Best Wading Jacket – Top 7 of 2021

// By Leonard Schoenberger
// Updated: Oct. 13, 2021

A wading jacket is essential when hitting the water. Here are the best wading jackets money can buy this year.

A good wading jacket ensures you stay dry and warm on a rainy day. And as you may know, rainy days are often the most productive when it comes to fly fishing. Besides waders and wading boots, a quality fly fishing jacket is an essential piece of equipment for every fly fisher.

They come in different styles and feature different fabrics. The one that sets the bar is a Gore-Tex membrane. American manufacturer Simms uses this fabric and produces some of the best wading jackets on the market. Brands like Patagonia or Orvis have their own textiles that provide similar levels of waterproofness.

In this guide we want to give you an overview of the best wading jackets on the market. We tell you what to pay attention to and what to consider before making a purchase. In order to cover all sorts of budgets we’ll feature the best fly fishing jackets from each segment.

The Wading List Survey Sept 2021 - Who Makes the Best Wading Gear For Fly Fishing?

What to Look for in a Wading Jacket

Wading jackets often also called fly fishing or fishing jackets are specifically designed for wading as the name suggests. That means that their cut is slightly shorter compared to normal rain jackets. This enables you to wade deep without getting the jacket wet.

A good wading jacket needs to fulfill two primary tasks: keep you dry and be breathable. Most modern day wading jackets are made from fabrics made of polyester or nylon. Many of them feature a polyurethane membrane for utmost waterproofness.

Besides these core features the best wading jackets have large chest pockets to store your fly boxes. Often the also have loops and nippers to attach gear such as fly fishing pliers. On top of that they should have sealed wrist cuffs that enable you to release a fish in the water without your arms getting wet on the inside. The best ones also feature pockets in the back for extra storage and a D-loop to attach a fly fishing net. Let’s take a look at the best fly fishing jackets out there.

fly fishing pliers on wading jacket. Best Wading Jackets 2021
A quality wading jacket has several options to attach gear: Wading Jackets Fly Fishing

The Best Wading Jackets 2021

In this wading jacket review we’ll give you our top choices from several categories so you can choose the product that suits you best.

Orvis Men’s Pro

The Orvis Men’s Pro is one of the best wading jackets money can buy. The American manufacturer Orvis its well known for the durability of its products.

The Orvis Men’s Pro is made of a highly durable, custom-woven, three-layer shell. It fulfills all the characteristics we are demanding in a fly fishing jacket: waterproof, breathable and fully taped seams. The zippered hand-warmer pockets come in handy on cold days.

The Orvis Men’s Pro features YKK’s Aquaguard zippers. They are water-resistant but not waterproof. However, you really have to be fishing in torrential rain for these to give up. The adjustable storm hood features a brim so that water does not drop into your eyes. If you are looking for the utmost packability the Orvis Men’s Ultralight by be a good option for you as well.


Simms Freestone Wading Jacket: New Fall 2021

The Simms Mens Freestone is one of the best Simms Wading Jackets and another great fly fishing jacket in a similar price range as the Orvis Pro. For the fall 2021 season Simms has completely reworked their popular wading jacket and trimmed its features down to make it stand out from the Simms Guide Classic (if you are looking for a wading jacket with big front pockets go for the Guide Classic).

The Freestone Jacket is tailored more towards fly fishermen who want to keep the gear in their jacket to a minimum and prefer a sling pack, hip pack or backpack to carry their stuff. It still features two pockets on the chest to store essentials such as tippet spools or a small fly box.

The three-layer Toray fabric ensures you stay dry and warm (here again if you want the utmost in waterproofness you have to opt for the Simms Guide Classic). The Simms Mens Freestone features the same waterproof zipper as the Orvis Pro. It comes with the quality Simms warranty guaranteeing a 100% customer satisfaction. If you are looking for a high-end wading jacket that will last you for years, you can’t go wrong with the Simms Freestone.


