Simms has divided its products into three major segments to represent different levels of quality, utility, function, and price. The Simms G4 series stands as the flagship, with the Simms G3 series as a close second, and the "bronze medalist" being the Freestone line of products. Other segments are also represented, such as the more minimalist "Guide" items and the "Flyweight" series, whose name speaks for itself, as well as the entry-level "Tributary" series.
Much has happened over the years with all segments, but as in many other industries, it's the more budget-friendly options (or, as I choose to call them, "options that allow for more spending on fishing") that impress me the most. A flagship series carries a lot of expectations, and rightfully so. Fortunately, these often deliver on their promise. But more affordable options usually come with more question marks: How good can they be? What's hidden?
As someone who has been working with fly fishing for about 20 years, I can tell you that things have changed a lot. In my opinion, products in the more moderate price range have caught up. Think of cell phones for a second. I guess the best phone from 15-20 years ago would probably be impossible to sell today, and the cheapest phone you could buy today would probably outperform any top-of-the-line phone from a decade ago or so.
The first year I worked with selling Simms products, the Simms Freestone wader of that era was very basic. I don't think it even had a chest pocket or handwarmer (it might have had a very simple flip-out style pocket), and the fabric felt thin and fragile. The last generation of the Freestone wader and the one now being introduced have much more in common with flagship waders like the G4 and the G3.
Over time, Simms has sourced new materials, figured out the best design and seam patterns, and determined how to position pockets and zippers to give you the best capacity and access, etc. From the days when the Freestone was "just a wader" with no real features, the new model is packed with features! I'll leave it to Simms to tell you all about it below. This looks like a great wader to me and is available in many different sizes to fit almost every possible stature.
This is how Simms describes its new Freestone Z waders:
"Loaded with smart features and built for years of abuse, breathable, mobility-friendly Freestone Z Stockingfoot waders come equipped with a convenient zippered construction for easy on/off and quick relief when nature comes knocking."
- Durable & breathable Toray® QuadraLam™ 4-layer upper & lower
• TIZIP® waterproof center front zipper
• Stretch elastic suspenders with Simms custom opposing male and female buckles
• Upper chest pocket array features dual side-access stretch-woven zippered
storage pockets, micro-fleece lined handwarmer pockets and integrated loop fly patch
• Dual fleece-lined handwarmer pockets
• Patented front and back leg seams deliver articulated fit, improved mobility, and increased durability
• Dual rear belt loops; 38mm stretch elastic wading belt included
• Patented, abrasion-resistant, built-in Gravel Guards
• Anatomically engineered neoprene stockingfeet
/ Martin Karlsson