The new Vass Edition 2 Lightweight Waterproof Smock, Bib & Brace and EVO Boots go under the spotlight as Steve Souter reports on all three products.
As someone who fishes onshore and offshore in all types of weather I discovered long ago that I need both commercial grade heavy-duty waterproofs to cope with the very worst winds and weather, and lighter, ‘summer’ style coveralls that permit freedom of movement for essential actions like casting, while still affording full protection from nature’s unpredictability.
Continuing their on-going programme to develop and deliver performance waterproof clothing for anglers, the Vass Edition 2 Lightweight Waterproof Smock is exactly that. Tailored from the special Vass Tex 175 material, this smock is gossamer-light, supremely comfortable and an ideal top layer for particularly mobile shore anglers.
Unrestricted movement is a priority for anglers who fish on the hoof, and this deliberately unlined smock has proved an absolute godsend for my recent roving LRF activities, where I routinely jumped from coastal mark to mark and covered several miles in a day. Being breathable and possessing 25% natural stretch, the Vass Tex 175 fabric lends itself well to such exertions and this item has become an integral part of my wandering shore fishing kit.
Beats Draughts and Deluges
Features include a generous drawstring hood; a cavernous front pouch-pocket with Velcro-fastening storm-flap and draught excluding elasticated cuffs and hem. There are no perishable metal components to corrode and leave ugly discolorations on the garment. Instead, robust press-stud fasteners securely click together at the neck and across the wearer’s mouth.
It’s properly windproof and strongly quad-welded seams are evidenced everywhere except in the v-cut throat area, which is stitched. Water slides straight off the smock, and aside from a wave taken full in the face with the hood down – my own stupid fault – I have experienced no penetrating damp ingress. As such, I have absolute faith in the top’s ability to keep me bone dry and snug in lashing rain and conditions of windswept spray.
All Season Garment
The smock is suitable for both summer and winter use, and, when carried it can be scrunched into a compact little bundle that occupies very little space in a rucksack or tackle box. Weight is insignificant and the stretchy Vass Tex 175 fabric is surprisingly hardwearing. The tough material doesn’t adhesively attract dirt like a muck-magnet, and it remains perfect after a full winter of use. A bonus is that the smock is machine washable at 40 degrees.
The hood is not detachable but it conveniently tucks up out of sight under the collar when not required. Toggle-locked drawstrings pull the open front of the hood in tight to the head, which works well around a peaked cap.
What Would I Tweak?
Ideally, I would like in-built adjustment at the back of the hood in order to hold it securely above the eye line. An internal malleable wire inside the hood rim to facilitate moulding around the bezel of a larger headlamp would be a further functional addition. I’d also like to see the drawstrings upgraded to tougher cord. Those on my smock are showing early signs of wear.
The large front pocket is great but fleece-lined side pockets would be welcomed to provide somewhere to put idle hands. When staring up at rod tips I constantly found myself digging under the smock to tuck cold hands into pockets of the fleece or hoodie worn below. On the upside, there is nowhere for water to collect, and no zips or openings to unwittingly catch on while fishing.
While the Charcoal Black colour is perfect for stealth fishing for bass etc, many anglers prefer a the option of a brighter waterproof. Boat anglers in particular lean towards standout colours. And take it from someone who takes a lot of photographs under drab Scottish skies, there is no better killer of certain types of pictures than dark clothing on grey and overcast days.
Exceptional Value and Performance
Costing under £60 the Lightweight Edition 2 Smock is a durable and exceptionally comfortable waterproof that effectively shuts out wind, foul weather and flying lumps of cold seawater. The breathable nature ensures the wearer’s upper body is well cocooned and kept free from moisture build-up from within as well as without. The smock is suitable for shore and boat fishing and promises to be a trusted summer fishing companion.
Edition 2 Bib & Brace
Made from the same Vass-Tex 175 material, the new Edition 2 Bib & Brace is a joy to wear and performs soundly in adversely wet conditions. These bottoms are incredibly comfortable and so light as to be practically weightless. There is generous room in all the right places and the fabric’s inherent stretchability – particularly at the seat, crotch and knees – promotes unfettered movement.
Wide elasticated shoulder straps are anchored front and back by substantial box stitching. Strap length adjustment is from the front, while a single press instantly separates the quick-release buckles. Alternatively, Vass also offer 175 waterproof bottoms in a simple strapless trouser version.
Quad-welded seams again lock water out, and, worn in conjunction with the smock, the bottoms have resisted soakings from rain, windborne spray and bow breaching waves for hours on end. The non-metallic press-stud closings on the hems are a superb feature, allowing the flared legs to be instantly gathered in and locked above the ankles of your deck boots. Trailing legs with the rear hems chewed to shreds by boot heels is a common sight on boats. This simple cure is a dash of brilliance; helping to ensure that even those with the shorter legs don’t dangerously pitch over their own tangled feet.
Vass EVO Boots
EVO boots come in standard studded and non-studded patterns, with dedicated ‘winter’ versions containing removable heavy felt liners also available. The studded boots are ideal for fishing on greasy rocks, while the standard non-studded pattern is appropriate for working on deck. Might I hazard to suggest that you should avoid wearing the studded boots on boats? Daft as this sounds it wouldn’t be the first time I have witnessed an angry confrontation between an oblivious angler and a charter skipper whose deck has been horribly scored by studded footwear.
Appearances aside, similarities between the EVO boots and uninspiring traditional Wellingtons start and finish with the fact that they both are unfailingly waterproof. I was in possession of a pair of the standard studded EVOs and found them kind on my normally protesting feet. Unusually, after a seven hour session bouncing about on the rocks my feet didn’t feel like they belonged to an old man who badly needed to dunk them in a basin of hot water!
The upper part of the boot is moulded from supple rubber, and there’s plenty of flex in the sole to make long walks much less of an endurance. 18 tungsten-tipped studs per boot and ladder grips on the bridge between the heel and main sole provide
underfoot reinforcement and extra grip on slippery rocks, boulders and loose shingle. More width in the foot fitting is a further comfort boon, and a profiled boot lip provides wider access allowing trousers to be comfortably tucked inside. There’s double reinforcement at the ankles, lower shins and toe areas, and the deep-cut heel wedge makes kicking the boots off back at the car a breeze.
Overview of Items
- Smock (VA175-175E) RRP £59.95
- Bib & Brace (VA175-13) RRP £43.95
- Trouser version (VA175-12) RRP £34.95
- EVO Boot with studded sole RRP £38.98
- EVO Boot non-studded Sole RRP £29.98
- EVO winter versions cost around £10 more than standard versions
Contact: Vass stockists