And if you’re fly fishing, that means you’d better have the right protection, otherwise you’re going to get a soaking.
When it comes to angling in more challenging spots and conditions, you need to have more heavy-duty gear and garments.
So, take a look at this review of the best chest waders for fishing in 2021 – and you’ll be able to handle whatever the river throws at you on your next angling adventure.
A buyer’s guide will follow, so let’s wade in.
Disclosure: At BonfireBob, we recommend products based on unbiased research, however, BonfireBob.com is reader-supported and as an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases if you shop through the links on this page. For more information, see disclosure here.
Surprise, surprise – it’s the Simms G3 Guide waders that are up first. Rightly earning their place as arguably the best chest waders ever made, the G3 range from the fishing apparel icons is a cut above the rest.
Made using GORE-TEX technology, it features four layers of fabric in the seat and legs, and three layers in the upper chest section, designed to keep you completely dry, with best-in-class moisture-wicking materials.
The neoprene booties are anatomically engineered, and feature an anti-microbial finish to keep those nasty odors at bay, while abrasion-resistant gravel guards with boot hooks keep your feet protected from unwanted debris.
And the G3 is super-lightweight, too, offering a full range of nonrestrictive movement, ensuring a practical marriage of performance and comfort for all-day-long fishing.
The G3 is head and shoulders above just about anything else on the market, and although the price might bring a tear to your eye, this is a buy once – cry once kinda deal. You will probably never need another pair of waders again.
Now, hold on a moment. Perhaps I’ve been too hasty in awarding the “best chest wader” title so soon. Redington are fly-fishing specialists, having been in the game since 1992, so they know a thing or two about the sport.
This is their flagship chest wader model, the Sonic-Pro HDZ. Specially designed with anti-corrosive hardware, they’re probably the best chest waders for saltwater on the market, and they are packed with practical features to keep anglers happy.
Aside from being constructed from premium waterproof materials, the waders have two fleece-lined hand pockets with water-resistant zippers, a large, water-resistant chest pocket, 3.5 mm neoprene booties with additional 4 mm protection on the bottom, and a snap tab to secure the waterproof chest zipper for extra comfort.
You can roll them down with ease if you get too hot, with such an efficient, practical design.
Name to trust in fly-fishing.
Rugged, durable construction.
Integrated tool dock.
Slim wading belt that is tool compatible.
DWR coated, four-layer fabric.
On the expensive side.
Wow. The Sonic-Pro waders from Redington can easily give the Simms’ G3 a run for its money, and this is a truly outstanding piece of fishing apparel you’ll want to consider for your locker.
Clearly made by fly-anglers for fly-anglers, these waders are a thing of beauty. And for more from Redington, check out this review for the best in dedicated fly fishing waders. These guys seriously appreciate this art form.
Making up the top three chest waders in my review is this convertible option from Orvis, one of the oldest fishing companies in the world. Dating back to 1856, they’re certainly the oldest mail-order retailer in the US, and they specialize in fly fishing.
This is a brand-new model, an ultralight wader that’s made from a four-layer, breathable nylon fabric, with these nifty magnetic fasteners for easy conversion between chest waders and pants.
Perfect if you’re running too hot, they also feature a fully gusseted crotch for improved range of movement, an integrated tool dock and fly patch on the front pocket, and re-designed anatomical neoprene booties for superior comfort.
New, updated design.
Reinforced stress areas.
Rugged and durable.
5-inch stretch belt.
Integrated gravel guards.
Might be a little too lightweight for some.
Orvis are known for their top-quality gear and customer service, which might account for how long they’ve been around. These practical chest waders are perfect for use in a variety of conditions, designed to keep you moving while staying protected.
So far, we’ve seen what the best breathable waders can do. Now it’s the turn of a full neoprene option, with these camo-print chest waders from Foxelli.
First, you’ll notice the outstanding price compared to the previous entries in this review, and then you’ll notice they also come with boots built-in. Aptly called bootfoot waders, you don’t need separate footwear, and donning this garment is like slipping into a giant waterproof sock.
