As ice melts with the warming spring sun, mountain water runs down into rivers and streams waiting with welcome arms. It’s around this time that fly fishermen dust off their gear for inspection. Preparation for fishing also requires a check for rips or tears in those waders. Right behind their dog, waders are a fly fisherman’s best friend. Companies that manufacture the best fishing waders are well aware of their demand in other areas besides fly fishing. As bass fishing continues its popular momentum, more and more float tubers look to find the best fishing waders every year.
Buyer’s Guide To Selecting The Best Fishing Waders
Junk vs Value – Factors That Make The Best Fishing Waders
Choice of material, design of the wader, and quality of manufacturing decide the value of a pair of waders. Determination of value is also dependent on price. If you can’t afford the waders, they’re of little value. Buying a cheap pair that rips open the first time you use them offers zero value as well. Then there’s waders that might last a season before they deteriorate. Sounds okay with a warranty until you tire of shipping them in each year.
These are the questions that must first have an answer when searching for the best fishing waders. There is a middle ground where price and excellent quality meet. When quality is secure, other factors begin to stand out about waders. Type of material is one and the choice revolves around temperature. Quality material comes in thick neoprene or lighter vinyl, depending on your needs. The best waders will have the tightest seams no matter the material, using stitching and welds to boot.
Whether it’s a light summer vinyl or snug winter wet suit wader, endurance and performance are the most important qualities. Following that comes design and style. Stocking foot waders or boot bottom? Full chest or waist high? Extra pockets and breathing fabric may call out to you. Reinforcement in the knees and ankles also help extend the life of the waders.
Fishing Wader Design – How Many Kinds Of Waders Are There?
The best fishing waders come in many different designs depending on the needs of the angler. Cold water conditions call for the thickness and warmth of neoprene waders. Sturdy vinyl material works fine to stay dry in warmer weather. It breathes better and doesn’t encourage as much sweating as the heavier styles. Wader style depends on the following factors:
- Wader Height – For the purpose of the best fishing waders in this article, only full waders receive mention. Other styles are available such as knee top waders or waist high models. Full waders reach up near the middle to top of your chest and typically fasten using overall type shoulder straps.
- Thickness & Type Of Material(s) – You’ll pay for quality or sacrifice by going cheap here. Neoprene is the the fabric of choice for warmer waders and they come in different millimeter thicknesses. Quality micro woven vinyl breathes better and leaves room to move, but it won’t keep you nearly as warm. Some anglers prefer this style as they often have room for thermal wear underneath.
- Boot Style – The majority of fishing waders come with hard boots or slipper socks as options for your feet. Hard boot waders remove the fly fisherman’s need for wading boots, but slipper socks are a the more popular choice. They’re more versatile for anglers that fish from a float tube and wear fins. Wading boots also provide different grip options like felt or studs for tread.
- Pockets, Belt, & Accessories – A wading belt serves two purposes. It keeps a grip on your waist which takes weight off your shoulders. It also works as a safety device to prevent water from rushing in and filling up the wader. Waders full of water are similar to suits of armor. They’ll drag you down in a hurry.
Specifications That Ensure The Best Fishing Waders Are Right For You
The main specification an angler should turn their immediate attention to is size. Manufacturers of the best fishing waders provide a range of sizes from small to double extra large, with king and tall sizes as well. Specs will tell you the type of material and thickness of neoprene if it applies. Wader material will either be neoprene wet suit style for warmth or fabric that breathes.
Vinyl is a common material that manufacturers use. It’s cheap which makes it less expensive for the buyer, but better quality waders use layers. Different types of fabric will form each layer and provide their own attributes to the wader. Areas that require more reinforcement have more layers with stronger types of fabric. Neoprene waders hug the body tight and keep it warm in near freezing water. The colder the water, the thicker the neoprene should be.
Last but not least, specs might alert you to the number of pockets in a wader, belt style, and amount of belt loops. When you inspect a pair of waders make sure they fit. Check any customer comments for sizing disparities because some models might run large or small.
Features Fishermen Look For In The Best Fishing Waders
Features of the best fishing waders get much more complex than the specifications. Special high tech fabrics, seamless pant legs, and puncture resistant layering are only a few of the stand out designs that top quality waders provide. These features bring additional value in either durability or function. Have a peek at some of the more desirable features anglers seek in waders:
- Taped/Stitched Seams – Keeping the inside dry is the point of having waders. It’s important to have strong stitching and taped welds on all seams.
- Layer Reinforcement In Vital Areas – The posterior region, knees, and ankles are areas of the wader that take the most abuse. Design can include padding or layers of fabric for extra durability.
- Gravel Guards & Boot Fasteners – Guards that taper off cover and attach to your boots. They prevent river gravel from entering and rubbing between boot and ankle.
- Water Resistant Pockets – Zipper designs that keep water out come in handy.
- Fleece Lined Hand Warmer Pockets – Because the fingers are the first to freeze, fleece warms those hands and gets them back to knot tying condition.
- Internal Pockets – An excellent choice for dry storage of water sensitive goods like cell phone or wallet.
- Wading Belt, Buckle, & Loops – For safety purposes and weight disbursement, the best fishing waders always come with a belt.
- Y Back Suspenders With Quality Adjustable Buckles – The Y back keeps shoulder straps from slipping off and adjustable buckles provide just the right fit.
