The ultimate guide to the best fly fishing waders for men on the market: stockingfoot, bootfoot, breathable and best value.
In this ultimate guide we want to give you an overview of the best fly fishing waders out there. Of course “best” is not an entirely objective term but we will try our best to give you an idea of what to look for no matter what kind of waders you want to buy.
How do you choose the best fly fishing waders?
Fly fishing waders are one of the most important pieces of gear when heading out to the water. Not only do they keep you dry and warm, they also protect you from the brush, animals like snakes and bugs.
A good pair is worth the money if you are into fly fishing and want to keep up the sport. You only realize the value of the best fly fishing waders when you had a bad experience such as a leak that can ruin a great trip.
Depending on the conditions you fly fish in, you can choose from different kinds: chest high vs. waist high (hip waders), Gore-Tex/Nylon vs. Neoprene and stocking foot vs bootfoot. Don’t worry if you are not familiar with these terms. We’ll explain all the details in this article.
If you are only fishing in very warm conditions you might not need a pair but can do wet wading instead. The requirement for that are warm water and air temperatures.
Table of contents:
How to Pick the Best Fly Fishing Waders
Price and warranty
Fly fishing waders can come in pricy. On the upside the most expensive ones often have the best warranties. Premium brands like Simms, Patagonia or Orvis offer great warranties and easy repair services – a factor you should not underestimate. Often it can be worth investing a little more for a better pair that last you longer. Hence, it can even save you money on the long run.
The fit is one of the most important factors to have a good day on the water. Here again premium manufacturers like Simms, Patagonia or Orvis offer a wide range of sizes to literally fit any kind of physique. From experience I would say that Simms waders have slightly slimmer cuts around the leg and Patagonia for example offer a bit more room. You really have to try a pair of waders yourself to find the best fit. If you are unsure you can order two or three pairs and test them in your living room.
Breathability is another crucial factor when choosing a pair of waders. It defines how well moisture can escape from the inside if you are sweating. Neoprene ones have less breathability since they are made for cold temperatures.
The premium brands have similar technologies and the most expensive waders are all highly breathable. Simms uses the world renown GORE-TEX membrane that has proven to be highly breathable over decades. Patagonia use their own membrane which offers breathability on the same level.
Generally speaking the more expensive products feature more layers of fabric. For example, Simms’ top model the G4 is made of five layers of GORE-TEX membrane offering an incredible amount of durability. As a result, a pair of these can last you several years even if you are a die hard fisherman. Another important feature of the best fly fishing waders are the seams. The better the seam quality the less likely your waders are to leak.
We want to make sure you buy the best product your budget can afford. That’s why we broke down our review into three categories for men’s’ stockingfoot chest waders (the gold standard): premium ones, mid-range ones and affordable ones.
Best Entry Level Fishing Waders: under $250
The Simms Tributary Stockingfoot are an excellent entry level choice if you are not sure yet if you’ll stick with fly fishing. Like we said in other gear reviews, it’s always a good idea to get an entry level product from a manufacturer that builds high end products as well. Such is the case with Simms for sure since they are known to build some of the best waders in the market.
The Simms Tributary Stockingfoot have all the features you are looking for in a quality pair of fishing waders. A 3-layer upper and 4-layer lower nylon fabric provides solid waterproofness. A large chest pocket allows you store essentials such as nippers, pliers or sunglasses. Behind this chest pocket you will find a fleece lined handwarmer pocket – a neat feature when you are fishing in cold conditions.
A wading belt secured by two belt loops provides increased safety when wading deep. The Simms Tributary Stockingfoot features anatomical neoprene booties for a more comfortable fit inside your wading boots. Available in a vast variety of sizes.
The Frogg Toggs Sierran Stockingfoot are a solid choice if you’re new to fly fishing and are not sure how much you are going to practice it.
The Frogg Toggs Sierran Stockingfoot are chest waders giving you a lot of flexibility when wading deep. They are made of a solid 3-layer nylon material in the upper body and a 6 layer around the knees and shin where a lot of abrasion happens. The suspender system has integrated D-rings. A nice feature since it makes sure you can attach important tools such as pliers or nippers where you need them.
A zippered chest pocket for your essential gear like fly boxes or tippets and hand-warmer pockets are great features in the Frogg Toggs Sierran Stockingfoot. Comes with a wading belt and adjustable shoulder straps. Integrated gravel guards make sure no sand or gravel get into your wading boots.
The Redington Escape Fly Fishing are another great entry level option at around $200. Made from a 3-layer waterproof DWR coated fabric in the upper part and a 4 layer in the legs, they are a good choice if you are looking for breathable waders.
