Best Fly Fishing Waders | Top 11 Reviewed (2020)

Updated September 16, 2020

In this guide you will learn all about waders, including the best fly fishing waders for 2020 (reviewed).

Contents Overview:

  • How important are waders? Do I need them?
  • Tips for purchase // buyers guide
  • Different wader materials
  • Wader Types: Fishing wader pants, chest waders etc…
  • Fishing wader size chart
  • Tips for wader storage
    • Fly fishing wader bag
  • Fly fishing wader reviews
    • Best Fishing Pant Waders
    • Best waders for the money
    • Best Women’s Fly Fishing Waders

Our goal is to provide wader reviews that allow you to choose the best fishing waders for the money.

Let’s do this!

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Intro

Redington SONIC-PRO HD WadersWaders are an extremely important piece of gear for fly fishing. They keep you dry, provide added protection from brush, snakes and critters, as well as provide a sense of grounded-ness and protection on the water helping to create a comfortable and confident fly fishing experience.

On the opposite –problems with gear (particularly waders) can turn an awesome trip into a disappointing and challenging experience, very quickly.

On day one of a long San Juan River trip with Eric, I unfortunately sprung a hole in the right thigh of my waders. Needless to say I spent the entire trip with a wet right leg (nicknamed “wet leg” on this trip :(.

Despite the great fishing we had, the trip was definitely hindered by this frustrating experience. Long story short, you also want longevity to also be a factor in this buying process.

With that being said…

Does someone NEED waders when fly fishing? The answer—yes, but not every time. 

When do I NOT need waders?

Oftentimes in the summer or in warmer bodies of water, a fly fisher can get away with wet wading or fishing from the bank. However, waders will allow the angler to access hard to reach spots on the water, cast further and more accurately, and ultimately catch more fish! 

Simms-g3-stocking-foot-waders-camo

Tips When Selecting Fishing Waders

As with many aspects of fly fishing, the gear selections can seem endless, and waders are no different. Here a few things to keep in mind when finding your pair of waders.

1. Price / Warranty

Waders can be expensive! It’s important to know what your budget is, and most likely, you get what you pay for.

Top fly fishing companies like Simms and Orvis can get up there in price, BUT they do offer good warranties and repair programs. Once you select your list of options have a look at the companies warranty and repair program and make sure it feels right to you.

2. Fit

When you’re out on the water all day you’re going to want a pair of waders that fit correctly and do not limit your mobility. A pair of waders that are too tight or too loose can cause discomfort and potentially damage the waders.

Higher end companies like Simms place so much importance on fit that their mens wader size chart literally has 25 options! Getting the right fit is an advantage of going with a company like Simms.

3. Breathability 

The word breathable comes up a lot when talking about waders; Breathability means air and moisture are able to escape from the interior — while preventing water from entering from the outside. Breathability prevents sweating and limits condensation from forming. Nylon and Polyester are the superior materials to promote breathability. 

4. Durability/Longevity

This one seems obvious, but different materials used in waders will affect the puncture and abrasion resistance. Waders also have multiple layers of material, with the higher layer count the more durable. Oftentimes the more durable waders are the less flexible they will be. It is important to find a pair of waders that feel durable yet comfortable.

Wader Materials

Waders come in a variety of materials and each type will provide the wearer with different advantages. 

Neoprene 

fly-fishing-gearNeoprene is a type of synthetic rubber that is thick and pliable. Neoprene is waterproof and known for its insulation properties; making it a good choice for cold water fishing. However, it is not breathable, and can be very uncomfortable in warmer weather. Neoprene, although very flexible and soft, is heavy and can be challenging to move in.

Rubber

Rubber waders became popular in the early 1900s once rubber was discovered and produced. It is hard to find rubber waders nowadays as neoprene and breathable materials have filled the market. However, rubber is extremely waterproof, but not breathable or pliable. 

