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SFF Review - Simms G4 Pro Wading Jacket
You wonít have to thumb through a game fishing cataloge very long before you find the name Simms, they are an American company based in Boseman, Montana. Simms only sell fishing gear, this stretches from waders, jackets and boots to backpacks, luggage, fly boxes and a whole host of other things in between. Simms are considered a professional product and are at the top end of the pricing scale, their products are used extensively around the globe by guides and those who spend a lot of time on both fresh and salt water.
A wading jacket is one of the most important pieces of a salmon fishers kit, particularly in spring and autumn we can be out there in the worst of weather. Here I take a look at the G4 Pro jacket, the premium wading jacket in the Simms range. I bought this jacket to replace an aging G3 that I had owned and used heavily for the last 5 years.
Simms Ė G4 Pro Wading Jacket
I guess when making such a purchase my main considerations would be;
1. Will it keep me dry in the worst conditions?
2. Will it be comfortable to wear?
3. Are the main features actually useful/practical?
4. Will I get value for money?
Of course any review is subjective but I will try and answer my own questions in an objective and unbiased fashion.
Will it keep me dry in the worst conditions?
Yes I expect it will. I say this based on two things, firstly I have owned my G3 jacket for 5 years and it has never let me down, the G4 is made of the same Goretex material and appears to be made in the same way with durable stitching and taped seams. I have worn this new jacket already for over 50 full days since I bought it including some very wet ones and so far its functioning perfectly, that could be easily 3 or 4 years use for some people!
Will it be comfortable to wear?
Iím 6í tall, 16 stone with a 46í chest. I bought the XL size and it fits well. The cut is very comfortable. With a base, mid and fleece layer underneath it fits very nicely and I even had an extra mid layer when it was really cold one day while abroad without problem. The material is very soft and when worn as a rain shell over a t-shirt it easily follows your form without feeling stiff or clumsy. I find the elasticated adjustment for the hood to be quick and easy to adjust but would say that without a baseball cap underneath I donít like the way the peak seems to crowd my eyes. That said I will usually always wear a cap first in lighter rain and if it gets heavier its easy to pull the hood up over the cap and keep a good field of view.
Are the main features actually useful/practical?
On the front there are 2 main breast pockets, these are deep enough for the usual stuff we carry and have a flap that closes using Velcro, this will stop the rain from getting in and anything inside from getting out. One of the flaps has a useful fly patch attached. These pockets will easily accommodate a couple of fly boxes and the usual stuff we carry, I have some custom made 8.5Ēx5Ēx1.75Ē boxes and they fit very nicely in either pocket. On the outside of these large pockets there are 2 smaller layered pockets with waterproof zips, these pockets give fast and easy access to things like leader material or sink tips. A major disappointment for me was the very outer of the 2 layered pockets, Simms have replaced what used to be Goretex with a stretchy elasticated material. I can see the function of this in the sense that it allows you to accommodate unusual shaped objects while still being able to close the zipper, the problem is the material is not in the slightest bit waterproof! Not a good thing if you chose to store your cash, fishing licenses or cigarettes in there.
There are soft lined hand warmer pockets, these give welcome respite from the cold and wet and quickly help restore lost heat, I really liked the inclusion of what appeared to be a waterproof zip on these pockets, sadly it wasnít. Be mindful if you wade deep the water will leak thru these zips and you end up with a pocket full that doesnít drain as easily as it fills, having said this my old G3 didnít have zips anyway so I donít really feel to worse off! On the subject of zips, the large back pocket has had its zip moved from along the top to down the right hand side. I liked this because it allowed me to actually use the pocket with my jacket still on, sadly the problem of leaky zips again raised its head so you cant really use this if you plan to wade deep. In Simms defense most people wont wade as deep as the zip, unfortunately I often do! Either side of the front zip there are integrated zingers, I find these really useful for attaching snips and forceps ensuring they are always to hand when needed.
The new G4 has added ventilation in the form of underarm zips, these are 14Ē long and when opened significantly help to cool you down. You can feel these zips and initially I was aware of them which I didnít like, after an hour or so you soon forget they are there but when needed they are worth having. Finally the cuffs, a major sore point with me on wading jackets. About three quarters of the length of the cuff is made of neoprene which is comfortable, the other quarter is a Goretex material that easily folds inside when you tighten up the Velcro fastenings. I did find with both the G4 and my older G3 jacket that you need to pull the Velcro uncomfortably tight to make the cuffs waterproof enough for releasing a fish. I never fish like this and if you forget to do them up when it comes to the release of a fish your going to end up with wet cuffs and sleeves. The best cuffs I have seen are the Orvis Pro Guide jackets, take note Simms, you need to up your game a little here!
Will I get value for money?
I guess this is the area where peopleís opinions of VFM differ. I got 5 years out of my G3 jacket, looking at it I think I could have gotten another couple of years or more from it still, that is at a professional level and wearing it a lot. The G4 wading jacket has an RRP of £449, based on my previous experiences I would say I will get 6yrs out of the G4 wearing it more than three times as often as most salmon fishers would, at around £75 per year I think that is good value. I say that because I donít think I would be as well protected or comfortable in a new £75 wading jacket every year.
In summary there is no disputing the fact that Simms are expensive, in some peoples opinions prohibitively. I dont think this jacket is perfect, but then are any? However this jacket ticks all the important boxes for me, its comfortable with good functionality and when I need to rely on it in bad conditions I know it will keep me 100% dry. I think if you want to be seen with the best and are happy to pay a premium then the jacket will give you what you want. If like me your rely on gear like this for your day to day living then its unlikely you will look anywhere else.
I bought this jacket from Angling Active
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