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Thirty years after introducing the first pair of Gore-Tex waders to the market, Simms still sets the standard for quality and comfort on the water with their flagship G3 Guide Waders. Despite a host of new competition, Simms’ G3 series has been a reliable staple for 20 years.
The lineup was updated in 2022 with distinct improvements. Through first-hand use and interviews with industry experts, I’ve broken down the new Simms G3 Guide Waders to help you get a better idea of what these waders bring to the table.
Simms G3 Guide Waders Specs and Features
- Weight: 3.7 pounds
- Three-layer Gore-Tex upper, Four-layer Gore-Tex Pro lower
- Adjustable spacer air-mesh suspender system
- Top access zippered pocket and zippered, micro-fleece lined hand-warming chest pocket
- Built-in gravel guards
- Neoprene stockingfeet with anti-microbial finish
- Warranty: 60-day replacement for leaks, no questions asked. 1 year of free repairs
- Large array of sizes
- Custom options available
- Price: $699.95
True Gore-Tex still has the ideal combination of comfort and functionality. The G3 series utilizes the highest quality Gore-Tex and pairs it with top notch tailoring, and the result is an exceptionally comfortable set of waders. When tested alongside another high-end name brand wader in a similar price point, the difference in comfort was distinct. The G3’s feel like a natural extension of your daily fishing apparel, rather than a protective outer shell.
The built in gravel guards are snug but provide a nice level of support when pulled over wading boots. Simms finally had the good sense to do what many other brands should and removed the boot hooks. Essentially vestigial tools on most waders at this point, gravel guard hooks rarely work as intended and always manage to catch your fly line. The G3 gravel guards work just fine without them while also feeling less clunky.
Air Mesh Suspenders
The new and improved Air Mesh suspenders are significantly more comfortable than the solid fabric suspenders of the older models. They also have a built-in net caddy.
Testing the Simms G3 Guide Waders in the Field
When testing waders, there are three primary things that matter most: comfort, insulation, and durability. If a pair of waders fail in any one of these categories, it doesn’t matter how many extra pockets or fly patches they have, at the end of the day you’ll probably regret buying them.
So I tested these waders with those three categories in mind through a variety of environments during winter in Virginia. While it may not get as cold here as it does in Montana, there were several days of single digit weather. While what you wear under your waders is just as important for insulation as the waders themselves, it’s critical that your waders work well with your underlayers. The breathability of the G3 Guide Waders plays a crucial role here, allowing you to layer up while not sweating excessively. The four-layer Gore-Tex lower portion was incredibly resistant to the cold, providing warmth and comfort despite the water being nearly frozen solid. The G3’s ultra-breathability also allows you to wear them when it’s hot without sweating to death.
The foot section of the waders are made of standard neoprene. While they certainly aren’t bad, they aren’t any warmer than other comparable waders on the market. Of course, it’s hard to fault Simms until someone comes up with a warmer neoprene substitute (preferably before next winter, please?).
Most manufacturers will tell you outright that waders are not intended to be used as body armor. That said, I like to be realistic when testing gear, and the hard reality is that most waders will be forced into that role at some point. It’s important to note that the types of abuse dished out on waders can vary drastically. For my purposes the ultimate wader durability metric is The Virginia Bramble Test.
This test is exactly what it sounds like; I truck up and down thorn-covered riverbanks and slide down thorn-covered rock faces until the waders inevitably spring a leak. I like this test because, in addition to being extremely tough on gear, it’s also realistic. I doubt there are many wade anglers reading this who can’t relate to being forced through an unexpected bramble patch while exploring a section of river. Unfortunately, it only took a couple of trips through the brambles before I noticed a pinhole in the lower thigh portion of the Simms G3 Guide Waders. An easy fix, and not unexpected, but still disappointing given the price point and otherwise exceptional quality.
Beyond this pinhole, there were no other durability issues during testing. Durability doesn’t necessarily equal longevity. It’s very possible these waders would last for many seasons, even probable given their predecessors’ track record. Simms also boasts an impressive warranty; they offer a 60-day window for a complete replacement in case of any leaks, no questions asked. And Simms covers any repairs within the first year.
What the Simms G3 Guide Waders Do Best
Without a doubt, these are the most comfortable waders I’ve ever worn. The breathability and tailoring combine with several well thought out design decisions to make for an exceptionally well-rounded pair of waders. When properly fitted, the G3 Guide Waders are hard to beat for long days on the water. They also have a host of storage pockets, including a removable inner tippet pocket that doubles as a cell phone or wallet holder.
The G3 also comes in both men’s and women’s models. While this isn’t unusual, the fact that they are actually designed with proper fit in mind is. Most “women’s” waders are just the same model as the men’s with different colors thrown in. Simms took the time to re-design certain elements of the women’s G3 line, like adding a stretchable fabric to the upper portion rather than using standard men’s chest measurements. Women have always been a large part of the fly-fishing community, and it’s nice to see manufacturers catering to that fact.
Where the Simms G3 Guide Waders Can Improve
It’s hard to find too many areas for improvement, but durability is certainly at the top of the list. That said, it would be foolish to sacrifice the lightweight comfort of these waders by adding extra padding. I’d like to see just a little additional material in more vulnerable areas, such as the knees.
The wading belt was another area that could use some tweaking. Attached with a single, centrally located belt loop in the lower back, the belt tends to fall out when not clipped into place. This may be a result of Simms overthinking things. The logic of using only one central loop makes sense when you consider that it’s the best way to make sure the belt fits all body types with as little awkwardness as possible. That said, you could accomplish the same thing with two separate loops placed parallel and close together. That way you wouldn’t lose your belt every time you need to use the bathroom.
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Fishing waders are one of the most intimidating purchases an angler can make. They can make or break your day on the water, and they can put quite the dent on your budget. So it’s important to know what you’re getting before committing to a pair.
Despite some relatively minor flaws, the Simms G3 Guide Waders are the best all-around option for a dedicated angler looking for high-end quality without dropping top dollar. The G3 Guide Waders excel in the most important categories and will undoubtedly be a favorite of wading anglers for years to come (just try and avoid falling down a rock face covered in thorn bushes while wearing them).