The 7 Best Waterproof Wading Jackets 2021 for Fly Fishing (Reviews & Guide)


Here’s the thing about the best wading jackets. They’ve got to tick a lot of boxes.

It isn’t easy finding a jacket that will keep you bone dry while literally stood up to your armpits in water. And it has to be functional too!

I’ve done enough wading to know what works and what doesn’t… And I want to share this knowledge with you.

Below you’ll find some great suggestions and a handy guide so you too will know what to look for.

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.

fisherman wearing fishing waider using rod fly fishing in mountain river

Fly Fishing Wading Jackets – Quick Guide

So you are in the market for a new wading jacket?

Great call. They are an absolute necessity. Nobody likes to fish when they are cold and wet.

Here’s a quick rundown of some things that I find most important in a great wading jacket:

  • Waterproof – If your wading jacket lets water in, forget it. It won’t be doing its job. You can ensure that your jacket is waterproof by checking its rating and looking for a few extra features that stop water from sneaking in… Anywhere.
  • Breathable – Getting wet isn’t just about the elements. You’d be amazed at how much you perspire, even on colder days. Breathable fabrics allow moisture to be wicked away from your body. This makes a wading jacket so much more comfortable.
  • A Great Fit – You’ll be moving a lot. Anything that restricts your movement or gets in the way of your fishing is a bad thing. I always look for features that will allow me to adjust my jacket to get an absolutely perfect fit.
  • Lots of Storage – While the main purpose of a good wading jacket is to keep me warm and dry, I also like to use it to keep a few bits and pieces that I use regularly close to hand. A few fly boxes and the odd spool of leader are the minimum that you need to fit. Look for things like plenty of pockets and loops.

Top 7 Best Wading Jackets of 2021

Riverruns Fishing Wading Jacket

It used to be the case that a wading jacket would cost nearly as much as a fly fishing rod. Thankfully times have changed, and you can get superb quality without the designer price tag.

Here’s a case in point.

For the money, this is one of the best fly fishing wading jackets around.

Here’s why.

First, it’s breathable. You’re going to be casting and moving a lot. It can get a bit humid in there, not so with this jacket.

Second, it is packed with lots of little extras. I love the waterproof YKK zips. Even if you do take a tumble, everything inside stays nice and dry.

And that’s not all…

Each pocket contains a loop for attaching things like zingers and tools. Go under the pocket flaps, and you’ll find a removable Velcro pad for flies and a couple of other loops for your fly fishing scissors.

The back has loops too, perfect for stowing a landing net.

As you’d expect, it’s really waterproof and is rated up to 8000mm, perfect for any weather.

Pros

  • Amazing value.
  • Really functional with zippers, loops, and pockets.
  • Breathable.
  • Good ventilation.

Cons

  • No waist adjustment.
  • The cuffs tend to absorb water.

Takeaway

If you are looking for the best budget wading jacket, you might just have found it. ‘Cheap’ doesn’t have to mean ‘low quality,’ and this is proof. It’s about as close to a premium wading jacket as you will get without paying extra.

Simms Men's Freestone Wading Jacket

Simms has rapidly become one of the major players when it comes to fly fishing apparel. In fact, I’d say they were one of the best fly fishing brands.

With jackets like this, I can see why.

Two words.

Warm and waterproof. Exactly what you need in the best fly fishing wading jacket. Not only that, but it has a really decent amount of storage.

This wading jacket is breathable with three-layer Toray fabric. The seams are all taped, meaning that regardless of a downpour, you’ll stay completely dry.

The chest pockets have ample room for a fly box or two and are fitted with retractors, perfect for attaching your most used tools without the need for a vest. The upper left pocket has a soft Velcro section for attaching a fly patch too!

And here’s what else I love.

The jacket is really adjustable. You can tighten the waist with a pull string. The hood is stowable and, you can prevent water from getting into your sleeves with Velcro fastenings.

Pros

  • Really high quality.
  • Completely adjustable for a perfect fit.
  • Plenty of storage room on the front.
  • Stowable storm hood.

Cons

  • No rear loops for things like landing nets.
  • It might be over budget for some anglers.

Takeaway

I love Simms. They produce high-quality gear that lasts for a long time. This jacket is super functional and would last a long time before you needed to upgrade. The downsides are minor. I really like this jacket.

Orvis Men's Clearwater Wading Jacket

Orvis Men's Clearwater Wading Jacket

You know about fishing…

And if you don’t, let me tell you this.

You won’t get better than Orvis when it comes to quality fishing gear. Bearing in mind that this isn’t the most expensive wading jacket, I think it offers a lot.

Let me show you…

The level of waterproofing is best in class. Rated at 20,000mm, this is about as dry as you can get. The combined 15000 breathability rating means that you’ll be dry all day and protected from moisture outside and in.

