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If you love fishing then you really need to experience the benefits of fishing waders, and choosing the right pair will make all the difference.
Whether you are considering breathable fly fishing waders or a reliable pair of boot foot neoprene waders, staying dry and enjoying a comfortable day on the water is the goal.
The best fly fishing waders need to be versatile for use in a variety of settings.
Breathable chest waders remain comfortable in a range of temperatures and wading conditions, while neoprene fishing waders will often cost less and provide greater warmth if you fish in cold water.
Dependable fly fishing gear is important, and durability is an important quality you will want in your waders.
Fishing waders that keep you comfortable year after year are praiseworthy, while uncomfortable and leaky fishing waders are despised.
Realistically, there are other beneficial features besides waterproofing that add value to the best fishing waders for the money.
We will get into a good number of those details. But if you want the short version here it is: If you fish frequently then you need a solid set of waders.
It is well worth it to spend a little extra in order to have the best fishing waders for the money.
That’s why we bring you our review on a wide variety of the best fly fishing waders.
From stocking foot breathable waders to boot foot fishing waders, we explore all the qualities you should look for when seeking the best fishing waders for your budget.
Sometimes the gear budget is pulled in different directions, but you don’t need to let that keep you from wading your favorite waters.
Most anglers invest in a lot of gear, and whether you need fly fishing waders or spin fishing waders, thankfully there are options available that won’t break the bank. These fishing waders are our top picks for the money.
Hodgman H5 Fishing Waders
If you are looking for the best breathable fly fishing waders for the money, we highly recommend Hodgman H5 fishing waders. They are a great choice for anglers that are looking for quality and performance without breaking the bank.
Hodgman H5 breathable fishing waders start with a flexible 3-layer upper. In addition, a durable 5-layer seat and legs makes these fishing waders incredibly resistant to puncture and leaks. Smart designs such as no inside leg seam, serve to further reduce wear and increase the lifespan of these chest waders.
These lightweight and breathable fishing waders allow vapor to escape if you work up a sweat. Hodgman H5 waders won’t give you that uncomfortable clammy feeling on warm days. They make an equally great pair of cold water fly fishing waders, or warm water spin fishing waders.
We were impressed to find the 5mm booties feature anatomically correct left and right feet, which is not a common design for fishing waders in this price range. The stocking feet provide for a truly comfortable fit while gravel guards keep debris out of your boots and provide a functional design by eliminating bulk around the ankle and shin.
Hodgman H5 fishing waders feature a microfleece lined hand warmer pocket that sits flush against the chest which allows fishing vests and chest packs to ride comfortably. The microfleece is great for those cold spring days or cool evenings and this pocket also features a YKK water resistant zipper.
These fly fishing waders feature a slightly heavier material than an ultralight convertible wader. But they are waist-high convertible with opposing buckles to keep you cool in the heat of the sun. Hodgman includes a wading belt with 3 belt loops to prevent loss in the case of an accidental drop.
Hodgman designed their H5 fishing waders to accept the Core INS removable insulation system (sold separately). This system allows you to convert your chest waders when you fish in cold temperatures, and remove the insulation for warm weather. The Core INS liner simply zips-in for added protection.
Buyers applaud the quality of Hodgman’s H5 fishing waders and like the pockets and features. The huge variety of sizes and styles is another strong point that is referenced frequently.
That is a big advantage since proper fit will significantly extend the lifespan of your fly fishing waders. Overall, Hodgman H5 waders are at the top of our list of breathable stockingfoot waders for the money.
Compass 360 Tailwater Fishing Waders
Our third choice for breathable stockingfoot waders is the Compass 360 Tailwater fishing waders. Initially they caught our attention because of their great price and rock-solid reviews. On top of that, they have an exceptionally comfortable fit and shape for entry level fishing waders.
