Rapala’s X-ProTect Chest Waders

Rapala is one of the worlds most long-lasting companies in the industry, since the first lure carved by Lauri Rapala in the 1930′s till this day when it continues to grow, holding over 300 world record catches it manufactures lures for more than 80 years now. Lures that brought smiles on many fisherman’s faces. Even I remember that amongst my first lures in my small tackle box, almost 20 years ago, Rapala were the most acclaimed for. But that’s another story, as this review we’ll discuss some other type of Rapala product: Rapala Pro Wear X-ProTect Chest Waders to be exact.

I’ve had them for 2 years now, and wore them occasionally, at least until the last trip I had in the Kiruna area, Sweden. It’s probably the harshest terrain they will ever encounter.

Since I’m not a fly-fisherman I decided not to spent a whole lot of money on a pair of waders. Which is somehow understandable as I don’t wade a lot. I probably use waders 2-3 times a year, even though I really like this type of fishing, especially in cold water trout infested rivers and streams. There’s no better way of catching this wary fish than to walk upstream and take them by surprise.

Rapala X-ProTect Chest Waders – specifications
Manufacturer Rapala
Wader’s Type Breathable Waders
Sizes M, L, XL, XXL
Construction 3 layer construction, 100% Polyamide with PU laminate
Waterproofness 10.000mm
Breathability 3,000g / m2 / 24h
Color sand

Presentation:  Their description convinced me this would be the best choice for the. I didn’t want to go spent over 100-140$ for a pair of waders at that time. They feature a 3 layer breathable construction, all over, with no reinforced knees or any additional features. 3mm neoprene socks, articulated knees, and internal zipped pocket for electronic devices filled up the spec list. Looks, and feels perfect to me. Checked them, and double checked them when I finally got my hands around them, and they seemed perfect, even though I didn’t really fell for the color… seemed too out of place, no matter what the surrounding environment was.  They were armed with a repair kit in case anything should happen. Never bothered to read the instructions… really.

Out into the wild test: First time out with them, and was overwhelmed with the good decision I had made. Everything seemed to fit in perfectly at first glance. After getting to use them for a while I started detecting all sort of things. The suspenders were loosening every time I went fishing with them. Sometimes this was uncomfortable, especially during summer days when I had nothing than a t-shirt on. The suspenders kept loosening every hour. It’s probably from the way I walk :) ). If I was well dressed, meaning some type of clothing over the suspenders, or a backpack, then the loosening was happening a tad slower, and wasn’t that noticeable or uncomfortable.

Nice to be dry for a few relaxing moments

Nice to be dry for a few relaxing moments

The belt was well designed, and I’d say better designed than other brand waders of the more expensive sort. I liked the fact it had straps for the belt from back to front. It keeps the belt in place.

Now lets get wet and sweaty, and see how their waterproofness and breathability goes. On my first fishing trip I’d have to say I didn’t notice a thing, but that’s probably because I was fishing in not more than 1.3m deep water, and wasn’t fishing for more than 1-2 hours. Honestly I’ve fished them on rare occasions, probably 3-4 times/year, and didn’t quite got the feel of them until this year, when we were fishing in Northern Sweden, Kiruna area. Where all we did for 7 days was trout fishing in our waders.

On the first day of expedition I’ve found out they weren’t that waterproof after all and this only in about 1-2 hours of fishing. They seemed to be letting in water in the  knee area, and in the pelvic area, bot front and back. The areas that were most prone to stress and tear. This is probably why higher quality, and more expensive waders had reinforced these parts of the wading suit. It wasn’t water pouring in, but you could see my “insulating” trousers were damp in these areas, and didn’t really make me feel good, considering I’d be doing this for the next 7 days at least 8 hours a day.

First day dinner - grayling

First day dinner - grayling

Which the passing of each day I was getting to know my waders better and better, but not in a good way. The 3mm neoprene socks weren’t that waterproof either, as everyday my socks were humid inside, and not from perspiration. I doubt that I could get that humid from sweating, considering the temperatures outside. Their breathable qualities probably were there, but I couldn’t feel them working for me. All the sweat was trapped inside, when having to hike from a fishing spot to another. Stefan didn’t seem to be that bothered with his waders, at least not in this matter (he was using a more expensive pair of waders). This was a problem, because sweat that was trapped inside my waders made the cold water feel even “better”. This and the “waterproof” abilities of my waders.

