Orvis Clearwater Fishing Vest Review

A man, his best friend and trusted Orvis gear. Mike Hardaker deep in the Tetons Photo Chris Kirkpatrick | Mountain WeeklyOrvis Waders Test. Mike Hardaker deep in the Tetons Photo Chris Kirkpatrick

It’s hard, if not impossible, to best the Orvis Clearwater Vest. As the longest continually operating fly-fishing business in the world, Orvis absolutely knows what they’re doing when it comes to angling gear and equipment.

I’m a fourth-generation user of the company’s many products, and even though he’s not around anymore, I know my great granddad would have loved the Clearwater Vest just as much as I do.

Orvis “Loaded” Fishing Vest

First things first, Orvis offers a couple of different versions of their Clearwater Vest. The first is the standard vest, which works great for just about anyone. They also offer “Loaded,” “Mesh,” and “Trout Unlimited” versions.

Each is based on the standard version of the vest with a few tweaks and special features to make them different. The “Loaded” edition is especially cool as it comes with a bunch of tidbits so you’re ready to go fly-fishing right out of the box. These include one mini nipper, 3 SS knotless leaders, one floating combo pack, one mesh leader wallet, one perfect drift strike indicator, one wire cord zinger, one M2 lock and load fly box, one SS tippet material 40m spool, two rising trout selections, one tungsten putty, and one micro scissor forceps.

I recently got the chance to rock the Clearwater Loaded Vest on a few fishing trips. Like I mentioned in my Silver Sonic Guide Waders (another excellent Orvis product), I’m fairly rough on my outdoor equipment. Well, I’m happy to say that the Clearwater Vest can hold up to all the abuse you can throw at it, an essential characteristic of a great fishing vest. It’s made of 65% rugged polyester and 35% cotton poplin for a combo that will last for years.


The Orvis Clearwater Vest is also lightweight and comfortable. It has a ton of pockets that you can stash everything you need for a successful fly-fishing trip in. It was easy for me to quickly access all of my gear and my range of motion while fishing wasn’t limited at all. Since I had the “Loaded” model of the vest, it came with all of the tackle and other goodies mentioned above. I was really happy with all of it but I couldn’t go without my favorite flies from my local shop.

I’m a particular fan of Clearwater’s classic look and design. I mean, why mess with a time-tested design that has been proven to work extremely well?

Orvis Clearwater Vest

Fishing Vest Features

It’s hard to argue with the Clearwater Vest’s ample pockets. It has twelve in all. The ample rear cargo pocket is especially useful. I used mine to stash a lightweight rain jacket on one occasion and some extra gear on another. I’ve heard of other folks throwing their lunch back there as well. The Clearwater holds just about everything you need and more.

The loaded feature of the Clearwater Loaded Vest is also a nice treat. Sure, it costs a little more for this version, but the extra money is worth it for all the accessories you receive. It’s almost like opening up a Christmas present, no matter the time of year you purchase yours.

Orvis also you the option to embroider your vest for $8 extra. I didn’t go this route but it is a nice personalized touch.

Overall Impression

You can’t go wrong with a classic like the Orvis Clearwater Vest ($79). It’s been a staple in the fishing world for years. Wear this thing down to your local fishing hole and you’ll look the part of an expert fisherman even if you aren’t.

All in all, the Clearwater Vest is a lightweight, durable, and comfortable fishing vest with more than enough pockets for all your fishing gear. If you’re in the market for a new fishing vest or need a gift for the fisherman in your life, you really can’t beat this classic, fully-loaded product from Orvis.

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About the Author

Jake Walnuts
Jake enjoys being outside hiking & snowboarding in the PNW.

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