Nylon/Polyester 

Nylon/Polyester these materials are usually the main components in “breathable” waders. They usually consist of 3 or more layers with a waterproof core, and some type of waterproof coating. The characteristics of nylon and polyester allow for heat and moisture to escape to prevent condensation and sweat from forming. All of the waders featured in our guide are made from either nylon or polyester as the main materials. Most of the time these Nylon or Polyester waders will feature extremely waterproof polyurethane based plastics such as GORE-TEX. 

eric-carterspurio-euro-nymph

Types of Fishing Waders

Which type of waders are right for you? Bootfoot vs stocking foot and chest waders vs pant…

1. Bootfoot Waders  

These types of waders are usually found in neoprene or rubber waders, but sometimes in breathable nylon and polyester waders too. The entire boot is attached to the rest of the waders. This style can be seen as clunky and heavy; and can be hard navigating slippery rocks and terrain. Although, bootfoot waders makes putting on and taking off much easier and bootfoot waders are generally cheaper due to the negated cost of buying wader boots. 

Another advantage of bootfoot is that they don’t hold as much water as regular wading boots. This can be helpful it you typically go in and out of an indoor space (like a cabin or fly shop) and don’t want to track in mud and water.

2. Stocking foot 

This is the most common and popular type of wader. The waders have a neoprene sock attached to the waders for your feet, and accompanied by wading boots. This style is lighter than bootfoot waders and is great for balance and overall mobility.

3. Fishing Chest Waders 

Chest waders are the preferred option for fly anglers for their versatility. Chest waders are better for deeper water, float tubes, and colder weather. However, they can feel more restricting than pant waders and hotter in summer, and warmer in winter. but can be pulled down and tied off at the waist. 

4. Fishing Pant Waders

Pant waders are often overlooked as too minimal, but they do have some advantages. Pant waders have a select purpose for those wanting something that is lighter and easier to maneuver in. They are suitable for smaller rivers and bodies of water. Because of their size, they are not conducive for float tubes or deeper water. I personally have both chest and pant waders and tend to prefer my pant waders when fishing small creeks in warmer weather. 

Fishing Wader Size Chart

Trout water iconAll wading companies sell waders in a specific sizing chart, but each company may have different variations of size, and should look into the companies sizing recommendations before purchase. Here is a general overview of men’s wader sizes.

Size Shoe size Inseam weight Height
Small 6-9 28”- 30” 120 – 160 lbs 5’5” – 5’9”
Medium 8 – 10 29” – 32” 140 – 180 lbs 5’7” – 5’11”
Medium-Tall 10 – 12 32” – 34” 150 – 190 lbs 5’10” – 6’1”
Medium-King 8 – 10 30” – 32” 160 – 200 lbs 5’7” – 5’11”
Large 10 – 12 31” – 33” 170 – 220 lbs 5’10” – 6’2”
Large-Tall 11 – 13 34” – 36” 180 – 230 lbs 6’1” – 6’4”
Large-King 10 – 12 31” – 33” 200 – 250 lbs 5’10” – 6’2”
XL 11 – 13 32” – 34” 200 – 250 lbs 6’ – 6’4”
XL-Tall 12 – 14 34” – 37” 210 – 260 lbs 6’2” – up
XL-King 11 – 13 32” – 34” 230 – 300 lbs 6’”  – 6’4”

Wader Storage and Care

Taking care of your waders is huge! And doing a few easy things can help keep your waders durable and lasting longer. Here we’ve outlined a few tips for maintaining your waders.

  1. Keep waders out of sunlight and hot temperatures. Keeping waders in your car during the summer for prolonged periods of time will break down the materials causing rips and punctures to form.
  2. Hang them up to dry after each time on the water. The proper way to hang waders is upside down by the neoprene stocking foot or bootfeet (depending on the kind you have). Hanging them upside down will allow any internal moisture to naturally fall out, and relieves tension on the suspenders.
  3. Hand washing every few months. Dirt, sand, and other small particles can get stuck inside and on our waders, which over time can cause small abrasions and weaknesses in the fabric. In addition, bacteria can start to form causing an unpleasant odor, this is common in neoprene waders, but even breathable waders can get bacteria.
  4. Performance Repel Plus Waterproofing SprayApplying a water repellent coating to clean dry waders every couple of months will help them stay durable. Most waders have a water repellent coating that over time wears off. It’s important to replenish this coating. Here is a great product for replenishing your wader’s waterproof coating.
  5. During the offseason storing your waders in an airtight container or hanging them in a cool dark area. There are also special fly fishing wader bags that allow for easy transport, storage, and drying, see below.
  6. A fly fishing wader bag is certainly not essential, however waders are expensive and a bag can help to:
    • Keep your gear organized (helps to not forget them, which does happen).
    • Helps protect your gear. Particularly after fishing when you just want to get home and all of your gear (coolers and other) are thrown in the back. A fly fishing wader bag can keep hooks and other from accidentally puncturing your waders.

