Friday, July 3, 2009

A New Addition to the Dirt: Gear Reviews

So guys/gals and all those "Dirty", I've decided to add a new segment with a twist. Instead of following the norm and reviewing new gear just coming out, which is practically impossible to give a real judgment on. We're going another way, reviewing gear I've had for a minimum of a year or more. Stuff that has actually been used and lasted a season.

The reason for the time period of a year, outside the obvious (you can't review anything fairly after one use) is: Discussion with a few Sleeping In the Dirt industry insiders has given me some insight into engineered shelf life of fishing products. In nustshell and sparing the innocent of naming names, products are made for somewhere between 15 and 30 uses total. That means to you the consumer, market research driving use, combined with cost of production for companies producing said products don't expect you, the anlger, to fish more than 15 times, max, in a year. However, they do expect you to fish at least close to that much in a year and half. Hence, the new product life cycle and its introduction of new gear to the market everyeighteen months.

The one year shelf life as my acid test, means that the product will have, on average, been exposed to at least one hundred days on the water. Now granted rods, and reels depending on size may not get a hundred trips in per year. But, most wearable-type gear will have been worn-in well, by the time you read about it here. So in theory, if you see gear reviewed here, it will only be of type that will last or else the acid test above will have washed it out.

Product one: SIMMS Lightweight Stalker aqua-stealth Boot. Purchased in 2002, I still wear this boot on occassion. In the seven years I've owned this wading boot, it has seen thousands of miles of river, stream, and forest. I've used the shoe to hike into and out of the Grand Canyon twice. It has survived being carried off by Coyote's in Yellowstone and more fishing trips than I have memory.

The replacement for this shoe, according to Simms, was the evolution of the now G4 wadding boot. Retailling at chill $219.95. I can't tell you the juice is worth the squeeze on that one, and Simms rep wasn't available for comment, so I dont' know if the baser components and make-up has changed in seven years outside the statement I got about which models replaced which. However I can tell you that, although I worked in a fly shop when I got my pair of wadding boots, retail was $140 at the time. If you take the retail price over seven years of use, it seems is a pretty reasonable cost per year to own a pair of boots. Especially when adding in the use factor per year.

So my vote is this: Boot Wear A +, Boot Design B+ (because of the lightweight not much ankle support), Sturdiness A++. My only complaint is the metal clasps used to secure the shoe strings. They bent a lot during use and had to be pulled back into shape via pliers. Other than that, the aqua-steelth rubber bottoms lost some of their sticky quality after a couple hundred trips, not sure I can hold Simms too accoutnable there. That is a lot of river to work through.

I would buy them agian is the overall judgement here. So far outside a couple pairs of G3s, Simms has stood by there product with me. The only reluctance I have to shout out SIMMS at the top of my lungs is the line of people already doing so. Outside that general aprehension good boot.

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