Best Wading Jacket – Top 8 of 2024

Last updated on June 19th, 2024.

Leonard Schoenberger

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

Disclaimer: All products in this guide are independently researched by our team. We only recommend products we believe in and never get paid for reviews. Learn more about our review process here.

A good wader 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.

Table of Contents:

What to Look for in a Wader Jacket

Best Wading Jacket Quick Answer List

Best Wader Jackets Reviewed

Conclusion

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

What to Look for in a Good 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.

What to look for in a good wading jacket? Waterproofness and plenty of gear attachment options
A quality jacket has several options to attach gear – Photo: Leonard Schoenberger

The Best Wading Jackets 2024

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.

Patagonia SST

Velcro closure on the Patagonia SST Wading Jacket
Patagonia SST: Wading Jackets for Fly Fishing. Photo: Leonard Schoenberger

Key features:

– Big chest pockets

– Hand-warmer pockets

– Velcro cuffs on wrists

Why we picked it:

The Patagonia SST Wading Jacket (read our in-depth review here) 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.

If you’re a fan of the brand but want something a little more lightweight, check out the Patagonia Ultralight Packable Jacket. Ot’s not as feature-rich as the Patagonia SST but offers great rain protection as well. Plus it packs down to the size if a baseball and is hence a great choice if you travel a lot.

PROS:

  • Great chest pockets for ultimate storage
  • Handwarmer pockets comes in handy on cold days
  • Beautiful color

CONS:

  • Chest pockets pack a lot of gear but can get in your way when casting

GET IT AT PATAGONIA

GET IT AT BACKCOUNTRY

GET IT AT ALS

Simms Freestone

Simms Freestone Fly Fishing Jacket
Simms Freestone: One of the Best Simms Wading Jackets

Key features:

– Two zippered chest pockets

– Velcro straps on the cuffs

– Hood

Why we picked it:

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 wader 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.

PROS:

  • Very lightweight
  • Athletic fit
  • Solid waterproofness

CONS:

  • Chest pockets are not the best in this test in terms of accessibility

GET IT AT SIMMS

GET IT ON AMAZON

GET IT AT FISH USA

Filson Skagit Rain Jacket

Filson Skagit Wading Jacket
Filson Skagit Rain Jacket. Photo: Christian Anwander

Key features:

– Adjustable hood

– Plenty of pockets

– Tight cuff closures

Why we picked it:

If you’re a serious fly fisherman and tend to head out a lot in cold and wet conditions, take a closer look at the Filson Skagit Rain Jacket (Read our in-depth review here). The brand from the Pacific Northwest knows a thing or two about bad weather and builds some of the finest rain gear on the planet – the Filson Skagit Rain Jacket is no exception to this rule.

The Filson Skagit Rain Jacket is made from a three layer nylon fabric that is extremely tight-woven to provide superior water-proofing capabilities. On the other hand, this fabric allows for the air from the inside (when you sweat) to escape from the jacket. All seams are sealed with waterproof tape for extra toughness.

Neoprene cuffs on the arms of the Filson Skagit Rain Jacket ensure that no water can penetrate no matter if you are casting for hours in the pouring rain or releasing a big steelhead. Hand-warmer pockets and an adjustable cuff round-off the features of this fantastic fly fishing jacket. If you are looking for a more minimalistic rain jacket that you can use for fly fishing but other outdoor activities as well, make sure to take a look at the Filson Swiftwater Rain Jacket.

PROS:

  • Adjustable hood fits great
  • Cuffs keep out water safely
  • Comfortable fit leaves room for fly boxes, etc. in the pockets

CONS:

  • Can get a little bulky when a lot of gear is carried in the pockets

GET IT AT FILSON

GET IT ON AMAZON

Orvis Men’s Pro

Orvis Pro Wading Jacket: One of the best wading jackets fly fishing
Orvis Men’s Pro: A very good wading jacket for fly fishing

Key features:

– Velcro cuffs

– Lightweight

– Zippered chest pockets

Why we picked it:

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.