Best Fly Fishing Waders On Amazon (Overall Quality) 

We wanted to keep our slections budget friendly and have not listed anything on this page over the $300 price point.

1. Simms Freestone (also in pant)

You cannot talk about the top waders for fishing, without mentioning Simms. Some revere Simms as the best waders in the world. Their unique and highly sought after collaborations with GORE-TEX is one of the most waterproof materials out there.These waders are thicker and feel very durable, while still remaining very breathable.

The Simms Freestone waders are great for the beginner and seasoned angler. Simms offers several other lines of waders, most of which can be fairly expensive. The Freestones are moderately priced but with the same great technology and craftsmanship.

Simms also makes the Freestone line in just a pant style, and a zippered front to make putting them on and off easier.

Pros – Durable materials, strong, breathable, Nice chest pocket, comfortable

Cons – thicker material is harder to move in

2. Redington Sonic Pro HD Waders

Redington’s Sonic Pro HD waders are made from high quality materials including a thick neoprene foot and 4-layers of breathable materials. All the seams are sealed perfectly, preventing any leaks. The Sonic Pro also comes with a large chest pocket for holding fly boxes and other tools, along with fleece lined pockets for warming hands on cold days. The hardware is coated with an anti-corrosion agent to prevent rust from developing.

Redington Sonic Pro line also comes in a more simple design, along with the HDZ which features a front side zipper for easy in and out.

Pros – very breathable, lightweight, fleece lined warming pockets, good for warmer weather, pleasing look

Cons – poor quality belt, not very insulated and good in cold weather, only 1 year manufacturer warranty

3. Hodgman Aesis Chest Wader

Hodgman has been around since the 1830s and is credited as the first wader company in the world, making them a top authority on waders. The Aesis model is a competitive wader in both price and quality. They use a puncture resistant 5 layer material for the legs and seat, with 4 layers for the chest. The exterior is also coated with a water repellent material, to keep the wearer dry.

These waders can easily be converted to pant waders without removing the suspender straps. Another neat feature with the hodgman is a unique removable insulation system for those colder days in the water.

Pros – 5-layer protection in the legs and seat, breathable, removable insulation system sold separately

Cons – Unable to offer repair service at this time

Best waders for the money (Under $200)

4. Simms Tributary Fly Fishing Chest Waders

Simms makes our list again with their tributary line. This is one of the lower priced models but still features the top of the line materials that Simms provides. It is made from 4 layer polyester material for the leg and seat, with 3 layers for the torso. It also includes a front pocket with fleece lined hand warming pockets. The tributary waders are simple and straightforward, but one can pay more for a few extra bells and whistles, such as the tippet tender pocket and waterproof wader pouch.

Pros – Affordable, Trusted Simms brand, Great natural mobility
 
Cons – less durable than Simms GORE-TEX or Toray-QuadLam materials, waterproof wader pouch sold separately, thinner and not as well insulated

5. Redington Palix Chest Waders

Last on the list and pinned as our —best men’s waders for the money— are Redington’s Palix waders. These are Redington’s remedial series, but still offer the same quality as the higher end models. The Palix is made from a very lightweight 3 layer breathable polyester. In addition there is a DWR durable water repellent) coating on the outside of the waders. These waders are reinforced in the knee; along with fleece lined warming pockets and a zippered waterproof pouch.

