Getting into the water can seriously improve your chances of success when you’re hunting or fishing.
But you certainly wouldn’t do it without being fully prepared.
You need to stay comfortable, warm, and above all – dry.
That’s why I’ve put this review together of the best fishing waders in 2023.
And because there’s a lot to consider here before you make a purchase, a full buyer’s guide and FAQ section will follow to help you out.
Without further ado, let’s wade on in.
Note – unless otherwise indicated, most of the products in this review are suitable for men and women, or will have sizes available for both.
Table of Contents
- TOP 12 Best Fishing Waders in 2023
- Simms Freestone Chest Fishing Waders
- Redington Sonic Pro HDZ Waders
- Dark Lightning Fly Fishing Waders
- Frogg Toggs Canyon II Chest Waders
- Simms Flyweight Chest Waders
- Foxelli Neoprene Chest Waders
- Compass 360 Deadfall Stockingfoot Waders
- Simms Freestone Wading Pants
- Magreel Fishing Chest Waders
- Frogg Toggs Rana II Bootfoot Hip Waders
- Piscifun Breathable Chest Waders
- Orvis Ultralight Convertible Waders
- How to Choose the Right Pair of Fishing Waders
- How do you know what size waders to buy?
- What should I look for in fishing waders?
- How do you wash fishing waders?
- Are breathable waders supposed to be baggy?
- Do you wear shoes inside of waders?
- What should I wear under fishing waders?
- What is the difference between hunting and fishing waders?
- What is the best material for waders?
- What are the best fishing waders?
- Are Simms waders worth the money?
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TOP 12 Best Fishing Waders in 2023
How to Choose the Right Pair of Fishing Waders
There are a lot of things to consider when you’re in the market for good fishing waders, so much so that it might give you a bit of a headache.
Let’s see if we can break down what you should be looking out for in the guide below.
Wading – Why, Where, and When?
Before you even start wading in to the products themselves, ascertaining the why, the where, and the when will be a massive help with choosing the right product to purchase.
Then we can get into the advantages and disadvantages of each type.
First, let’s briefly look at why waders are a good choice.
Basically, if you don’t have a boat, then waders can be an excellent addition to your fishing gear arsenal.
For boat-less anglers, waders allow you to get right out into deeper water, so you can cast further, avoid plant-life and vegetation near the shore line, and get the fish into the net faster.
And personally, that feeling you get from being away from it all, deep in the heart of the great outdoors is invaluable.
Aside from this, from a practical point of view, waders keep you dry, warm, and protected from anything nasty that might be lurking under the surface, such as leeches, sharp, rocky terrain, or any toothy fish with a grudge.
Particularly if you’re wearing a pair of chest waders designed for cold weather.
And speaking of, if you’re fishing in cold weather, or where the water temperature is on the chilly side, then look for neoprene waders. Or, waders that offer the option of layering up inside.
For angling during those pleasant summer days, or in warmer waters, choose a pair of lightweight, breathable waders that you won’t lose several pounds of sweat while wearing.
Unless, of course, that’s your intention.
And don’t forget about mobility and freedom of movement. You want something that’s as nonrestrictive as possible, particularly if you have some distance to cover before you reach your spot, or if you’re fly fishing.
It’s not one-size-fits-all here. The best surf fishing waders might not be the same as the best waders for river fishing, or the best fly fishing waders. It’s about finding the right balance for your needs.
Or, just buying more than one pair.
Let’s take a look at what’s available.
Types of Waders
Waders are available in a variety of different styles, and it will depend on your personal preference – and when and where you’re wading – when it comes to choosing the right type for you.
Let’s look at the boot end of the waders first. There are two distinct variants.
Calling them barefoot waders is a bit of a misnomer, because they actually come with a boot already molded into the rest of the garment. Find one that fits, and you’re good to go.
They’re heavier and bulkier than stocking foot waders, but the all-in-one design means you don’t have anything else to purchase and you can get right into the water.
Stockingfoot waders have a built-in stocking at the end of the leg that you put your feet into. They’re lightweight, and they travel well, and you get to choose the boot you’re going to be using them with.