One weak area of cheap wading jackets is the front zipper. This jacket features a YKK AquaGuard zip, preventing water ingress.

When it comes to storage, it’s really good. You have two bread pockets and two handwarmer pockets located near your hips. These are lined, so your hands will be nice and snug when you need to get warm.

One area water can sneak in is in the cuffs. This jacket features a unique ‘dolphin skin’ cuff system, which stops water from dripping down your wrist.

The rear of the jacket also features a substantial D-ring, making it ideal for storing a net, even if you aren’t wearing a fishing vest.

Pros

  • Really waterproof.
  • I love the ‘dolphin skin’ wrist protectors.
  • Fully adjustable.
  • Great breathability.

Cons

  • The breast pockets are just a little on the small side.
  • No accessory loops on the front for tools.

Takeaway

Bearing in mind, the price is only a fraction above what I would consider ‘budget,’ you are getting a lot of bang for your buck.

I’ll go right ahead and say it. Orvis doesn’t really make bad products, so if you are looking for something super reliable that performs well, this jacket won’t let you down.

Frogg Toggs Tekk Toad Wading Jacket

Frogg Toggs Tekk Toad Wading Jacket

Take a look at this.

Both the jacket and the price. Now, I know what you are thinking.

But as I said before ‘low cost’ isn’t always the same as ‘cheap’. I had a Frogg Toggs jacket for years, and it never let me down. It’s a little rough and ready… But it works!

This jacket is super lightweight. It would be ideal if you wanted to travel light or are just looking for something to stuff into a sling pack if you are expecting some inclement weather.

It also has a few features you’ll normally find on more premium offerings.

Like what?

Fully taped seams are one example. The fact that it is fully breathable is nice too. The adjustable neoprene wrists are features you’d expect to find on a jacket four times more expensive.

The jacket is fitted so that it won’t get in the way of your casting either.

Pros

  • Amazing value in a waterproof wading jacket.
  • Lightweight and really portable.
  • Adjustable storm hood included.

Cons

  • The handwarmer pockets are a little too high up for me.
  • It isn’t well insulated, so for warmer days only.
  • No accessory loops.

Takeaway

For the price of a box of flies, you get a whole wading jacket! I think that’s amazing!

Seriously I know it’s cheap, but it really works. Provided you layer up and don’t ask too much of it, this could be a great jacket if you are just getting into wading.

Frogg Toggs Pilot 3 Guide Rain Jacket

Do you know what? Let’s stick with Frogg Toggs.

If the above was a little too budget for you, I’ve got something to show you.

This is priced as budget but performs like a high-end wading jacket. How does that sound?

The DriPore 2nd generation material is really waterproof and, as with all of my suggestions, is fully breathable.

The handwarmer pockets down by the hips are lined, and you’ll find plenty of storage pockets elsewhere, including on the chest and even inside. This is perfect if you are going somewhere remote and need to keep a phone handy. The breast pockets also feature drain eyes, so wet items can drip dry as the day goes on.

As with my other Frogg Toggs recommendation, you’ll find neoprene cuffs that will cut out those annoying ‘elbow drips’.

One unique feature that you’ll normally see in the ‘designer’ brands is that the jacket is cut with a ‘drop shoulder’. This prevents the jacket from riding up and bunching when you are casting.

Unlike the cheaper model, this jacket has accessory loops on the front.

Pros

  • Plenty of storage.
  • Great price.
  • Fully adjustable.
  • Neoprene cuffs.

Cons

  • Honestly? Bearing in mind the price, I can’t fault it.

Takeaway

Orvis had better watch out. You get similar performance at a fraction of the cost with this jacket.

It is a little more lightweight than the ‘big name’ brands. But when it keeps you dry and fishing, do you really care?

This is another jacket that would be absolutely great to use for a couple of seasons while you figure out what you want.

Orvis Men's Ultralight Wading Jacket

If you like the lightweight idea of the Frogg Toggs jackets, but you want to go for something a little ‘higher end’, Orvis has the answer.

This jacket is about as light as it gets. But just because it’s light doesn’t mean that it doesn’t perform exceptionally well.

Here’s the good stuff.

As breathability goes, this might be the best on my list. Rated at 30K, it really is an all-day jacket that allows moisture to wick away, keeping you nice and dry. It’s rated to 20K waterproofing and, as with my previous Orvis suggestion, features a dolphin skin cuff.

The jacket has plenty of storage, with two chest loops for your bits and pieces and a substantial rear-mounted D-ring for a net. The interior features a power mesh storage pocket which is great for personal valuables.

The jacket is fully adjustable at every opening. So you’ll be able to get a good fit too.