Pros – Affordable, Breathable, lightweight, very comfortable

Cons – Thin only 3 layers of protection, not great for cold temperatures

6. Compass 360 Tailwater

Compass 360 is a pretty new company, opening shop in 2016. They create mostly rain gear and various waders from hunting to fly fishing. Their fishing waders are starting to gain recognition for their strength and decent price. The Compass 360 waders are made from solid nylon and has 6 layers of material in the legs and 4 in the chest. In addition, there is a water proof coating on the exterior while all seams are extra protected with waterproof seal tape. The tailwater also has an outside waterproof pocket and fleece lined hand warmers. It is going to be hard to beat the quality and price of these waders.

Pros – Durable, Affordable, breathable
 
Cons – Smaller, newer company

Best Fishing Pant Waders (Reviewed)

Chest waders vs pant waders are similar to pants vs shorts. They are simply more conformable–they are cooler and less restrictive.

Pant waders are good for days when you know you wont be wading deep and it is not going to get too cold. With that said if I only have one pair of waders I will choose chest waders every-time–I see pant waders as more of a luxury item.

7. Compass 360 Point guide II Pant Waders

We are featuring another Compass 360 set of waders, because of the quality price and craftsmanship. The Point Guide II waders are from the waist down and feature 6 layers of breathable nylon, water resistant coating, and waterproof tape over the seams.

These pant waders are great for small and shallow rivers, and offer easier mobility.

Pros – 6 layers of protection, gravel guards, easy mobility

Cons – Runs a slightly bigger, not well known company

8. Aquaz Trinity Pant Waders

Our second pair of pant waders we wanted to feature are Aquaz Trinity pant waders. Aquaz is a lesser known company that is starting to make a name for themselves here in the US. They have been around for roughly 30 years; based out of Korea this company makes waders, wetsuits, scuba equipment, and other water resistant clothes. They have also been making Patagonia’s waders for a while!

The Trinity pant waders have an adjustable and removable suspender system. The waders are made from breathable 5 layer polyester and nylon materials with extra polyurethane membrane and exterior coating. These nice pant waders also come with hand warming pockets for chilly days.

Pros – Decent price, durable, adjustable suspenders,

Cons – Not American company, Limited pockets.

Best Women’s Fly Fishing Waders

9. Orvis Women’s Pro Chest Waders

The first pair of women’s wader’s we are featuring include Orvis’ Women’s pro waders. These awesome waders are made from 4 layers of water repellant Cordura fabric. Cordura fabric is made from nylon and other natural and synthetic fibers and is said to be more waterproof than neoprene. The Cordura fabric is also resistant to scratches and abrasions, perfect when traveling through brush and rocks.

Orvis is a trusted name in fly fishing and they are trusted when it comes to waders as well. The Orvis Pro also has a waterproof exterior pocket, and an interior pouch with several more pockets.

Pros – Durable, lots of pockets for storage, Warm

Cons – Expensive

10. Simms Freestone Women’s Waders

We mentioned Simms twice now, and felt necessary to include their freestone waders in the women’s section as well. Like the Men’s version these are made from a 4-layer Toray Quadralam system of heavy duty water resistance that is also breathable and warm. The Women’s Freestone waders also have a fleece lined warming pouch for hands, and an exterior pocket for fly boxes, leaders, and other tools.

Pros – Durable, Breathable, warm, great Simms warranty

Cons – limited mobility

11. Redington Sonic Pro Women’s waders

The last waders we have chosen for the women’s category is the Redington Sonic Pro Women’s waders. This is our pick for best women’s fly fishing waders for the money.

These stylish waders are similar to the men’s Sonic Pros HD, but a little simpler. The Sonic Pros are made from a 4-layer waterproof nylon with a DWR coating (Durable water repellent). Attached are soft 4 mm thick neoprene stocking feet, with gravel guards.The suspenders are also adjustable and the back is a flexible mesh for a perfect fit. These are some awesome waders at a great price!

Pros – Durable, Breathable, Flexible, Affordable

Cons – Not as warm as some of the other featured waders

Additional:

If you found this wader review guide helpful or have feedback/questions please feel free to leave a comment below.

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