However, that’s obviously an extra expense, and good boots for wading can be on the pricey side.
When it comes to how high up the waders reach, there are three distinct variants.
Hip waders are the least popular, and they usually will only come up as far as the tops of your thighs, just below your hip.
Also known as ‘hip boots,’ they’re supported by straps that attach to your belt, and are more commonly used in shallower waters – if used at all.
Waist and chest waders are by far the more popular types, as they come up over your waist and up to your chest, respectively.
It’s not rocket science – the deeper the water you’re fishing or hunting in – the higher the wader will need to reach on your body.
And some chest waders offer convertible capabilities, so you can have the best of both worlds in one garment.
Today, waders are predominantly manufactured from three different types of material.
Neoprene was one of the first materials to be used in the construction of waders, and it’s still very popular.
It’s the same material you’ll find in wetsuits – or on your mouse pad.
The main advantage is that it’s very warm, and often available in a choice of thickness, so you can comfortably fish in cold weather and cold water.
But this also makes them on the heavy side, and not as maneuverable or portable. And as they’re insulated so well, they can run very hot on even the coolest of warmer days.
Nylon or polyester waders are much more lightweight and breathable. Treated with waterproof coatings and designed with three or four-ply layers, they’re more suitable for warmer temperatures.
But they will also have booties made from neoprene, anyway, or PVC footwear if you’re looking at the barefoot variety with built-in boots.
Traditional rubber waders are old school garments that offer unbeatable waterproofing, but are very limiting when it comes to movement, breathability, and comfort. So much so that it’s rare to even find them on the market.
Most waders these days will use a combination of materials in their construction, to achieve the best possible comfort and protection.
When it comes to waders, making sure you get the correct size is very important. Not only will it significantly improve your overall comfort, but also your level of protection, freedom of movement, and the life of the garment itself.
Getting this wrong can have a seriously negative impact on your experience, risk serious damage to the waders, and perhaps even safety implications.
So, it’s very important to adhere carefully to the manufacturer’s recommendations for sizing. Don’t simply rely on what you wear for a pair of jeans – you need to measure yourself carefully and adjust accordingly.
Look for breathable waders with adjustable suspenders to ensure a snug fit to your frame.
Remember, if you’re on the shorter or larger side of the wonderfully diverse size spectrum, deeper water will reach higher on your body, so you should consider chest waders as the best option.
And if you intend on layering up inside a lighter pair of waders, it’s probably a good idea that you choose a size larger than normal.
While not necessary to the successful use of good waders, extra features are always a nice touch that can make life easier for the angler.
Probably the most common of these is the fleece-lined thru-pocket you see on many chest versions – designed, so you have somewhere to keep your hands toasty in the chill.
Internal zippered pockets for electronics or personal items are also a nice touch – but I would highly recommend a good dry pouch for additional protection.
The best fly fishing waders often come with integrated tool holders and/or fly pads – so you can keep important equipment and flies close to hand.
You don’t have to store much in your waders if you’re using one of these excellent fly fishing sling packs you can take out with you.
And make sure you check the hardware on a pair of waders, too – as things like buckles and zips can often be the weakest link in inferior products.
While not actually having anything to do with the waders themselves, I thought I’d draw your attention to the advantage of using a good wading staff for when you’re inching your way into the water.
Invaluable for rivers with stronger currents, in deep or shallow water, or anywhere the bed might be very uneven or slippery, a wading staff can be a lifeline for keeping you right side up, and, of course, dry.
Because if your legs go over your head, there ain’t no waders out there that’s gonna keep you from getting a soaking.
High-end chest waders can be very expensive, but there’s a good reason for that. If you’re thinking of dropping over $200 on this garment, then you’re obviously serious about the sport, and you want a pair that’s going to last.
Of course, you can always find more budget-friendly options if you’re a beginner, or you simply want a pair of serviceable waders that are not going to break the bank.
Always buy the best you can afford, and think about how often you’re going to use them. There’s no need to spend a fortune if you’re only going out a couple of times a season.
