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The Best Fishing Waders of 2024

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Waders are essential to take your fishing to the next level. The best fishing waders allow you to stay in the water longer, keeping you protected and comfortable while you continue casting for your dream trout.

Our expert testers have donned waders for over twenty years in some of the most coveted fishing waters in the United States. They’ve experienced the evolution of waders from Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, and Oregon. Waders have genuinely improved over the years. Gone are the days of wearing what feels like a sauna suit or something that leaks when a branch even looks toward the waders. As technology keeps changing, waders keep improving.

For this first round of testing, we picked seven different waders to test during the spring season in the Gunnison Valley of Colorado and the Gallatin Valley of Montana. Spring in the Rockies is an ideal season to test waders as the weather is constantly changing, the water is cold, and the fishing is technical but still good. Dealing with cold hands, navigating ice chunks in the river, and climbing up and down snow- or mud-covered banks creates the perfect conditions for testing durability and functionality.

We understand the challenges of purchasing waders online. It can be daunting to decipher practical details, assess quality, and ultimately find the perfect pair within your budget without physically inspecting them. That’s why our experts have rigorously tested and reviewed the finest fishing waders, aiming to help your decision-making process.

Below are the best fishing waders based on our testing. To help you find the best waders for your unique needs, we’ve included a buyer’s guide, a frequently asked questions section, and a comparison chart.

The Best Fishing Waders of 2024

Best Overall Fishing Wader

  • Front zipper
  • Knee pads
  • Gravel guard style
    Metal hook
  • Handwarmer pocket

  • Durable

  • Plethora of size options

  • Convertible from chest to waist height

  • No fly patch

  • Small handwarming pocket

Best Budget Fishing Waders

  • Front zipper
  • Knee pads
  • Gravel guard style
    Metal Hook
  • Hand warmer pocket

  • Affordable

  • Lightweight

  • Fleece-lined kangaroo pocket

  • Restrictive

  • Stretchy wading belt

Most Durable Fishing Wader

  • Front zipper
  • Knee pads
  • Gravel guard style
  • Hand warmer Pocket

  • Durable

  • Multiple waterproof pockets

  • Made in Bozeman, MT, USA

  • Expensive

  • Stocking might be too narrow for some

The Best Mid-Tier Fishing Wader

  • Front zipper
  • Knee pads
  • Gravel guard style
    Metal Hook
  • Hand warmer Pocket

  • Gusseted Crotch

  • Comfortable booties

  • Organized pockets

  • Hand warmer pocket is hardly lined

  • XXL size is inconsistent

Most Packable Fishing Wader

  • Front zipper
  • Knee pads
  • Gravel guard style
    Metal clip
  • Handwarmer pocket

  • Extra lightweight

  • Packable

  • Heavy-duty scuff guard

  • Uncomfortable stockings

  • Stocking sizing presents challenges in finding ideal fit

Fishing Waders Comparison Chart

How We Tested Fishing Waders

To watch John Mahoney’s cast is to watch art in motion. Before the famed film “A River Runs Through It,” John was already perfecting his roll cast in the big rivers of his backyard in Montana. He started in the river on his father’s back in a backpack and gradually moved up to fishing beside him. Fishing swayed John to Oregon for college and then back to his roots in Montana to finish his degree. That’s where he met his wife Constance and introduced her to the love of fly fishing. For the last 15 years, they have fished through Montana down to the famed waters of the Gunnison Valley, where they have settled.

John has worked in and guided through fly-fishing shops in Bozeman, MT, and Crested Butte, CO. Across the board, John knows fishing and the gear. He is a backcountry fisherman, always hiking, climbing up and down banks, and in all the weather. This means he understands the value of quality waders. He needs something that can keep up. He can quickly spot design flaws and useless details that look good but add no value.

For this round of testing, John and Constance brought the waders across state lines to the Gunnison and Gallatin Valleys for some solid spring Fishing. The weather constantly shifts from sunny blue skies to random heavy snow storms. They tested the durability through snowbanks, mud, and leaf-barren trails. From multi-day fishing adventures to quick after-work sessions, they put these waders to the test. If you’re looking for women’s specific waders, check out our guide to Best Fishing Waders for Women.

Buyer’s Guide: How To Choose Fishing Waders

Fishing waders are an essential piece of equipment for anglers who want to enjoy their favorite pastime in comfort and safety. Whether fishing in cold mountain streams or warm coastal flats, choosing the right pair of waders can make all the difference. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you make an informed decision

Bootfoot or Stockingfoot Waders

Bootfoot Waders have the boots attached, offering convenience and eliminating the need for separate wading boots.

Stockingfoot Waders have a sock-like bootie attached to the feet. They require separate wading boots, providing more versatility in terms of fit and performance.

Consider what type of fishing you are doing and the location. Bootfoot waders are convenient for saltwater fishing and surf fishing, where you need to keep the sand out of your boots, and your feet need added protection. Also, bootfoot waders tend to run warmer as they are made of rubber, making them thicker and an excellent choice for cold winter fishing days. Bootfoot waders are popular among duck hunters as they stand in cold water for long periods.