Waders had to withstand a lot of battering amongst the rocky underwater terrain

Waders had to withstand a lot of battering amongst the rocky underwater terrain

You remember I told you that my waders were equipped with a repair kit? Well they do come with a repair kit, and couldn’t be bothered that I tarred my waders, when my left knee hit a boulder after slipping on it… I probably happens very often, especially in this area. In the same day a treble punctures Stefan’s waders as well, and told him: “Don’t worry… I have a repair kit”. What I didn’t know was that the repair kit was meant to be used at home, with an IRON. I couldn’t believe what my eyes were reading. You can only tare, or puncture your waders when fishing. Consider you are (as we were) in a remote area, where you can only be picked up by helicopter, with no electricity or phone signal. How the f…. can you use the repair kit. We finally came up with a solution. We’ll use the kerosene tent warmer. The top is hot enough. Again SURPRISE… the unopened , sealed glue was as hard as a rock (dried out). No chance of using it. Luckily there was just enough vulcanization strip to use on my knee. You could iron this on without the additional glue. Just my luck I’d say, because after the repair the water leak was stopped, and could at least fish the rest of the trip.

Moving from one spot to the other we encountered swampy areas

Moving from one spot to the other we encountered swampy areas

Moving from one spot to the other we encountered rocky and shruby areas

Moving from one spot to the other we encountered rocky and shruby areas

If the kit wasn’t meant to be used easily without electrical appliance I’d rather not get it with the waders, at least like that I’d know I needed something in that matter, just in case something happened, and needed repair on the spot.

Water pressure on my waders

Water pressure on my waders

I didn’t check other waders repair kits. Stefan’s waders only had vulcanization inseams and a few material patches for repair. No glue, no instructions. Maybe it’s just me, but it just doesn’t feel right to not be able to do anything about your broken waders on the water. I can repair an Inflatable boat on the spot if ever faced with the challenge, but you have to iron a lousy patch to repair a pair of waders. This seems close to BS to me.

Waist deep water all day long

Waist deep water all day long

Waist deep water all day long  - if you wanted to get where the fish were

Waist deep water all day long - if you wanted to get where the fish were

Other than that :) …. the waders did their job. Not terrific but did their job, for the last time I believe. I’ll definitely get  better ones before planning another wading trip far away from home.

Save up for more expensive waders - it'll be worth it....

Save up for more expensive/durable waders - it'll be worth it....

Rapala Breathable X-ProTect Chest Waders – Ratings (8.32/10)
Design Nothing that stands out. I like the way the belt is held on the waders, comparing other waders. The shoulder straps seem to loosen really often, which is bothering. And key areas aren’t reinforced. 6
Features 3 Breathable layers, with no reinforcements in the knee and butt area, inside pocket, which is not very comfortable. 8
Application / Performance It’s an all season waders, but in the winter, of very cold water you’ll need some extra insulation layers underneath. Their certainly not neoprene:) . They perform well if you don’t plan on using them extensively, or for long hours. 7
Durability Durability is not it’s strongest point. The waders permit water infiltration in some key areas after a few uses. And they seem to tare much easier than higher quality waders. They seem to holdup to walking thru bushy areas very well. 7
Price If you want an affordable pair of waders, this is the way to go, as the price can’t get any better than this. They are quite good looking at this price tag. 10
Overall 7.6

Conclusion: What you pay is what you get is a wise saying. You will never be able to buy quality stuff cheap. This has been proven time and time again. In case anyone wonders. The waders have never been washed, only lightly cleaned, so they should’ve been as new. The waterproof-breathable material isn’t so waterproof or breathable after all, but it gets the job done, if that’s the only thing you want. The material isn’t the most durable, but I didn’t expect that from a 100$ pare of “breathable” waders. The 3mm neoprene socks aren’t waterproof either. Everyday on the trip when back to base camp they were damp inside. If asked if I would ever buy these waders again… I probably would if I had the same budget, but I’d recommend saving more money for a better quality waders than these. I like the fact that they come with a bag, for easy transportation, in which they can dry out pretty well if you leave them in a well vented area.

About Andrei

Professional angler, rodbuilder, lurebuilder, if it's about fishing you name it, he does it. He hates "relaxing", and takes each day as a challange. Whenever he's got a spare moment he's either fishing, cycling, hiking or training his ass at the gym. He's fishing for more than 20 years now. Strictly on artifficial baits from the age of 7, he's always on the look out for the newest stuff and techniques out there.
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