Finding the right fit requires a lot of tinkering.
Few extra features
Fit was a bit snug in lower leg/feet
The Simms Headwater Convertible Waders make it easy to shift from full chest-waders to wading pants, with a simple but effective roll-down design. The Headwaters have a snugger fit than some of the other products in the test, which may have effected breathability a bit, but overall, the Headwaters are versatile and effective waders at a reasonable price.
I probably should have ended up with a different size than the Large 9-11, but once I finally figured out the adjustments the waders fit me well. It seemed like a lot of adjusting that could perhaps be avoided. The fit of the entire waders was tight, which wasn’t necessarily bad, but it was a little too tight on my calves. I’ve never had waders, or pants for that matter, tight on my lower legs and it was weird. The booties were a little snug, but seemed to stretch as I fished.
While other companies have moved to newer technologies, Simms has stuck with GORE-TEX and utilizes 3-layer Pro Shell on these waders. The Headwaters seemed a tad warmer than the others on typical summer days, but it may have felt that way do to how tight they fit. The best breathability comes when taking the top down on warm days.
Other than the conversion system, which turns the waders into wading pants (more on that under the next section), the Headwaters don’t include many extras. There’s a draw cinch for the top and one pocket on the smallish side on the front. A small cell phone might fit in the pocket and maybe a fishing license.
Rolling down the top on a warm, sunny day is super easy with the Headwaters. As you roll the top part of the waders down the material stores quickly into the waist belt and is held there out of the way. Put it down for the hike or when wading small, cold waters. When you hit the big water pull the top up and get after it.
If you are a Simms fan the Headwaters Convertible Stockingfoot Waders will be a natural addition to your collection.
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.