Patagonia SST

The Patagonia SST Wading Jacket is a legend amongst fly fishing jackets. It has been in the game for decades and always gotten a little better.

The Patagonia SST Wading Jacket features huge chest pockets to hold even big streamer boxes. Yet, when they are empty, these pockets don’t bother your casting at all – great design. A large back stash pocket allows you to carry a long a light lunch for example.

The integrated hood of the Patagonia SST Wading Jacket is adjustable with a single-pull adjust. Stretch-cuffs on the sleeves keep the inside dry. A standout-feature of this jacket are the integrated wading belt loops for extra security when wading deep as a tight fit of the jacket makes it harder for the water to get in. An all-time favorite of us.


Rivers West Men’s Kokanee Waterproof Fly Fishing Rain Jacket

The Rivers West Men’s Kokanee Waterproof Fly Fishing Rain Jacket is a great choice if you’re budget is less than $150 but you are still looking for a high-quality fly fishing jacket.

The Rivers West Men’s Kokanee Waterproof Fly Fishing Rain Jacket‘s rugged shell made of a 600 denier woven oxford fabric with a Taffeta lined interior make it appear a bit more sturdy than other lightweight wading jackets in our test.

An adjustable hood with a built-in visor make sure the Rivers West Men’s Kokanee Waterproof Fly Fishing Rain Jacket keep your head dry. The neoprene cuffs work well to prevent water from coming in. Fleece-lined handwarmer pockets are an extra on cold days.


Riverruns Fishing Jacket

The Riverruns Fishing Jacket is a great value for money choice. Its three layer waterproof and breathable membrane make sure you stay dry for hours. Even the HKK zippers are waterproof.

With a total of 9 storage pockets the Riverruns Fishing Jacket is an excellent choice for fly fishermen who like to carry a lot of gear to give them extra flexibility. Two waterproof pockets ensure wallets and cell phones don’t get wet.

On the back the Riverruns Fishing Jacket features a D-ring to attach a net and a big zippered side pocket for larger items. Zipper below the arms allow for extra ventilation. Our verdict: the ideal choice for the fly angler who is looking for a feature-rich wading jacket


Compass 360 Hell’s Gates

Here is another wading jacket coming in at less than $100. The Compass 360 Hell’s Gates Wading Jacket is fully waterproof and yet breathable. Two big chest pockets provide ample storage for big fly boxes. The D-rings next to them allow for the attachment of tools such as nippers or fly fishing pliers.

The Compass 360 Hell’s Gates features adjustable cuffs. The do keep water out to a certain degree but not as well as the ones of high-end models such as the Orvis, Simms or Patagonia.

Handwarmer pockets and a fully adjustable hood make sure you stay dry and warm on cold fishing days. Our verdict: The Compass 360 Hell’s Gates is missing some valuable features such as a back pocket but it only costs a fraction of the likes of Orvis, Simms or Patagonia so that is something you will have to live with.


Frogg Toggs Java Hellbender

The Frogg Toggs Java Hellbender Fly & Wading Jacket is one of two wading jackets in our test that comes in at less than $100. Its Dri-Pore 2 Gen technology features a two layer fabric. There is a third (inner) layer (made of mesh) that doesn’t add to waterproofness though.

The Frogg Toggs Java Hellbender has large chest pockets to store your fly boxes and other fly fishing gear. The hood is fully adjustable. The cuffs on this jacket don’t prevent water from coming in as well as the more high-end ones.

On the back the Frogg Toggs Java Hellbender Fly & Wading Jacket features a D-ring to attach a landing net. Our verdict: a great, feature-rich jacket at an unbeatable price.


Conclusion: The Best Fishing Jackets

A waterproof fly fishing jacket is one of the most important pieces of your gear in order to have fun at the water. A good wading jacket keeps you dry and warm for hours. This means you can stay at the river longer and potentially catch more fish. It’s worth to invest a bit of money into a quality fly fishing jacket. You can’t to wrong with any of the fishing jackets we reviewed above.

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