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Trout’s Tested: Patagonia Rio Gallegos Waders & Rock Grip Boots

April 19, 2011
Author: Trouts Staff
  • I must first note that this initial review may be dramatically skewed in favor of the above mentioned products, as any water proof barrier, perhaps as simple as a Hefty bag duct taped to my legs, would be a dramatic improvement over my previous wader/boot combination.

As stated above, anything that will keep me dry, especially in the cold spring waters of Colorado, will automatically find favor amongst my gear, and in my first few outings, Patagonia’s new Rio Gallegos (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈri.o ɣaˈʃeɣos]) waders most certainly fulfilled that role, but that is just the tip of the iceberg…..

Features I liked…

  • Merino wool lined neoprene booties; in passing this just sounds excessive, but it may now be difficult to wear straight neoprene again. Merino wool, as it is heralded for, keeps my toes cozy, not overly swampy. An added bonus, this lining is naturally antimicrobial, so it cuts down on the dreaded wader stank. These are definitely my favorite feature.
  • Anatomically correct foot beds; Patagonia is not the first to do it, but it is really nice to not have a wad of extra material shifting around inside my boot.
  • Stretch wading belt; it sounds trivial, but a belt that stretches as you move, and evenly disperses pressure when snug, is noticeably more comfortable than the standard, rigid webbing.
  • Waterproof/water resistant chest pockets, both inside and out; pretty straightforward, if you take a spill you want to keep your stuff dry.
  • Seam reinforcement; Patagonia went out of their way to reinforce all seems on the new models, both with traditional tape, and more modern seam welds, most notably on the inseam and out seam. It makes sense, seams are the 1st thing to go, why not take precaution. They were also intuitive enough to articulate the reinforcement, so the extra material does not hinder movement.
  • Overall weight; For all the bells and whistles, these waders are noticeably light-weight, and seem to breathe very well.

…and the ones I didn’t

  • Adjustable/convertible suspender system; this is my biggest qualm with these waders, as the system seems to be good for about nothing. The quick release clips replace the standard buckle, which creates quite a production when you have to separate the suspenders and squeeze past them to get them on and off. Once you do get them on, you need a buddy or a part time job at a circus side show to reach around your shoulders and return the back sliding clip to its proper position. All this for a convertible system that does not really give you any benefits. With the suspenders unlocked, and the top down, you may enjoy some increased airflow, but you are also left with a big pile of loose material around you waist line, interfering with your gear pack and just generally getting in the way. Patagonia also advertises that this system “allows quick ‘relief’ without having to remove your jacket or wrestle with balky zipper access.” Unfortunately the travel on the sliding suspenders stops about 5” short of where it needs to for this to work, a great idea poorly executed.
  • Noisy seems; when walking out of the water, the welded seams rub against each other, emitting a loud squeak. I am all for the extra reinforcement, and if it proves the test of time, I can learn (much like SA Sharkskin) to put up with a little noise for the sake of performance.

Out of the gate, I am pretty impressed with the Rio Gallegos. Patagonia has added some very nice touches, and aside from the failed convertible system, has produced a seemingly solid piece of gear, that is remarkably comfortable. This assessment, however, is only after a handful of days on the water. The biggest complaint about Patagonia’s previous wader models was durability, and I plan to beat the hell out of these things to see if the extra care taken in reinforcement and overall hardiness will stand the test of time. Stay tuned for updates as I attempt to see what the Rio Gallegos are really made of.

Patagonia Rock Grip Boots

I have also recently switched to Patagonia’s new Rock Grip Boots. I’ve gotten to spend a lot more time in these and I must say these are, hands down, the most comfortable wading boot I have ever worn. The Rock Grip’s great fit is complimented with a very durable and lightweight synthetic upper and durable rubber reinforcement around the toe and heel. The synthetic material does not retain any extra water (reducing weight) and still looks near new after a number of severe beatings on the urban South Platte.  They have also managed to minimize material weight, while still providing ample ankle support, a common shortcoming in other light weight boots. The grippy rubber sole is on par with any other rubber sole on the market, and for extra grip, Patagonia includes removable studs in the box, saving you some money. Keeping in theme with “not necessary, but really nice attitude,” they’ve also built in a flipper lock on the back of the heel for those of us who spend a lot of time in float tubes. I have really been impressed by the Rock Grip Boots, and would highly recommend them.

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