Fishing

The 5 Best Fly Fishing Waders Reviewed For [2018]

Picking out the right waders for your next fly fishing trip isn’t as easy as it should be. I mean, they’re waterproof pants with attached boots, right?

How hard can it be?

Turns out there’s a lot to know about waders. Picking out the best fly fishing waders for you doesn’t have to be difficult though.

Choosing between sizes, types of waterproof materials, and various manufacturer’s warranties can be easy.

So in this article I’m going to help you avoid some common mistakes in choosing fly fishing waders. We’ll talk about what separates the good waders from the mediocre waders.

For more of my top fishing gear recommendations, have a look through these popular Outside Pursuits guide links: Fly Reels, Fly Rods, Vests, Wading Boots.

Quick Answer: The 5 Top Rated Fly Fishing Waders For 2018

  1. Caddis Men’s 2-Tone Chest Wader
  2. Hodgman Caster Neoprene Cleated Chest Waders
  3. Allen Black River Bootfoot Hip Waders
  4. Frogg Toggs Pilot II Waist Waders
  5. Ouzong Cleated Chest Waders

Now I’m going to review a handful of top fishing waders that you can choose from for your next fly fishing trip. Then we’ll talk about how to choose the right waders for you,

Let’s get into it!

Best Fly Fishing Waders

 Caddis Men's 2-Tone Chest WaderHodgman Caster Chest WadersOuzong Cleated Chest Waders
Material:PolyesterNeoprene Rubber
Integrated Boots:NoYesYes
Rating:4.2 / 5.04.2 / 5.04.5 / 5.0

Fly Fishing Wader Reviews

#1 Caddis Men’s 2-Tone Chest Wader

Caddis 2-Tone Chest Wader at a Glance:

  • Choose your own boots to wear
  • Feet are double taped glued and stitched
  • Chest high waders
  • Waterproof breathable fabric

These waterproof breathable chest waders are our Editor’s Choice for the best fly fishing waders and are ready to hit the rivers and streams with your own choice of footwear.

Instead of an integrated rubber boot, you can use your own choice of boots! They’re also one of the most well-reviewed chest waders on our list.

Like any waterproof breathable fabrics, these waders shine during hot summer days. CaddisDry membrane fabrics allow moisture vapor to escape while keeping the river water on the right side of your waders.

By far the biggest feature I like about these waders is that you can wear your own boots. Don’t worry, the waders include waterproof “socks” so water can’t get into the waders through your shoes.

This means you’ll want to buy some wading boots to go with them, but there are several advantages to this.

Wading boots will fit better than rubber wader boots. By choosing your own wading boot you can select the size and type of sole that makes the most sense for you.

Of course it will be a bit more expensive in the long run but it’s a more tailored experience overall.

Best For: A custom fit experience with breathable chest waders.


#2 Hodgman Caster Neoprene

Hodgman Caster Chest Waders at a Glance:

  • 3mm insulated neoprene
  • Integrated waterproof boots
  • 200g Thinsulate rubber boot
  • Chest-high waders

I had to make sure that our list included at least one set of insulated waders. Luckily Hodgman makes some good ones and you can choose these waders in several thicknesses to pick the insulation you need for cold days in the river.

Neoprene waders make a good addition to anyone’s kit because they’re perfect for early spring or late fall fishing. 3mm waders like these will handle the cooler waters as seasons change.

However, they aren’t going to be warm enough to handle late season temperatures. For extreme temperatures you’ll want something in the 6+mm range.

I love the reinforced knees patches so you don’t have to worry about kneeling to work on a fish, or stumbling and tearing the neoprene. I would like to have seen an included wading belt, so make sure you wear your own when using these.

There is a fleece hand warmer pocket and several D rings for attaching gear. These are nice touches on a wader meant for cold weather. Well done, Hodgman.

Best For: Anglers looking for the best fishing waders for cooler temps so you can stay in the rivers longer.


#3 Allen Black River Bootfoot Hip Waders

Allen Black River Bootfoot Hip Waders

Allen Black River Bootfoot Hip Waders at a Glance:

  • Integrated rubber boots
  • Two-ply uppers are waterproof
  • Attaches to a standard belt

Of course any decent list of fly fishing waders has to include at least one option of each type of wader, right? So here’s my top pick for the best hip waders for fly fishing.

The best part is that they’re quite affordable compared to most chest waders!