Compass 360 makes reliable and affordable outdoor gear, and after looking over their Tailwater model it became obvious that they are a quality wader that is very well made. In fact, we found them comparable to mid to high end fly fishing waders in both quality and fit, but obviously at a significantly lower price point.
Thankfully Compass 360 builds their Tailwater fishing waders with stout durability in mind. You can fish these chest waders hard and know that the durable materials and 4-ply nylon construction will keep you dry.
Compass 360 heavily reinforced the knees and lower leg with 6 ply layering to resist puncture and leaks that can occur from kneeling on abrasive materials, or scuffing branches while walking streamside.
Their noteworthy fit and shape adds tremendously to the overall life-span of the waders by reducing seam stress and stretching. Compass has a very accurate sizing chart for the Tailwater fishing waders, so you can avoid big puffy waders and find the right fit.
The chest area features all the storage options you would expect from the best breathable fishing waders. On the front you’ll find a large zippered pocket for storing your personal items.
For colder temperatures Compass 360 provides a comfortable fleece-lined hand warming pocket. And a flip-out chest pocket is conveniently located for your keys, or any other extras you might need.
Compass 360 Tailwater fishing waders have a very impressive online reputation with great reviews and a huge majority of reviewers leaving 4 or 5 stars.
Compass 360 fishing waders have a proven reputation for quality and performance. If you are in the market for an honest pair of rugged waders that have a great reputation for the money, we recommend picking up a pair of Tailwater chest waders from Compass 360.
Redington Sonic Pro Breathable Waders
Another exceptional choice in breathable fishing waders that we highly recommend is Redington Sonic Pro Stockingfoot Waders. Redington fishing gear has a long history and well established reputation for affordable gear that continues to exceed users expectations.
Redington Sonic Pro Waders feature vital characteristics that contributes to their durability. The sizing variety available for Sonic Pro Waders is tremendous. With such a wide selection, you can be sure to find a proper fit that will greatly reduce the risks of seam stress resulting in seam failure.
These waders use a 4-layer waterproof and breathable fabric that raises the bar on toughness. SonicWeld Technology locks out moisture and creates durable waterproof seams. The stocking foot is particularly rugged, with 3.5 mm neoprene upper and a 4 mm bottom to increase both durability and comfort.
In the front of these chest waders you will find a large, double-sided fleece lined hand-warming pocket to defrost your cold finders. A zippered pocket is also available for more secure internal storage.
These are one of the best breathable waders available and they greatly reduce moisture build-up by allowing small vapor molecules to escape. Less moisture means a more comfortable and a warmer wading experience when the water is cold.
Redington Sonic Pro Stockingfoot Waders feature heavy-duty materials while also remaining soft and pliable for terrific range of motion. Redington designed these waders with all the features found in the very best fishing waders you can buy.
But on top of all the great features, Sonic Pro waders have a very fair price that easily makes them one of the best breathable fishing waders for the money.
The look and comfortable feel of these fishing waders is a popular characteristic among buyers leaving reviews. They mention their lightweight nature and sturdy feel. Reviewers like the breathable properties of these fishing waders when compared to the clammy feeling that neoprene can produce.
Redington Sonic Pro Waders legitimately resemble the build quality of high-end waders, yet they are very inexpensive in comparison. Owners regularly mention that they would buy again in a heartbeat. We recommend you check them out if you are in the market for fishing waders.
What About High-End Fly Fishing Waders?
Intense fishing is inevitably going to strain inexpensive fly fishing waders beyond what they are designed for, and they are likely to fail prematurely.
If you put in a lot of days on the water and fish hard, then it is worth your while to consider a really solid pair of fly fishing waders.
These are the high-quality fishing waders that guides and anglers who want the best-of-the-best will see significant benefits from.
Simms G3 Guide Stockingfoot Waders
My personal choice for the best fly fishing waders are Simms G3 Stocking Foot Guide Waders. I have worn Simms G3 Guide Waders for over ten years. And I’m not talking about multiple pairs. One pair. And I have been incredibly impressed with their rugged quality and comfortable fit.
