Review: Fall Run Vest from Simms

By Scott Richmond

Here in the upper left corner of the USA we have four distinct seasons. Three range from cool to cold, and even in summer you can have chilly times at the edges of the day when the fishing is often at its best. So if you live and fish here, a vest is probably a standard item in your wardrobe.

Why a Vest?

A vest keeps your core body temperature warm while leaving your arms free for important work, like casting flies. It works well both as a layering garment on cold days and as outwear on milder days or cool nights. A vest is a remarkably versatile garment for outdoor-oriented people.

What kind of vest works best? Down is warm, lightweight, and packs to a small size. But untreated down is useless when it gets wet, and it can also be hard to care for and keep clean.

The venerable fleece vest is affordable and ubiquitous, but let's face it--fleece often has the tailoring properties of a gunnysack. Besides, you're basically wearing Velcro, so everything sticks to it. This is a problem if you have a dog or tie flies.

Fall Run Vest from Simms

Simms came out with a new vest that quickly became a favorite part of my wardrobe. They call it the Fall Run vest. The shell is nylon, so dog hair and marabou feathers slide right off. The fill is Pima Loft, a synthetic insulator that--according to the manufacturer (and would they lie to us?)--offers superior insulation for its weight AND retains 90 percent of its insulation ability when wet. What's more, it's machine washable.

There are hand warmer pockets plus a zippered chest pocket. The collar stands high to keep out the wind.

According to Simms' website, the Fall Run vest comes in loden (a kind of earthy green) and what Simms calls navy blue, although it's really lighter than a true navy. It must also come in the standard Simms black-and-orange, which goes well with many things, especially if you root for the OSU Beavers; at least, that's the color that most fly shops seem to carry it in. Perhaps the website doesn't show this latter combination because it's out of stock at the time I'm writing this.

At $150, the Fall Run vest is not cheap. If you balk at the price tag, here's how you justify it: Wear the vest indoors, as well as out, and turn down the thermostat. You'll pay for the vest with the money you saved on heating bills! At least, that's what I tell my wife, and she always believes me. Uh-huh.

The Bottom Line

I love this vest. For the past year I've worn it everywhere from the river to the barn. It's not bulky, it sheds grunge, and it's machine washable and dryable, so you can keep it looking good. After a year of hard use and a few washings, my Fall Run vest has faded very slightly and isn't quite as shiny as when I bought. But what heck--I figure that if my fishing clothes are shiny and unfaded, I need to get out more!

Scott Richmond is Westfly's creator and Executive Director. He is the author of eight books on Oregon fly fishing, including Fishing Oregon's Deschutes River (second edition).