Vision Ikon Guiding Stockingfoot waist waders review - around £200 (and I now believe a whole heap safer than chest waders if you end up in the drink)
Let’s get the easy bit out of the way - the regular Vision Ikon chest waders remain my benchmark as regards a combination of value for money together with how well they perform for a good length of time (review here), and to be honest I am seeing the same thing with these (shorter) Vision Ikon waist waders. They just work. They are well cut, the neoprene stocking feet feel just as good as on the chest waders, the material is the same, indeed the more I wear chest waders for my lure fishing, the more I am finding them a complete no-brainer with how they wear like an easy-to-wear pair of looser fitting, lightweight trousers that of course keep you nice and dry if you need to get in the water etc.
In the box is an elasticated pair of braces that clip onto these waist waders and adjust as required, but to be perfectly honest I found them a little on the short side and they held the waders a bit too high and tight around the proverbials for my liking. After a few goes with the waders I unclipped the braces and just threaded a waterproof fabric type belt (loads of them on Amazon) through the belt loops and tightened these waist waders up like I would a pair of jeans - and this turns out to be a really important point, but more on that a bit later.
As with any pair of breathable waders, I accept that if i slip over on sharp rocks or catch them on a barbed wire fence that I will most likely tear them, but a few home repairs are pretty easy to do if needs be. As for how breathable these Vision Ikon waist waders are, well it’s always the same for me - if I end up walking and scrabbling around in warmer weather especially then I will end up with some sweat on the inside, but to me that’s an unavoidable fact of wearing waders and I wear clothing underneath my waders that helps to minimise this. I still can’t find better under-wader wear than the Under Armour Cold and Heat Gear compression leggings and tops, and whilst I wasn’t exactly designed to compress, damn it’s comfortable gear to wear, and it’s been that way for me for many years now.
I wear an XL pair of the outstanding Vision Ikon chest waders and I am pleased to report that Vision have continued their excellent sizing and it’s a simple XL that fits me perfectly in their Ikon waist waders. I still can’t believe that it has taken me so long to come around to waist waders for what is turning out to be more and more of my saltwater lure fishing, but that feeling of walking around in what feels like an ultra-comfortable pair of loose fitting lightweight trousers can’t really be beaten if you ask me. For sure I don’t find chest waders remotely hard to wear, but cutting out that top bit of material for the waist waders does feel that bit better again.
Okay, so if you are standing close to the water and it’s splashing around then you aren’t quite as well protected from a few splashes as with a pair of higher-wearing chest waders, but with how often many of us are wearing some kind of waterproof jacket or smock plus the need to man the hell up a bit, I don’t see this as a problem, and especially not when combined with all the good stuff that I think waist waders are giving me. I still find a regular need for chest waders - and obviously for deeper wading - but if you are careful then it’s surprising how many gullies you can successfully wade for example in a pair of waist waders. If you really stop and think about it, how often do you really need to wade beyond waist deep anyway?
Anyway, that’s the easy stuff out of the way - I can’t find a single thing that niggles me about these Vision Ikon waist waders except perhaps that I’d like to see what is a pair of waist waders that of course have less material on them than a pair of chest waders sold for a bit less because of this. I am guessing though that waist waders don’t sell as well as chest waders and therefore they are more expensive to make when volume is taken into consideration, but please bear in mind that this is pure speculation on my behalf. These are an outstanding pair of (waist) waders that I am using more and more, but then with how good the Vision Ikon chest waders are I kinda thought these waist waders might be the same.
So now we come to next part of this review - the real reason why I got hold of a pair of waist waders to try out for my fishing, and what I found out last week when we did some more safety related filming with the RNLI up on the north coast of Cornwall. For sure I wanted to see if waist as opposed to chest waders might be a little easier to wear for some of my lure fishing, but my primary reason for wanting to try them was because of how my chest waders filling up with water and not being able to clamber out of the RNLI training pool back in February shocked the living daylights out of me. How would waist waders behave?
So if you end up in the drink and you can get out fairly quickly I am not about to claim that your chest waders are going to prevent you doing so, but if for whatever reason you get washed in and you end up spending more time in the water then there is every chance that your chest waders are going to fill up with water (and without a lifejacket in choppy or rougher water especially I would suggest you most likely aren’t going to be able to spend much time waiting for rescue or trying to get out because you are going to drown). This will not sink you, but again, without a lifejacket you are going to be struggling horribly to keep your airways clear because of how those waders are “floating” you - and if you are able to self-rescue or grab a throw-line that your mate has chucked out to you, then trying to clamber out in full waders is going to depend on a number of things, including how much water you have in them, how cold and tired you are, how physically fit and strong you are, how the rocks are shaped for clambering or climbing out, and so on.
As I have said before, I am perfectly happy (but also alarmed that I knew so little about this) to admit that before February and our time at the RNLI testing tank that I had no idea how potentially dangerous chest waders could be when the shit hits the fan and you could be fighting for your life. By a process of elimination and talking to other anglers I came up with the idea of trying out a pair of waist waders, and last week was the first time I got to go in the water with them on.
Please read that blog post from last week to get an idea of the conditions we faced, for we weren’t in any real trouble when actually in the water and the guys wearing chest waders were able to get out of the water. Whilst it’s only a still photograph, I hope that you can see how Mark above is struggling with his movement in a pair of chest waders that have filled up a fair bit with what ends up being a scarily heavy amount of saltwater.
So I went into the water twice - once without a lifejacket, and once with. Both times I was wearing this pair of Vision Ikon waist waders (and really hoping that I didn’t tear them on the rocks when I was trying to get out of the water!) and I wore them exactly as I would for my fishing and I didn’t empty any water out between takes as such. I basically do them up with that fabric belt about as tight as I would a pair of jeans, and no, just in case you were wondering, I don’t wear my jeans around the base of my arse with my boxers showing! I wear them good and regular and not like I’m trying to be all gangsta-street-looking like a tit-with regular people wanting to pull them the hell up…………….
Anyway, so first time around I jumped in without a lifejacket, orientated myself, and swam towards the rocks where the film crew were and scrambled out - all fine, but in reality how realistic would this be if the conditions had been properly rough and dangerous and cold? I then walked back say fifty yards or so, put my lifejacket on, and jumped in again. The auto-inflate Crewsaver Crewfit 180Pro inflated reassuringly quickly and without fuss (review to come) and I am floating in the water about as comfortable as can be. The crew chuck me a handheld radio then a PLB and then a mobile phone to simulate working them when in the water, and then after that Nathaniel chucked me a throw-line, I grabbed it, and then he pulled me into the rocks and I clambered out.
I reckon I was floating around with my lifejacket and waist waders on for at least ten minutes, plus I had jumped in and got out that first time around, and I was really pleased to find that when I clambered out for the second time that I had very little water in those Vision Ikon waist waders. I reckon the water reached to just below my knees and I was able to do my interview to camera and then walk say fifty yards to where my camera gear was and move around to take some photos of Cronin going in with the floatation suit on.
So for the time being that’s more than enough proof for me that if the shit hits the fan I want to be wearing a pair of waist waders. I could move around easier in the water, floating around with a lifejacket on felt so reassuring, and far less water getting into the actual waders didn’t half make it so much easier getting out. Even if more water did end up getting in, wearing a pair of waist waders means that they can only fill up to my waist level anyway, and for trying to clamber out when you are potentially tired, cold and bloody terrified, well I’ll take water potentially up to my waist over water say up to the top of my stomach in a pair of chest waders any day of the week.