Review: Skwala RS Wading Jacket | Hatch magazine

Skwala Fishing’s innovation and desire to push the fly fishing apparel market in new directions has been a welcome breath of fresh air in 2022. Their Fusion 3/2 Puffy Jacket is a game changer in fly fishing apparel. fly fishing, as is the company’s dedication to designing gear that moves with the angler when on the water.

That’s where their RS Jacket comes in. It’s a wading jacket designed to do more than just cover you in a stiff waterproof fabric that’s loud, doesn’t stretch, and rides up when you paddle. or you are doing a nymph drift. The RS Jacket is designed to fit perfectly with Skwala’s RS Waders, it is fully waterproof and provides an exceptional outer layer in the worst winds, rain and snow. Add to that the slim design and fantastic sizing of the Skwala product, and I think the RS Jacket is one of the best outer layers in all of fly fishing right now.

What works

cut the wind
As well as being fully waterproof (Kevin Sloan, CEO of Skwala, even bragged that I could shower while wearing the RS and get out dry), the RS Jacket is a fantastic outer layer against the harsh wind of the Wyoming where I fish. It cuts the wind well, while still being breathable so you don’t sweat like a pig.

As with all equipment made by Skwala, the RS Jacket was designed with the movements of the angler in mind. A wading jacket isn’t great if it rides up while sticking high on a fin or if it folds down while paddling. So Skwala used a very flexible fabric that moves with you when you’re on the water.

Image credit: Skwala Fishing.

This goes straight into the great range of motion of the RS jacket, which is due to both the flexible fabric and the way it’s been sewn together. Skwala has deliberately assembled the RS jacket in such a way as to allow maximum movement. You don’t notice how important this design aspect is until you’re wearing something purpose-built like the RS Jacket.

It’s also worth noting here that Skwala chose to go with a slightly different fabric than you’ll find in other waterproof jackets. The goal was to create something that was waterproof, but still breathed. The idea is that by building a breathable garment, your body is better able to regulate its own temperature, keeping you warm throughout the day.

Pockets, hood and cuffs
The RS jacket sports tons of pocket space, including a pass-through pocket designed to integrate with their RS waders. If you have both the RS jacket and waders, the large all-purpose pocket gives you access from your jacket to your waders. It’s a brilliant design that eliminates the need to shed diapers just to access pockets.

The hood of the RS jacket is slim, compact and cut so as not to obstruct your peripheral vision. The hood adjuster cords are tucked away in the front pockets so they don’t snag on your fly line which is a wonderful touch.

Finally, the jacket cuffs are internal and fully sealed, meaning you can put your arm in the water to release a fish and not have to worry about getting wet. And you don’t have to worry about raising your arms slightly, only for the water to run down your sleeve and soak your inner layers. The inclusion of an internal cuff is just another example of Skwala’s wonderful attention to detail.

What doesn’t work

I wish the RS wasn’t a $500 jacket. It’s a high price, but it’s also one that matches the high-end jackets of Skwala’s competitors. What the jacket offers in terms of performance, functionality and build quality can ultimately be worth it. However, I know the price will put the RS out of reach for many budget conscious anglers.

Last word

Based solely on its movement-oriented fit and the stretch and flexibility built into its fabric, the Skwala RS Jacket would end up among the best wading jackets currently on the market. But it also cuts the wind exceptionally well, while still breathing enough so you don’t sweat too much while wearing it. And I especially like the taped cuffs that keep my forearms completely dry when I release the fish back into the water. Yes, it’s an expensive jacket. But if you can swing it, such a price tag is much easier to swallow when attached to a jacket as well-built and feature-packed as this one.