Under Waders or On the Town
When I mentioned to a friend that I’d be writing a review on a pair of leggings I just got, he was genuinely confused:
How much could you possibly write about a pair of leggings?
This seems like an obvious reaction—leggings are hardly the most high-tech gear in my fishing kit; if used correctly, they shouldn’t really have to keep me particularly dry or warm, there’s no techy-sounding fabric technologies to research, and if I find a hole in them, I might be a little sad but it probably wouldn’t bum me out as much as a hole in my waders would.
But a good pair of leggings is a rare find. I can say this after years of experience with sub-par leggings; I’ve had cotton leggings that got clammy after just a few hours in waders, Wal-Mart leggings that slipped over my hips and required constant adjustment, even higher-quality leggings that ended up with holes in them after only a few months—and through it all, I’ve owned maybe two pairs that I would consider worth buying again. One of those pairs is FisheWear.
In the three months since I got a pair of FisheWear leggings, they’ve become the proverbial socks in my laundry scheduling—I’ve started doing laundry not when I’m out of socks, but when the FisheWear leggings are in need of cleaning. I’ve worn them fishing, skiing, to the gym, to yoga and while running in the rain. I’ve worn them while traveling, sleeping, and when I just don’t feel like putting normal pants on. And through all that, I’ve noticed a few design features that firmly place these leggings into the upper echelons of stretchy pants.
The most noticeable is the waistband, which has yet to slip over my hips, thereby not requiring me to keep pulling them back up all day or during a workout. Then there’s the fabric itself, a polyester-spandex blend made in Italy (that means it has to be good, right?); the poly blend assures these things dry quick, so comfortably wet wading in them is not out of the question—as someone who has gotten some of the worst sunburn of her life on her calves while wet wading, the SPF 50 in these things is a welcome layer of protection, and they dry quick, to boot.
Another important element here is how low-maintenance these are; they don’t require any sort of special treatment when washed, which is great because I’m the kind of person that doesn’t jive well with things that require special laundry treatment (one load, all colors, here we go.) There’s also the high-quality material, which is more rip-proof than its cotton or spandex counterparts, and exceptionally breathable to boot.
The best part of the FisheWear leggings, though, is the colors and patterns. Their website features nine unique patterns, all inspired by fish species found near FisheWear’s headquarters in Anchorage, Alaska, and designed by local artists. I personally own the Groovy Grayling’s, which were designed by Alaskan artist Chaney Fray. They’re probably the brightest thing I own, but I generally wear them under a solid black dress or with similarly earth-toned outfits, which usually suffices to tone them down a little. More importantly, I can wear them under my waders/snow pants all day and then throw on a black shirt from the back of the car and transition straight to après, which is pretty rad.
The one downfall I’ve noticed with the leggings is they don’t take too kindly to rough surfaces or, specifically, Velcro. Similar to the material on a bathing suit, they fray easily when introduced to anything rough, so I’ve had to make sure I limit my use to activities where they’re layered (i.e. wading and skiing) or where I won’t be around any Velcro. Velcro avoidance aside, I also learned that climbing (indoor or outdoor) is a big no-go, since the knees frayed quickly.
Despite the potential to fray, leggings that stay where they are supposed to stay, dry quicker than most and can transition seamlessly from an under-wader-layer to something I’d feel comfortable wearing to the bar are a rare commodity, even if they’re hardly the most critical element of my fishing kit. Plus the added benefits of making me want to do laundry more often? I think I’m going to need another pair.
The FisheWear Groovy Grayling (pictured) Leggings retail for $110 and are available at https://fishewear.com/