Thigh deep in the lazy march of an army-green pool, the cool water silently flows around my legs. We’d parked the truck and waded the shallows while prospecting for the Owyhee River’s elusive German brown trout.
Streams that produce a healthy trout population are bone-chilling cold, requiring a wader of some sort for all but the warmest of days if you want to enter the stream for more than a couple minutes.
But fishing low flows under the hot desert sun, or when long hikes are needed, often makes a full bib too hot. To fill the gap, Patagonia offered the Gunnison Gorge Wading Pant as go-between wader protection that doesn’t cover your upper body.
With the early fall flow trickling at 125 cfs and the cool morning air priming into afternoon 80’s, fall fishing on the Owyhee provided ideal test conditions.
The Gear: 2014 Patagonia Gunnison Gorge Wading Pant; Short, Regular ($299, tested)
Where To Test It: Smaller trout streams that require wading into cold waters
Who’s It For: Slim fishermen who want to keep warm while wading without the bulk and heat of full length waders.
Boring But Important: Patagonia uses its proprietary 4-layer waterproof breathable fabric, H2No, in the legs. The booties are a 3mm neoprene seamed with grippy tape that kept the toes warm and dry all day long.
Important Specs: This year Patagonia moved the inseam from running down the inside of the leg to the backside of the leg. And it dropped the ugly dark taping. It was a good move that both eliminated the highest friction wear on the pant and gave it a clean finish. Patagonia added two fluted seams on each thigh that give it an athletic fit and reduces water drag.
The belt in 2014 is a subtle universal camouflage pattern (it used to be black). It still pairs with the half elastic waist and can accommodate layering over long underwear to pants.
The two front pockets have drainage ports that keep the water from pooling. But it flows both ways so don’t store your valuables in there. Patagonia sewed a waterproof utility pocket to the inside of the pant to hold a phone, key or paper license.
The pants come with a field repair kit and instructions printed on the inside of the pant for just in case.
Made In: China
Awesome! The Gunnison Gorge looks (and fits!) like a flashy pair of khakis. There’s not a lot of extra material that can catch river flow. The H2No breathes really well and prevented any sweating and the 4-ply has a durable feel that looks like it will stand years of willow and desert lava rock. But time will tell.
Patagonia put a boot hook on the cuff to keep the gravel gaiter secured snugly to the boot and a high durable mesh down the back cuff to drain pooling water. I didn’t feel like I was carrying a gallon of water on each foot as I got out of the river to walk to the next hole.
Flaw: The belt has a very generous length which required some extra work to evenly displace. Its athletic fit is not for everyone.
As with any pant, depth is a limiting factor. Some common wading spots may be out of reach without a cold bath down the britches.
First Impressions: A wader’s primary function is to keep you dry and thus warm. But it’s only as good as the waters you wade. For many, more bang for the buck will be spent purchasing a full bib wader that keeps you covered in deeper waters but can be rolled down if it gets hot.
But, if you primarily find yourself in shallow cold waters, or you want to pack in a lightweight wader to that remote blue ribbon stream, the Gunnison Gorge is a great pant wader that has a sharp look. And if budget permits, it’s a great second wader for those hot summer days.
Who Should Buy It: People who frequently fly fish cold streams in hot weather.
Contact Brand/More Beta: 2014 Patagonia Gunnison Gorge Wading Pant
— Steve Graepel is a contributor. Our “First Look” column highlights new gear arrivals at GearJunkie.com. Photos © Monopoint Media LLC