The Freestone is Simms’ entry-level waders model, but is still arguably the best choice of breathable waders for someone starting out in fly fishing.
These lack some of the features of their higher-end cousins, but at price of under $300 you get all the benefit of Simms reputation and craftsmanship and design.
(And for $100 more the Simms Freestone Z offers a zippered version – for us this is a total game changer. A zippered wader at an entry level price.)
Simms has been at the forefront of breathable wader design for decades and we recommend these to anyone looking for a great pair of waders at a cheap price.
There are other brands of breathable stockingfoot chest waders of course, but none with pedigree and quality of Simms.
Simms Freestone Waders Review:
So having dealt with the material, how do these waders stack up against the rest of the Simms range and other competing brands.
We’ve analysed these competitively priced waders below across a range of criteria.
What this means is instead of the GORE-TEX used in the G4, G3 and other models they are constructed from breathable Toray fabric. In our experience, Toray is a great second choice to GORE-TEX and has similar properties in terms of breathability. You will still be able to keep cool strolling a riverbank in high summer and warm when wading the cool snowmelt waters of spring in these waders or during a spell of cold weather during winter months.
Design and construction:
These are Simms standard chest-level stockingfoot wader design. Simms waders come in a wide range of sizes and we’ve always found the cut of the waders very comfortable for a wide variety of body shapes and sizes.
We’ve never had any chafing or discomfort in decades of using Simms waders and provided you choose the right size. (Click here for Simms great guide to choosing the correct size of waders – very handy for buying online)
These are made with four laminated layers of Toray (described as Toray Quadralam by Simms), which strikes a good blend of durability (and resistance to prickles and scrub) and breathability and comfort. Customers review very much back this up and it is worth noting that Toray is the standard material for breathable waders at this price point.
The same-four layer construction is used the in G4 series, but with GORE-TEX instead of Toray.
Simms use neoprene for the socks and built-in gravel guards and the Freestone waders have a comfortable adjustable straps and harness, as you’d expect from a high quality manufacturer. The Simms Freestones come with an elastic nylon wading belt for safety with three built-in belt loops. The anatomical neoprene feet are a great fit with Simms range of wading boots such as the Flyweight.
Because these are the most basic model in the Simms line up, there are less features than in the other models.
They have a single pocket on the front with capacity for a couple of fly boxes, sunglasses and other fly fishing gear. However the pocket is not waterproof, so you have to make other arrangements for your cell phone, wallet and other valuables.
Behind the main pocket, the Freestones have two fleeced lined reach-through handwarmer pockets – great for keep your hands warm a cold winter day.
As with other Simms waders, the harness can be configured to let the chest section down to waist level so you can wear them a bit like pants to stay a bit cooler and retain your comfort on hot days thanks to reversible suspender buckles.
Reputation and warranty
Visitors to this site will know I’ve always owned Simms waders (as well as fly fishing vests and boots) and have fished with them in huge range of conditions throughout the world. I have found they offer unmatched durability and comfort over other brands. There is no one that comes close to them for great stockingfoot chest waders.
Plus they are backed with what I think is an industry-leading wader warranty – if these waders tear or rip in the first year, Simms will look after the repairs. After that, repairs involving manufacturing issues are free, too. Simms offers a reasonably priced repair service for other issues that might arise.
Our verdict: a great first pair of waders
While it is nice to have features such as the waterproof pocket and the waterproof zippers you get on high end models like the G4Z (my personal choice), if you are young or not on a high income you need to get a cheaper and just get out and fish.
These high quality fly fishing waders are perfect for those in that situation. They are tough (thanks to the 4-layer Toray construction) but comfortable and backed by Simms’ unrivalled technology, quality and warranty.
We reckon these durable waders are a great buy and and an excellent choice for those who want to upgrade for less versatile types of of waders such as hip waders, full neoprene waders and other types of cheaper waders.