First thoughts: Cloudveil 8X Pro Shell waders

gear bagEverybody and their mother knows I can give fly fishing waders a good swift kick in the crotch pants. As gear goes, waders are what I am toughest on, and as a result I generally don’t scrimp when it comes to them. The last full-time use pair, Simms Guides, have just about had it. And while I’m all for pushing the limits I’ve been going through enough Aquaseal nowadays that I figured I might as well ante up. I bought the pot of Gore-tex – a pair of Cloudveil 8X Pro Shells.

I’ve had these waders out just one full day – in other words the jury is still deliberating. But that day was warm (at least by spring in the Rocky Mountains standards), and the water cold. The terrain was intermediate, and I took a few spills (go figure). My guess was it’s as good a time as any to set forth some uninformed opinion. [side note: click any picture to see a large view]

Looks aren’t everything, but they sure help

cloudveil1If the Cloudveil 8X Pros were made of recycled sandwich bags and held together with Elmer’s Glue, you’d still think they were designed by Donatella Versace. These suckers look goooooood. The color is called vetiver, which is another way of saying gray, green, beige and none of the above, simultaneously. The material, with the exception of the lower legs, is lightweight ripstop fabric and silky to the touch. Shoulder straps and belt (a integrated job) are made of stretch elastic, and colored to match the rest. All the zippers, stitching, and related unimportant stuff is carefully crafted. Just looking at it screams ‘refined’ owner.

Nevertheless, John Gierach wisely noted that if you want to be thought the expert, one tactic is to wear beat up gear. Unfortunately, that was before digital SLRs and Flickr existed, and now you have to look your best even if the photos of you sitting on the bank trying to untangle your three fly rig are the closest thing to respect you’re ever gonna get. These waders do that for you in spades. I’m just happy when there are some grass stains on the knees – while I spent some time scrambling around rocks trying to net a friend’s fish in a tough spot, those knees are still pristine. Bummer.


Creature features

  • Built in chest pocket and handwarmer pocket – now playing stuffed full of fly boxes. You look like a chunky monkey in photos, but the pockets are great for storing a box or leader material (if you build your own leaders). On the first outing, I had a nymph box, floatant, tin, and a philly cheese steak tucked inside. There was ample room to spare.
  • cloudveil3

  • Drawcords along the top of the bib for those who like a snug fit – billed as a safety measure, but my man boobs prefer some room to play. The drawcords are nice if you are smaller up top, and fear you are going in headfirst any second and don’t want the bib section to fill up with water quite as fast. Combined with the three point adjustable shoulder straps, nobody should have complaints about the fit.
  • Schoeller® Dynamic™ gravel gaitors – for those who whine when they get gravel in their boots. I’ve never used gaitors before, and now I have no choice. The material/elastic for these seem tough as nails, which will prevent me from cutting them off.
  • Integrated belt loops

  • Integrated belt loops/wading belt – this I can use. How many times have you forgotten your wading belt? I’ve never had the pleasure, but everyone else I’ve fished with has – I’ve always carried an extra wading belt in my gear bag just for them. Now that I have this handy dandy integrated bit, I also have an excuse to leave the spare belts at home. Selfish bastard that I am, this means fewer anglers on the river, and someone waiting by the truck to make me lunch.
  • What feels good is worth paying for

    cloudveil5Like I said previously, the short test was done in fairly warm weather and while doing some walking that would test the average bear. Fly fishing can be a workout if you want it to be, and the last thing you need in those circumstances are waders that are supposed to breath but choke instead. Thankfully, these waders ‘respirate’ like a yoga instructor.

    cloudveil2The Gore-tex Pro Shell here isn’t really eight layers of material – it’s a combination of three layer ripstop in the chest area, three layer wader fabric below that, and five layer tough stuff around the lower legs. The fabric itself is billed as the ultimate for extreme outdoor enthusiasts. Fly fishing isn’t an ‘extreme’ sport, despite marketers’ efforts to make it so. But you do have to balance the risk of hypothermia while standing in near freezing water against creating a tropical ecosystem around your butt cheeks on warm days. These waders can walk that tightrope – after nine hours hucking several miles, and standing waist deep in sub-40 degree water for extended periods of time, I didn’t notice a hint of condensation within. Even after making a steep climb back to the truck and immediately pulling them off (and please note: I am an out-of-shape lard ass), they were dry as a bone.

    Sure, at $475 they are on the pricey side. But so were the Simms when I bought them and I’ve gotten plenty of useful life out of those. Me thinks this Pro Shell stuff is worth the bucks.

    A few words about service

    In a nutshell, I wasn’t impressed. The goods I’m wearing now were ordered through a dealer in early March, and I didn’t receive them until mid-May. I can’t blame the dealer – they called about them several times and got nothing but excuses. I called Cloudveil myself several times too, and didn’t fare any better. Further, a tweet on the matter generated a response, but zero in the way of actual assistance thereafter. Social media blah blah blah. The company could do themselves a favor by hiring me to restructure their procurement and distribution operations, and rebuild their customer service arm from the ground up.

    Conclusion

    It’s tentative and preliminary (subject to my trademarked longer term brutalization), but the Cloudveil 8X Pro Shells are worth a third mortgage. Very functional, and very comfortable. As for the service issue…

    If you are the kind of angler who punches holes in their waders while taking piss breaks in rose bushes, and find it necessary to hold the manufacturer responsible for your ineptitude (i.e. send them in for repairs), go for it. But you might want to think about hanging up the sport while you’re at it. Fly fishing requires gear, and gear breaks. Understanding this, I’ll do repairs myself whenever the option is available. Unless you’re a prima donna, don’t let my initial experience in the service regard deter you – and if you are, please take up croquet.

    MG signing off (to hit a steambath in my waders, and feel good doing it)

    Comments

    Murdock says:

    “Fly fishing requires gear, and gear breaks. Understanding this, I’ll do repairs myself whenever the option is available. Unless you’re a prima donna, don’t let my initial experience in the service regard deter you – and if you are, please take up croquet.”

    Wisdom of the ages…

    robert says:

    Mr. Gracie – you are one funny guy! (…nice job on the gear review as well).

    Robert

    Bruce says:

    Steam Bath in the Goretex Waders! Goretex pipes water vapor from the hot side to the cold side. The colder the water you wade in the drier the inside. In a sauna the water vapor is going to move INTO the waders.

    @Murdock – I suspect you’re as susceptible to croquet boredom as I.

    @Robert – Thanks!

    @Bruce – Another dirty secret of mine…I failed out of Thermodynamics, and wound up an accountant 😉

    Tony says:

    Are you sure they are genuine Goretex? I understood that Simms had exclusive use of that product for waders.

    Tony – I’d never heard that before. Cloudveil includes plenty of Gore-tex literature both in box and on their website, and embroidered the logo right on the waders. Maybe they’re trying to pick a fight. 😉

    Tore says:

    There are 3 factories in the world who are licensed to manufacture Goretex waders. Simms is just one of them. Obviously Cloudveil is using one of the others – the only one in China.

    Kara says:

    Michael,
    Great review. I work for another well known fishing brand and would be more than happy to help you out in your desire to giving it a proper test in an effort to enlighten those less fortunate fishermen.

    Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.