Expert Review: Orvis Ultralight Convertible Wader

Published on 02/28/2023 · 6 min readThis review is my own honest opinion of the waders, which I bought with my own money in April 2021.
Charles Edington, Fly Fishing Expert
By Fly Fishing Expert Charles Edington

Photo by Charles Edington

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.

Photo by Charles Edington

About the waders

  • Model: Orvis Ultralight Convertible Wader
  • Size: Medium
  • Material: Breathable 4-layer 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

How it performs

Fit
5/5
Quality
5/5
Durability
4/5
Performance
4/5
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 from April to November. Breathability and a comfortable modern fit with anatomical neoprene booties were my top priorities, with durability and abrasion resistance in high-stress areas coming in close behind. Like most people on a reasonable budget, I wanted all of this without having to take out a second mortgage that had all of the essentials with packability in mind.

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.

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 in the men's ultralight convertible waders is simple and easy with three magnetic fasteners and fidlock snap 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, especially with the low-profile seam construction. The streamlined neoprene gravel guard is 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 men's ultralight convertible waders just feel like another layer of clothing rather than outerwear with the new low profile seam construction which also increased the seam durability. 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 and throughout the knees. I also really like the new gusseted crotch construction on this model which leaves room for layering up for cold water and cold temperatures with an increased range of motion. The low-profile belt is also a great touch that eliminated tangling while out fishing. These also come in a dedicated kids' and women's version which is nice. You can find women's sizing here.
  • Suspender System: As part of the new Orvis ultralight wading 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 including punctures. 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 was discontinued and not reparable and was offered a sizable discount towards the purchase of a new set of waders.

Photo by Charles Edington

Photo by Charles Edington

Issues I’ve encountered

  • Storage: This is my first quality pair of waders with no front pocket hand warmer. It was a little awkward not to have that feature since I’ve become accustomed to it with other waders. There is however the option for an internal zipper pocket aside from the external storage pocket. I typically use that as extra storage for an integrated tool dock and really like the fly patch for drying flies or storing them temporarily while changing flies.
  • Additional accessories: Orvis, please just include the $12.95 waterproof pocket with the waders - don’t be cheap. An interior pocket would be a great touch to the men's ultralight convertible waders. If included, this would be a new level of versatility and a full-featured wader.

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 high conversion feature is really nice, and the ease of it is even better. These are truly innovative waders and overall a lightweight package when it comes to the breathable nylon shell fabric.

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, especially with their superior performance.

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 and strategic reinforcement put into the design of these waders and it shows. The durable four-layer breathable, solid outer shell material makes for a nice day on the water and the innovative suspension system feature allows me to adjust the thermostat. Turn up the A/C and catch some fish! If you are needing help with selecting chest waders or wading boots, fill free to reach out to a Fly Fishing Expert here at Curated!

Out of stock
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  • We price match
  • Returnable

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