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Wading Pants – What to Look For
When it comes to fishing waders, it’s important you have at least a basic grasp on the features and factors that might influence your shopping choices.
As you’re browsing the reviews, keep the following things in mind:
Type of wader
Hardware and fastenings
Pockets and storage
We’ll explore each in more detail after the selection, so keep reading for all our buying tips and tricks.
If you’re not quite ready to spend exorbitant amounts of money on the very best wading pants in the world, then look no further than the Hellbender model from rain-gear icon Frogg Toggs.
While they’re at the other end of the price scale, they are still going to get the job done, made with a four-ply nylon upper that’s fully waterproof.
The stockingfoot finish also has attached gravel guards to keep you protected, with non-slip, rubberized, elasticated openings for convenience.
At the waist, you’ll find a fully adjustable belt with a quick-release buckle, just in case you have to remove the pants at a moment’s notice. And well you might, as that’s the only way you’ll be able to visit the little boy’s room in the absence of a zipper fly.
Name to trust in wet weather gear.
Affordable price point.
Thick neoprene booties.
Reports that sizing is a little tricky – be sure to double-check.
An affordable wading pant that will get you into the water in no time, this is a great addition to the Frogg Toggs line of budget-friendly protective clothing.
Based out of the Pacific Northwest, Redington has been in the fly fishing game since 1992, designing and manufacturing world-class rods, reels, clothing and gear to keep fishing fun.
Their aptly-named Escape wading pants have been made to make it easy for you to bolt to your favorite spot with minimum fuss. Enjoy day-long comfort with a breathable, four-ply waterproof material, with jean-style pockets for added convenience.
Ergonomic neoprene booties provide puncture protection should your boots ever be compromised, and the adjustable hook-and-loop waist belt allows for a finely-tuned, snug fit. Arguably the best fly fishing pants there are from the specialists in the art form.
Leading fly fishing brand.
Gravel guards and lace hook.
Stylish look and feel.
Perfect for warmer weather.
None to speak of.
I think this offering from Redington is up there with the most stylish wading pants out there, with an excellent marriage of performance and comfort.
I’d expect nothing less from the fly fishing experts, and you should also check out their entry in this article on the best wading boots on the market, which would look super-sharp paired with the Escape pants.
As an outdoor clothing company, Patagonia needs little introduction, being at the cutting-edge of the business as far back as 1973.
Their Swiftcurrent wading pants are designed for use in shallower waters, and made from recycled materials – which is always a plus point in my book.
The fully waterproof garment is lightweight and breathable, with a DWR finish, articulated legs for ease of movement, and heavy-duty scuff guards at the ankles for extra protection.
Neoprene booties are anatomically shaped for additional comfort, and the tailored waist with expandable band allows for an easy-on/off fit.
The gusseted-crotch prevents restriction where you most need mobility, while the single-seem construction improves the pant’s overall longevity.
Iconic outdoor brand.
Rugged, durable construction.
Elastic belt and hanger loop.
Highly flexible and nonrestrictive.
On the expensive side.
A company that can seemingly do no wrong when it comes to outdoor gear, Patagonia has knocked it out of the park with these wading pants.
Sure, they might be at the more expensive end of the scale, but you get what you pay for. And coincidentally enough, Patagonia, Argentina offers some of the finest fly fishing in the world, and you can follow that link for more angling destination suggestions.
If you’re looking for a Simms product without quite wanting to pay the price for the G3, then the Freestone option might just be the best choice for you.
Less bulky than their more expensive counterparts, these lightweight stockingfoot waders are exceptionally portable, and still highly durable thanks to their multi-layered, Toray fabric technology. I won’t go into the science (not that I know it, anyway), but this material was specifically designed for waders, ensuring you get the best protection and breathability possible, for all-day comfort in the water.
Neoprene booties are anatomically engineered, and the gravel guards are abrasion-resistant with an elastic bottom hem. A large, two-inch, elasticated belt is at the hip for that all-important, snug fit, and the whole garment looks and feels the part for the professional.
Name to trust.
Premium build quality and materials.
Gusseted crotch with zippered fly.
Hip pockets for storage.
Sizing is tricky.
Still on the expensive side.
Simms has done it again with this (slightly) more affordable option compared to their flagship G3 model. Regardless, this smacks of their trademark quality, a tough, rugged, yet lightweight wading pant that is nonrestrictive, breathable, and very comfortable.
Something slightly different now with these waterproof stockingfoot waist waders that actually feature detachable suspenders.
The Heron waders from Kingblue are made from a highly waterproof, four-ply nylon, with a nature-friendly, certified water-resistant coating.
The neoprene booties offer four millimeters of comfort, warmth, and protection, with redesigned ankle dimensions to ensure they’re easy on and off.
Two pockets with water-resistant zippers are located at the hip, with YKK hardware throughout, including the webbing waist belt and quick-release buckle.
But it’s the suspender braces that most catch the eye, here, easily detachable, and capable of providing additional comfort and a secure fit. If you’re concerned your wading pants could fall down in action, these might just be for you.
Great price point for what you get.
Durable, quick-release buckles.
No crotch inseam.
Carry bag included.
Logo design is likely to rub off.
Reports that the booties run large.