Aside from the tough, rugged construction, these waders are packed with fishing-friendly-features, including D-rings, pockets galore, and two carabiners, so you can attach gear to your belt, like one of these awesome fly fishing nets.
And the chest pocket doubles as a hand warmer for when things get chilly out on the water. Easily the best budget-friendly chest waders on the market.
Great price point.
Very highly rated.
Camo design for hunting and fishing.
Lightweight, durable, PVC boots.
Carry bag included.
Adjustable, elastic suspenders.
Not as mobile as other waders.
Reports that sizing is a little tricky.
Perpetuating the debate on neoprene versus breathable waders, (follow that link for more), this offering from Foxelli certainly stakes a claim that making waders from this fabric isn’t obsolete just yet.
Probably the best chest waders for cold weather, you’re getting a lot of bang for the buck here, and with the bonus of not requiring an extra pair of boots. And at the end of the day, let the thousands of five-star reviews speak for themselves.
Like the Foxelli entry above, this is also a bootfoot wader, and comes with a tough neoprene-lined boot that offers excellent protection with a steel shank, reinforced midsole, reinforced toe cap and heel kicker.
Made from a four-ply waterproof nylon upper, the waders also feature zippered hand warmer pockets, an oversized chest storage area, fully adjustable suspenders, and double reinforced knees for extra durability.
Up there with the best chest waders for the money, this is a solid offering from Frogg Toggs, and great value to boot.
Affordable price point.
Rugged, durable construction.
Breathable, bootfoot design.
Inner security pocket.
Easy release buckle system.
Felt outsole on boots won’t be suitable for everyone.
Known for their affordable wet weather gear and apparel, Frogg Toggs deliver a budget-friendly chest wader that offers some of the features you will find on more expensive options.
Specifically designed for the fairer sex, these Redington Sonic Pro chest waders share a lot of similarities with their male counterparts, including the sonic-welded seams and four-ply waterproof, breathable fabric.
Designed to be more contoured and form-fitting for women, it features stretch side panels to allow unrestricted movement, with minimal pockets to reduce bulk, and a slim wading belt that is compatible with essential fishing tools, like these practical fishing pliers.
Two hand warmer pockets have fleece lining to keep your mitts toasty on cold days, while the four-millimeter neoprene booties offer additional comfort, warmth, and protection in your shoes.
Designed for female anglers.
Stretch mesh back for comfort.
Easy on/off design.
Rugged and durable.
Removable water-resistant pocket for valuables.
Anti-corrosion hardware throughout.
Chest pocket and YKK zipper.
While many of the best chest waders for fishing come in a unisex design, it’s nice to include an option for women who prefer something a little more contoured.
Redington caters for that need with the female version of their top-quality Sonic Pro – the best chest waders for women on the market.
The Freestone stockingfoot chest wader gives fishing fans a chance to own a top-quality Simms product without spending the eye-watering price of the G3.
And while it’s not the flagship model, the Freestone is an outstanding wader in its own right. Made with a fabric that has been specially designed for this purpose, it’s lightweight, breathable, and 100% waterproof.
Probably one of the best quick-dry chest waders available, the microporous coating improves water run-off, and the four-ply layering will ensure you stay cool, dry, and protected as long as you’re out on the water.
But if it does start to get a bit nippy, be sure to pack one of these excellent wading jackets in your loadout – with the Simms’ Freestone coat the obvious compatible choice here.
Name to trust.
Rugged, durable build quality.
Hand warmer pockets.
Anatomically engineered neoprene booties.
Adjustable belt and suspender straps.
Tough, Duraflex buckles.
An inside pocket would have been nice.
Like the Frogg Toggs Hellbender, these chest waders from Simms are also available as a wading pant, but this version offers better protection for deeper water and colder temperatures.
They’re still not the cheapest chest waders around, but you get what you pay for, and Simms products are always worth the money.
Now, how about this option if you’re looking for budget-friendly chest waders that aren’t going to break the bank?
Piscifun are known for their affordable fishing gear and apparel collection, and these stockingfoot waders are no exception.
