[Review] Patagonia Middle Fork Packable Waders
Words like “packable” and “lightweight” sometimes carry the connotation of being less functional. Patagonia turned that notion on its head. These waders carry an easily-adjustable, drop-down, suspender system that allows for quick changes in setup depending on conditions. At only 26 oz., these waders are extremely lightweight, which is awesome if you’re going to take waders into the backcountry on your next backpacking trip. The hypoallergenic (they thought of everything!) rubber booties make for very quick drying…no cold, damp neoprene here. The rubber booties can slip around some, causing a slightly sloppy fit if not tightened down. Being on the thinner side, you will want to layer underneath this in colder waters; as you will get cold.
Aesthetics & Design: 5
The design is minimal and streamlined with very little in the way of extra add-ons or features. But, that is exactly what these waders were designed around. There are some thoughtful design elements such as the small holes for a couple of flies where the suspenders meet the upper body of the waders. One thing to note, there is one internal waterproof pocket designed for your phone/key but little else. If you are trying to go very minimal and not carry any bag, this can leave you wanting more room in the pocket. Even making the pocket bigger would make these waders perfect for the minimalist fly fisherman. Lastly, Patagonia designs its products with the environment in mind. These waders are no exception with H2No® Performance Standard shell built with a 3-layer upper made from 100%-recycled nylon and the 4-layer bottoms being made from 70%-recycled material.
For being so lightweight, these waders are built like a tank. With lightweight gear, there is usually the fear that it will be prone to quick snags and tears. Patagonia went above-and-beyond to dispel that fear.
Crashing around in the underbrush, there was some nervousness; but these waders were champs. One picky note, the small pull tabs for the suspenders feel a little flimsy and one of them did come undone when pulled on a little too forcefully. However, this was quickly remedied by tying a better knot.
Coming in at $349, these waders are less-expensive than most of Patagonia’s waders as well as other lightweight waders on the market. The amount of functionality and design in these waders make them well-worth the price as they are a workhorse that can take on a variety of roles.
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