I want to be honest, however…

I’m not the biggest fan of the colors. I prefer something a little more ‘country’, but that’s just my personal preference.

Pros

  • Lightweight and high quality.
  • Lots of storage options.
  • Dolphin skin cuffs.

Cons

  • It’s a little on the pricey side.
  • I don’t like the color.

Takeaway

Ok, color aside, this is a great jacket. It has all of the features I like to see. It is lightweight, so it could easily be stuffed into a fishing pack or bag.

With lots of room and plenty of loops and pockets, you should find space for all of your essential items and stay dry while doing it.

Orvis Women's Pro Wading Jacket

Orvis Women's Pro Wading Jacket

Here’s one for the ladies.

I appreciate that a man’s fit isn’t what every girl wants. Fortunately, Orvis has produced a rather attractive range of women’s wading jackets. It is cut specially to suit a woman’s figure with a smaller waist and room in the chest area.

There are a few nice little extras too.

One thing I hate is when my jacket is zipped up, and the zip catches my chin. This fly fishing jacket for women features a microsuede chin protector, which stops the collar from rubbing on your face.

It is pretty good when it comes to water resistance too. At 20000mm, it will keep you dry in all weathers. Throw in fully taped seams, dolphin skin cuffs, and sealed pockets, and you’ve got one of the best flyfishing jackets on the market.

And there’s more…

I love a lot of storage. This jacket doesn’t disappoint. With net loops, chest loops, and four ample pockets, you’ll be able to take everything you need to enjoy a day out on (or in) the water.

Pros

  • Great fit for women.
  • Plenty of storage.
  • Fully taped seams.
  • Adjustable hood.

Cons

  • I wish the waterproof rating breathability was just a little higher.
  • They run fairly small, so check the sizes. Especially if wearing layers.

Takeaway

I get it, girls. You don’t want to be swamped by a men’s jacket. This is the answer. Choose your size wisely, and you should be able to get a really high-quality wading jacket that will last you for many seasons.

Buying Guide to Wading Jackets

Still unsure what goes into a really good wading jacket?

Let me help you.

If you are shopping around, here are the things you need to consider:

fly fisherman wearing wading boots and jacket fishing trouts in river

Correct Size

Sizing is probably more important than you think for several reasons. It isn’t just about looking good.

Go too small, and you are going to be uncomfortable for the day. Go too large, and you’ll create areas where water can seep in. Furthermore, it might actually get in the way of your casting.

But remember this.

The water can get cold, and you will want to water a few layers underneath. Check out this three-minute video to see how to layer up and keep warm.

It pays to work to your size, and depending on the jacket, go up by one size to allow for any layers.

And here’s the best solution…

Get a fly fishing jacket that is adjustable. I always look for waist pull chords and sleeves. As long as they can be kept tight and out of the way, the sizing isn’t so much of an issue.

Color

Color is actually pretty important.

Here’s why.

Trout have great eyesight and are easily spooked. Sure, you may look amazing in your dayglo wading jacket, but the trout will be running for cover. Aim for drab, dark, and natural colors.

Waterproof

This should be obvious, but you’d be amazed how many guys get it wrong. Go as high as you can with regards to waterproof ratings.

It is normally a figure given like this:

  • 20,000mm
  • 20K

Both mean the same thing. I’m going to keep it simple. The higher the rating, the more waterproof the jacket is. I’d go no lower than 15000mm if you want to stay dry for the day.

Anything else?

Yup, here’s what to look for… Ignore this piece of advice at your peril.

Make sure that your flyfishing wading jacket has fully taped seams. This prevents water from sneaking in through the tiny holes made when the fabric is joined together.

Let me ask you a question…

Where do you think is the area most likely to get wet on a wading jacket? The shoulders? The waist?

Nope, here’s the answer…

The sleeves. Make sure that any jacket you choose has a lined and adjustable cuff. Your wrists will be pointing skyward a lot, and your hand will get wet when fly fishing.

Believe me, it gets super irritating when you would have been dry except for that annoying drip that has made its way down your wrist and is now soaking your elbow.

fly fisherman fishing in river in winter

Breathable

There’s a reason we don’t wear any old rain mac when fly fishing.

One word.

Breathability.

If you are casting a lot (hint: you will be), it can all get a little warm in that wading jacket. And you’ll start to perspire. If this moisture can’t escape, then you are going to get soaked in sweat. This then cools.

Do you know what that means?

Cold and wet while fly fishing… No, thanks!

Breathable fabrics allow moisture to escape from the jacket. The fabric will wick moisture away in to the fabric, where it can evaporate. Along with taped seams, you must look for a breathable fly fishing jacket.

If you want to see how breathable fabric works, check this out!

Mobility

Here’s what I hate. A jacket that rides up or chafes as I am casting. I used to have one that fit like a glove, except when I cast, the armpits used to pinch.