Made with three-layers of waterproof polyester protection, they’re packed with features that you might ordinarily find on garments that are three times the price.
Employing breathable, moisture-wicking technology, these chest waders have hand warmer pockets, a water-resistant bib compartment, and a handy, removable fly keeper that sits just above the waist.
Four millimeter neoprene booties are included, both featuring gravel guards and lace hooks to keep unwanted debris from sneaking under your feet.
Great price point.
Internal security pocket.
Fully adjustable belt, buckles, and straps.
Durable belt hoops with low profile.
Waterproof phone case included.
At this price, I can’t fault them.
Piscifun continues to impress with affordable fishing equipment, gear, and apparel that rivals higher-end products and shares similar features. These waders are a prime example, offering a terrific balance of quality and performance without hurting the wallet.
Last but not least, we finish with the Expedition – zip-front waders from outdoor apparel kings – Patagonia.
These chest waders are on another level – in more ways than one – and are the flagship, heavy-duty model from the company’s extensive line.
Made from quality recycled materials (always a bonus), these waders are as tough and durable as they come, with a waterproof, breathable barrier and DWR finish. A gusseted crotch offers maximum maneuverability, and anatomical booties offer the best in slim-line comfort in the shoe.
But where these waders really shine, is in the top-quality pocket selection, including a fully submersible front zipper, zip stash compartments, and hand warmers.
And inside, you’ll discover a waterproof flip-out pocket; and two drop-in stretch pockets to help store valuables and keep organized. As far as the most complete chest waders on the market go, you just might be looking at them.
Name to trust.
Top quality design and construction.
No-snag wading belt.
Premium buckles and hardware.
Removable foam knee pads.
Quick-release suspender system.
Attractive color and logo design.
And I thought the Simms G3 was a pricey pair of chest waders! While some folks might balk at fishing clothing at this price point, there’s no denying the world-class quality and effort that Patagonia has put into manufacturing these chest waders.
Reviewers are saying that they’re definitely worth the money – and you can let me know if they’re right.
How to Choose the Right Chest Waders – A Buyer’s Guide
There are plenty of features and factors to consider when you’re in the market for new waders, and the buyer’s guide below will take you through them, with a particular emphasis on the chest variety.
Type of Wader
First, you should decide if it’s actually a chest wader you’re looking for, as they can sometimes be overkill if you’re fishing in certain conditions.
Without getting into too much detail about the different types of waders, chest waders are preferable for deeper water, colder temperatures, and are more suitable for fishing spots that are easier to access.
This is largely thanks to their bulkier, heavier-duty design, which is particularly true if they’re made out of neoprene.
Should you choose to remain here, then we can safely assume that chest waders are your preferred choice (offering the most versatility when it comes to water depth), and so let’s wade on.
As mentioned, chest waders tend to be bulkier than other models, and this can often make the sizing a little tricky.
I would recommend researching the reviews from anglers who are a similar build to you, so you can better understand if you need to go up or possibly down a size.
Remember that layering is important, particularly if you’re fishing from late fall to early spring.
Chest waders can be worn on their own, or with undergarments, and as such, you’ll want to factor that in when choosing the right size for your needs.
Materials and Design
Chest waders are available in a variety of materials, but the most common are breathable nylons and polyesters.
They should be coated with a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) finish, and the high-end models could well be made using GORE-TEX technology, which is the pinnacle of waterproofing and moisture-wicking fabric.
However, chest waders made from neoprene (not just the booties) are still popular, given that they’re inexpensive, and they offer excellent cold weather and water protection.
As chest waders will naturally use more material (particularly neoprene versions) than their hip or waist counterparts, you should also be aware of their design and fit.
Choose waders that are articulated, so they allow nonrestrictive freedom of movement. The best chest waders for angling will also have a gusseted crotch for additional mobility where it’s most needed.
By its very nature, you need to stay mobile and free when fly-fishing, and so having restrictive pants is going to seriously hamper your comfort and success.
