Orvis PRO Wading Boot issues — resolution — and excellent customer service

About a year ago I purchased a pair of Orvis PRO Wadding Boots. I liked them. A lot. So much, that I wrote this glowing review.

A few weeks ago, though, I noticed some bad stuff happening. The soles were coming away from the boots.

The glue was failing on the outer soles. The only thing holding them on were the studs.
On the right boot, the glue was failing on both the outer sole and the midsole.

So I called Orvis and explained the situation. Their website states that they are “100% committed to customer satisfaction.” You bet they are! They offered to send me a shipping label, or the option to return and exchange the boots at a local store. I went with B. At the Orvis Store in Avon, they explained that I had a very early run of the boot, and that they were aware of some issues. (I wish I knew the production run number; suffice to say, if you experience the same issues, Orvis will take care of you.) So, easy-squeezey exchange, and off I went to fish.

Now we play the waiting game. I’m hoping this new pair doesn’t self-destruct. I’m hard on boots, but I’ve had other pairs from other makers that lasted many years. Fingers crossed, as I love how lightweight and supportive these boots are.

Stuff I Use: Gear Aid Aquaseal FD

Gear Aid’s Aquaseal FD is a fantastic product. I’ve been using it for years. It has extended the life of numerous waders and served as a trip-rescuer multiple times. I’ve used it on both neoprene and breathables. It’s inexpensive, easy to use and store (pro tip: keep an opened tube in the freezer to extend its life) and it does what it’s supposed to do. What more could you ask from a product? Highly recommended.

Gear Aid’s AquaSeal FD is really, really, good stuff.
First night on Block this year I felt a pinhole leak near my right knee. Sure enough, a closer inspection revealed that the top layer of fabric was compromised, a spot about the size of a 1/8″ bead. Aquaseal to the rescue! I was dry for the rest of the trip. You can see that I made two marks with a pen; the smaller surrounds the actual hole, and the larger is the area I intended to cover.
Two more holes fixed, and seams reinforced. The holes were again in the top layers of fabric; they’re the light colored dot to the left and the right angle shape to the right. This repair extended the life of my waders while I waited two months for a backordered pair to arrive.

Stuff I Use: UnderArmour Primaloft(R) Ridge Reaper Hunt Beanie

Yep. I’m picky about the stuff I wear and the stuff I use when I’m fly fishing. I have very little patience for gear that doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do, or makes me uncomfortable, or just generally sucks (like this awful lamp). A winter hat seems like something that’s so simple, it shouldn’t require much thought. Therein lies the beauty of the UnderArmour Primaloft Ridge Reaper Hunt Beanie: it’s warm. It’s comfortable. It does what I want it to do.

For starters, I like to wear a ball cap when I’m fishing, even in the winter. The visor keeps the sun out of my eyes and precipitation off my glasses. On those really cold days, I like to wear a ski-type hat over the ball cap. My issue with previous hats was that they were too snug or too small or not warm enough. The last thing I want to be doing out on a river when it’s 20 degrees is be futzing with my hat. So the Ridge Reaper, even though it’s one size, is stretchy and roomy but snugs down nicely around my head and ears with no fuss.

New hat: the UnderArmour Primaloft Ridge Reaper Hunt Beanie.

Cosmetically, I like that the logo is understated. I’m not a fan of high-visibility, high-contrast logos, and as an outdoors person, you can understand wanting to blend in. According to the UA website, the yarn in this hat is breathable and water resistant, and it has a double layer knit lining. Sounds perfect. Like most UA products, this is more than I’d like to pay. $40 for a hat? But, as with so many other things, my eventual cost-per-use will make me forget the price, as will the hat’s performance and comfort.

Price: $40

Rating: *****

A post-steelhead-landed victory shot, hat under the hood. A warm angler is a happy angler.

Stuff I Use: UnderArmour ColdGear Base 4.0 Crew

Regular readers of currentseams will know that I tend to run cold. So when it comes to winter fly fishing (a very poor choice of hobby for me) I need all the warmth I can get. I’d been using an old-school UnderArmour ColdGear compression-style mock neck as a base layer for years, but it was getting a little sketchy, so now was a good time to explore new options.

The UnderArmour ColdGear Base Leggings have served me well for a couple years now and I love them. So migrating to the UnderArmour ColdGear Base 4.0 Crew seemed like a no brainer. (It was.) Here’s the gist, taken from the UA site: “UA Base 4.0 is a men’s baselayer built for extreme cold weather and lower activity. It uses a unique pattern that’s designed to trap heat without adding bulk. Think long underwear, revamped for today’s top athletes.”