Like we mentioned in other gear reviews, it’s always a good idea to get an entry level product from a brand that also makes high-end products. You can be sure that their know-how trickles down into these products. The Redington Escape Fly Fishing is no exception to this rule.
The Redington Escape Fly Fishing can easily be turned into a pair of waist high waders, a handy feature when it’s hot. The large chest pocket and a flip out pocket on the inside give you ample room for storage. Hand warmer pockets keep your fingers warm no matter the conditions. Integrated tool docks and a D-ring in the back allow for the attachment of extra gear like a landing net. Great value for the money!
GET THEM AT AL’S (currently 20% off)
Best Mid-Range: $250 – $400
The Simms Mens Freestone chest waders are one of our mid-range favorites and a really great pair overall. For the Simms Freestone, the same thing holds true that we said about the Redington.
Simms Waders are definitely some of the best on the market. The Simms Mens Freestone is a great entry into the world of Simms and a pair you can use hard and over several years. So even though you have to invest $299 in the beginning, it could pay off even economically if you can them for longer.
The Simms Mens Freestone, made from Simms Toray Quadralam fabric, have all the features of a great pair of waders. Nylon waist belt, large chest pocket, very comfortable and adjustable shoulder straps and reach-through handwarmer pockets. Come with the great Simms warranty.
Made from a 4-layer waterproof and breathable nylon shell, the Orvis Men’s Ultralight Convertible Wader also feature a chest pocket which is a little smaller than the Simms one though.
The Orvis Men’s Ultralight Convertible Wader is a very light pair of waders and great for travelling. If you plan on fishing a lot in cold temperatures the Simms Freestone is the better choice since the Orvis does not feature handwarmer pockets.
The Patagonia Swiftcurrent Packable are Patagonia’s trimmed down version of their Swiftcurrent Waders (see further down). Most features on these waders have been reduced in terms of material and weight in order to make these waders a great option if you are travelling a lot.
The suspenders and wading belt on the Patagonia Swiftcurrent Packable are a little slimmer than on the regular model. They feature a large chest pocket and a flip waterproof flip out pocket, yet no hand-warmer pockets.
Around the ankles, the Patagonia Swiftcurrent Packable feature extra abrasion resistant material where it matters most. The scuff guards will prevent sand and gravel from entering your wading boots. The Patagonia Swiftcurrent Packable weigh in at only 2.2 lbs.
Best High-End: over $400
The Orvis Men’s Pro Breathable Waders are meant for heavy use over years. For extra abrasion-resistance the lower part of these waders from the thigh downwards is made of extra-durable 5-layer cordura shell.
The Orvis Men’s Pro Breathable Waders also feature removable knee pads when you want more freedom of movement around your legs. A number of zippered pockets, flap-out pocket, hand warmer pockets make sure you can store your gear and keep your hands warm in any conditions.
Elastic suspenders on the Orvis Men’s Pro Breathable Waders allow for easy conversion into a waist high pair of waders. Comes with the great Orvis warranty.
If money is not an issue, get the Simms G4 Pro waders. Those are the toughest, most durable waders we’ve ever experienced. They feel a bit like elephant skin. That tells you how sturdy they are.
The Simms G4 Pro waders are made from 3-layer GORE-TEX® Pro Shell upper/4-layer GORE-TEX Pro Shell lower. They also feature compression-molded stockingfeet for extra comfort all day long.
The Simms G4 Pro waders have a fantastic suspender system and come with a waist belt that is safely held in place by multiple belt loops. The micro-fleece lined, reach-through handwarmer pockets come in handy on cold days. The Simms G4 are also available with a front zipper for extra comfort: the Simms G4Z Pro. No matter which version you get, the Simms G4 will serve you well for years.
The Patagonia Swiftcurrent are a very versatile pair of fly fishing waders. Thanks to Patagonia’s EZ-lock suspenders you can convert them into waist-high on a warm day.
Zippered chest pockets, a flip-out pocket on the inside and reach-through hand warmer pockets provide ample storage opportunities. The Patagonia Swiftcurrent are made from a 100% recycled polyester microfiber H2No® Performance Standard shell. Scuff guards around the ankles provide extra abrasion resistance.
The anatomical booties of the Patagonia Swiftcurrent provide great comfort all day long. At only 45.9 oz (1301g) they are a great pair if you travel a lot. They are also available as zip-fronts. Read our in-depth review of these waders here.
Fishing waders generally take up quite a bit of space in your luggage. If you know you are travelling a lot and want a pair of waders that is very lightweight Patagonia has a product for you.
