Orvis Silver Sonic Convertible Waders

Orvis Silver Sonic Waders

Orvis Silver Sonic Waders

For my birthday my wife surprised me with new waders!  But not just any waders.  The new Silver Sonic Convertibles from Orvis!

These new waders feature Orvis’s patented SonicSeam Technology.  Most waders are sewn together with traditional stitching (i.e. a needle and thread). This creates holes in the fabric that have to be later sealed to make them waterproof.  But Orvis uses an advanced welding technology that eliminates the need for stitching, meaning the seams are waterproof the moment they’re assembled.

Orvis Silver Sonic Waders

A welded seam

According to the company, this not only makes for a more waterproof seam, but an overall more durable wader.  While I haven’t had the waders long enough to attest to their long-term durability, I can show you some of the features I really like about them (and one I don’t like).

Fit & Comfort

The first thing I noticed when I slipped into the breathable beauties is that they are really comfortable.  I’m 5′ 10″ and 145 lbs. and the size medium fits me perfectly.  The neoprene stocking feet and legs are ergonomically sculpted to conform to the contours of an actual human body (unlike some waders I’ve had that fit more like a garbage bag).

The cut is still generous enough and things stretch in all the right places so that movement isn’t restricted.  Some waders feel like a straightjacket.  The feel like comfy pajamas.

Breathability

“Breathable” is a term that has been thrown around very loosely in the wader game.  And words “waterproof and breathable” has always seemed to be an oxymoron to me.  But the Silver Sonics appear to be the real deal.  After some field testing, I had zero condensation after peeling the waders off and water just beads up on the outside as if it were repelled by Never Wet.

Orvis Silver Sonic Waders

Water beading on the knee

I usually expect at least a little condensation, but was surprised when my REI Sahara cargo pants were bone dry. I hope that lasts and is not just an out-of-the-box bonus.

Storage

In terms of pockets, the Silver Sonics get an A+ in my book.  I am really impressed with the organization.  The front features a generous chest-high external pocket with a water-resistant zipper:

Orvis Silver Sonic Waders

External chest pocket with water resistant-zipper

The pull tab is even shaped like a fish (nice touch Orvis).  But there’s more. There’s also an internal pocket AND a flip-out, removable dry pouch for things like you iPhone or other things that wouldn’t survive a dip in the water.

Orvis Silver Sonic Waders

Internal waterproof pocket

With three big pockets, a tenkara angler or minimalist fly fisher could easily carry everything they need for a day sans the vest or chest pack.

Special Features

These waders are convertible, meaning you can quickly switch between full chest waders and waist-high waders.  The suspenders have a threaded buckle system that allows you to instantly flip flop between the two modes without removing the suspenders and adjusting a bunch of buckles, etc. On the left, you will see the buckle connected in “chest” mode.  On the right, you’ll see it in unbuckled “convertible” mode.

Orvis Silver Sonic Waders

Stretchy convertible suspension system

What you do is unbuckle the clip and then slide the waders down to go to waist mode.  The suspenders will still be on your shoulders, but the waders will easily slide down to waist height.

I don’t see myself using this feature a lot because I like having full coverage, but it could be a nice option to have on really hot days when you need to vent.

If you want to see how easy it is to convert, watch this video at 01:16:

A side benefit of this design is that it makes them easier to put on.  When you have buckles that completely detach, it can be a pain to try to find them when you want to put them on.  There’s always that awkward dance of twisting around and reaching around your back, trying to catch a rogue buckle.  But with this system, you just slip the waders on, gram the big loops of the suspenders, slide them on your shoulders, and buckle them in.  I know this wasn’t the main intention of the design, but I really like it.

There are lots of other little details I like about the Silver Sonics.  They definitely paid a lot of attention to detail (even some things I never would have thought of).  One example is that the built-in gravel guards have drain holes in the back so they don’t carry water:

Orvis Silver Sonic Waders

Drain holes in back of the gravel guards

And the included wading belt is secured with built in belt loops, meaning you’ll never have to chase down your belt again.  And notice that they sewed the loop onto separate panel of fabric, then welded it on, staying true to their “needless” seam philosophy.

Orvis Silver Sonic Waders

Complaint Department

My one small complaint with the Silver Sonics is that the foot is lined with rows of small, sticky rubber beads.  While this really gives you good footing between the stockingfoot and wading boot, it also sticks to the inside of the boot, making it difficult to slide the feet in and out.

Orvis Silver Sonic Waders

It could be the Simms boots I’m using but I was surprised at the number of yoga poses I had to wriggle through just to get me wader’s feet out of my boots.  Not a deal breaker but a noteworthy annoyance.

Conclusion

Overall, I’m very impressed with the fit and features. Back in the days when I worked in a fly shop, waders like these would have easily cost $400+.  But technology has gotten so good that Orvis is able to offer them at a much more reasonable $260.  That’s still more than I like to pay for breathable waders, but if the durability is as good as they say it is, then I’d call them a good value.  Only time will tell.  And you can be sure I will be reporting back on the log-term durability.