PROS:

  • Great versatility – can be used for hiking, etc. as well
  • Very lightweight and packable
  • Hood keeps water out safely

CONS:

  • Not the best in ultimate waterproofness

GET IT AT TRIDENT

GET IT ON AMAZON

GET IT AT ORVIS

Schoeffel Salar II

Fly fisherman wearing the Schoeffel Salar II Wading Jacket
Schoeffel Salar II wading jacket. Photo: Leonard Schoenberger

Key features:

– 3 layer GORE-TEX® 3

– Adjustable cuffs and hood

– Loose cut

Why we picked it:

The Schoeffel Salar (read our in-depth review here) has been on the market for a few years and just got an update. The waterproofness and breathability capabilities remain on the same high level thanks to the three layer GORE-TEX® 3 fabric. In terms of colors, Schoeffel added a grey besides the (forest) green. The highly adjustable hood further adds to the qualities of the Salar II to withstand the harshest conditions.

Adjustable cuffs on the sleeves prevent water from penetrating and big pockets store all of your essentials easily. The two main chest pockets don’t hinder your casting even when you pack a few fly boxes into them. The fit and cut of the Salar II is rather long and wide which means you can fit a few layers underneath depending on the climate you’re fishing in.

PROS:

  • Excellent waterproofness and breathability thanks to GORE-TEX® fabric
  • Cuff mechanism works great and closes the sleeves tightly
  • Hand-warmer pockets

CONS:

  • The cut of the Salar II is rather long which makes it a great multi purpose fishing jacket. On the downside that means your jacket will get wet around your waist when wading deep

GET IT AT SCHOEFFEL

GET IT AT RUDI HEGER

GET IT AT KLEJCH

Stio Ender Hooded Jacket

Stio Ender Hooded Jacket
Stio Ender Hooded Jacket: Best Wading Jacket Review. Photo: Christian Anwander

Key features:

– Adjustable hood

– Excellent ventilation

– Velcro cuffs

Why we picked it:

The Stio Ender Jacket (read our full review here) is one of my favorite choices when it comes to lightweight summer fly fishing jackets. It has all the features you’re looking for in a quality fishing jacket such as multiple zippered pockets, an adjustable hood, velcro cuffs and excellent vents along both sides.

The jacket is very lightweight and still comes with a durable fully waterproof membrane made from recycled materials. Even the zippers provide excellent protection from the elements. Thanks to its slightly longer cut in the back, the Stio Ender is a great allrounder that you can also use for other sports such as hiking. At $249 the Stio Ender offers excellent value for money.

PROS:

  • Low weight and excellent ventilation
  • Multiple pockets for easy storage of fly boxes, tippets, etc.
  • Fully adjustable hood

CONS:

  • The velcro cuffs could use an upgrade when it comes to fly fishing

GET IT AT STIO

GET IT AT LARAMIE BASECAMP

Compass 360 Hell’s Gates

Compass 360 Hell's Gates
Compass 360 Hell’s Gates

Key features:

– Two D-rings

– Big chest pockets

– Velcro cuffs at the wrists

Why we picked it:

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.

PROS:

  • Big chest pockets offer plenty of storage
  • Solid cuffs
  • Good sized hood

CONS:

  • Waterproofness not at the highest level

GET IT ON AMAZON

GET IT AT WALMART

Simms Bulkley Insulated

Simms Bulkley Wading Jacket
Simms Bulkley: Best for cold weather. Photo: Leonard Schoenberger

Key features:

– Gore-Tex fabric

– Storm hood is adjustable

– Integrated Primaloft insulation

Why we picked it:

Most wading jackets don’t come with any insulation. If you’re mostly fishing in cold climates or the winter months, the Simms Bulkley Insulated Wading Jacket (read our in-depth review here) might be a good choice for you. The Primaloft insulation will keep you warm even when the temperatures drop. The jacket also features a greatly adjustable hood that works well over hats, too.

