In this article I’ll do a full review of the Orvis Pro Waders. I’ve been using them for quite a long time now, maybe 18 months or two years. I’ve got a pretty good idea of what they’re all about.
Orvis makes a regular wader, and they also do a zippered pair. These are the Orvis Pros, their top-of-the-line waders. Obviously Orvis has a few different waders with different price ranges, and the Orvis Pros are the top ones.
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The Price of the Orvis Pro Waders
They’re not cheap. They go for $598 USD in the States, and here in New Zealand they’re around $1,500 retail. They’re pretty pricey, so I was somewhat skeptical about just how much better they were going to be than the bottom-of-the-range stuff I’ve been using for the last seven or eight years.
My Experience with Cheaper Waders Before Getting the Orvis Pro
To give you a bit of an idea, generally I go through one pair of waders a season. Normally I get them at the beginning of winter.
Within two months they start to leak a little bit, and then by the end of the season, just before the summer kicks in and I can start wet wading again, I’m normally struggling pretty bad. Then I get rid of them, winter rolls around again, and I get another pair.
I would use one pair per season, and I’d normally go for the bottom of the range for about $500 NZD, so it was just 500 bucks a year or so.
So I was a little skeptical about getting these expensive ones. What would happen if I went through a pair a year of them? I couldn’t afford that.
Anyway, I got the Orvis Pro Waders. I’ve been running them hard, and to be fair, they’re still going strong.
My Personal Experience with the Orvis Pro Waders
As I said, I’ve been running my current pair for about 18 months. I’m not running them right now because it’s summer, but I’ve done two winters in them now.
I’ve done a lead-in to winter, a whole winter, a lead-out of winter, and I’ve done that twice with my current pair of Orvis Pro Waders.
They still keep me dry. It’s amazing. I’m actually blown away. I can’t believe they keep me dry after so much use. I mean, that’s unheard of for me. I’m pretty impressed.
Now, I don’t really know the technical specs of the Orvis Pro Waders. I think they have like five layers of Gore-Tex and some other materials. I’m not good at that stuff.
All I can tell you is what I know from wearing them a lot. So I’ll run you through them and you can make up your own minds. You can Google away and find all the actual specs for these if you’re into that kind of stuff.
Watch the Orvis Pro Waders Review Video
Features of the Orvis Pro Waders
My pair of Orvis Pro Waders are a medium regular. They’re actually pretty fitted waders, the most fitted waders I’ve ever worn. Pay attention to what you think will fit your body shape best, because they’re quite fitted, which I really like.
I’ll start you from the top of the Orvis Pro Waders and we’ll work our way down.
As with any waders, it has straps. You can adjust these as you’d expect. You can also hang them up by the straps.
There’s a small internal pocket that you can chuck whatever into. Behind it is an attachment chest pocket that you can tuck inside. I’ve never used it on the waders. I just fill it with a heap of stuff and keep it in my truck. It attaches to two little clips and goes in the inside of your pocket if you want the extra space.
There’s also a large outside pocket that I think is waterproof, and there’s a fly patch on it. And then under the large outside pocket there are two smaller side pockets, which are fleece lined. So when it’s cold in the winter you can shove your hands in there, and it actually does a good job of warming them up.
The wading belt is a good chunky one. I quite enjoy that. It’s not elasticated. It’s just chunky and has a decent clip, not a cheap one.
My Favorite Feature of the Orvis Pro Waders
Other than keeping me dry for this length of time, my favorite part of these waders is probably the knee pads. In the inside of the legs, there’s a little pocket with knee pads inside. This is a game changer.
I’m not a particularly old dude, but having knee pads in your waders is life-changing. I’ll never wear a pair of waders again without knee pads. That’s how good they are.
They sit in the little pocket and fit nicely over your knees, so when you’re kneeling in the river, on the ground, or on a rock, it’s so nice. It’s a pleasure to kneel.
If for nothing else, I’d buy the waders again just for the knee pads. That’s worth the money in my opinion.
The Bottoms of the Orvis Pro Waders
There are gravel guards down at the bottom. They have a grippy, stretchy plastic material at the back, which grips onto the back of your boot quite nicely.
So even if the hook on the front that hooks onto your boots, which I find generally doesn’t work that well, comes off, the grippy thing at the back stops the gravel sock from riding up your boot and becoming useless.