10. Patagonia Middle Fork Packable: Best for Travelling
The Patagonia Middle Fork Packable Waders provide the utmost in packability and low weight. In order to achieve this, Patagonia has stripped this pair of waders down to the bare essentials. While their Patagonia Swiftcurrent Packable Waders are highly packable already, the Patagonia Middle Fork Packable take it to another level.
Weighting in at only 1.5 lbs, the Patagonia Middle Fork Packable Waders rely on booties that are not made of neoprene but instead seamlessly integrated into the waders. Yet, these waders have everything you are looking for in a quality pair of waders including adjustable suspenders, a wading belt and a flip out pocket.
The Patagonia Middle Fork Packable Waders pack into their own stuffsack and won’t leave you with any excuse not to bring your waders along.
Best Hip Waders for Men/ Wading Pants
Chest high waders give you the utmost in flexibility. Yet, if you know you are only going to fish in warmer temperatures and won’t have to wade deep, a pair of hip waders often also called wading pants can be a good alternative. We created a separate “Guide to the Best Hip Waders” which you can read here!
Since they cover less of your body, you will profit from an increased level of breathability. A downside of hip waders is the fact that you have less pockets to store your essentials. If you decide to use wading pants a sling pack or backpack can be a good add-on to your fly fishing gear.
In case you are looking for a pair of hip waders, here are our top 3:
Last update on 2021-09-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Best Fishing Waders for Women
All the big manufacturers now make waders especially tailored for women. We have taken a deeper look at the best women’s waders out there in our “Guide to the Best Women’s Waders“. Make sure to check that out if you want to dive deeper into that topic. Here we’ll give you a quick look at our top 3:
Last update on 2021-09-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Best Waders for Kids / Youth Waders
If you are really into fly fishing, chances are you want to take your kids along to the river one day. Depending on their age they can of course start fishing themselves. In that case a quality pair of waders is essential. Like with all children clothes, the lifespan is usually short because the kids grow so fast.
Nevertheless you should invest in a quality product. Often these waders can be passed on to siblings or cousins. Here are our top 3 kids/youth waders:
Last update on 2021-09-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
6. Use a wader bag: if you want to make them last longer use a wader bag to transport them. Here is a selection of options for you:
What you Need to Know about Fishing Waders
Materials of Fishing Waders
Fly fishing waders can basically be organized into two categories: nylon/polyester and neoprene.
Most of modern day breathable fly fishing waders are made of nylon/polyester. Depending on the quality of the product they range from three to five layers. Nylon and polyester enable moisture from sweating to escape from the inside. The most advanced fabrics are membranes such as GORE-TEX featured in many Simms products.
Neoprene ones are made of thick and pliable synthetic rubber that is mostly used in cold temperatures. It is not breathable and hence only advisable in cold water surroundings. It is also much harder to walk long distances in a pair of rubber ones than nylon ones.
Different types: chest, hip waders, etc.
Which type should you get? You have to decide between bootfoot vs stockingfoot and chest vs hip waders (wading pants). Here is a closer look at the different options.
Most of the times bootfoots are used in neoprene ones. A bootfoot wader is a pair that has boot attached to the leg. There are also nylon bootfoot waders. Often these are used by guides that use a boot for a day of guiding. Some consider bootfoot waders easier to wear since you don’t have to put on wading boots separately. But they have deficits in terms of flexibility since you can’t use wading boots with different soles for different wading conditions.
An advantage of bootfoot waders is the fact that the rubber boots don’t hold as much water as wading boots. This means you can more easily keep them on when entering a store for example.
In modern fly fishing stockingfoot waders are the standard. Stockingfoots feature neoprene socks at the end of the leg. You slide into a pair of wading boots with these neoprene socks just like a pair of hiking boots. You can use different kinds of soles with one pair of stockingfoots, such as vibram (rubber) soles, felt soles or cleated soles.
Chest waders are the most commonly used type of stockingfoot waders. This is because of their versatility. Chest waders allow you to wade deep. They also offer more comfort and warmth than wading pants (hip waders). A number of manufacturers offer chest ones than can be converted into wading pants and hence offer extra comfort on warmer days.
Fishing pants / hip waders
If you’re a minimalist pant wader – often also called wading pants or hip waders – might be a good option for you. For obvious reasons you can’t wade as deep with them but they offer more freedom of movement. Especially if you mostly fish in warmer regions and smaller rivers, wading pants could be a good option for you.
Every manufacturer offers their own size chart. Premium outfitters such as Simms, Patagonia and Orvis offer a vast variety of sizing options.
Taking care of your product
Taking care of your waders is very important and will increase its lifespan by a lot. Here are the most important things to keep in mind:
1. Always dry them: as soon as you get home from a day on the water you should hang your waders in a place that is dry and about room temperature. The most common way to hang them is upside down. This way any moisture still left in the legs can emerge.