At this price point, you’re getting a great deal with these waders, and the addition of the suspender belt for comfort and support is a real winner.
Perfect for anyone who struggles to get wading pants to fit, it will just give you a bit of extra help for keeping things in place, similar to full-on chest waders. But if that’s more what you’re looking for, check out this review on the best chest waders currently available.
In a nutshell, it’s mainly about the water level and season – and for the purposes of this article, you should choose pant waders if you’re fishing in water not much higher than the top of your thighs, and usually in warm temperatures.
There’s no two ways about it – waders can be tricky garments to size. Most people aren’t going to be lucky enough to just buy the equivalent of what they wear in a pair of jeans, for example.
With thicker, denser material involved – plus the need to possibly layer underneath if fishing in colder weather and water conditions – waders tend to be on the bulky side.
One reviewer even said it was easy to look like a clown.
With that in mind, make sure you double-check your sizing, and read reviews from anglers who are roughly the same size as you for their experienced opinion.
Try to get the correct size first time, but remember – making online returns is easy nowadays, so don’t let that put you off if you’re concerned about making an error.
For more information, check out the video on wader sizing, below.
Materials and Design
Wading pants are made from a variety of materials, but for the most part, particularly the items in this review, it’s going to be a combination of nylons, polyesters, and neoprene for the booties.
Fully neoprene waders are more popular in chest waders, but improved fabric technology has shifted the market largely towards more breathable materials.
Some garments might also be made from recycled materials, which I always heartily recommend.
GORE-TEX is one of the best materials for wading pants, as it offers unbeatable weather protection as well as the best-possible moisture-wicking technology.
And that’s where the real trick is with this fishing gear – given the heavy-duty nature of these pants, and the activity they’re used for – you need something that’s going to help keep you cool and sweat-free.
You should also pay attention to the cut, fit, and design of the pants.
Good waders will offer nonrestrictive movement – given the nature of the activity they’re used for. I can’t stress the importance of this enough.
Look for articulated knees, and legs, as well as a gusseted crotch, for the ultimate in comfortable, fishing freedom, and to minimize the chances of rips or tears when you’re on the go.
Waders generally come in three types when we’re talking about the ankle-end of the garment.
Barefoot waders have no sock or boot attached, as the name suggests.
Stockingfoot waders will come with booties you slip into fishing or wading boots.
Bootfoot waders take all the effort away by having boots already built into the garment.
The vast majority of wading pants in this review (all of them, in fact) fall into the second category. They all come with neoprene booties attached.
Look out for anatomically shaped booties that have been designed to offer the ultimate in comfort, easy-wear, and range-of-movement.
They’re also available in a variety of thicknesses, so make sure your choice is going to suit your needs – usually to do with the temperature of the water, and how much extra protection you want for your feet.
Hardware and Fastenings
Nobody likes ill-fitting clothes, especially when you’ve got a job to do. And that job – is catching fish while standing in the water.
It’s a moment you certainly don’t want to be caught with your trousers down.
As such, you should pay attention to the hardware and fastenings of the pants. By that, I mean the belt, buckles, zippers, buttons, straps, or anything else that is used to aid a secure and comfortable fit.
Does the garment have an open fly? Is that something that is important to you? Make sure if it does – the zipper is fully waterproof.
Quick-release buckles are also very useful, especially if you need to remove your pants in a hurry (for any number of reasons, so get your mind out of the gutter).
Some pants might come with braces, which offer additional help with support and comfort as they strap up over your shoulder.
But the most important thing is that everything should be fully adjustable, so you can fine-tune your setup for a tailor-made fit. We anglers come in all shapes and sizes, after all.
Pockets and Storage
Wading pants will either come with pockets, or they won’t. It’s that simple. The question is – how much do they matter to you?
Sure, they can offer an extra space to store gear or equipment, but you really ought to be rocking one of these amazing fly fishing packs if you’re looking to stay properly organized.
Personally, though, I always like having at least two, jeans-style pockets on my outer garments, as they will always come in handy for something.
And if you’re intending to store valuables, or anything you don’t want to get wet, then make sure that the pockets have waterproof zippers.
The most common “extra feature” when it comes to wading pants, will be the addition of gravel guards.
Gravel guards are to be found at the ankle end of the waders, and they’re designed to do exactly as their moniker suggests – keep gravel out of your boots.
You pull them up as you’re putting your boots on, and then roll them down over the top, to produce a seal around anywhere dirt and debris might sneak in at your ankle.
Look for gravel guards that have non-slip lace hooks that help keep them securely in position.
Additional extra features include things like logos and color schemes. For the most part, these garments share similar, muted, earthy tones of greens, grays, and browns, with unobtrusive logos.
There’s no technical advantage here, as the jury is still out on whether fish actually see color. As such, it just comes down to personal preference.
As you can see, wading pants are available to suit a range of budgets.
While you should obviously try to stick to yours, I would suggest you choose a pant relative to how much use you’re going to get out of it.
There’s no point spending top dollar only for it to be left hanging in your closet for most of the year.
Still, I wouldn’t spend any less than $100 on these things – at the bare minimum.
What are the best wading pants for fly fishing?
There’s no definitive answer to this question, as what could be the best for me, might not be the best for you.