L.L. Bean Women’s Kennebec Waders ReviewFebruary 18, 2014
- Sturdy, comfortable wading belt
- Unrestricted range of motion
- Limited number of seams reduces likelihood of leaks
- Baggy, sacklike fit
- Not available in various lengths
- Breathability is adequate, not excellent
Best for bigger-bodied anglers, these waders use a roomy cut for full freedom of movement. There’s lots of room for thick fleece pants, puffy coats, multiple socks and anything else you might want to don while you fish. In summer, you might find them bulky.
There’s nothing about these four-layer waders that’s dumbed-down for women. The suspenders are made of a broad, neoprene yoke that distributes the waders’ weight. The no-nonsense, extra-wide wading belt is more comfortable and easier to adjust than most. And the stitchless construction uses adhesive to create supple seams that don’t bind when you step or bend. Neither is the fit diminutive: There’s lots of room in these generously-sized waders for thick fleece pants, puffy coats, multiple socks and anything else you might want to don while you fish.
First, the bad news: The Kennebec is a double-wide. The baggy cut extends from the armpits to the ankles, hampered only by the industrial-strength wading belt. There appears to have been no attempt to reduce fabric bulk, so I have confiscated all photographs taken of my backside while wearing these waders.
Now, the good news: The roomy cut imposes zero restriction on movement or layering options. I could wear three pairs of pants beneath them, so I never felt cold, even in sub-freezing temperatures.
The suspenders were too big for me: Even cinched to their smallest size, they were too long to hold the bib up properly (and alterations to it are tricky, given the neoprene yoke). And the Kennebec is only offered in one length. I’m short, so I experienced some accordion-style bunching of the fabric throughout. The booties are also roomier than they really need to be for me.
The four-layer construction skews toward durability rather than breathability, and I felt that bias just sitting on the riverbank. It doesn’t require major exertion to steam these up; instead, I felt a tad clammy even with relaxed wading. Could I live with it? Sure I can. The Kennebec breathes well enough to be functional.
I love the wading belt. It’s extra-wide—almost 2 inches—which feels unusually secure. The broader band pinches less than narrower options, thanks in part to a bit of elasticity in the front. And the side-cinch design makes it much more comfortable than most. Instead of one buckle, the belt slides into two fixed loops on the front, so adjustments are made in two places (one on each hip).
Zippers on the chest pocket are placed vertically, rather than horizontally. I might prefer the traditional top-zip design, which keeps me from unintentionally dropping small items (which occasionally worked their way out of the open zipper on the side). The handwarmer pouch feels cozy, and a (removable) interior waterproof pocket holds a wallet and phone.
The built-in fabric gravel guards use an extra-wide band of elastic that’s probably more durable than most, but also required wrestling it over my boots to clip it into place. Seams on the outer leg are protected from abrasion while walking or sitting in a boat.
The roomy cut lets you dress for any weather. The midweight fabric makes for a nice all-around weight that’s not overbuilt for light summertime duty, yet also capable in colder, harsher weather.
With its stitchless construction and upgraded wading belt and suspenders, the Kennebec seems like a good buy. But its balloon-like fit and limited size range seem more appropriate for entry-level waders.