To me the Simms G3 Guide Waders are the gold standard in fly fishing waders. Simms wading gear has no lack of popularity. Fishing reports from guides and fanatical fly fishers inevitably name Simms G3 Guide waders as a top quality wader that stands out from the pack.
The G3 Guide waders aren’t overly pricey but they aren’t cheap either. They don’t have all the snazzy hallmarks of the big-ticket waders, like waterproof zippers and such. But they’ll keep the frequent fisherman dry for years.
They have a rugged durability that puts them head and shoulders above entry level waders. And since they are waist-high convertible they can save you some cash on other fishing clothing purchases, like additional wading pants or hip waders.
If you compare Simms to the cheap entry level fly fishing waders you will notice big differences. Just trying on Simms breathable waders will bring to your attention the differences in fit.
Most waders might be available in 3-5 sizes and styles to fit a range of anglers. Simms has made the G3 Guide waders available in 25 different styles and sizes. Their sizing chart is accurate and helpful in making the right selection. The first time I put on my G3’s, eleven years ago, they fit me like a tailor had stitched them just for me.
I really appreciate the way Simms pursued ergonomics in designing the G3’s Guide Waders. The legs and stocking feet are anatomically correct. The breathable waders curve with the natural angle that the human leg assumes while standing and sitting.
The stocking feet are slightly arched and curved to conform to the normal shape of the average persons foot. These stocking foot waders leave enough room for warm socks when you fish in cold water. But they aren’t crafted with excess material that could bunch up and crease inside your boots.
Simms wading gear incorporates breathable GORE‐TEX® material that feels rugged and is obviously made to withstand the rigors of serious fishing. But that ruggedness doesn’t make the material stiff and uncomfortable.
What About Breathable Bootfoot Waders?
Bootfoot waders can save you some cash compared to buying stockingfoot waders and boots separately.
But selecting a good rugged pair is important, because you won’t be able to replace the waders or boots separately if they should become damaged.
Below we offer our top pick for durable bootfoot waders.
Redington Palix River Breathable Bootfoot Waders
Redington offers a great line of fishing waders that strike a good balance between durability and reasonable pricing. We really like their Palix River breathable bootfoot fishing waders and gladly selected them as the best bootfoot fishing waders.
Redington Palix River bootfoot waders are constructed from a 3 layer waterproof polyester fabric that is DWR coated to shed water. You’ll be hard-pressed to find another fishing wader that matches the durability of Redington Palix River breathable waders at this price point.
Since finding a proper fit is one of the largest contributing factors to making your bootfoot fishing waders last, Redington Palix River Fishing Waders provide a wide range of sizes. Palix River waders accommodate most anglers by providing 13 different sizes that vary in width and height.
Redington also hit the mark by making the built-in wader boots with a nice fit and added 200 gram thinsulate insulation. This is particularly important for cold-water wading where maintaining good circulation to your feet is essential. The boots also provide ample space for warm socks when needed.
The Redington Palix River fishing waders have a solid reputation with many reviewers giving them a 4 or 5 star review. And for fly anglers who need a pair of fly fishing waders with boots included, these are a very affordable option.
Their quality construction and reasonable price make Redington Palix River chest waders worth considering if you are looking for a reliable pair of fishing waders.
What If I Wear Layers Under My Fishing Waders?
If you hit the stream early then you know how the temperatures can change dramatically throughout the day.
Depending on the type of fishing, air temperatures can change by 35 degrees or more from morning to noon.
If you don’t get comfortable breathable fishing waders you’ll either be hot or cold depending on your layers.
The best fishing waders have to provide versatility for a variety of conditions.
With that in mind, a great option is to simply wear synthetic fleece pants under your breathable fishing waders for cold water fisheries.
Even on warm days having your legs submerged in 60 degree water all day will cool you off quick.
