Thursday, April 9, 2020

Gear I Use: Frogg Toggs Canyon Hip Waders

The end of a great day of fishing in the canyons, wearing my Frogg Toggs Canyon hip waders!

I fish small water a LOT!  I guide small water a LOT!  A good pair of lightweight "non-chest waders" are a must, and the Frogg Toggs Canyon hip waders are as close to perfect as you can get.

Here's just a bit of information to qualify my opinion on these waders.  I've been fly fishing backcountry streams for about 40 years now, and I've had a lot of time to test just about every wader available.  When it comes to lightweight hip waders, the field really narrows.  I discounted pant waders right off the bat a number of years ago, simply because they made moisture management very difficult, and I found I seldom needed the extra protection from my crotch up to my waist.  So, lightweight hip waders were what I really needed to use.

The Canyon hippers drying in the sun after a long day of guiding.

Frogg Toggs has been been making the Canyon stockingfoot hip waders for a number of years, and as soon as they started producing them I got a pair and began testing them.  I also bounced them off their closest competitor, Chota, which is a great hipper too.  For a number of reasons, which I'll explain below, I've chosen the Frogg Toggs, and I'm now on my fourth pair of them.

First and foremost, I really like the durability versus cost of the Frogg Toggs.  Full retail on the original Canyons (which have been replaced by the Canyon II) was right at the very affordable price of $65.00, and that price held for nearly the entire time Frogg Toggs made the original Canyons.  I've found that I can spend more than 300 days on the water in a pair of them until the feet start leaking, or the gravel guard simply disintegrates.  That's 300 days of hiking more than wading, backpacking with them on, and hard use.  They've simply taken all of the abuse I've thrown their way and kept on going.  I've broken tree branches over a bent knee while processing firewood.  I've knelt on sand, gravel, and dirt.  I've wiped greasy, dirty hands on them.  I've hiked hundreds of miles in them.  In short, I hammered them and they stood up to hard use, especially the feet, which is the Achilles heel of all waders.

Comfortable fit and open-tops make moisture management easy.

Second, I like the light weight of the Canyon hippers.  My pair in size small weighs just 16 ounces, and bundles up about the size of a large loaf of bread.  When I'm hiking in hip waders for miles every day, every ounce counts, and these waders waders don't slow me down.  About a week or so ago I backpacked the entire length of a 30-mile canyon wearing the Canyon hippers, and I was very glad they didn't weigh any more than they do.

One reason I chose the Frogg Togg Canyon hip waders over the Chota is that the Canyons are more open at the top, and that really helps with moisture management.  I guide in hot canyons all summer, and I get really sweaty inside any waders I wear.  Having an open leg design lets moist, hot air out of the wader.  It won't eliminate clammy legs, but it sure helps.  I've found the open leg design doesn't hinder my ability to wade, since I'm on small water and it isn't all that deep.  Yes, I do have to be careful not to wade the deepest pools, but I wouldn't wade into those even if I had chest waders on.

I contacted Frogg Toggs customer service recently, and they were very helpful in answering my questions about the material the legs are made of.  After talking to Frogg Toggs, it's apparent the four-ply waterproof-breathable material has a nylon facing, but beyond that they were reluctant to disclose their proprietary material, and I totally respect that.  What I do know about the four-ply material is that it is extremely durable, and it has withstood abuse from me that most anglers will not subject it to.  The durability vs. weight is very good with these waders.  The stocking feet are pretty standard 4mm double taped neoprene, and I've found they last a good long time.  I am 5'7" tall, have a 30" inseam, and wear a size 8 wading boot.  I found the size small Canyon hippers fit my feet just fine, with no extra bootie material to deal with.

Breaking stove wood over my knee...these waders are very durable!

The quality, fit, and finish of the Canyon hippers is good.  The belt straps at the top of each leg is made of nylon webbing with a standard 1" Fastex style buckle.  I've never had the belt straps fail, and only had one buckle break in all of the years I've been wearing Canyon hippers.  If there's one point of failure, it's the bootlace hook on the front of the gravel guard.  I've broken several of those hooks off over the years, but they really aren't necessary anyway, since the elastic on the bottom of the gravel guard keeps it snug and doesn't let sand or gravel pass through.

The original version has been replaced by the Canyon II hipper, which has gray leg material and comes in at $95.00 retail (the recently imposed tariffs necessitated the price increase).  Otherwise, it's the same reliable, lightweight wader as the original.  If you're a highly mobile (meaning you hike a lot in waders) fly angler who frequents small water and appreciates a very durable, lightweight, and reasonably priced hip wader, you can do no better than the Canyon wader from Frogg Toggs.     

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