2. Don’t store them in the car: it might be a tempting thought to keep your waders in the car for a spontaneous trip to the river but it’s not a good idea. The seams and different layers of your product will not like hot temperatures and direct sunlight.
3. Wash them every once in a while: it is always a good idea to wash your waders properly after each use just using water (no saltwater). Do it at least every few weeks to get rid of small particles, dust and stones that might cause abrasion.
4. Apply a water repellent coating: once they are clean and dry it is a good idea to re-apply a water repellent coating every once in a while. The initial coating wears off after time and hence a replenishing comes in handy.
5. Use a rubber mat when taking them off: the neoprene socks of most fly fishing waders are a sensitive part and especially exposed to abrasion. So when you take off your wading boots make sure you have a rubber mat or something similar to step on. This will prevent your neoprene socks from abrasion and will make them last longer.
Conclusion on the Best Fly Fishing Waders for Men
As you can see from our review the options for a pair of waders are basically endless. There are so many factors that influence your decision. The most important ones are: how much am I going to use the waders, how tough do they have to be? To I prefer chest waders for the utmost in flexibility when wading deep or are wading pants enough? Do I take them on trips a lot, hence they should be light.
No matter what option you go for in the end, we hope this guide has helped you make a choice and get a better idea of the options out there. If you want to learn more about other wading gear make sure to read our other guides.
Frequently Asked Questions Fishing Waders
A quality pair of waders is an essential piece of gear when fly fishing. Though you can technically cast a fly rod from a bank without wading, the possibility of stepping into the water to reach lies of fish further away, is crucial. Waders not only keep you dry, they also keep you warm if you are fishing in the northern hemisphere. Water temperatures in most rivers are cold even during summer. Without a pair of waders for men you would be cold quickly.
From our experience Simms waders are definitely worth the money. The cheapest ones from the American manufacturer start at less than $200. They have great durability and Simms gives a fantastic guarantee.
Fly fishermen and women wear waders to protect themselves from the elements while fishing. Waders enable you to stand in the water without getting wet or cold. Since fly fishermen and women often spend our pursuing their sport, waders are an essential piece of gear.
A quality pair of waders for men should last an average fisherman at least 3-4 seasons. High end waders for men made from multiple layers of the best fabrics can easily last 5 seasons or longer.
The best waders for the money are waders that combine great quality and durability with a price you can afford. In order to choose the best waders for the money you should set a budget for yourself. It’s also a good idea to look at entry level products from manufacturers that also produce high end waders such as Simms, Patagonia or Orvis. Often, their know-how trickles down into their entry level product and they hence offer great value for money.
The best breathable waders are made from Gore Tex fabrics. As in all waterproof rain gear, this fabric has become the gold standard in breathability. The American manufacturer Simms is the only waders producer using Gore Tex material. However, brands such as Patagonia or Orvis also have premium fabrics when it comes to breathability and waterproofness.
In general fishing waders can be broken down into two main categories: so called stockingfoot waders that feature neoprene socks at the end of the leg. You wear them with a pair of wading boots. The other option are so called bootfoot waders that come with integrated rubber boots. They both have their pro’s and con’s. Generally speaking stockingfoot waders offer more flexibility and stability because of separate wading boots with increased ankle support. Bootfoot waders on the other hand are very practical with their integrated rubber boots and tend to be the choice of guides when working in a boat.
Neoprene waders really only make sense if you will fish in very cold conditions for the most part. This could be the case if you are targeting species such as steelhead in the Pacific Northwest. They have supreme capacities to keep you warm no matter how cold it gets due to their thick fabric (often 4mm or 5mm of neoprene). They work similarly to a wet suit in surfing. Breathable stockingfoot waders have the advantage when it comes to breathability. And if it gets cold you can always add a layer to keep yourself warm.
Most premium brands of the best fishing waders such as Simms, Orvis, Patagonia or Redington include a repair kit with their fly fishing waders. That way you can repair small tears or rips yourself. The weapon of choice is a super glue called Aquaseal that you apply to the section where your fishing waders are damaged (they need to be dry in order to apply the glue). The glue dries very quickly when exposed to sunlight. Should there be a bigger issue most of these brands offer great warranty and repair services. If your pair of fishing waders is out of warranty you can still send them in to the manufacturer and often get them repaired for a small handling fee.
Video courtesy of Simms Fishing Products
Read more of our Gear Guides here:
Notice: we take part in so-called affiliate programs. If you click on a link in this article and end up purchasing a product, we might earn a small commission at no extra cost for you. We never get paid by the manufacturers and always express our honest opinions about each product to help you make the best choice. Thank you!