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Waders are an essential part of fly fishing and having the right pair is crucial. There are differences in them all and you will have to consider all these things to find the best fishing waders. I have had a few different types of waders, but my personal favorites have always performed well under many circumstances.
Here we will discuss a few points for you to consider when shopping. I like a pair that are form-fitting and have lots of pockets for storage, but you may want something different. It is all about how you like to fish. So, let’s dive in and look at a few key features to look at when shopping for waders.
This is probably the first and foremost thing folks look at, and for good reason. High durability protects your investment and a good, durable pair of waders can last a long time. When wading you cannot usually see what is under the water very well. Sharp rocks, sticks, logs, and other obstacles can rub your leg and damage very thin waders.
Because of this, consider not just what you want in a pair of waders, but also consider where you fish most. Durability always comes at a cost, however, and that cost is usually mobility and weight. For me personally, I like to be somewhere in the middle with some durability but not obnoxiously heavy either.
Durability is also an important factor in which wader type you buy. Personally, I enjoy the stocking waders because I will have the option to purchase my own boots to go with them. The pair of boots you buy with stocking waders is also an important choice, but we will save that for another article.
Other wader types get more durable, however, such as the boot foot waders that have an attached boot. These are typically exceptionally durable, but they are very bulky and have quite a bit of weight to them, not to mention added cost.
I have struggled to get this down myself. It seems like my waders have always been bulky and baggy or extremely form-fitting and uncomfortable. This is where the middle ground comes in and I will explain why that is important.
Moving water is like wind and your waders are like a sail or a kite if they are too baggy, and a too-loose fit can knock you over into the water. Once in the water, that pair of baggy waders can also fill with water, making the situation worse.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are the waders that are a bit too tight. Bending and stooping can be exceedingly difficult in these waders. Another factor that you may not realize is that if the waders are too tight, the fabric and materials of the wader are under constant strain, affecting the life of the waders.
Here is how I was taught to size waders, and I know that this is hard when shopping online but most reputable sellers will have a good size chart for you to use. First and foremost, your hips and knees are the “hot spots” for mobility so seek out or ask about dimensions of the knee and the hips.
Wader height depends on which you choose, just make sure that any chest wader you buy, will not be too tall and be under your chin. Also, boot waders are usually thick-soled so be sure to account for about an inch of extra height if that is a concern for you.
Now breathability may sound a little odd considering we are talking about waders that are supposed to keep us dry. But stand in the hot summer sun wading a creek and you will soon see why we buy breathable waders.
You do not want to know the nightmare of taking off waders that are sweaty on the inside or worse, putting them back on. Thankfully, there are quite a few different waders that are very thin and breathable on the market today.
Typically, you can find breathable waders made from Gore-Tex which repels water while allowing water vapor to pass. Gore-Tex is a great product that you can find in most outdoor gear today. Now as we discussed above, durability may somewhat take a hit with lightweight, breathable waders but they are very much worth it if fishing in the heat.
Usually, the lighter waders are stocking footed so buying some good wading boots may be necessary. However, you can also find boot-footed pairs in a lightweight design. I have found that in northern country like here in Montana, instead of having both light and heavy waders, most have a pair that is somewhere in between.
Now that we know a little about what to look for in the best fly fishing waders, let’s look at some that are great buys for your money. I have included quality waders of various price points to appeal to every budget. I really like these picks and I am sure that you will too.
Our 5 Best Fishing Waders for the Money
Frogg Toggs Hellbender Stockingfoot Wader
Frogg Togg makes a good product that is light and breathable, and the Hellbender Waders are no exception. I use Frogg Togg raincoats and waterproof pants that work well when fishing from shore in the rain.
A great feature of these waders is the front pocket. Serving as a hand warmer and a great waterproof storage area with vertical and horizontal zipper access. It is nylon in make and is 4-ply at the top to help resist damage from hooks, sticks, etc.
The knees are also double reinforced to protect them when kneeling. I like this feature for rocky conditions when the knees may take a beating. The waistband makes it easier to keep heat where it needs to be as well.
Overall, this is a great pair of lightweight waders that stow easily and are durable. The size chart is informative as well making it easier to size accurately. Remember to measure yourself in the hips and knees especially.