At $80, this top isn’t cheap. Quite frankly, I’m a value guy. So if something costs more than I’d like to pay, but it does what it’s supposed to do and I use it a lot — never underestimate the power of amortization — I’m going all in. This version is far warmer than my previous UA top. My only complaint is that I have sensitive skin (wool is out unless I have a solid base layer) and the brushed grid interior on this shirt bugs me just a wee bit. Not to worry — I just wear a breathable UA crew t-shirt beneath and I’m good to go.

Price: $80

Rating: ****1/2

Why is this man smiling? Besides holding a beautiful fish, he’s not shivering even though it’s below freezing. Beneath all of this is my ColdGear Base 4.0 Crew. Full disclosure: I am not connected to UA in any way.

Stuff I Use: Cortland 444 Peach Double Taper Fly Line

I’ve been using Cortland 444 Peach double taper fly line for years, on both my larger river and small stream trout setups. This was the first fly line I bought, and I’ve never found the need for something else in a basic line. The five-weight size performs equally well on my 10′ Hardy Marksman II and my quiver of short small stream sticks. It works for wets, dries, nymphs, and smaller streamers. It’s a durable line, and the best part is that when one end gets gershtunkled, you simple reverse it because the front and back tapers are a mirror image.

An all-time classic with spiffy new packaging. Cortland 444 Peach is available in double taper or weight forward. New to this model is a factory welded loop at one end. If you choose to reverse the line, you can simple make your own at the other end. As always, I urge you to patronize your local fly shop — mine is UpCountry Sportfishing in New Hartford, CT.

Stuff I Use: Buff Eclipse Gloves

It’s said that for every problem, there is a solution. The problem: any nighttime session with my two-handed rod quickly produced a wet handle, wet line, and wet hands — not a good combination when you’re relying on a firm grip to operate. Compounding the situation was the thin running line (the one I’m currently using is .042″). You’re holding it against the rod handle when you cast, and with any hookup over 40 feet away, you’re stripping that running line during a fight.

Clearly, needed to get a grip. Enter Buff Eclipse gloves. Partially designed for UV protection (not an issue at 1am), these gloves also feature a combination silicone dot pattern and an abrasion-resistant film on the palm that “maximizes grip while minimizing wear.” I also liked that these have three-quarter length fingers, which leaves your fingertips free. Bonus: if you’re having one of those really good nights, the gloves also minimize the red badge of courage (AKA striper thumb). I used them extensively this summer and I’m happy to report that they performed as expected. I bought my pair from Orvis.

Buff Eclipse gloves keep you grippin’ so you can give stripers a whippin’ (with apologies to Timex watches).

Lemon alert: Naturalight Smart Lamp D20 (and some shoddy customer service to boot)

I really didn’t want to write this piece, but as you’ll soon see, The Daylight Company, maker of the Naturalight Smart Lamp D20, left me no choice. (Regal Engineering, the seller, also shares some of the responsibility. We’ll get to that in a bit.)

Several years ago I saw other fly tyers using the Smart Lamp D20 at the shows. I liked the way it looked, so in January 2016 I bought one through Regal Engineering. For two years it worked fine. Sometime in 2018 it began a pattern of sketchy behavior; some of the light colors (warm, cool, and daylight) would suddenly switch intensities, even though I had not touched a switch. By early 2019 the functionality was down to a single color and intensity, and in December 2019 it stopped working entirely. As in dead. No light. Nothing.

Call me old-fashioned, but I expected a heck of a lot more for a $100 lamp. What a lemon!

Lemon

So early this year I went to the Regal site, the place where I’d bought the lamp,  and filled out their customer service form, explaining the problem. I was thanked by the robot and was told that someone would get back to me soon.

Or not. No response. Nothing. So I contacted the manufacturer. I spoke with a very polite customer service agent who told me that since there was a two-year warranty, there was nothing she could do. She offered me the chance to speak to her supervisor. Yes, please, I said.

What ensued was a highly frustrating exercise in futility. I explained the situation, and stated my position: if you make a good product, you should stand by that product. $100 is a lot of money for a lamp, and it should work properly for more than two years, don’t you think?

(Lacking a recording, I will paraphrase the responses.) Well, if you had come to us earlier, we might have been able to do something, but now it’s four years later and the warranty is only for two years…

Wait a minute…it didn’t start to malfunction until after the warranty expired…so what does it matter that I’m coming to you now?

If you had come to us earlier, we might have been able to do something, but the two year warranty has expired…

Whoa. I just said that it didn’t start to crap out until the third year. You’re telling me two things that are contradictory.

