Our New Waders Represent an Amazing Breakthough in Waterproof Technology!

Fly-fishing guide Peter Skidmore field-tests the new Orvis Tweed waders on Montana’s Missouri River.
Photo by Brian Grossenbacher

Announcing a breakthrough in breathable, waterproof materials. . .from an unlikely source. Although modern science has produced some amazing technologies to protect us from the elements—think waterproof fabrics and synthetic insulation—it’s sometimes hard to beat the tools that nature provides us. I don’t know about you, but I’ll take the warmth of real goose down over Primaloft any day of the week, and in comparison to cow hide, faux leather is laughable.

In 2012, Orvis CEO Perk Perkins established a well-funded internal program to discover a natural alternative to the breathable fabrics we use to make waders. Perkins wanted to honor the Orvis Company’s commitments to using natural materials and reducing the carbon footprint of manufacturing processes, so he dispatched associates to the four corners of the globe on a fact-finding mission to discover local knowledge and traditional materials that could be applied to a modern product line.

Four years, and thousands of travel miles later, we are proud and excited to introduce a product that represents both the past and future of waterproof technology: the Orvis Tweed Wader.

The island of South Uist kept its waterproof-wool technology secret for more than a century.
Photo by Tony Kinghorn, via Wikipedia

Research and Development
Yes, you read that right: We have taken a classic of menswear and transformed it into a highly technical, breathable, lightweight material perfect for the rigors of fly fishing. The breakthrough occurred when Orvis’s Albert Harris was combing through ancient Gaelic texts in the National Museum of Scotland and came across mention of how, in order to protect themselves from the harsh waters of the North Atlantic, kelp harvesters of the Outer Hebrides had created a super-tight weave in the late 1700s using a specific Cheviot wool from Cille Bhrìghde on the island of South Uist.

“Could there be any living weavers familiar with this process?” Harris wondered. So he caught a ferry in Oban and made the seven-hour journey to the Western Isles.

After three days of inquiries, false leads, and buying countless pints of McEwan’s Red, Harris met Oighrig MacDonald, the 103-year-old descendent of the Clan Ranald weavers who had closely guarded the trade secrets of their methods. Harris followed MacDonald to her thatched cottage by the sea, and half a bottle of Bruichladdich Scotch later, he had all the information he needed, cribbed from faded notes scribbled on the back pages of the ancient MacDonald family Bible.

The wool from these special Hebridean sheep can be woven tight enough to keep out water.
Photo “Hebridean Sheep” by David Wright, via Wikipedia

When our product developers in Vermont pored over Harris’s findings, they were initially skeptical. But wader specialist Tim Daughton found a source of the proper wool and set about creating the manufacturing process that would lead to the tightest weave possible. It turned out that the wool from South Uisk was incredibly strong, and the fibers bonded to each other like Velcro. Initial tests shocked everyone, as the fabric was not only waterproof but breathable, as well. And because the fibers were so tight, they did not absorb water. But the field testing would be the real test. . . .

On-The-Water Testing and Results
The first tweed waders were sent to five Orvis-endorsed guides in spring 2015, and their initial reactions were predictable—ranging from “What the hell is this?” to “No way.” After a little arm-twisting, however, all agreed to give the new waders a try. . .although a couple said it would be a night-fishing-only proposition. Soon, however, there was a marked change of tune.

  • “Holy crap. These are the most comfortable waders ever!” gushed John Herzer of Blackfoot River Outfitters in Missoula, Montana. “It’s like wearing regular pants, the way they move with you.”
  • Eben Schaefer, of Hubbard’s Yellowstone Lodge, said, “I waded into the river expecting to have wet legs almost immediately. Four hours later, my feet were still dry as bone. Plus, I got some pretty admiring glances from two gals in a drift boat. (Don’t tell Nancy.)”
  • Kip Vieth of Wildwood Float Trips, in Montecello, Minnesota, joked,  “They’re so comfortable, I might sleep in the darned things to cut down on my morning prep time.”
  • But perhaps the most gratifying comments came from Chris Scalley of River Through Atlanta Outfitters in Georgia: “When I took these out of the box, I thought, ‘What kind of Yankee madness is this?’ But after three days on the Chattahoochee, I’m ready to order some for all my guides.”

After a full season of field-testing, in which they proved their waterpoofness and incredible durability, we are incredibly excited to introduce the Tweed Wader for Spring 2016. There is no other product in the world like these revolutionary waders. Here are the specs:

You simply won’t believe how durable and comfortable the new Tweed Waders are.
Photo via orvis.com

These are the toughest and best fly-fishing wader made, making use of a proprietary weaving method. Highly breathable, ultradurable, and built for the demanding rigors of full-time fishing, the Orvis Tweed Waders are designed to keep you dry, comfortable, and looking great. Imported.

