Orvis Women’s Silver Sonic Convertible-Top Waders ReviewFebruary 18, 2014
- Flatteringly trim fit
- Excellent freedom of movement
- Convenient conversion to waist-high waders
- Waterproof pocket enables touchscreen use
- Oversized booties ball up in wading boots
- Breathability is merely adequate
We can say it pretty easily: The Silver Sonic is an outstanding value that fits great and feels rugged. You can't ask a whole lot more from waders at this price. They weren't the most breathable in our test, but there is a corresponding boost in durability.
Orvis completely re-engineered its flagship women’s waders for Spring 2013, with impressive results: their fit is among the best we’ve seen. Made of four-layer nylon construction, the waders feature the company’s patented SonicSeam welding technology, which eliminates stitch holes and seam taping for smoother, lower-profile fabric connections.
This is the Silver Sonic’s shining quality. Instead of ballooning around your body like traditional waders, the waders pare away excess fabric through the hips and legs to create a much more flattering cut that actually fits like jeans or khakis. Subtle darts at the knees trim up the fit through the lower legs, and the hips and seat are tailored without feeling tight.
There’s just enough ease through the legs to accommodate base layers (I wore wool tights and canvas work pants without a problem) and freedom of movement is excellent. Stepping over a boat’s gunwale or clambering up a steep riverbank, I never felt constricted, thanks in part to angled seams on the thighs that accommodate high-stepping maneuvers better than horizontal seams (which can cut into my legs while I’m hiking or climbing). Seams are placed on the back of the legs, not on the inseam, where abrasion tends to produce leaks.
Only the booties fit poorly. Although Orvis tailors these waders’ feet to be “anatomically correct” (meaning they mimic the curve of distinct right and left feet), the heel and ankle zone was strangely oversized on me. They tended to bunch up in my wading boots unless I did a lot of shuffling to distribute the fabric.
The thicker and heavier the fabric, the less able it is to move moisture—and the Silver Sonic is no lightweight. Its sturdy nylon and four-layer construction impose a breathability penalty that I noticed during longer hikes and on warm days. Yes, it does dispel moisture and keeps me comfortable overall, but relief doesn’t seem to kick in until after I’ve steamed up a bit.
There are three chest pockets: A zippered outer pocket, a zippered inner pocket, and a removable waterproof pouch that lets you operate your smartphone’s touch screen through the plastic. Although a cool feature, I didn’t like how that plastic chest pouch trapped sweat (see my notes on breathability above) and since I use a waterproof case for my phone, I could dispense with that level of protection. The wide, slightly stretchy wading belt feels comfortable and secure. The built-in gravel guard provides an effective interface with boots.
The suspenders don’t unclip from the waders, which makes them just a smidge trickier to wriggle into. But that does allow for a nifty convertible feature: Unclipping the buckle between the straps and the bib releases the fabric and lets it scrunch down around your waist—all while keeping the suspender straps in place. It’s a convenient feature on hot days, when you’re wading in shallow water, or when wearing a vest or sling pack makes it a hassle to slip off your suspenders and roll down your bib.
My only wish? I’d love a hand-warmer pocket. Yes, I realize I can wear mitts in cold weather, and many wading jackets include hand-warmers. But I like to go without those bulky items when I can and prefer to use my waders’ fleecy pouch to restore sensation in my fingers after plunging them in icy water.
Rugged construction makes the Silver Sonic suitable for diehards, who’d find it ideal for a wide range of uses—from Pennsylvania trout pools to Idaho steelhead. But if you’re a summer-only angler who gets out almost exclusively in hot temperatures, you might be happier in something lighter and more breathable.
Costing less than $300, the Silver Sonic offers a lot of bang for the buck. The flattering, well-engineered fit is comparable to that of much spendier models, and the construction promises to hold up over time. Welded seams (which Orvis says are more abrasion-resistant than stitched) and four-layer nylon construction make these waders tough enough for frequent hard use.
13 size options: Petite XS-XL, Regular XS-XL, Tall S-L
Kelly Bastone- Faculty
Mountain-dweller Kelly Bastone became a writer so she could stop asking the boss for permission to take a powder morning, enjoy extra-long lunch breaks to fish or mountain bike, and clock out early when the hatch is on.