- D Ring On Back – You have one if you wear a fly vest. It’s nice to hang your net on that D Ring if you wear waders with a chest pack or without a vest at all.
The 5 Best Fishing Waders Of 2017 – Angler’s Top Picks
#1 Redington Crosswater Wader – Best Breathable Wader For The Lowest Price
When your fishing budget requires room for rods, reels, and fuel to your destination, Redington Crosswater Waders deliver. You can find junk for cheaper, but these 3 layered polyester fabric waders deliver dependable performance at the lowest price in category.
Slip into these stocking foot waders with ease as they come in sizes from small to double extra large. Unfortunately at this price range, you don’t have in between king or tall options. You do enjoy gravel free fishing from guards that secure with hooks to your boots.
They aren’t Y-back suspenders, but Crosswater waders do have a clip that holds the shoulder straps where they cross in back. Simple in design, one flip out zipper pocket offers storage for hooks, lures, or other items of immediate necessity.
Redington Crosswater waders have 1 belt loop in back to keep the wading belt at waist level. Comfy stocking foot design consists of high density neoprene, keeping your feet warm and dry minus your sweat.
#2 Hodgman H5 Stocking Foot Wader – Best Performing Multi Layer Wader
Float tube anglers and fly fishermen wear out their fare share of waders. They know the Hodgman name. Running in those circles, the H5 stocking foot raises eyebrows in agreement of approval. A little pricier than your standard models, Hodgman H5 waders last years with the proper care. There’s the additional benefit of enjoying one of the highest quality waders available.
H5 waders go from breathy 3 layer torsos to 5 layer posterior and legs. Legs offer a seamless design, eliminating the wear that eventually destroys such connections. Hodgman H5 waders fit better than a wedding dress, with the normal range of sizes plus king and tall options.
Y-back suspenders lead down to a net ready D ring. All seams are stitched and taped for complete waterproofing. Pockets abound with inside storage and fleece lined hand warmers as well. Water resistant zippers protect their contents. Fabric layers are of the highest technology and anglers have a separate option in Core INS leggings. They’re a valuable addition for extremely cold water fishing.
#3 Adamsbuilt Truckee River Wader – Top Features In A Multi Layer Wader
Truckee River Waders by Adamsbuilt bring some tough competition to brands like Hodgman. It’s a tough call between the H5 above and the premium Truckee waders. They bring the same 5 layer fabric reinforcement in the rear and legs, where it matters most. Technologies like Pore-Tech breathable membrane, micro fiber fabric, and Dupont teflon form the layers of waterproof protection.
Sizes come with options for everyone, including a triple extra large, tall, and stout models. Truckee waders offer a front draw string zipper flip out pocket and H-back suspenders. The light breathable fabric leads down to 4 mm neoprene stockings, including gravel guard protection.
Adamsbuilt Truckee waders provide a D ring on the H-back for your net and several pocket storage options. 1 inside pocket keeps valuables dry while fleece lined outside pockets provide sanctuary for cold stiffened fingers. One thing Adamsbuilt doesn’t offer that the H5 does is the separate leggings for extreme cold. Besides that, maybe the color scheme will help you decide between the two.
#4 Hodgman Caster Neoprene Wader – Best Value Cold Water Wader
There’s times when the water is simply way to cold for layered breathable waders. Times like that call for neoprene waders and again, Hodgman does it right. Neoprene Caster waders by Hodgman nearly earn the title of lowest priced wader, but for the booted models. They run a tad more than the stocking foot version.
Caster waders come in standard small to double extra large sizes. A simple design puts one pocket on the inside and a large outside front pocket. Gravel guards with boot lace fasteners come on the stocking foot models, and the entire neoprene shell has a thickness of 3.5 mm.
Suspenders sport the Y-back style and do have the D ring for your net. You’ll also find two D rings in the front for accessory attachment but the wading belt is missing. Hodgman Caster waders aren’t glamorous but they’re incredibly affordable. They also perform their task of keeping you warm while fishing frigid water.
#5 Orvis Encounter Wader – Best Value In A Breathable Wader
Encounter waders by Orvis provide a premium product that competes with such brands as Adamsbuilt and Hodgman. The material may sacrifice a bit in technology, but they also offer a more competitive price. 4 layered waders, the Encounter offers a well-thought design. Pocket placement adds a practical touch, like the kangaroo style hand warmer that slips in under the large zipper chest pocket.
3 belt loops keep your belt on snug where it’s supposed to be and assist the H-back suspenders. Leggings lead down to stockings protected by gravel guards. Orvis makes finding a model of Encounter waders that fit real simple with standard, tall, and short options available.
A recent Orvis update to Encounter waders means a better fit for anglers. Design changes include the same style fit as their award winning Silver Sonic series waders. At a lower price than the super hi tech models, Orvis Encounter takes the best fishing wader for price and value award.
Wrapping Up The Best Fishing Waders Buyer’s Guide
Cold water or warm, float tube or on the fly, the right pair of waders is out there waiting for you. Follow the guide, check the sizes, and decide which features are important to you. Float tube anglers might not care about a D ring on the back, but storage pockets sure are helpful. Fly anglers love those fleece lined pockets, as the wind off river water gets cold. Make sure to explore all that TouchGood has to offer while waiting for those waders to arrive.