Guess where that jacket is now?

That’s right, in the trash.

Look for wading jackets that allow full and free movement, which is what fly fishing is all about. You’ll notice in one or two of my suggestions above that they are made with ‘drop shoulders’. This means there is an overhang of an inch or two beyond the edge of your shoulder, allowing you a full range of movement regardless of where you are holding your arms.

Storage

A jacket isn’t just a way of keeping dry. It’s a storage solution. Look for wading jackets that have plenty of pockets.

I have a general rule.

The bigger the pockets, the better. I’ve never once said, ‘gee, I wish I had smaller pockets’! You want to be able to fit at least a fly box or two in there, not to mention other accessories that you’ll often need, such as sunglasses, spare leader and tools.

It isn’t just about the pockets either. If you’ve read any of my other posts, you’ll know what I love a D-ring or two. This gives you real versatility as you can add zingers or other items easily to suit.

If you’ve found a jacket that you really love but it lacks storage, this isn’t game over. Consider a really great fly fishing vest. This is a fantastic way to add extra pockets and loops.

Zippers

Are zippers really important in a fly fishing jacket?

Yup.

One key area where water can make its way in easily is through zippers. Any old zipper just isn’t going to cut it when it comes to staying dry.

Here’s what to look for…

First, try and find a jacket with sealed zippers. You can easily spot these as the outer edges are often lined with a waterproof covering.

Second, when looking to buy a wading jacket, keep an eye out for a storm flap. In its most basic sense, this is a piece of fabric that covers the entire zipper and prevents moisture from pooling on it.

Both work well, but for the most waterproof solution, get them as a combo.

fisherman waering waider using rod fly fishing in river

FAQ

Still got questions?

Here are the things I get asked most often:

What is the purpose of a wading jacket?

A wading jacket is simply a means to keep your top half dry. They are normally cut or feature pull cords to allow them to sit a little higher on your waist. This way, the pockets (and whatever you have in them) are kept clear of the water.

Your bottom half will be kept dry by a quality pair of waders. If you haven’t seen a pair of waders before, I’ve got a dedicated article about it over here.

What is the best wading jacket?

For me, it’s a choice between two.

For a premium offering, I really like the Simms Freestone wading jacket. It’s really waterproof, very adjustable and breathable too. I normally supplement the storage with a vest. It might be a little more pricey, but you’ll save in the long run as it’s unlikely that you’ll need another for a good while.

If you are looking for a budget wading jacket for fly fishing, you won’t find far better than the Frogg Toggs Pilot III jacket. It has plenty of premium features, such as fully sealed cuffs, D-ring storage attachments, and fully taped seams. The best thing is that it is light enough to be stuffed into a bag, so if the weather is variable, you are covered in both instances.

Do I need a wading jacket?

It depends…

Do you like being cold and wet?

If the answer was a firm ‘no’, then you really do need a wading jacket. You will be stood in water all day, and believe me, you will be getting wet. Throw into the mix the possibility of rain, and it is an obvious choice.

Wading jackets tend to be pretty lightweight, and there is no reason not to have one.

Provided you make a good choice, you’ll also find that they are useful as a means of storing and carrying your tackle while you are on the go.

Why does my wading jacket get wet inside?

Ah, this is a common problem. There are a few reasons.

  • Water ingress from outside. This might be a tear or areas that aren’t properly sealed, such as the seams. If you have a jacket that doesn’t have taped seams, this is the likely cause.
  • Water from the cuffs. You’d be amazed at how much water can drip from your hands into your jacket via the sleeves. Your hands will get wet, and that water will always flow downwards. Like toward your wrists and forearms. The way around this is to make sure you have cuffs designed to be tight and stop water from penetrating deeper into the jacket.
  • Wading jacket breathability. This is the most common cause of your wading jacket getting wet inside. If moisture can escape, it will condense, leading to that sticky wet feeling (which we all hate). The solution is to choose a wading jacket that has excellent breathability. A good second option is to choose a jacket with side vents and panels to allow perspiration to escape.

Summary

The best wading jackets will keep you dry, allow you to store some gear, and allow you to fish freely.

As you will have seen, they don’t have to be super expensive to be effective either. All of the suggestions on my list will work well and allow you to get out wading.

Bad weather and fishing are something I specialize in. Check my other posts and learn all about really great gear, from the best fishing jackets to the best rain gear for fishing in general.

What are the worst conditions you’ve ever waded in? Did your wading jacket work?

Let me know in the comments below. I love hearing from you guys.

Bob Hoffmann

The author of this post is Bob Hoffmann. Bob has spend most of his childhood fishing with his father and now share all his knowledge with other anglers. Feel free to leave a comment below.

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