Author: Will Rice
We had a great trip to Montana a few weeks ago. One of the stops we made was to the new Simms factory located just on the outskirts of Bozeman. As one of the only wader manufacturers who has a highly skilled work force designing and building GORE-TEX waders here in the United States, it was eye-opening to watch the entire wader construction process first hand and to learn more about the materials themselves.
From GORE-TEX fabric being cut on a table, all the way through to the testing and quality assurance process – we saw it all.
As always, every time we hit the road we try to bring back something to our readers. When we toured the manufacturing floor we learned a lot about Simms products. One interesting thing that came up was a discussion about GORE-TEX - the main ingredient in most of Simms' wader and outerwear products. First off, GORE-TEX fabric is best known for its use in protective, yet breathable, outerwear. Here is how GORE-TEX fabric is explained by W.L. Gore & Associates themselves:
“Gore fabric technologies have revolutionized the performance of fabrics by controlling porosity through unique microstructures. Membrane technologies and advanced polymers and materials have been developed to meet specific performance criteria for outdoor activities as well as occupational and industrial uses. Gore complements its expertise in membrane technology with in-depth knowledge of fabric performance and polymer technology. Ongoing field and laboratory tests -- combined with the development of advanced adhesives, coatings, fabric finishes and seam-sealing materials -- ensure durable, high-performance garments.”
Without getting too technical, GORE-TEX is just about the best answer we’ve seen anyone come up with to meet the durability and breathability requirements of anglers who spend a lot of time in the water and who fish hard.
The folks at Simms broke down the varieties of GORE-TEX into three basic categories and explained how each could best utilized based on what you are doing on the water.
#1 - Pro Shell – When you think “Pro Shell” – think “Bomb Proof Waders and Jackets.” Pro Shell comes in 3 and 5 layer GORE-TEX construction. Pro Shell is utilized in the G4, G3, and Headwaters Wader Collection. Clients always ask why waders are priced differently – at the most fundamental level, as you move up in the line you are getting more GORE-TEX Layers and with that you achieve additional durability and breathability. Pro Shell is also used in the G4 Pro Jacket and Slick Jacket, and ProDry Jacket and Bib. Why is Pro Shell the most breathable, lightweight and rugged material on the market? GORE-TEX membrane is bonded between high performance lining and shell textiles – you get durability combined with breathability. This material slides effortlessly over other layers and is both resistant to external tears and internal abrasions.
#2 – Gore-Tex Shell – This is the most rugged material you will find in the Simms Jacket line. These jackets include the Acklins, G3 Guide, Guide Jacket, Headwaters, Bulkley Jackets and also the Contender Jacket and Bibs. Goretex Shell Material comes in both 2 and 3 layer GORE-TEX Shell Construction. Although this material is extremely durable, you are losing a bit of breathability when you compare GORE-TEX Shell to the Pro Shell material. If you know you are heading out into tough rainy conditions for extended periods of time, know deep down that GORE-TEX Shell is your friend.
#3 – WINDSTOPPER Fabric – WINDSTOPPER Soft Shell has a 100% Nylon outer layer that blocks 100% of blowing wind and a 100% polyester micro-check fleece lining ensures breathability and warmth. Although WINDSTOPPER material will shed water if you are caught in a quick storm, if you know that you are going to spend time in the rain, you are best off using these jackets as an under-layer. These jackets include the Simms WINDSTOPPER Hoody, ADL Jacket and ADL Vest.
We can't say enough about the construction of the wader products we saw at the Simms Facility and the skilled craftsmanship that goes into every pair. From the design phase, all the way through the testing and quality assurance process seeing is believing.
If you ever make it up to the Simms factory, it is worth it to pop your head, say "hi", and check out the production facility yourself. If you ever have questions about what waders, jackets or other outerwear is best for you or for the conditions you will be fishing, stop by the shop or give us a call – 303-733-1434.