Regardless, any decent fisher person worth their salt should also be packing one of these excellent fishing vests for additional help with organizing and storing gear.
How do you know what size waders to buy?
The best way to find out your size is to follow the manufacturer’s advice. Most waders should offer a sizing guide to help you choose the right fit for you.
While this might vary from brand to brand, the basics should be the same. Watch the video below for a simple guide on how to measure your frame for your true wader size.
What should I look for in fishing waders?
It really depends on what you need them for and when you’re going to be using them.
Waders made with thicker, insulated materials might offer more protection and be more durable, but there’s a strong chance you’ll sweat buckets in even the mildest of temperatures.
Likewise, lightweight versions aren’t going to cut it in colder weather.
Generally speaking, however, you want something that’s been made with good-quality materials, with attention to detail, strong seams, the best possible waterproofing, and all at a price you can afford.
How do you wash fishing waders?
Great question. Waders can be expensive, and you want to make sure you’re looking after your gear so it lasts as long as possible.
They also have a nasty habit of stinking the place up to high heaven if they’ve not been properly washed.
Check out the informative video below for a guide on how to clean and maintain your waders. Although with an emphasis on Simms products – it can be applied to any relevant brand or garment.
Are breathable waders supposed to be baggy?
If you’re fishing in colder temperatures or waters, then waders should be on the baggy side so you can layer up with clothing underneath.
But for summer use, you don’t want them too loose as this will result in discomfort, as well as risking damage to the waders themselves.
Do you wear shoes inside of waders?
If you’re purchasing barefoot waders – the version that comes with boots built-in, depending on their size, you might be able to wear shoes underneath.
But unless this is a lining shoe with a slim profile just for added comfort and protection – then there really is no need. A pair of good-quality socks will do, and try ones that are blister-resistant.
For stockingfoot waders – the shoes or boots are worn on the outside, and are bought separately.
What should I wear under fishing waders?
It depends on the season and conditions. In summer, some anglers keep things super-minimal and just don their regular underwear.
For winter fishing, leggings or thermals are highly recommended – unless using waders that are a suitably thick neoprene.
Whatever you wear, just make sure you’re comfortable, unrestricted, and you won’t run too hot or too cold when you’re out there.
Pack an extra layer in one of the roomier fishing backpacks, which will also give you somewhere you can store anything you need to take off if conditions change.
For more information check out the article What to Wear Under Waders & Tips to Stay Warm.
What is the difference between hunting and fishing waders?
There really is only one main difference between hunting and fishing waders – and that’s down to the aesthetic.
Hunting waders will more likely be of a camouflage design.
In reality, you can use a pair of good-quality waders for either sport – just so long as the type of wader you’re choosing is suitable for that particular activity/time of year/water temperature.
What is the best material for waders?
There isn’t one particular material that is the “best” when it comes to waders. They each have their advantages and disadvantages, as outlined in the buyer’s guide above.
Simply put, choose neoprene for warmth, and nylon/polyester for breathability and unrestricted movement.
What are the best fishing waders?
This isn’t an easy question to answer, as it really depends on personal preference, budget, and the kind of fishing you want to do.
Having said that, it’s hard to see past the Simms products in this class – they’re just on another level, and are regarded as some of the best in the world.
Which brings us nicely on to our final question.
Are Simms waders worth the money?
They might be eye-wateringly expensive (as most high-end waders are) but if you’re going to get a lot of use out of a pair of Simms waders – or any pricier brand for that matter – then yes, they are well worth the money.
That kind of comfort, fit, and material technology doesn’t come cheap – but should last you much longer than just about anything else on the market.
Again, consider them an investment – so long as you’re going to get plenty of use out of them. They would be wasted hanging in a closet for much of the year.
The best fishing waders in 2023 should keep you warm, dry, and comfortable. If you’re not getting those basic needs fulfilled – you need to switch up your waders.
Let me know which one you’ve gone for in the comments section, and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter for more top tips, advice, and product reviews covering all things outdoor.
Stay safe out there – and happy fishing!