the hunt for waders, I was looking for a go-to companion that could be used in the cold wet weather and hot summers to fish in the spring-fed streams and rivers of Missouri and Arkansas Ozarks. I was also looking for something affordable, durable, packable, and would handle the rugged riverbank that the Ozarks has to offer.
Why I chose this gear
I chose this gear because it met my criteria of affordability, durability, and packability. For me, these waders are above all other waders in their price classification. I considered buying the Simms Tributary but wanted something a little more durable and more of an articulated fit. I was tired of going through a pair of waders a year and decided it was time to upgrade to a wader brand that was known for its dependability great for the cooler days and wet weather as much as those warm days.
What I love about it
- Quality: Sometimes when I purchase something from a company that is “middle of the road” in terms of options, I wonder if I will lose in quality. With Simms' heavy-duty engineered fabric technology, you know that all of their fishing gear is going to be quality, especially in their breathable neoprene stocking feet models with the anti-microbial finish. With these Simms waders, they have the same technology as their “higher-end” options, with a comfortable fit and back leg seams as seen in all of Simms waders which provide natural mobility when wading. Do I lose some features (like storage)? Yes. Does it affect functionality? No. It still has the secure chest pocket and reach-through hand-warming pocket that is needed in a pair of breathable waders for those cold fingers. I do not feel that the lack of features drastically affects my experience. I prefer a sling pack for my gear and feel that even though the freestone waders have less storage and pockets, it did not affect their performance on the river. These waders also have the zipper for the Simms tender pocket with tippet spool sleeves right on the inside of the wader behind the handwarmer pocket. Also, the zippered chest pocket provides the space for essential tools and fly boxes on the water and in my case even a firearm. They also have the perfect dedicated fly patch on the front of the wader for drying and for temporary attachment of flies in a convenient location.
- Versatility: As far as versatility, this wader can be used in large rivers, floating in drift boats, and even in the smaller creek and streams. They are breathable which allows me to stay cool all while keeping warm when needed. I got this wader in the “Freestone Z” which has a zipper but loses the reach-through handwarmer pocket. It adds $100 to the cost, which is worth the extra investment for added versatility which made a big difference. There is also an attachment zipper that will allow attaching the flip-out tippet tender pocket from Simms.
- Use Case: These waders are used in all types of water, even salt water. A lot of saltwater anglers turn to these but suggest spraying them off after each use to prevent salt residue. The micro-porous waterproof coating will last in all situations.
- Materials: The breathable 4-layer Toray Quadralam fabric is a great way to stay both cool and warm if needed. It is designed exactly for that. The breathable four-layer Toray Quadralam fabric is some of the most durable fabric tech in the industry as opposed to other 2-layer fabric brands at this price point.
- Fit: The fit runs just a tad small. I suggest going a size up or choosing the king option. Make sure to check the sizing chart! These waders are also known for their anatomically correct stocking feet. It is like putting on a shirt and your best pair of jeans.
- Literal Weight: These waders are super lightweight. I often have them packed away in my Flycraft for use later down the river.
- Suspender System: The suspender system of Simms is in its own class and I can attest to this. When walking and wading miles along rivers and streams, I can feel that the suspender and nylon waist belt system is designed to flex when walking, climbing, and hiking providing natural mobility. It is extremely comfortable compared to other non-flexible polyester material wading belts. And the chest waders are specially designed to allow users to turn them into wading pants by using the suspender system like a belt.
- Wading Belt: The wading belt is made out of a flexible polyester elastic waist belt material, which allows for greater flexibility and mobility. The belt loops are also super durable and wide for various-sized wading belts.
- Packability: The waders do not come with a storage pack like the other models, but can easily be packed away in a storage compartment or drawstring bag.
- Durability: Simms’ waders have seams in front rather than the sides (like jeans). This workmanship allows for areas that are more sensitive to wear and tear to not to get much rubbing even when climbing over logs, for those brushy approaches, rocks, or falling down gravel. They are built to handle the elements. The built-in gravel guards with the boot hook on these waders are also designed to fit snugly on boots with the elastic bottom hem to prevent gravel from entering. This saves on the wear and tear of the stockings. To watch out for the stockings, I do not walk across rocky areas without wading boots on as they can puncture through the stockings. These waders are built to last, but I would say that the wading belt may have to be replaced due to fraying and loss of flexibility. It fits great around the waist with plenty of give while in the water or on the trail.
- Warranty: No issues with the warranty because it’s the best of its kind! After the initial first year warranty, Simms will repair a defect or wader leaks for a reasonable fee. Simms is a USA company and can get you back on the water quickly with the best wader repairs and replacement on the market. Simms does not cover the natural breakdown of materials over time or excessive wear. Keep these waders away from heat like campfires and in your truck during hot summers.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Sub-Zero Temperatures: These waders are not made for sub-zero fishing temperatures. These are breathable laminate and non-insulated. The reach-through micro-fleece and 4-layer upper do help a ton in lower winter temperatures.
- High Heat and Humidity: Do not use these on the beach in hot weather or places that are hot and humid—you will get hot. Go wet wading instead! Four-layer Toray is breathable but there is a limit to breathability.
- Insulation: The waders are non-insulated, but if anglers are looking for extra insulation, they can easily purchase a pair of thermals like my pair of large fleece Simms base layers! Some people suggest making this model insulated with an in-boot foot. I do not agree because the separate wading boot option provides more stability.
- Storage: Front pocket, fly patch, and a hand-warming pocket in the front. I wish there was an inside pocket to protect a phone, keys, etc. The pocket on the outside is great but I have almost lost a phone and keys with cold hands trying to unzip the pocket. These waders are also not at packable as the Gore-tex waders by Simms.
- Additional accessories: There were no additional accessories. It would be nice if it came with a carrying bag and the tippet tender however, it’s not a big issue due to the affordability. At this price point, Simms has to save money somewhere, and I am thankful they didn’t skimp on the durability. I suggest purchasing the Simms Taco Bag to keep the waders in. This allows me to transport them easily and provides a surface to change into and out of them to prevent damage to the stockings due to sharp rocks. You can also purchase the Simms retractor which is great for attaching essential tools to your waders.
Favorite moment with this gear
My favorite moment with these waders was when I took 25+ high students with me to the Missouri Ozarks as part of a conservation class that I teach. These waders kept me comfortable all day from walking miles upon miles up and down the river, checking on students, and providing them with help for anything from netting a fish to tying on extra tippet. These waders are built to be comfortable and I would not leave without them before heading out on an outdoor fly fishing adventure with my students.
Value for the money vs. other options
This wader is in its own class, and Simms has the best wader guarantee. It is in the middle of the road for affordability and the money I spent on them is worth every bit of the investment. I also looked at the Simms Tributary, but if I were to go back and choose waders again, these would be the ones that I would have picked. Super affordable and have the most durability for a wader under the $400 range.
If anglers are looking for an affordable yet high-quality wader, look no further than the Simms Freestones. They are built for comfort due to their anatomically correct design and durability due to the Toray breathable outer layer, the unique patented seam design, and the overall rugged proven, and field-tested construction. If there is not a size available for you, get the inseam measurement, waist, and height to check out Simms custom options.