Mine is quite worn out, which tells you that it takes some wear and tear. But I’ve never worn a pair of waders where the gravel guard doesn’t fall apart like this. It’s just superficial and doesn’t really bother me.
It’s the same on the other leg too. It wears away pretty quickly, but it’s still holding together. It still stays down over the boot, and it still keeps all the gravel, sticks, sand, and stones out of your boot, which is what they’re for.
The sock is nice and fitted. Sometimes you’ll buy a pair of waders, especially at the cheaper end of the market, and it’s almost like they’ve got a one-size-fits-all type of sock. Then it all bunches up when you put it into your boot, and it gets really uncomfortable.
Like the waders themselves, the sock is really well fitted to the foot size, and you don’t get any of that bunching. It’s super comfortable. I really like it, and I’m impressed.
The other thing that I enjoy about the Orvis Pro Waders is that you can pull down the top part from your chest height, and the waders fold over themselves. They fit really neatly around your waist with the pockets exposed.
You don’t get the big bunchy thing like when you roll other waders down, and I quite enjoy that. Then all I do is take the shoulder straps and turn them into a second belt, and it all fits nicely.
Those are the main things going on with these waders, other than the fact that this is the first pair of waders I’ve ever had that’s lasted me anywhere near this long.
Features of the Orvis Pro Zipper Waders
Now I’ll tell you about the other pair, the Orvis Pro Zipper Waders. Really, they’re exactly the same pair of waders as the ones I described above, except for the big zip.
I always wondered, is it worth it? Well, I guess the short answer is yes, it’s worth it.
Now, I have the first pair of Orvis Pro Waders for the beginning and tail end of the season, and then when we’re into full-on winter, I switch over to the Orvis Pro Zipper Waders.
When it’s raining a lot and cold, generally you’ve got a big jacket on and several layers. That’s when the big zipper really comes in handy.
Let me tell you the key things, and it’s pretty obvious what the key things are. First, the zipper makes them super easy to put on and then take off at the end of the day. It’s effortless.
And the real reason you want that zipper is when it’s cold and rainy and you’ve got to take a pee. That’s when it pays for itself. Use it under your jacket, zip open the waders, do what you’ve got to do, zip it back up, and it takes you half the time.
You stay dry and warm, and really that’s all you need. That’s where the Orvis Pro Zipper Waders are genius.
The zipper is super well made. It’s really durable and tough. It hasn’t leaked on me yet, so I can’t really complain. I don’t see the zipper pair being any less durable than the regular pair.
Besides the zipper, the only real difference is there are two little pockets on the side. They don’t go all the way through like the other pair, obviously because the zip’s in the way. Again, the pockets are fleece lined, so it’s really easy to warm your hands up.
There are two small pockets on the inside for storage, and then there’s an inside zippered pocket and a deep open pocket on the other side.
There are lots of places to put stuff, with small pockets on the outside, the main hand pockets on the outside, and the big zip, which like the knee pads, is life changing.
Everything else is the same. They’ve got knee pads. The boots and the gravel guards are the same. The belt is good, just like the other one, with a good solid clip. I’m super impressed.
I actually thought when I got these that I probably wouldn’t use them much. And then on the first rainy day in winter when I had that zip access, it was so good.
Which Pair of Orvis Pro Waders Should You Buy?
You’re probably not going to buy both of them. If you’re going to get one pair and you want to choose which one to get, I’d say if you’re doing most of your fishing in cold, rainy, horrible weather, you should really consider the zip option.
If you’re not so bothered by the weather, I do enjoy how on the other ones you can roll them down to turn them into wading pants, which you can’t do with the zip one.
You need to have a look at them and think about your fishing situation, your weather conditions, what kind of stuff you’re mostly doing, and then make a decision based on that. Hopefully this Orvis Pro Waders review helps you decide.
Certainly if you’re in the market for a high-end pair of waders, you should check out the Orvis Pros. Look at some other brands too, and then make your own mind up.
I hope this helps a little bit and gives you a bit of insight into what’s on them, the features, what I like about them, what I found useful, and what I enjoy.
Once again, thanks to Into Fly Fishing for inviting me to write this Orvis Pro Waders review. I’ll be back soon with some insight into some other gear I use and what I like about it.