Review: The Patagonia Rio Gallegos Front Zip-Waders

Patagonia Rio Gallegos Waders

From The Venturing Angler:

The new Patagonia Rio Gallegos Waders are built for performance. Building upon existing technologies and innovation, Patagonia has made improvements to their Rio Gallegos line with benefits that deserve tremendous praise.

I first got a glimpse of the new Rio Gallegos Waders in July and found them to be attractive, especially with a new Patagonia FitzRoy trout image on the chest. I got the lowdown on their new Wader Task Force, heard great ideas about changes, and was impressed with the look of the waders. Then I moved on. That is, until I got them wet.

These waders are phenomenal. Among changes, Patagonia has significantly improved the fit. While the former Rio Gallegos Waders are excellent in their own right, the new fit stand out among the major improvements for 2016. Taking in two inches from the chest, the new Rio Gallegos fit more naturally up top. With the former fit, there was enough excess material that I would have to manage it some way — sometimes even folding it before putting my jacket on. Now the fit is perfect, likely even letting in less cold as well.

Patagonia Rio Gallegos Waders Review from The Venturing Angler on Vimeo.

This attention to fit also slims down the material at the waist and the hip. I’ve worn many high-end waders over the years from several companies, and this has always been an issue in some way. Bagginess (which can translate to bulkiness) is unwelcome for fly anglers. When it comes to our vests, packs, and other on-the-water gear, we tend to always strive to keep it slim. With the new cut of the Rio Gallegos, bagginess in the waist and hip (that could not have benefited any body type) has been eliminated, thereby increasing comfort and cutting out that excess bagginess. (And from an environmental perspective, this will likely save a great deal on material use.) When fly fishing with two-handed rods, whether steelheading or in the surf, that excess material would tend to be a pest. No longer will my rear grip on a switch or Spey rod frequently clip the waders. In addition, a good fit simply looks better.

One other area of improvement with fit comes in the booties. Excess neoprene in the booties (that would not benefit any foot size) has been eliminated as well, and the result is true comfort and convenience. Know that feeling of trying to jam a wet bootie into a wet boot? With the trimmer bootie, getting in and out of the boots is now much easier. Even more importantly, the elimination of that extra material makes my boots far more comfortable. Until wearing the new Rio Gallegos Waders, I had no idea how my boots were supposed to feel. My boots are now more comfortable than they ever have been. And although I would need more time to prove it, I swear it seems like the more snug fit translates to increased warmth on the water.

Finally, one additional area of improvement comes in the gravel guards. The new “flat panel” allows water to drain more easily. For me, this benefit has been noted as they dry more quickly than before, as the gravel guard area was the slowest area to dry on other waders I’ve worn over time. In addition, the redesign has increased durability.

Patagonia Wader Task Force

Among other features, the 4-layer fabric has all of the warmth and durability an angler can dream of, and this durability can be trusted when on your knees and trekking through terrain. When it comes to warmth, I was pleased to notice that while my hands were freezing on a Northern California steelhead river recently, my feet, legs, and chest were perfectly comfortable. This is critical.

Lastly, Patagonia has introduced the Wader Task Force for their waders. The Wader Task Force is the team that now tracks the performance of Patagonia waders. Each pair is now numbered so that all those involved in wader design can track the performance of the waders. This ultra-focus on design and production issues in a new era of design based on the needs of anglers.

The new Patagonia Rio Gallegos Waders are warm, breathable, durable, and fit beautifully. You can squat, kneel down, and climb without restriction but do not need bagginess to do so. They are durable and layered for warm while breathable. They are tough and also comfortable. The Rio Gallegos Waders are outstanding.

The Patagonia Rio Gallegos Waders are available at local fly shops, and to read more about these waders, please click here.


– Tim Harden


Disclosure: Patagonia is in a professional relationship with the Fly Fishing Guide Directory, LLC and the Venturing Angler. Though potentially benefiting from this relationship, we do not post what we do not believe to be true. To read more, click here.

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