Hip waders make perfect options for going light and fast. When the streams are low and slow hip waders can be the perfect companion.

I like that there are adjustable thigh straps. These cinch down around your upper leg and help keep the waders in place while moving. One recommendation I do have is to wear a sturdy belt.

The last thing you want to do is tighten your waders down and get in the stream, only to have them pulled off because your belt broke.

To make these waders a little more versatile, try wearing insulative leggings and thicker socks in early and late season temps.

Best For: Lightweight waders that won’t overheat you during summer fishing in shallow waters.


#4 Frogg Toggs Pilot II Waist Waders

Frogg Toggs Pilot II Guide Pant

Frogg Toggs Pilot II Waist Waders at a Glance:

  • Choose your own boots to wear
  • Waist high waders
  • Zippered waist pockets

These stockingfoot waders are made to deal with deeper waters while keeping you cool. They’re waist high waders with the option to wear any wading boots you want so you can pick out just the perfect fit of waders and boots you need.

If you need more protection than hip waders can give, step up to these. They’re not as high as chest waders, but they look and feel like normal pants. Don’t be fooled however, they’re fully featured waterproof waders.

The 4mm neoprene booties are made to be worn inside a boot of your choosing. See our guide to fly fishing wading boots if you need help deciding. While this adds extra expense, it also allows you to pick out exactly the gear you want for each trip.

I like that the waders are made from 4-ply waterproof nylon construction. This is reinforced in the knee area so you know they’re going to last through some serious use.

Best For: Deeper waters in warm temperatures where chest waders aren’t quite needed.


#5 Ouzong Cleated Chest Waders

Ouzong Cleated Chest Waders at a Glance:

  • Chest high waders
  • 35% lighter weight vs rubber waders
  • Integrated rubber boots
  • Available in 5 sizes

Last up is a pair of chest waders that’s ready to get you in the water at an affordable price. These waders are well loved by users and keep things simple in exchange for a cost that won’t break your wallet.

Of course that means you can use the extra dough to buy more flies!

If you’re getting ready to buy some waders, consider how much cash you want to throw down. As I mentioned earlier, breathable waders are expensive and aren’t always necessary.

So why not look for something that has only what you need?

That’s what I like about these waders. They are waterproof chest waders made from lightweight waterproof nylon. There’s an integrated wading belt and a chest pocket. Honestly, what else do you really need?

I would say these make perfect choices for summer time fly fishing in deep, fast waters. The lightweight material will keep you relatively cool.

They’re also a great all around affordable choice for beginners who want something that can cover all the bases during pleasant weather.

Best For: Anglers looking to save a little dough but also want the best chest waders at a very reasonable price!


How to Choose the Best Fly Fishing Waders

Best Fishing Waders

Is There a One-Wader Quiver?

In many outdoor sports the mythological one-item quiver is like the Fountain of Youth. People will go to great lengths to find that one item that works in all situations for all people.

It turns out that it doesn’t exist and you’ll waste a lot of time searching.

No matter what, you’ll end up eventually needing more than one wader for fly fishing. Seasonal changes, water depth changes, the river you’re fishing, and the type of fish you’re casting for will all change the wader that’s right for that situation.

Now, don’t get me wrong…

If you’re just getting started, you don’t need to buy three different waders right out of the gate.

If you just fish in the summers and keep it casual, you just might get away with only one wader. In any case, start simple and work your way up as your needs change.

Types of Waders

Hip Waders

Are wonderful options for staying lightweight, cool, and mobile. Hip waders buckle on to your belt and cover everything up to the crotch.

They’re great for small, shallow streams.

With hip waders the main advantages are their smaller, lighter weight compared to larger waders. During hot summer days it’s nice to not have any more bulky, hot waders on than is absolutely necessary.

Larger waders can also become cumbersome and tiresome to walk in.

Waist Waders

Blend the lightweight, smaller nature of hip waders with the advantages of larger waders. This type of wader will protect and cover you up to the belt-line.

During summer months when temperatures run high but you need to get into deeper waters, consider waist waders. They’re less cumbersome than chest high waders yet more protective than hip waders.

Chest Waders

They are of course, are the largest and most protective wader. They can handle deeper waters with ease but they have several large drawbacks.