For more info on SonicSeam Technology and the full lineup of Silver Sonic waders, click here.

Orvis Silver Sonic Waders

Hanging out to dry at the end of the day

Author: Jason Klass

Jason is an avid fly angler and backpacker. As a former fly fishing guide originally from Western New York, he moved to Colorado and became an early adopter of tenkara which perfectly suited the small, high altitude streams and lakes there. He has not fished a Western-style fly rod for trout since.

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14 Comments

  1. I have been beating the crap out of these waders since December 2012. They have held up very well for me. Erik had a slide on some rocks while wearing his and his pocket knife in his inner pants wore a hole in the thigh of the waders.

    It is important to realize that the Silver Sonic series are lightweight waders not the overbuilt guide type waders. Just take a little care to not go sliding down rock faces or bushwhacking through thorn bush patches and these waders will serve you well for a long long time.

    The light weight makes them a great mid-summer, high heat season wader.

    During winter I layer them up with heavy weight Patagonia Capilene long johns and the Orvis insulated under-wader bibs: http://www.orvis.com/store/product.aspx?pf_id=41R8 This makes for a good cold weather combo.

    These waders are a pretty trim fit. Orvis actually removes any excess fabric so that they don’t have a lot of extra fabric causing drag in the water and increasing fatigue from fighting drag and carrying extra unnecessary weight. Because of the trim fit, choose thermal layering that is thin and efficient or you might find that your waders are too tight in the knees and butt.

    I also found that during July and August that the water proof electronics pocket created a lot of heat right in the center of my chest. I found that removing the water proof pocket and placing it in the inside fabric pocket to be much more comfortable.

    I use an REI small compression sack if space is at a premium for packing. With the compression sack, these pack down really well and the overall package is pretty lightweight for a full-featured pair of waders. They even come with an extra set of “lightweight” suspenders for the really gram obsessed traveller.

  2. What a wonderful , thoughtful wife!

  3. Exactly, only time will tell. In my experience one $ 500 Simms has given me exceptional service, 10 years of harsh treatment without a single filtration.
    Very good gift in any case, very lucky.

  4. Wow Vasco! I don’t think I’ve had a pair of breathable waders last more than 3 years. I once had a $450 pair that only made it two seasons.

  5. Thanks for the review Jason. I’ve been looking at waders for a little while now, because the last time I sent my Simms in for service they “Red Stamped” them and sealed the deal that they need to be replaced soon. Can’t complain though, they sealed all of the pinholes and put brand new booties on them before the red stamp went on. Still working pretty good even after 7 seasons believe it or not.

    The Silver Sonic’s are definitely on my radar. They look like a great value. Almost all of the reviews I’ve read are positive. I think I’ll have to try a couple on though. Not sure if a medium will fit me. I’m also about your height at 5′-11″ but a thicker build at 195 lbs.

    Happy belated Birthday.

  6. What I say is absolutely true, I don´t know maybe I had a lot of luck or maybe in the old days in USA things were made ​​to last.

  7. Sadly, I had to retire my ancient and truly great Simms Guides (manufactured in 1997) with over 13 years of service. I sent them into Simms, and they said that they couldn’t repair them to a reasonably leakproof condition. The service rep said the Classic Guides were famous for durability, and they have repaired some that were the same age, but mine had too many leaks.

    After reading your review, I bought some Silver Sonics. I really like them. The features are incredible compared to the very simple Simms Guides which only featured a cloth pocket, no belt, belt loops, gaiters or waist high conversion.

    I was a bit worried about the fit in the foot. The booties are way bigger than the Simms, and there’s over an inch extra in the toes. I tried other sizes in the store but thought this size is the best overall. Smaller sizes were better in the foot, but a little tight in the legs.

    After fishing in them all day yesterday, the extra material isn’t a problem for my current boots, but I need to be very careful putting on and lacing the boots.

  8. Glad you like them Bruce. Do you find the feet a little difficult to get out of the boot like I did?

  9. How are these holding up a year in? I’m shopping for a pair and was curious on their longevity

  10. Hey Mark, no leaks or any other problems so far.

  11. I personally own a pair of the convertible sonics. With central oregon waters I’ve found the best option in boots for these waders. The Korkers Boa boots are amazing and has plenty of traction options to change from stream to stream. Check them out!

  12. Any thoughts on Chota Hippie waders?

  13. I have to silver sonics and they have held up remarkably well. I am wondering if you need to treat the waders to keep the material plyable and from cracking. I fish a lot of saltwater, sometimes 3x a week. I was thinking spraying on silicone but, am not sure what this will do. thanks for any feedback… mark

  14. I don’t treat mine. Seems like silicone might affect the breathability.

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