Either way, look for thick neoprene booties or liners to keep your feet protected, comfortable, and supported inside whatever shoe or boot you decide to wear.
Hardware and Fastenings
When it comes to hardware and fastenings, the most notable difference with chest waders is the inclusion of an upper section with shoulder straps.
Make sure the suspenders are fully adjustable, with quality buckles and elasticated braces.
Likewise, when it comes to the belt at the waist. Adjustable quality is key for the ultimate in a clean, snug fit.
Some anglers actually prefer wearing chest waders regardless of the season or situation, as you can always roll down the chest portion of the garment if you’re running hot.
If that’s the case, look for quick-release buckles, and/or chest waders that are specifically designed to be converted easily into wading pants.
And as ever, premium YKK zippers are always a welcome addition.
Pockets and Storage
Chest waders will naturally offer more storage solutions than any other type, as the chest portion of the garment allows extra pockets to be included.
One thing that’s most common is the addition of fleece-lined hand warmer pockets, that double as places to keep your mitts warm in cold conditions.
Chest waders will also have an all-purpose utility pocket in the front bib, as well as a possible inner pocket(s) for valuables.
Whatever you prefer, make sure that any zippers are water-resistant at the very least, while the more premium models will be fully submersible.
As well as offering extra space for storage, chest waders tend to provide more options to pack in extra fishing-friendly-features.
This can include things like D-rings and straps for attaching gear, tool hooks and tabs for adding things like saltwater fishing pliers, and any other useful accouterments that might benefit the angler.
If you’re choosing stockingfoot chest waders, make sure that they come with gravel guards – which are designed to roll down over the top of your fishing boots, and keep dirt, stone, and debris at bay.
And don’t overlook color and logos when it comes to choosing good chest fishing waders. Logos should be quality, and not likely to fade or rub off.
Muted, earthy colors are most common – but camouflage designs are also available, which might be more suitable for hunting waterfowl.
Reflective strips can also add a touch of safety, particularly if you’re walking along roads to reach your fishing spot.
As you might expect – given the extra material and features – chest waders are the most expensive kind on the market.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t pick up a bargain, and there are some quality, budget-friendly options out there.
My advice is to always purchase a garment relative to how much use you’re going to get out of it, and how much of a beating it’s going to take.
If you’re only fishing once or twice every month, as opposed to every waking moment (wishful thinking), then spending $500 on chest fishing waders might be a bit excessive.
What is a good brand of chest waders?
The top fishing wader brands – with a particular emphasis on chest waders – include Simms, Redington, Orvis, Frogg Toggs, and Patagonia.
That’s not to say other brands aren’t good, it’s just that these companies are undoubtedly the leading lights when it comes to fishing apparel and clothing.
But if I’ve missed one of your favorites – let me know in the comments.
What type of waders do I need?
Good question. It depends on where and when you’re going to be fishing, as well as your own personal preferences.
As a rule of thumb, choose chest waders for colder temperatures and deeper water, and pant or hip waders in shallow conditions, and/or where the weather is warmer.
However, as mentioned previously in this article, many anglers simply use chest waders for all conditions, as you can always roll down the upper section, and they offer the most depth versatility.
For more info on fishing waders in general, check out the video below, which also includes advice on boots.
What are the best waders on the market?
I would say there isn’t one particular product that is better than anything else, as the best for me might not be the best for you.
There are a few factors you need to take into consideration when choosing the correct size in your chest waders. Take a look at the video below that will explain things in more detail.
Are neoprene chest waders warm?
Yes, very warm. In fact, they’re the preferred wader of choice if you’re fishing in colder conditions and water temperatures.
The issue is they can run hot, and they’re more restrictive than breathable fabrics. That’s the trade-off if you want to ensure you stay toasty.
Do I need chest waders for fishing?
No, you don’t. You can use wading pants, or hip waders if you’re fishing in shallower waters.
But fishing waders are more commonly used by anglers who are fly fishing, so if you’re not practicing this particular style, then you can get away with something like these kayak fishing pants, instead, or even just basic hiking gear.
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