  • Newest member of the Orvis wader family, four years in the making
  • Available in men’s and women’s sizes
  • Outer shell: 100% Scottish wool thornproof tweed
  • Estate Herringbone Tweed pattern, with a contrasting Striped Tweed chest patch
  • Lined with a breathable membrane to reduce itchiness
  • 100% more abrasion resistant, 50% more puncture resistant than standard breathable waders
  • Kangaroo-style handwarmer pocket with YKK water-resistant zippers
  • External storage sporran with fly patch and hemostat tassels
  • Y-style padded yoke suspenders
  • Attached, reinforced gravel guards with quick-drain panel
  • Anatomically correct, sculpted neoprene booties
  • Easy-adjusting wading belt included

Click here for more details or to buy Orvis Tweed Waders.

The stylish Sporran attaches to the wader belt and features a useful fly patch.
Photo via orvis.com

47 thoughts on “Our New Waders Represent an Amazing Breakthough in Waterproof Technology!”

  1. Waterproof and classy too! What a breakthrough. Leave it to mother Nature to put smiles on fly fisherman’s faces. Thanks for keeping us in good spirits Phil, this is the best yet 😉

  2. Phil – you’re awesome

    I had to read the dang thing 3 times – all the while going….no friggin’ way

    1. I look forward to test it next January-February winter Steelhead fishing in the Toutle river in Washington State, USA. We will see then. This is the the real deal winter fishing … We will see about the waders…I am sure to get my money back if they fail to be true to this article-advertisement.

  3. You guys are really serious about the work you do and the service provided. Even on April 1st.

    Put me down for 50 pair!!!
    Love my packable orvis waders!!!

    1. Oooo…do they come in Black Watch…?…better still, what about a Yellow McLeod Tartan?? Is a LARGE wee dram of Laphroaig included with purchase??? I’m in if ANY of these are options!!! 🙂

  4. Darn it!! I had my credit card locked and loaded!! I was going to buy first and explain to my wife second! You got me good! Thanks Orvis

  5. And what became of Oighrig MacDonald? Any reciprocity? Would be nice if Orvis did something for her, the Island or the the breed of sheep.

  6. I have been using a fishing kilt for years when I wet wade. I have been awaiting waders like this for when the water is cooler to prevent shrinkage. My only question is are they comfortable commando?

  7. OMG! The Sporran fly holder! The original clan hip pack, that’s just awesome. You guys really made my day with this one. Please… carry on!

  8. we Scots have had water proof Kilts for years, they nae keep your knees dry though………, but with the right single malt ya cannae feel the cold water, an ya donae care!

  9. Got me too! I thought my Super Sonics were the best; to have to buy something better irritated me.

  10. I love Orvis and all the great work they do…so this is not a bash on the company… however:

    I hope these new waders as durable as described, because my silver sonics / super sonics, (sonic whatevers)… they simply cratered in my case…big time.

    the 1st gen sonic welded waders failed me in the 1st year…right along the superbly hyped sonic welded seam – and in the best place…right along the butt crack – into the crotch. you can imagine how pleasant that was. I sent them in for repair – they fixed them…and sent me a bill. lame! 4 years later – they are held together with more aquaseal than anything else.. thorns and rocks / pin-pricks i totally get it – any wader will succumb to that…but mine leak along seams everywhere.

    not sure i’d buy another pair of orvis waders until they started showing up on guides reports actually as durable as the sales hype.

    1. To Orvis’ credit as a great company that stands behind their products – they just called me on the phone and offered a very generous remedy. So there you go…they read these forums and want to do the right thing…which totally backs my first statement above:

      I love Orvis and all the great work they do!

  11. What a great product. The one question I have is how are they maintained and cleaned to keep the freshness?

  12. Adds class to the sport I think. I just ordered a 4 XL Tall with matching fedora.
    Thanks for another amazing product!!

  13. As a guide of over 16yrs, I welcome any advance in waders as far as comfort and durability. I have owned every possible brand of wader at one time or another. The best pair I have ever owned were discontinued 12yrs ago. The worst, were an Orvis product of yester year. The customer service involved with those waders (4 pairs in under two years) was superb however. I currently own the latest Orvis zippered breathables. They are far better than products offered in the past. That being said, as a steelhead guide every night before I go to bed I pray for a good set of BOOT FOOT waders. There is absolutely no comparison as far as warmth with the boot foots. The one piece construction makes it so much easier to get in and out of. As a bonus, I never have to remove them to clear pebbles from under my feet. Please, please, please consider a top of the line one piece wader for your steelheaders and other cold climate anglers.

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