Best of ICAST 2019: Top Fishing Apparel, Shoes, Waders, and More

Ranging from high-tech sunwear to new wading boot technology and dry packs that easily transition into the office, the lifestyle gear at ICAST just keeps getting more technical.

I spent 2 days scouting the floor at ICAST, North America’s largest fishing convention, and it was jam-packed with exciting new products for anglers. Here, I break down this year’s top picks for the lifestyle categories, from both ICAST’s best in show picks and my own time on the floor.

Cold-Weather Technical Apparel: Simms G4z Stockingfoot Wader

Simms G4z Stockingfoot Wader

The Simms G4Z Stockingfoot Wader is a beast of bodily burden. Made of GORE-TEX Pro Shell, the three-layer upper combines with four-layer lowers. Compression-molded stocking feet cut bulk while focusing on comfort and durability. These are cool waders for cold weather without compromising on a thoughtful athletic action for the angler in motion.

The fabric is really the coolest part. It feels soft, almost suede-like without the thickness. I’m looking forward to seeing this fabric cross over into different items, as it’s a waterproof fabric that certainly feels better than most.

My Waders Pick: Simms G3 Guide Z Waders

Simms G3 Guide Z Waders

I’d also like to add a nod to Simms Women’s G3 Guide Z waders, coming in fall 2019. The burly side-zip is something I haven’t seen in women’s waders, but I like having the kangaroo pocket on the chest for both comfort and quick storage, and the side zip looks to add major ease to getting in and out of waders quickly.

Warm-Weather Technical Apparel: AFTCO Overboard Submersible Shorts

AFTCO Overboard Submersible Shorts

With a dry bag built directly into the short, it’s no small wonder that AFTCO is calling this board short the Overboard ($99). In addition to keeping your valuables dry, these shorts are packed with tech. Four-way stretch, AFLITE ultralight fabric, stain resistance, and a CORDURA-lined pliers pocket put everything but the kitchen sink into these unassuming and classic-looking shorts.

Lifestyle Apparel: AFTCO Yurei Air-O-Mesh Performance Shirt

AFTCO Yurei Air-O-Mesh Performance Shirt

The AFTCO Yurei Air-O-Mesh takes mesh panels to a new level of breathable tech. UPF 40 sun protection, AFCool ultradry wicking properties, and Afguard 3M stain resistance make this one of the higher-performing shirts on the ICAST floor. It’s also got thumb loops and antimicrobial properties for the long-term non-showerer in your life. You know the one. And at $55, it’s not too steep of a buy.

Footwear: frogg toggs Skipper

frogg toggs Skipper

It’s easy to take one look at the frogg toggs Skipper ($70) and know your feet are about to have the most breathable experience (and perhaps the oddest suntan) ever. The uppers are all mesh, the soles are lightweight yet supportive, and draining technology in the midsole allows this to be a true water sneaker.

My Pick for Crossover Lifestyle Footwear: XTRATUF Kraken

XTRATUF Kraken

This is outside of ICAST’s categories, but I just really like this shoe. When functionality meets fashion, I’m into it. And I like that this shoe is a drainable sneaker, with XTRATUF’s nonslip outer sole and a molded upper. And it feels like it would become a favorite sneaker regardless of whether you’re on the water or land. Plus, it’s a water shoe that won’t make you look like a total nerd. Points for the folks at XTRATUF on this one.

Eyewear: Costa Sunglasses Waterwoman

Costa Sunglasses Waterwoman

My first thought upon seeing Costa’s Waterwoman ($270) was, “Fishing glasses I can wear in my normal life? Thank. You. Costa.” And that’s really the point. The Waterwoman series is functional and cute, with a glam body that flatters a variety of face shapes, a plethora of lens colors to choose from, and the quality build I expect from one of the top brands in the world of sunnies.

I snagged a pair of these to put to the test on Montana waters and, to be honest, pretty much any time I leave my house in daylight. And they’re already my new favorites for both looks and performance. And it’s nice to see women’s products making their way to the big stage at the big show. They’re also available now, so snag ’em while they’re hot.

Giftware: 13 Fishing Fillet Table Beverage Management System

13 Fishing Fillet Table Beverage Management System

Strong shoutout to the fun folks at ICAST for picking this gem of a gift. This “beverage management system” from 13 Fishing is actually a beer helmet. (It’ll also fit two Pamplemousse La Croix if you’re anything like me). It has a speaker on the front that can be managed by remote control and a knife sharpener on the back so you don’t even need to run to the kitchen when that filleting sesh gets real. I can’t stop laughing at this, envying those who own one, and imagining all the possible usage scenarios for such a fine piece of equipment.

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Nicole Qualtieri
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Based in Montana, Nicole Qualtieri is GearJunkie's Hunt/Fish Editor. She’s an avid outdoorswoman, and you can find her anywhere from the back of a good horse in Whitefish to solo hunting the breaks of Montana, to backpacking with her border collie in the Absarokas.

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