When you’re addicted to wet wading like I am, you definitely need incredible boots and socks. To date, Simms has supplied me with both. But I decided to give the Patagonia Yulex a chance to compete.
I don’t do waders. Maybe it’s the $700 price tag for a good pair of Simms. But regardless of the weather or the river, I’m always in the water without them. That means snow falling and sub-40 degree water. From the South Holston to the Madison River.
So when you’re addicted to wet wading, you definitely need incredible boots and socks. To date, Simms has supplied me with both. I wouldn’t trade my Simms Guide Boots for anything. Well, the new Sage LL might convince me.
On a recent outing I left my old Simms socks wet for too long and they mildewed. I’m talking the kind of smell which rivals a dead animal. They went in the trash.
Ordered a new pair of Simms Guard Socks and decided to also take a look at the Patagonia Yulex. Why? Initially for shallow reasons: They come in black. But there’s more to it than that…
So here’s the big difference in the two: Simms is made of neoprene. We all know what that is. It’s been around forever, and it’s made by DuPont. You know, the company featured in the film Dark Waters that polluted American lands and attempted to cover it up. If you haven’t watched the movie, you need to.
But back to fly fishing: The Patagonias are made of natural rubber. Not the DuPont neoprene that never breaks down. Patagonia champions environmental health while companies like DuPont don’t have the same track record.
BTW — The neoprene debacle is a growing concern with the likes of surfers and free divers. They know their old neoprene suits are going to sit in a land fill forever.
Okay, so here’s where things really matter, right? I mean, we’re human. And though we love the idea of saving the planet, unfortunately we need a little more than that. The good news is that Patagonia delivers.
The Patagonias are made for right or left foot while the Simms are now anatomically correct (My old Simms Guard Socks were not like this). Personally, I don’t want to try and figure out which is left and right when heading to the stream at 4AM. But whatever.
The Patagonia Yulex wins hands down for initial comfort. The Simms have very noticeable seams on the inside of the sock. Sure, if you’re wearing additional socks inside the guard socks it probably wouldn’t matter. But if you pull these onto your bare feet like I do, those seems are a tad annoying. The Patagonia Yulex feel great. No noticeable seams.
I wear size 9 in Altra running shoes and size 8.5 in classic Converse Chuck Taylors. Simms rates their medium as a men’s US 6-9 which I think is quite the span. Patagonia’s medium is rated at 8-9 which is more dialed in IMHO. Both mediums fit perfectly. So the sizing seems to be good.
I’ve fished the Simms more, but have fished both in the cold waters of the South Holston. My initial thoughts are that the Patagonias are totally comfortable. However, the Simms Guard Socks do feel slightly “springier” than the Yulex. The Yulex don’t feel bad at all. In fact, the day I put them on to fish, my initial thoughts were, “These feel great.” But when you pull one pair off and put the others on and walk around, you can notice a difference between them. I think the Simms have a little more cushion.
November 2020 Update: After fishing these socks more I’ve discovered something regarding the Patagonias: They are VERY difficult to put back on when wet. Dry, they slide right on. But damp from a previous day of fishing? Not fun. The Simms go on much easier when wet.
The entire idea of a guard sock is the fold-over design that keeps crud out of your wading boot. Got it. But for those of us in 45-degree water, sometimes it’s nice to pull those bad boys up for a bit of leg insulation.
The Simms Guard Socks are made to do this. You pull them up and there’s another Simms logo ready to shine. But Patagonia printed like the entire company roster on the inside of their sock. Do the trout care? But if you’re into how you look tromping around a stream, there it is.
So what’s my opinion? The Patagonia Yulex win this round. They’re comfortable, they perform and they’re made of more natural materials by a company not destroying the planet. I do like the springy feel of the Simms Guard Socks, but I don’t like the left and right foot stuff. It doesn’t make a different IMO. The seams inside the Simms Guard Socks are also very annoying while the Patagonias feel perfect on bare feet.