You bought the lamp from Regal so you should have gone to them when the problem started…

So basically it’s my fault? You’ve made a substandard product and now you won’t stand behind it. You don’t know me, and that’s OK, I don’t expect you to, but you should know I have a website and Instagram and well over 1,000 readers. So I’m going to write a story about this, and you can choose one of two narratives: One, you made a crappy lamp, but you value your customers and want to do right by them, because customer satisfaction is your ultimate goal, so you fixed the problem. Or two, you made a crappy lamp, and the warranty has expired, and that’s tough noogies for the chump who bought it. I mean, I can’t believe you’re not even offering to replace it or look at it or give me another at a reduced rate…

The D20 is no longer made, so we can’t replace it…

~

There was more, but suffice to say you’ve got the gist. And so, with Option B being chosen, here we are.

I did a little research, and according to Amazon reviews, I’m not the only one with a bad D20 experience. If you take my review out the equation, half of the reviews are negative. I’d end it here, but Regal needs to take a little hit. Frustrated with the lack of action from the Daylight Company, I reached out again to Regal. Again, no response. Very disappointing.

So: don’t buy this lamp. Don’t buy anything from Naturalight or Daylight Company. Save your money for products made and sold by people who stand behind their work and value their customers’ satisfaction.

And now, I need a good, strong, portable, DURABLE fly tying lamp. Suggestions?

 

 

Orvis PRO Wading Boot Review: Finally, a wading shoe that doesn’t suck!

Orvis PRO Wading Boots, where have you been? I’ve worn many different brands of wading boots over the years and disliked most of them. (Some I even hated — we’ll get to that shortly.) Even my all-time favorite boot, made by LLBean — I forget the model name and they are long since discontinued — had a tragic flaw: the rubber sole of the boot would come unglued after a season or two. I eventually got tired of returning them.

I only ask three things of boots: support, grip, and don’t be too heavy on my feet. My last two sets of boots have been the Simms G3 Guide Boots with Vibram Soles. Don’t ask me why I suffered through two pairs of those horrid creations. Yep, I hated them. They were very supportive, albeit a little heavy. But the traction — what a catastrophe. Without studs and star cleats, they were treacherous. With the added steel, they were only moderately dangerous. Good riddance, because my new Orvis PRO Wading Boots are everything the Simms are not.

Wow…slip the Orvis PRO Wading Boots on and walk around and they’re not only supportive, but light on the feet. So far, so good. But the real test is, if you’ll pardon the expression, where the rubber meets the road. Orvis claims their Michelin Outdoor extreme outsole offers “a resounding 43% improvement in wet rubber traction over the competition.” Still, I’m a skeptic, and I love me some carbide steel bite, so I ordered the Orvis Posigrip Studs along with the boots.

I’ve put these boots through some mission-critical paces: small streams, which involve wading and hiking on dry land; ocean wading, jetty rock-hopping, and saltwater marsh slogging; and, what I consider the ultimate test, wading in the Housatonic and the Farmington Rivers, both of which have their own unique (and potentially dastardly) rocky bottom structure.

The verdict? Sold! Traction, support, comfort. Highly recommended.

In the interest of fairness, I am not affiliated with Orvis, and I paid for the Orvis PRO Wading Boots with my own coin. Well done, Orvis.

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Stuff I use: Under Armour Cold Gear Base Extreme Leggings

If there’s anything worse in fishing than being cold and miserable (OK, throw in not catching, too) I’ve yet to experience it. That’s why Under Armour’s Cold Gear Base Extreme Leggings are hands down the best lower body bottom layer I’ve ever owned. I bought mine in 2018; this year’s model is called the ColdGear Base 4.0 Legging.

Ya done good, UnderArmour!

ColdGearBase

There’s a lot to love, starting with the fact that these things actually work. I’m the kind of guy who runs cold 24/7, so already I’m at a disadvantage before I step into the water. I wore these last year in all kinds of miserable conditions with a fleece pants overlay and stayed mighty comfortable in my 3mm neoprene waders.

Features you may be interested in: UA Scent Control Technology (and let’s be frank: that’s something we all could use in our nether regions); soft, brushed grid interior (very comfortable); fast-drying wicking material; working fly (yup, nature is going to call at some point). Be advised that the “Find Your True Fit Size” app on the UA site is fallible; it told me I was an XL and they hung on me like a cheap suit. I swapped ’em out for an L and we were warm and happy.

Price: $80

Rating: *****

Water’s cold, steelhead bite’s hot, legs are just right with the Under Armour ColdGear Base 4.0 Legging (hiding somewhere beneath it all). If you fish in cold water/cold weather conditions, you need these leggings.

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