Orvis Sonic Seam wader review

My last pair of waders was the Orvis Pro Guide III. They were super heavy duty, many-layered, reinforced knees, reinforced seat etc. They started to leak in both feet after 14 months. From everything I hear, these days, this is about how long you can expect a pair of waders to last. This seems crazy, but it is what it is.

So I called Orvis and ask them about a warranty claim and they said I should try their relatively new Sonic Seam waders. The person on the phone claimed the welded seams dramatically reduce the incidence of leaks and that “all the guides are using them” and that they are just the greatest, bestest thing since non-catgut leaders. I had checked out these waders previously and thought they looked great for backpacking. They are ultralight, weighing less than 2.5 pounds, and they pack down extremely small into an included compression sack.

But for busting brush? For wearing them literally every day? For putting them through a season climbing in and out of boats? I was skeptical. So they said they would send me a pair for review free of charge and I said great, I’ll check them out.

I like how they fit. I like how they feel: not bulky or restrictive, easy on and easy off, the fabric has a nice “hand.” I don’t like the suspender system. It is really lightweight and not very supportive. There is a stretchy cord sewn into the top of the waders to which the suspenders connect, so tightening the suspenders also tightens the top of the waders, which I don’t like. But again, it’s a super lightweight system and great if saving weight and bulk is your concern. One problem with the construction that I noticed after less than a month of regular use was that the back belt loop started to peel off. No big deal, but kind of disappointing.

The biggest issue didn’t happen until hex season when I was doing some serious bushwhacking. Granted there might have been some metal involved, in fact I’m pretty sure there was some random scraps of metal involved, but I’m walking through the woods in the dark and I stumble over something and it jams me in the shin and I don’t think much about it but when I get back to the car I see that I had ripped a 4-5” gash in the waders, straight through the shin and down into the top of the booty.

While these were extreme circumstances, busting through the woods in the dark and getting really unlucky tripping over some random metal, I’m quite sure that my old waders, the Orvis Pro Guide III, would not have torn. They were super tough. Many, many times thicker than the Sonic Seams.

I suppose the Sonic Seams will hold up better in terms of “natural” leaks. We’ll see. I managed to patch up the tear with a liberal application of the UV cure epoxy that was included with the Sonic Seam waders.

Overall, I’d say if you’re looking for a lightweight, packable, comfortable pair of waders, the Sonic Seams are a great option. If you want something built for extreme conditions, they are probably not the best choice.

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