Handwarmer pockets round-off the cold-weather focus of the Bulkley and plenty of storage options are on board as well. The only downside we’ve found on this jacket during our testing was the fact that the front zipper is not fully waterproof.

PROS:

  • Excellent waterproofness thanks to Gore-Tex fabric
  • Hood fits tightly
  • Cuffs work really well to keep water out

CONS:

  • Front zipper is not fully waterproof but only water-resistant.

GET IT AT SIMMS

GET IT AT TRIDENT

GET IT AT THE RIVER’S EDGE

Conclusion on the Best Wading Jacket

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.

Sea trout fly fishing with landing net
Patagonia SST Wading Jacket while fly fishing for sea trout – Photo: Philipp Schrader © The Wading List 2024

Our Expertise

Why you should trust us: Leonard Schoenberger and his team have tried and tested dozens of wading jackets for this big guide. We always express our honest opinions about a product to help you make a solid purchase decision. We never get paid for reviews and are proud of keeping our editorial independence. Our focus is on bringing you the latest in gear so you can have a great time at the water. Thanks for being a reader of The Wading List.

Frequently Asked Questions: Best Wading Jacket

Is a wading jacket important for fly fishing?

A wading jacket is a crucial piece of equipment when fly fishing in colder climates where it can rain. Even a short but strong shower can mean you’re wet afterwards if you’re not protected by a quality wader jacket.

Why do wading jackets have a shorter cut than normal rain jackets?

As the name suggested these fly fishing jackets are designed to be worn while wading in a river or lake. The shorter cut prevents that the jacket gets wet from the bottom even if you’re wading into deeper water. Since you’re protected from your waders up to your chest, the wading jacket’s cut can be a little shorter than the one of a normal rain jacket.

Who makes the best wading jackets?

When it comes to a wader jacket, you shouldn’t compromise on quality. Some of the best high end manufacturers include Simms, Patagonia, Orvis and Filson. But there are also some good entry level products made by brands such as Froggtoggs or Compass.

Which features are important in a good wading jacket?

A good wading jacket has an adjustable hood, large pockets on the chest, adjustable cuffs on the arms, a high quality zipper and supreme waterproofness.

Are all wading jackets waterproof?

While most wading jackets are designed to be waterproof, the level of protection varies. High-quality jackets often feature breathable and waterproof materials like Gore-Tex to keep you dry without causing you to overheat.

How should a wading jacket fit?

Your wading jacket should fit slightly loose to accommodate layers underneath, but not so baggy that it restricts movement. It should cover your hips but not be so long that it interferes with wading.

Can I use my regular rain jacket as a wading jacket?

While a rain jacket can provide basic waterproofing, wading jackets are specially designed for the angler’s needs, including the placement of pockets, the jacket’s cut, and reinforcement in specific wear areas

Are wading jackets suitable for cold weather?

While wading jackets provide excellent protection from wind and rain, they may not have insulation for cold weather. For chilly conditions, it’s recommended to layer with thermal or insulated clothing beneath the jacket.

What’s the importance of a storm hood in a wading jacket?

A storm hood provides added protection against rain and wind, especially during heavy downpours or when fishing in stormy conditions. An adjustable hood allows for a snug fit and can often be rolled or stowed when not in use.

Do wading jackets come with handwarmer pockets?

Many high-quality wading jackets come with fleece-lined handwarmer pockets. These pockets are designed to keep your hands warm and dry in cold or wet conditions.

Read more about wading gear here:

PATAGONIA SWIFTCURRENT EXPEDITION WADERS – 2024 REVIEW

REVIEW: A SEASON WITH PATAGONIA’S DANNER BOOTS

5 BEST WOMENS WADING BOOTS (2024 BUYERS’S GUIDE)

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