Snowbee Prestige Zip Front Waders (Boot Foot)
Snowbee have led the way with introducing zip- front waders into the UK so we were keen to see how well their current Prestige Zip Front model faired out in the field. Editor Paul Sharman took them out for a test drive in the Sussex countryside.....
As long as I can remember I have always been a stockingfoot kind of guy and so when I first pulled these boot foot waders out of the box I was a little taken aback by the initial weight. Of course this soon went away the first time I put them on and they then felt like any other type of footwear. The reason for mentioning this is that if I were in a store and picked a pair like this up I may have been tempted to put them down again so don't be put off by this if you are used to stockingfoot waders like me - be sure to try them on first and then make your mind up!
Laying out the waders to have a look at them I liked the neutral taupe colour and the two waterproof pockets in a contrasting grey. A nice touch is the little splash of colour added courtesy of the pillarbox red zippers.
The perennial choice of stockingfoot versus bootfoot is really a personal decision in the end as both have their pros and cons. With regard to the Snowbee waders on test though, perhaps one of the main advantages to a bootfoot design is that you then only have one soggy item to store at the end of a days fishing rather than two in the case of stockingfoot and wading boots. Also, there is no doubt that it is easier to just sit on the back of the car boot and pull on a pair of bootfoots if you are perhaps a little less mobile/flexible these days than you once were - same goes for taking them off! There are of course also no troublesome snags on the boots to catch a fly line as can happen with laced wading boots. At the end of the day the good news here is that the Prestige line also includes a stockingfoot model too so you have the choice.
Performance and Opinion
I wore the waders on a couple of fishing trips earlier this summer to give them a true field test. To avoid any damage to the top quality zipper used on the front the instructions tell you to make sure you totally open it before climbing into the waders (or of course you can leave it totally closed too - half way is the potential problem area). This certainly made them a breeze to get into and the zipper itself which is a tried and tested waterproof design from the diving industry closed with no stiffness or jerkiness. The heavy plastic used should avoid any deposits forming over time and so this should remain so for the life of the product you would expect.
These are of course fully breathable waders made of Vapour-Tec material and despite a couple of very warm summer days I did not detect any moisture build up or clamminess either during or at the end of the day when I took them off. There are double pads on the seat and knees to help with puncture resistance in these areas which certainly seemed tough but the sedate Sussex stream I tested them out did not really provide any real test for these. I do know the Snowbee team conduct their own product testing around the rugged Dartmoor area though (just take a look at their catalogue) so I fully expect they have been put through their paces over rocks and tougher snags than the odd tree root I had to content with.
The boots themselves are neoprene lined so warm and comfortable. There is a choice of half felt/cleated sole or a spiked sole which is the model we had for testing. They performed well on the grass and mud and also clambering over some rocky weirs where the spikes were very useful in cutting though the algae to get a better purchase and avoid slipping. I like the design of the sole also in that the rows of spikes themselves are fronted by cleats which help to avoid the 'football boot' clatter to a degree although not entirely, when you are walking to and from the river across a paved surface. These would be my choice as the days of felt have to be numbered now thanks to its propensity for transporting unwanted organisms from watercourse to watercourse if not dried out thoroughly inbetween trips. It is already banned in New Zealand for this reason and the industry is starting to switch across to vibram rubber as a better alternative.
But what of the main feature I hear you ask - the waterproof zipper. Well I am glad to report that despite a little hesitation I did undertake some chest deep wading and came back bone dry so no worries there. Another bonus is that the two front pockets mentioned earlier are also fully waterproof with heat-welded seams and YKK zippers - useful for storing a small camera and your phone for example (not that I am condoning using it while fishing but always useful for emergencies!) There is the usual inner pouch too for a fly box or a couple of small items.
Apart from the included wading belt, a final nice touch is the elasticated draw string around the top of the waders allowing you to adjust the fit with toggle-loks. This means there is no need to look like the Michelin Man any more, well unless you do indeed look like the Michelin Man of course in which case Snowbee are at your service there too with a "Fuller Body" fit as well as a "Standard" fit!
Full Length Riri front zip guaranteed to a pressure of 1.7 bar
Treated with a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) coating
Water resistance (hydrostatic pressure) of 15,000mm
Breathability rating of 3000g/m2/24hrs
Adjustable webbing braces, with quick release buckles
Integral wading belt
D-rings on belt loops for wading staff clip etc.
Double knee & seat pads for abrasion & puncture resistance
Elasticated chest draw cord, with toggle-lok adjusters
Two internal zipped storage pockets
Price: From £269
A well designed and comfortable pair of waders at a great price particularly considering the zip-front technology which has other fringe benefits for us blokes!
Articles by the same author
- Have-a-go at fishing at the National Fishing Month launch event: Friday 22nd July 2016
- Howsham Weir Fish Passage Consultation for River Derwent
- National Fishing Month 2016 Starts on 26th July
- Anglers Blame Poachers for Sewin Decline in Rivers
- Brown Trout Voted UK's National Fish
- Fisheries Scientist Joins the Battle to Restore our Rivers and Chalkstreams
- Improving Smolt Survival On The Agenda for 2017 Conference
- Lottery Funding For Wylye Water Meadows
- Fly Fishing Charity Day Raises £13k
- World Oceans Day - Focus on Wild Salmon