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Fly Apparel Review

The Orvis Pro Guide Stretch Wading Jacket shields anglers from the elements (continued)

On the back of the jacket is a large rear pocket that is able to hold larger items including lunch and even two small water bottles. While there is a lot of capacity offered with this pocket I preferred not to load it with anything but the essentials as you do feel the weight pulling against the shoulders and front of the jacket. Finally a net retainer D-ring is positioned near the back of your neck making it easy to draw your net when it comes time to land that trophy fish.

A look at the cuff, notice the strap to tighten the cuff firmly around your wrist

When wading deep into the water or releasing fish Orvis includes what I consider to be the very best feature of this jacketÖ the Dolphin Skinô cuffs. These cuffs can be adjusted underneath the sleeve to hug you wrists. Not only are the cuffs good at holding the sleeves in position while casting they prevent water from moving up and into the jacket when you dip your hands into the water. With other jackets Iíve made moves where the cuff came into contact with fast moving water and the next thing I knew I had freezing water all the way down my sleeve, not fun on cold days! The Dolphin Skinô cuffs on the Pro Guide Jacket do a great job locking out the water and keeping you both dry and comfortable.

Even the zippers are special, they are laser cut to ensure the large pockets remain waterproof

One final thing we noted in actual fishing tests was the Pro Guide jacket is cut a little higher than some of the other jackets we have fished in the past including those from Simms. I personally appreciated this as I was able to wade through higher water without concern about the jacket getting wet. While you can still get away with wearing this garment as a normal rain jacket the styling is something to take into consideration if you prefer a longer cut.

The pockets are large enough to hold big items like digital cameras and fly boxes

Durability: Destroying a garment like this always breaks my heart but to see just what the Orvis Pro Guide could handle I put the garment through all the typical usage one would expect on two extended trips then moved on to a series of destruction tests. Two trips is hardly enough time for a long term test so we accelerated the damage by deliberately rubbing the arms and side of the jacket against various rocks and wood structure lining the banks of the river. Surprisingly neither was able to do more than scuff the surface of the garment and the membrane continued to deliver a watertight seal. We then tested the surface with hooks and unless the hook was directly pressed downwards against the garment they would glide over the surface without snagging. Fly hooks will do no damage to the garment but traditional hooks can pierce the surface if pressed against the garment directly. We were able to make a small hole that beads of water were able to get through, but again this is really an abnormal scenario that is unlikely to occur in the field. By the end of our tests I was confident that the jacket would hold up well over the long term when employed in normal fishing applications.

On the back is a handy net snap

Price & Applications: As we move on to the category of price things get a little hairy for the Orvis Pro Guide Jacket. A lot of anglers are willing to pay 300 plus for a wading jacket but a requirement is that it needs to be built with Gore-Tex. There are a lot of materials out there that compete with Gore-Tex but few are as well known. The biggest competition for this jacket comes from Simms which prices their Rivershed jacket for $279.95 and the standard Guide jacket at $349.95, their G4 Pro jacket retails for $479.95, and all of these jackets make use of Gore-Tex material. If youíre not hung up on Gore-Tex the Orvis Pro Guide Jacketís price of $329 dollars will be more acceptable to you. If you are already a fan of Orvis outerwear or a previous owner of the Tailwaters XT jacket then the price will not seem out of range at all.

The Orvis Pro Guide Stretch wading jacket offers exceptional mobility and free range of motion for your arms

Orvis jackets have a unique styling and differ greatly from offerings from both Simms and Patagonia. The Pro Guide Jacket is much more modern looking than the Tailwaters XT. When the Tailwaters XT jacket debuted it retailed for $298 dollars and we think the 31 dollar price premium over the Tailwaters XT makes buying the Pro Guide a no brainer, but Orvis has been blowing out the old Tailwaters XT jackets for only $159 dollars which is an exceptional price, if you can still find one. The company also has a new "Tailwaters" jacket for $229 dollars that has more traditional pocket design, a zinger patch, a roll in store hood as well as the dolphin skin cuffs but no stretchy yoke or laser cut pockets. Overall I prefer the more modern look and features of the Pro Guide Stretch Wading jacket but it is hard to overlook hundred dollar delta between it and the new Tailwaters jacket.

Ratings: (We've re-calibrated our ratings standard for 2008 and have included a key at the bottom of the following matrix as a guide):

 Orvis Pro Guide Waterproof Stretch Wading Jacket Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality The Orvis Pro Guide Waterproof Stretch Jacket is built well and makes use of a nylon shell and nylon tricot backing, we suspect it is Toray material 8
Performance The Pro Guide Jacket performed well in all of the tests from casting to actual breathability and the ability to keep anglers waterproof and dry. It even performed well in our accelerated durability tests. It is the most comfortable jacket to cast in that I have ever fished 8.5
Price The jacket retails for 329 which is considered expensive and puts it in range of quite a few competitors including Simms. The Pro Guide is jacket is cheaper than the premium offerings from Patagonia and Simms however 6.5
Features Plenty of features including waterproof laser cut pockets, stretch fabric on shoulders, large waterproof pockets for storage, two way adjustable hood, dolphin skin cuffs, net snap, large pocket for lunch and water. Still it is missing a few popular features including an attachment for zingers and a roll up hood 8
Design (Ergonomics) Extremely comfortable to wear and cast in. So light that it is easy to forget that your wearing it, and big enough to layer up underneath even though it has a modern fit 9
Application Great for a wide range of applications and can be appreciated by more than just fly anglers, this jacket is great for warm water fishing in the rain and all but extreme cold locations 8

Total Score

Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = unbelievable!
For More Details of the updated rating system visit our explanation here


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Extremely light and comfortable to wear and cast in L If you are looking for a jacket made with Gore-Tex your out of luck with this garment
J Great barrier against the elements L No attachment for zingers on the front of the jacket
J Cheaper than some of the premium jackets from other brands  
J Plenty of dry storage behind laser cut zippers  
J Dolphin skin cuffs keep your arms dry when close to the water or releasing fish  


The Orvis Pro Guide jacket features a clean modern design and will keep anglers dry and warm even in heavy rain


Conclusion: Overall the Orvis Pro Guide Wading jacket is extremely well laid out and anglers will love the way it feels when fly casting or just hiking from spot to spot with conventional gear. The definitely lives up to all the companyís waterproofing and breathability claims.  I have fished with the Orvis Tailwaters XT jacket and the Pro Guide is indeed a step up in both design and construction. The Tailwaters XT jacket is a more traditional jacket and is already one of the most popular on the market, with good reason, but anglers looking for the highest level of protection from the elements will appreciate Orvisís new top of the line Pro Guide Stretch Jacket. The Orvis pro Guide Stretch Wading Jacket properly shields anglers from the elements, and you donít have to be a fly angler to appreciate just how good this jacket is. Whether you plan on fishing on a warm day and you want extra splash protection or you are facing a deluge the Orvis Pro Guide Jacket will keep you comfortable and dry through it all.










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