Waders are inherently waterproof and heavy. This makes them hot and tiring to wear. With chest waders in the summer things can quickly become swampy inside even if you don’t tip your waders (tipping means to get them filled with river water on accident).

Chest waders help with deeper waters and can protect against deep pools. They’re ideal for cold, rainy, nasty weather but suffer during the summer.

best budget waders

Wader Safety

There’s an easy way to learn wader safety and there’s a way to get yourself killed learning to use waders. I will always remember my father’s stories as a boy about falling in the swamp while duck hunting and nearly drowning in his waders.

Don’t make that mistake.

No matter where you’re going, plan to have waders that are 4-6” higher than the water level you’re entering.

When wearing chest waders, be sure to wear and use a wading belt. Wading belts prevent water from filling the inside of chest waders. This can happen if you fall or step into a massive underwater hole and can be very dangerous.

Wader Materials

Once you know what type of wader you want – hip, waist, or chest – you’ll now have to select a material. Each type of wader is made in all of the following materials and each material has some advantages and disadvantages.

Insulated / Neoprene Waders

Are made for cold water conditions when you’re the only person on the river. They’re usually made from neoprene but insulated waders can be made in other ways.

Neoprene waders come in varying thicknesses, just like wetsuits. The thicker the material, the warmer it will be. Manufacturers often also have a comfortable temperature range listed on insulated waders.

Be aware that large, thick waders can start to feel clumsy and awkward. When you get into really thick and warm waders such as those from 6-8mm thick you may experience unwanted buoyancy which can be awkward and dangerous.

Waterproof Breathable Waders

Like other waterproof breathable fabrics are made from fancy membrane materials.

Gore-Tex is the most famous example of waterproof breathable fabric but today nearly every manufacturer has some variant of waterproof breathable fabric that can often be just as good or better than name brands.

I’ve never been a huge fan of waterproof breathable materials, but they do allow some moisture to escape. Keep in mind, however, that sweat and moisture can only escape from areas that are above water.

This can mean that the benefits of breathable fabrics may be largely useless when you’re submerged in the waders.

Rubber Waders

Are usually quite affordable, durable, and effective. Almost every type of wader has some amount of rubber used in the construction – namely in the boots.

These are usually made of sturdy rubber or PVC combinations. Hip waders can sometimes be found made entirely of rubber but usually full size waders avoid rubber because it’s heavy and uncomfortable.

Non-Breathable Waders

Are simply waterproof fabric waders. They’re inexpensive and effective at their jobs. I would advise most new anglers to start with these due to the inherent drawbacks of breathable waders and their relatively higher cost.

Non-breathable waders are just the thing you need to get the job done at a price that makes sense.

best chest waders

Wader Sizing

Sizing your waders can be a bit tricky. Not only do you need to get the foot measurement right (we all know how hard shoe sizing can be), but you also need to get the inseam and waist measurement.

For hip waders this isn’t as important because they don’t come up over the waist. Waist waders and chest waders, however, need to account for user height and size.

Aside from carefully consulting the manufacturer’s sizing chart, consider pouring over reviews by other readers. Most sites feature reviews where users can leave feedback about the sizing vs expected sizing of waders. Take note and order appropriately.

Conclusion

There’s no doubt that fly fishing waders run the gamut and offer almost anything you could want. It’s up to you to decide what you really need.

While I like waders that feature footies which allow you to wear your own wading boots, they can be more expensive. Some may want a no nonsense pair of waders that won’t cost a lot.

Both are options on our list and I would urge anyone to consider the whole spectrum as you search for the best fly fishing waders for yourself.

Remember that waders come in three sizes from hip waders and waist waders, to full size chest waders. It’s hard to pick just one for all conditions and season, but instead think about where you commonly fish.

Then you’ll be one step closer to narrowing down that perfect pair of fly fishing waders.


I hope this guide was helpful for finding the best fly fishing waders to fit your needs. If you want to comment or recommend a pair of waders I didn’t include, please use my contact form to get in touch.

Have fun and good luck!

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Casey Fielder

I am an avid outdoorsman with experience in naturalist education, outside adventure education, ski instruction, and writing. In addition to my outdoor hobbies, I’m a huge fan of punk rock. I have launched several start-ups. (or business ventures) When exploring the backcountry, I usually carry less than 10 pounds of gear. Years of experience have taught me to pack light. I enjoy sharing my experiences of backcountry education teaching and guiding through writing.

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