- Durable double knee
- Horizontal pocket design
- 100% Nylon
- Waist belt
- Good breathability
- Durable design
- Many sizes
- Will need separate wading boots
Redington Crosswater Waders
Redington CROSSWATER Waders are a great all-around wader for fly fishing made of durable materials for long-term use. I like this pair for the simplicity. It does what is advertised, and the price is great for what you get.
The straps are made of soft but durable material for comfort and adjust easily. The waders themselves are 3-ply for the most durable build possible while maintaining mobility for the angler.
Reviews for these waders are particularly good for what they are. They perform as advertised and are good for multiple seasons of use. Size options for this pair however do not come with a size chart on Amazon and will have to be found elsewhere.
Overall, I like this pair, it is a good durable option for those who need a good first pair. I suggest maybe looking at a different belt if the thickness is uncomfortable. Usually for me, a thinner belt “cuts” more and can be uncomfortable.
- 3-ply build
- Easy-adjust shoulder straps
- Thick stockings
- Multiple sizes
- Excellent all-around quality
- Durable build
- Comfortable straps
- Thick durable stockings
- No pockets
Foxelli Nylon Chest Waders
If you are looking for a booted option, then Foxelli Waders may be the pair for you. I like the versatility of these waders as they are applicable to just about any outdoor pursuit.
There are two things that really stand out the most for me when looking at these, and they are pockets and storage. Because these are booted they fold small and fit into a bag very well, which is handy.
Another thing that I really like here is the double pocket feature. There is an outside pocket which is typical of a pair of waders but there is also an inside pocket as well.
You cannot argue with the price either but the downside that this pair has is a thin material boot that may be sensitive to temperature. Other than cold weather possibly being difficult, this is a great pair, and it is worth looking at.
- Carrying bag
- Camouflage pattern
- Reinforced knees
- Nylon material
- Folds small
- Good size chart
- Lightweight at 5.9 lbs.
- Thinner boots
Simms Men’s Freestone Waders
The Simms brand is well known to the angling community and for good reason, they make quality products. The Freestone Stockingfoot waders are no exception. This pair is on the higher end of the cost scale, but I would b doing the reader a disservice by not mentioning them.
First off, these waders are exceptionally durable which is surprising because of how thin they are. They are made differently with Toray Quadralam Technology that works differently than other methods.
The ankle portion of the waders is made to be more flexible when worn to accommodate more comfort with your wading boots. This is great for areas that are rocky and require more grace when wading.
Cost is the only issue I can see with this pair. But if the quality of a name brand is your goal, I suggest you look at these twice.
- Toray Quadralam Technology
- Motion accommodating ankles
- Durable knee design
- Durable adjustable straps
- Heavy-duty, premium waders
- Exceptionally durable
- Gravel Guard booties
Frogg Toggs Men’s Rana PVC Bootfoot
Not all wading is up to your armpits and a lighter, more affordable option is a good pair of hip waders. The Frogg Togg Rana boot foot waders are a great lightweight option that comes in either felt or cleat form.
Another thing that I like about these is that the price is so low that it is reasonable to think that you could afford a pair of each. These are made from 100% nylon but come uninsulated which can be good or bad depending on the situation.
The belt itself is durable and has a good motion for movement making it more natural and comfortable to negotiate when wading. The straps also have quick release clips for easily taking the waders off temporarily. This is great for hiking into other areas without having to hassle with removing your waders the hard way.
- Quick-release clip
- PVC boot material
- Adjustable web belt
- High motion straps
- Strong sealed seams
- Nylon reinforced
Which Wader Is Best for Me?
To answer that question, you will need to ask yourself how you plan to use them. Look up these brands we have listed in more detail and learn their warranty policies for their products. Most quality waders are supported by good warranties.
The best fly fishing waders are the ones that perform the job and last, but you can also be more specific than that. Comfort is a big deal to me and if you are like me then you fish for hours. Because of this, I always appreciate comfort in waders or any product I wear.
The important thing is that you feel good wearing them and fishing in them. If you need a better idea of what size you need, most fly shops are happy to help you understand your size better. Consider all of the options, and you will get a pair of waders that will bring you many seasons of fun on the water.
Well, that’s it friends. I hope you enjoyed this post and found it helpful. Until the next time…
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