Even for warm water fishing we suggest wearing a thinner synthetic under your breathable waders to help wick moisture away.
One of the huge benefits of light weight breathable waders over materials like neoprene is that you can add or remove layers to prevent over-heating.
How Should I Maintain My Fishing Waders?
Even the very best fishing waders need thorough drying.
The number one killer of fishing waders is trapped moisture. Anglers tend to put in a long day on the water trying to land the big one, and gear maintenance takes the back seat.
Fishing waders are often put away wet without a chance to dry. But if they are allowed to dry on the outside, typically the inside retains a small amount of trapped body moisture.
This is another reason manufacturers recommend turning stockingfoot waders completely inside-out.
- Dry your fishing waders – Dry the inside of your breathable waders first, and then the outside.
- Keep your fishing waders clean – The inside of fishing waders can get funky, so wash your waders. We recommend gently hand washing them. I’ve seen tangled clothes in a washer enough times to not trust the machine to wash my waders. Use cold water and normal detergent that does not contain bleach. Once you have washed the waders make sure you dry them by drying the inside first.
- Never place your fishing waders in a dryer – The high heat of a dryer can soften the glues that keep the seams in your breathable waders watertight. With that in mind, storing your waders in a hot car will have the same effect and should be avoided.
- Use waterproofing treatments – We use Revivex and apply it to our fishing waders once or twice a year to make the water bead off the surface fabric, rather than soak in. It is a simple process to apply the treatment and Revivex is a very inexpensive way to get the most out of your breathable waders.
Fly Fishing Waders Features To Consider
While fishing guides and anglers who want to buy the best-of-the-best fishing waders will see benefits from the $600-$700 set of fishing waders, you can get a respectable set of waders for a lot less than that.
That is a big expense for someone just getting started in the sport, but it might make sense for experienced anglers.
The question we always have with entry level fly fishing waders is: are they durable?
Lets be realistic – there are plenty of entry level chest waders on the market that don’t last very long.
Bargain basement fishing waders might seem easy on the pocketbook, but two or three pairs will cost you in the long term.
When comparing neoprene vs breathable wading pants, there is no doubt that breathable waders provide comfort for a wider range of temperatures.
But even the best fishing waders can potentially fit like a huge pair of bloomers. A top quality wader will perform that much better when you purchase the right size.
Excess material isn’t only uncomfortable, it also tends to snag on brush and scuff on rocks as you walk and wade. All that extra material is asking for eventual leaks in your waders.
The Right Fit
In our experience, having a proper fit is a big contributor to the durability of any fishing wader.
Tight fit causes stretching of the waterproof seams, which also eventually causes leaking.
You want a slightly loose fit on the legs so you can add under-layering if needed, with additional length for when you need to sit or kneel down to net a fish.
If you fish in warmer temperatures, a breathable ultralight convertible wader will provide for waist-high convertibility, which is ideal for staying cool while fishing shallower water.
The best fishing waders will almost always offer a fleece lined pocket for hand warming, and another flip-out internal pocket at chest level can be helpful for storage of small fly boxes or personal items.
And most fishing waders today have built-in gravel guards, and you’ll definitely need them to keep debris out of your boots.
Stockingfoot vs Bootfoot Waders
We like that stockingfoot fishing waders provide for swapping your wading boots whenever needed.
Bootfoot fishing waders are usually a little less expensive than purchasing separate wading boots.
But bootfoot waders can cost you more long-term if your boots fail and cannot be replaced.
Check out our review on the best wading boots for recommendations on a reliable pair of wading boots.
Regardless of your preference, your stockingfoot or bootfoot needs to fit with enough room for warm socks when you wade in cold water.
Anglers who are just getting started in the sport of fly fishing need entry level gear.
Even the most experienced fly anglers usually start with inexpensive fishing gear and upgrade as needed.
With that in mind we wanted to include some good entry level fishing wader options.