Behind the scenes

Patagonia Swiftcurrent Expedition Wader Review

By Pete Tyjas on 10th March 2020


Waders are a subject close to my heart.

They’re a piece of clothing I spend most of my time wearing, from fishing grayling streams in the winter to casting a double-handed rod for salmon and a dry fly for trout from March until September.

For me, they have to fit well, be breathable and if I’m spending a lot of money I want a pair that are durable and pay me back on a cost-per-wear basis. There is little point investing a large sum of money if they are going to leak at the seam a short time into ownership.

Recently I have been buying cheaper waders that have lasted me pretty well, but have needed replacing after a season, or season-and-a-half. This has been OK, but they have been treated as disposable but the time has come for me to step into a more expensive pair and see how they last.

Having looked closely at the high end of the wader market for a number of months, I heard Patagonia were bringing a new pair of waders called The Swiftcurrent Expedition that looked like they would fit the bill.

Here’s why.

Firstly, I really like that they are made from 100% recycled polyester microfibre face fabric. They are the first waders to use recycled materials. That can’t be bad can it?

As someone who fishes small streams I have a lot of situations where I have to kneel. I am a little unsure how much damage the long-term use of knee pads fitted over breathable material does but there is no need to have to consider this as the waders come with built-in knee pads. This is a great addition but also tells me that Patagonia are confident of the durability of the material if they add this into the design. If you don’t want the knee pads you can just remove them.

I’m hoping that the summer isn’t as hot as the last couple but if it is and I am rock hopping on a small Dartmoor stream or fishing the upper reaches of a river and don’t need to wade deep then I simply adjust the waders from chest high to waist high by undoing two clips it really is that simple.

In the past, the straps of previous pairs of waders have perished and have lost elasticity. Whilst the integrity of the waders has remained I couldn’t wear them as I looked like a rapper with low-slung trousers. Whilst it may look great in certain circles it isn’t when you need to wade deep. The straps on the Swiftcurrents are of high quality and are also padded, giving extra comfort. 

The wading belt is made of similar material and is strong and robust.

There are numerous areas on the straps that can adjust so that your waders will fit perfectly. A nice touch.

Both the upper and lower levels of the wader are four-layer thickness. The upper being slightly lighter, giving better breathability and overall lightness to the whole wader.

There are a couple of inside pockets, one is clear and sealable so you can easily store a phone or car keys. The exterior pocket holds a fly box and tippet with ease.

To keep your hands warm if you’re fishing through the winter or early season there is a reach through pocket that is fleece lined that I’ve had good use from already.

The legs have single seams which is something I am always keen on. In years gone by I have had waders with seams that rubbed against each other and worn when I have walked long distances. This would often be an area where waders first failed for me.

The bootees are designed left and right foot which sounds obvious but often they can be just generic for both feet as it saves cost on the manufacture. With this design they feel comfortable inside the wading boots.

Let’s get on to the technical stuff. The waders have a durable water repellent (DWR) finish over the top of a waterproof/breathable barrier. This means water doesn’t get in and the waders don’t get saturated and dry quickly, but any moisture on the inside is removed. 

The bottom line and the deal breaker for many will be cost. They are not cheap at £600 and as mentioned before I’m looking at these on a cost-per-wear basis.

Having studied them beforehand and now having spent time with them, they are exactly what I have wanted – hardwearing yet comfortable. 

Time will only tell if they last the course but my gut is that they will fly it. I’m pleased I have them.

More from Patagonia