For those of you with the patience to have been following this space for more than a few entries, you may remember the issues I recently had when I purchased a pair of Chota bootfoot waders.
To make a long story short, they leaked up and down the inside seams after only a few trips, and Chota wouldn't support them on the basis that they were "close-outs" - which is just a term that someone can use to say "we built a piece of worthless crap on which we would still like to make some money, at your expense." Even though I did manage to salvage them with an entire tube of aquaseal, a short year later my heel had eaten through the lining in the right foot and now they are pretty much garbage. I might hold on to them and lend them out to guys I want to play a joke on.
Anyway, since the demise of my Chotas I've had quite the conundrum. I still have a pair of Orvis Silver Labels, which are about 5 years old and have stood me in good stead, but they are also creeping nearer wader heaven. I've combed the internet, looking for a deal on quality and shying away from anything that says "close-out." Once bitten, twice shy. I saw some fairly good deals, but nothing I could justify in light of my little family's situation. And with therapy bills to pay for Isaac, and no help from our friendly albeit socialistic government, $450.00 to $500.00 US for top-of-the-line waders is not in the cards.
Enter Ebay. By some fluke, I found an ad for a pair of used Dan Bailey EZ-Zip Waders (pictured above) that were exactly my size. According to the ad, a guide was selling them during the off-season, for cash. At this point, "used" sounds much better than "close-out." At the very least, it most likely means that the seller bought them off the rack, brand new and NOT in the bargain bin. He'd worn them only a few times ("once or twice" which I took to be a slight exaggeration) and they were otherwise as good as new. From the pictures he posted of them, the only real worry I had was that he claimed that the zipper was great for when you needed to attend to nature's call. I wasn't sure how crazy I was about wearing a used garment that might have even trace amounts of some other guy's tinkle on them. But they are clean as clean: I got them last week, and I'm sitting in them now as I write this.
Yes, I'm wearing them right now. I know. Laura says I'm a geek, too. She didn't clue in to the pee thing. They look clean...
Hopefully most of you already know that I'm a bit of a weirdo, so you won't be too shocked... But I also mention that I'm already wearing them, like an excited kid on Christmas morning, because that's how good these waders seem to be. It's gotten me very excited. These are top-of-the-line waders, made by one of the most respected wader manufacturers in the US, and probably in the world. Simms are the only company that I can think of who would be acknowlged as superior, without much debate.
The waders themselves still smell new. They have a few dirty spots on them, and the gravel guard on the right foot looks like it might have briefly visited the underside of a boat bench (it has a small perforation that doesn't really need patching) - but otherwise, they are literally as good as new. Plus they have tons of neat features, such as fleece lined hand-warmer pockets combined with several smaller pockets for gear and tackle; the waist belt is built-in; legs are articulated & have no seams at the knees ; neoprene booties are form fitted and feature an abrasion resistent sole; and the waterproof zipper allows for easy entry and exit as well as being a nice way to cool down when the weather warms up. Oh yeah, and they are easier to pee from :).
The real kicker for me, though, is that the final cost was well under budget!
Time will tell if they are as good as they look, or if the seller left me a few pin holes to patch up. But by all appearances I have an excellent set of waders on my hands, which should alleviate "wader stress" for the next few years.
I can't wait to try them out on the rivers.... might be time for a NY State foray... hmmmm...