Only a few years ago and I bet you most UK saltwater anglers never knew a thing about these lighter weight, "breathable" chest waders from the fly fishing world, and the thought of dropping what could easily be £200+ on a pair of waders for saltwater fishing just didn't wash. Look around you now. I love how fishing keeps on changing and adapting, and as much as I hear various complaints about the price and durability of these lightweight chest waders, they are as essential to me as a rod or a reel and I can't do without them. I look after mine as best as I can and I accept that I'm tending to put them through what they were never designed for. But of course over time you can't help but find certain makes or models of chest waders that tend to stand up that bit better................
I have heard plenty of very favourable stuff about Vision waders over the last few years, and specifically their Ikon model. When somebody I trust as implicitly at Nick Hart says they are getting no returns on them, well that says a hell of a lot to me - check here. I am loathe to call a pair of waders around the £199 mark as "budget", but when considered against the breathable wader market as a whole, the fact is that this not insignificant amount of money is much nearer budget or perhaps mid-range than high end. I'm sure the Vision Ikon waders could be found for less if you went looking, but that £199 figure is what I see most commonly on the internet. Combine this pair of waders with a decent pair of wading boots that might actually last you a decent length of time and you're looking at easily over the £300-£350 mark. Look, I wish this stuff was cheaper, but it isn't, and there's squat that I can do about it save for continuing to try and find alternatives.
How about these Vision Ikon chest waders then? Well things didn't start off terribly well - I love the idea of chest waders with a (waterproof) zip on them, and although I was smitten with the whole concept from the first minute of wearing them, my initial pair of the Ikon Zip waders let in very small amounts of saltwater when I was deep-wading over in Ireland. It felt like the water was coming in around the bottom of the (waterproof) zip, and this happens to be around one's "sensitive" area let's say!! Now of course I could have simply been unlucky and got hold of a faulty pair of waders, but back they went and in their place came a pair of regular Vision Ikon waders - the ones without the zip this time.
And they have been performing flawlessly ever since. They are comfortable, they don't leak, they seem to be pretty tough for a pair of breathables, and there are various aspects to the waders that I really like. I know it's unfair to compare a pair of £199 waders to a pair of horribly expensive Simms G3 waders, but that is my benchmark as such, albeit my G3 waders have been springing various small leaks over the course of ownership and I must admit that combined with a few other Simms gear failures, my faith in the brand has lessened shall we say. But at the end of the day I have never worn more comfortable/better cut/thought out chest waders than the high end Simms stuff.
For the most part I take an XL in waders, jackets etc., and the Vision Ikon in XL are just about the perfect sizing for me. I think they are cut pretty well, with enough space to move around easily, yet without ridiculous amounts of excess material that some waders give you. These Ikon waders are nice and light, they seem to be as tough as you could hope for as regards the material and how we do our stuff in them, and the neoprene stocking feet are a decent fit. Yes, my Simms G3 waders are better cut and the stocking feet are just about a perfect fit, but as I said earlier, they are potentially two and a half to three times the price.
What more can I say other than I think these Vision Ikon chest waders are pretty damn good. I have walked countless miles in mine, and whilst my understanding of breathability with regards to temperature etc. is at best limited, these Ikons do a perfectly reasonable job at getting rid of a bit of sweat - and as it is I don't believe that a pair of chest waders at any price can be entirely breathable anyway. Again, the Simms G3 ones are in a different league, but bear in mind here that we are all very different in how we are built, how we walk and scramble around, what we wear under our waders, and thus how this gear might work for us. No complaints at all with the Visions.
I have been wearing various lightweight chest waders for years now, and I have tried a lot of different ones out. Some are of course better than others, and I have used these Vision Ikon ones enough now to put them right up there. It seems that everything I was hearing about them is true. I accept that with what I do, my chest waders don't have a particularly long life as it is, but these Ikons are doing at least as well as I could have hoped - and then some really.
My buying into the expensive Simms G4 and G3 waders was me hoping that more money might buy me a far longer wader life, but as almost ridiculously nice to fish in as they are, the fact is that two or three times the price of a "normal" pair of chest waders has not given me two or three times the life - ok, so that's somewhat unrealistic I know, but I was somewhat perturbed when my G4 waders were officially condemned by Simms after about a year of heavy use. They are still soldiering on to be fair, but when I come across a pair of chest waders that do as well for me as these Vision Ikon ones, I can't help but think about price versus product life, and whilst £199 or whatever you could find them for is hardly throw away cash, I don't recall coming across a better pair of chest waders for the money. Nice one Vision.