Patagonia Men’s Rio Gallegos Zip-Front Waders ReviewApril 7, 2015
- Fit on the upper body is excellent
- Bootie fit is excellent
- Rich feature set, including remove kneepads
- The cost—$200 more than the other three waders in the review.
- Merino-lined booties can be too warm
The Patagonia Rio Gallegos make use of the company’s decades of apparel design experience to deliver a new perfect fit. The Rio Gallegos offer a host of extra little features that create a very versatile wader, but which also drive up the cost. Still, the waders out-shone every other model in this test to earn our Best in Class Rating.
Let’s start with the most important place waders need to fit—your feet. If the fit is too tight your feet and toes can get cramped, cold and numb. If they are too large it doesn’t take long for blisters to ruin a trip. Patagonia has more than worked out issues of the poor-fitting booties that came out with their first waders. The booties feature anatomically shaped booties, which likely adds to foot comfort. The Rio’s as a whole are form fitting, but not tight. They are comfortable in every imaginable fly-fishing situation. Single seam construction on the back of the legs prevents excessive wear on the inside of the knees and appears to all for more flexibility. A drawstring cinch on the top of the waders allows anglers to tuck in on cold days or when venturing into deep water.
The only place that got clammy during the testing was on the feet; likely due to the merino wool-lined booties. The wool proved unnecessary on warm summer days, but was appreciated on the colder days of testing in more frigid waters. I ended up foregoing the traditional wool socks I usually wear in waders and instead wore a lighter/athletic style sock. Patagonia uses H2No technology and claims the Rio Gallegos Zip-Front Waders are “the toughest, most puncture-resistant, waterproof/breathable wader that we know how to engineer”. That’s a strong statement coming from one of the world largest and most reliable outdoor clothing companies, and the end product does nothing to dispute the claim.
Removable kneepad paired with anatomically curved knees? Yes thank you very much. A padded knee may not seem like much, but anglers staying low on the bank when fishing to spooky fish know all too well the cast and set distracting qualities of a pain emanating from your kneecap while kneeling. Waders don’t need to resemble Storm Trooper uniforms, but the padding is appreciated and only noticed when it is protecting your knee. If you don’t like the padding, pull it out. Another minor feature earned the Rios some bonus points. The large and ergonomic head on the zipper makes it easy to grab and pull for those times you ignored your body to fish just a little too long. The waterproof pouch next to the chest looks secure, but might need to grow in future versions; an iPhone 6 doesn’t fit in the bag. Lined hand warmer pockets on the chest are nice, but might not be large enough for the hands of some anglers.
The internal straps that allow for quick drop down when Mother Nature calls quickly became recognized as an easy way to convert Rios into pant-style waders for long walks into the fishing or on warm days. If the weather makes a turn and you need the extra coverage it is nice to have that option. When you are spending as much as Patagonia expects you to for a pair of waders they better be diverse.
The comfort, lifespan and features of the Rios make them a solid choice for anglers willing to spend $600. Chances are the anglers making this purchase are looking for the Rios to be the last pair of waders they buy.
Brett Prettyman has been an outdoor writer at the Salt Lake Tribune since 1990 and also freelances for a number of outdoor-related publications. He tests fly fishing boots and waders for the Gear Institute.