It is a sad fact of my life that my closest, longest lasting personal relationship has been with my Simms G3 Guide Jacket. This statement is a sad testament of a life that has been fortunate enough to spend more time being pelted by the rain in Alaska, blown over by the winds of Chile and knocking ice out of Spey rod guides than most anglers will see in a lifetime. Regrettably, my most trusted fishing companion through most of the last decade has been this stupid raincoat that I have packed around like Linus does with his blanket. This infatuation either says something about the company I keep or some deep-seated insecurity that dwells in my psyche. Either way, my G3 jacket has pretty much gone everywhere with me. As with all things, however it is time to retire my old friend and get a new version of the G3 Guide Jacket.
My Classic Raincoat
I felt I was betraying a lover when I decided to replace my old, severely tattered Classic Guide Jacket. My stalwart barrier against the elements for years was showing signs of wear but I held on loyally to my aging friend. We had been through a lot together but the old cuss with its trademark over-sized pockets(that I still love) needed to be retired. It was all used up to the point that the built in retractors were stretched out and dangling loosely in the wind like little curly weather vanes. Feeling like I was a betraying a family member I ordered the all-new, at the time, G3 Guide Jacket with much trepidation.
New Gear Doesn’t Always Mean Better Gear
Fly fishermen, guides particularly, walk the fine line between fierce loyalty to their fishing stuff and wanting the newest, trendiest gear. I had been one of those guys who ordered the latest and greatest gear the second it was available for years. But I always reverted back to my old favorites. My infatuation with finding the perfect fishing pack is a prime example of trying something new once or twice and then giving up on it.
To this day I don’t use a pack. I would try to use a chest pack or some other type of pack thinking that I needed the fold down table or the extra large fly box compartments that some copywriter had sold me on. Inevitably frustration with the harness system or a broken zipper or some other inherent design flaw would doom the new pack to a hook on the wall of my cabin. This hook held probably 8 or 9 packs that were all second in utility and comfort to my old Guide Jacket.
Old Classic Was Good, New Was Better
My new G3 jacket showed up just in time for the start of two weeks of the most horrendous weather I had ever seen out in Katmai. The wind blew at a steady 30 MPH with gusts that would knock our guests to their knees if they weren’t braced for the impact. But this wasn’t the worst part of the weather, the worst part was the rain drops
that the wind hurled like BBs into us as we attempted to fish. With the impact of each water projectile, the dampness would penetrate my old jacket more and more. At the end of the day I was so windblown and soaked that I had begun scolding my old Guide Jacket as I hung it up to dry out over the smelly, diesel burning stove in my cabin.
No one bothered to tell me that I had a box from Simms for two days. I found it by chance when I went into the back of the office to sneak a shot of brandy from the boss’s hidden bottle. When I opened the box I wasn’t sure what to think, but I can tell you it wasn’t love at first sight because it was so different. The following day would be the test for the jacket that reminded me of something from a science fiction movie. So after gulping down a little more brandy, I grabbed the box and headed out to my cabin to load it up for the following day.
To make a long story short, I loved and hated it at the same time. The G3’s pockets weren’t as large as the ones on the Guide jacket but I still could get what I needed into them. It had a more slender cut that I thought I liked at first, but ultimately was too tight for a thick guy like me. The cuff design that let me cinch them down with Velcro to hold them tight to the point of being water proof was great. But most of all, the newer version of Gore-Tex™ was much more waterproof, breathable and wind-resistant. The kicker was the warm fleece pockets and neck that are probably why I still love this old version, even if it was a bit narrow. After that first day wearing it I was still dry and warm which is all any fly fisherman can ask for in the end. Ten years and countless days on the water fishing and guiding later, my old G3 was more tired than my original Classic Guide jacket I had put out to pasture long ago(it still resides in my den on a hook on the wall, warm and dry in retirement). The time had come for a new raincoat, the all-new Simms G3 Guide Jacket. Yeah! Boy!
The New Simms G3 Jacket Is The Best Yet
When I bought my first Simms G3 jacket there was but one color. Now there are several but I still prefer Dark Olive, which is synonymous with the Simms brand as far as I am concerned. What is great about Simms is that if something doesn’t work for them they go back to what did. This newest version of the Simms G3 Guide Jacket has the wonderful top-load pockets of the Classic Guide Jacket with an additional front zip pocket on the outside, giving an angler room for about anything he or she might need. This new G3 also has a looser cut that is less binding and more comfortable than its predecessor. This is particularly nice on those cold days when you need more base layers that add a little thickness to your girth.
Needless to say my original G3 jacket that has been sat on, slept in and tortured in all kinds of weather is now also retired on a hook next to my original Classic Guide Jacket(to me it is just the Simms Guide Jacket, but I am getting older). There are a few other things I also like about my new raincoat. The hood has three points to tighten it down if you really need to just by pulling some cords. It is also a little lighter and seems to be even tougher and more breathable then the ones before it. But what is best about this jacket is simple. Simms has taken everything they have learned after decades of guide testing and have given the G3 Guide Jacket a modern, simplistic design. One that is consummately utilitarian, dry, breathable and with all the features that any angler could want or need.