Expert Review: Orvis Ultralight Convertible Wader

This review is my own honest opinion of the waders, which I bought with my own money in April 2021.

Curated Expert Charles Edington, fishing and wearing the Orvis Ultralight Convertible Waders

Photo by Charles Edington

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About this review This review is my own honest opinion of the waders, which I bought with my own money in April 2021.

My take

The Orvis Ultralight Convertible Waders are geared for anglers looking for a comfortable, breathable pair of waders for Spring, Summer, and Fall.

Curated Expert Charles Edington, fishing and wearing the Orvis Ultralight Convertible Waders

Photo by Charles Edington

About the waders

  • Model: Orvis Ultralight Convertible Wader
  • Size: Medium
  • Material: Breathable Fabric with Neoprene Stocking Feet
  • Type: Convertible Chest/Waist
  • Boot Style: Stocking Foot

About me

  • Height: 5’9”
  • Weight: 155 lbs
  • Preferred type of fishing: Fly Fishing
  • Preferred fishing styles: Dry, streamers
  • Experience: Fishing for 35+ years, fly fishing for 13 years

Test conditions

  • When I bought this: April 2021
  • Days tested: 10
  • Waters I’ve used it on: Rivers big and small, high mountain lakes, hiking in
  • Boots paired with waders: Orvis Pro BOA and Simms Freestone

How it performs

Durability
4/5
Fit
5/5
Performance
4/5
Quality
5/5
Versatility
4/5

What I was looking for

I had worn a pair of Redington Sonic Pros completely out over the course of the past 5 seasons and was badly in need of a replacement. I fish year-round, but mostly April - November. Breathability and comfort were my top priorities, with durability coming in close behind. Like most people on a reasonable budget, I wanted all of this without having to take out a second mortgage.

Why I chose this gear

Having wasted money on cheap (read: disposable) waders in the past, I knew better than to take a risk on an off-brand. With a $350 budget, I narrowed it down to Simms, Orvis, and Redington; all brands that I like and trust. Redington was impossibly low on stock. I wasn’t a fan of the fit of the Simms Freestones, so I bought the Orvis waders and I’m glad I did.

Curated Expert Charles Edington, fishing and wearing the Orvis Ultralight Convertible Waders

Photo by Charles Edington

What I loved about this gear

  • Versatility: Where I fish in Central Oregon, it’s often chilly in the morning and blazing hot in the afternoon. I also hike into a lot of my favorite spots. The convertibility feature allows me to layer up to keep warm and dry, then convert to waist height when needed. The conversion method is simple and easy with three magnetic tabs.
  • Materials: As the name suggests, the breathable material is very light. This has been my lightest and most comfortable pair of waders to date. The neoprene gravel guards are also soft and fit snug over my boots. There isn’t a separate guard to fold over the boot, which cuts down on bulk.
  • Fit: Unlike some waders I have worn in the past, the Ultralights just feel like another layer of clothing rather than outerwear. The fit is a little snug, but not at all constrictive. There aren’t any areas that bunch up, which also helps keep the heat off. The neoprene booties fit my foot much better than other waders I’ve had in the past. They fit very comfortably in my boots. These also come in a dedicated women’s model which is nice.
  • Suspender System: The suspender system is well thought out. I just have to unhook three magnetic tabs to pull the convertible waders down, then slide them back up. The suspenders feed through a small loop so that I don’t have to “find” the back tab. It hooks back in pretty naturally. I did this before hitting the water so that I got a feel for it.
  • Warranty: Orvis has a 60-day return policy, so I can return for any reason. After that, Orvis quotes a reasonable life of waders as 3-5 years. They state that waders that fail due to manufacturing issues or defects will be repaired, replaced, or refunded, at Orvis' discretion for a $60 fee. I’ve sent waders back to Orvis that were discontinued and not reparable and was offered a sizable discount towards the purchase of a new set of waders.
Close up shot of the cuff of the Orvis Ultralight Convertible Waders

Photo by Charles Edington

Close up of the suspender system on the Orvis Ultralight Convertible Waders

Photo by Charles Edington

Issues I’ve encountered

  • Storage: This is my first quality pair of waders with no hand warmer. It was a little awkward not to have that feature since I’ve become accustomed to it with other waders. I typically use that as extra storage.
  • Additional accessories: Orvis, please just include the $12.95 waterproof pocket with the waders - don’t be cheap.

Favorite moment with this gear

The first time I wore these waders, I hiked down a particularly steep canyon to get to one of my favorite sections of the Middle Deschutes. It was HOT. About halfway down, I remembered that I could convert these waders to waist height. When I did, it was like someone turned on the A/C. Most of that section of the river is shallow, but there is one DEEP section to wade through. I slid the straps up, locked in the tabs, and was wading across in no time. The conversion feature is really nice, and the ease of it is even better.

Value for the money vs. other options

Before deciding on the Ultralights, I looked at the Orvis Clearwater waders, and both the Simms Freestones and Tributaries. The fit was just “off” on all three of those models. They felt baggy and didn’t cinch up right at the top. My impression was that waders at the sub-$400 price point weren’t worthy of purposeful thought; just take out the creature features of the high-end waders, slap on a label, and collect $300. I feel like I got a steal with these waders.

Final verdict

If comfort, fit, and value are the most important factors, the Orvis Ultralight Convertible Waders are a fabulous option. There has been innovative thought put into the design of these waders and it shows. The breathable, solid material makes for a nice day on the water and the conversion feature allows me to adjust the thermostat. Turn up the A/C and catch some fish!

Selling Orvis on Curated.com
Orvis Men's Ultralight Convertible Wader
$298.01
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Written By
Charles Edington
Charles Edington
Fly Fishing Expert
I've been fishing for 40 years across the US, Canada, and the Caribbean. I started like a lot of people with a cane pole at the ripe ol' age of 3 drowning worms and crickets for bream, catfish, and bass. It has been a life long passion ever since. After graduating from Georgia Tech, I stuck around A...
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