I recently wore the Dan Bailey Waist-Hi Waders for a weekend of winter bull trout fishing in the Squamish area. The waders are actually quite good-looking, for a pair of mustard colored pants. Enough about the look find out how these Dan Bailey waders performed up here in the Pacific Northwest :
The fabric is soft and supple, and the breathability is good. The waist belt is well-designed; it consists of two velcro straps, one on either hip, which pull back onto themselves to fasten. This system was very easy to secure and to adjust. These waders employed a similar velcro strap system at the cuff of the ankle, which was useful for keeping gravel out of my wading boots and loose laces contained.
Air temperatures were near freezing with water temperatures just above, yet I was comfortable and warm through two full days of wading with just fleece pants as a base layer. I didn’t notice any leakage or seeping and remained dry throughout.
Wader Pockets and Storage
The waders featured large front pockets that were large enough to accommodate a smallish fly box (8x4x1.5) and tippet, pliers, scissors and other assorted goods. These pockets were a great feature and are much more useful than the single chest pocket found on my high-end Orvis waders.
However, the pockets did not close and would quickly fill with water if they were submerged while wading. Once filled, they were difficult to empty and had to tolerate a small amount of water in the pocket until I was able to take the wader off and turn it upside down at the end of the day.
Durability might also be an issue, as there was a small tear in the padding on one knee after a day of moderate bushwhacking. This tear did not leak, as there was another layer of fabric behind it.
Overall, the Dan Bailey Waders are great waders for certain uses. Given the low waist and the tendency for the pockets to fill with water, these are best used in situations where you do not expect to wade beyond your knees. Arguably, this limits the utility of waders, but if you’re not an aggressive wader, these would be worth considering.
They are extremely comfortable, and the fit and finish are thoughtful and attractive. I was surprised to find that the retail is only 200USD; I would have expected to pay 30-50% more for these.
To sum it up the Dan Bailey wader is comfortable, attractive and perfect for shallow wading.