Some pairs come with metal cleat/spike or felt bottom options, which help with stability moving across slippery rocks or seaweed. If you do not have that option, look into winter traction that can be put on over the sole. Sizing can be tricky as you will want to match your foot size first and then match the wader size. If the boot doesn’t fit your foot well, it will make you unstable, which can be dangerous. If you can’t find a boot that fits your size, purchasing a stockingfoot wader and a wading boot that fits correctly is recommended.

Stockingfoot waders are the more traditional waders; they are more adaptable, versatile, and often more comfortable. They come with a neoprene or plastic bootie that fits into a separate boot. You can match your wader to whatever wading boot fits you the best. Because the boot is individual, it makes for a more customizable fishing kit.

Some brands have upped the ante on the standard neoprene boot, like the Simms G4Z waders, as they utilize a patented compression-molded bootie for enhanced comfort and improved boot fit. You want to find something you feel the most comfortable and confident in while you hike and wade through the different water and terrain.


The materials used make a huge difference in the wader’s durability and longevity. Entry-level waders are often made from nylon or PVC. While these are more affordable, they lack the breathability and durability of higher-end options, and you will find yourself needing to replace them sooner. Higher-quality waders will be made of GORE-TEX® material or something similar.

The construction of waders is usually divided into three sections: the upper (chest), lower (legs), and booties/stockingfoot (feet). The upper and lower are generally made of the same material but in different amounts. The upper commonly has at least three layers, while the lower ones have three or more. Typically, extra layers are added to the lower section to enhance durability, especially since the legs often encounter abrasive surfaces.

The Orvis Pro uses four layers of CORDURA® in the upper and five layers of the same material in the lower, creating one of the most durable waders on the market. Patagonia Swiftcurrent Expedition uses a 4-layers of H2no (100% recycled polyester), making it durable and sustainable. The Simms G4Z uses a 3-layer Gore-Tex (a fully windproof, water-resistant, and breathable fabric) and a 4-layer Gore-Tex for the lower.

The stocking feet conventionally utilize neoprene, which has a thickness ranging from 2mm to 5mm. Greater thickness ensures increased warmth for the feet. Alternatively, the Patagonia Swiftcurrent Ultralight booties feature a TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) construction known for its flexibility and durability.


Consider the overall construction quality and reputation of the brand, read reviews, and see what others have to say about wader longevity. Durability is directly correlated with the materials used. Higher-quality materials will last longer and outperform more affordable options.

Also, consider where you are fishing. If you go to areas that are not as wild with maintained trails, you probably don’t need the ultra-durable Orvis Pro 5-layered waders. However, if you are bushwacking your way to the water, you will want the most durable wader you can afford.

Durable seams are also critical. The last thing you want is a leaky seam on a multi-day fishing excursion. The best seams are sealed and taped to help maintain longevity.

As durable as waders are, they are not bulletproof. Be mindful of what you are walking through. Pinhole leaks will happen eventually; having a patch kit on hand is always a good idea.

Sizing and Fit

Ensure proper sizing by referring to the brand’s size chart. Ill-fitting waders can be uncomfortable, restrict movement, and be unsafe. Often, you will measure your circumference (the widest part of your body), your inseam, and your foot size. Each brand has different charts; many now include a tall version for every size. Our 6’2″ tester could wear a medium-tall in almost all the brands he tested. Another tester standing at 5′ 4″ wore a medium in one brand and a small in another. You must check with each brand and with each model of waders, as each version can have a different chart.

Consider your layering system when determining size. You’ll want enough room to wear insulating layers underneath comfortably. If you are primarily fishing in warm places, you may get away with a slimmer fit. However, if you want a four-season wader, you may want one that is a little looser, allowing for additional layers.

Pay special attention to the inseam chart. One of the worst sizing mistakes is purchasing a wader that is too short for you. Waders that are too short restrict motion, and you might have a tough time climbing banks, bending down to release fish, and adding unnecessary stress to the crotch area, which could rip at the seams. When in doubt, call customer service.

Features to Consider

Reinforced Knees and Seams

Waders with reinforced knees and seams offer increased durability, primarily if you frequently fish in rugged terrain. Some waders, like the Orvis Pro, come with removable knee pads, while others like the Grundens Vector Stockingfoot have sleek knee pads sewn in.

Gravel and Scuff Guards

Gravel guards prevent gravel and debris from entering your boots, keeping them comfortable and prolonging their lifespan. Often made out of the same material as the lower, they have elastic, Velcro, or a clip that holds them tight around your ankle. The Simms G4Z and Boundary Zip Stockingfoot Wader use a lower profile neoprene gravel guard to minimize snagging and rubbing while walking.

A scuff guard shields the inner ankle area from abrasion during walking, preventing damage or punctures. Both the Patagonia Swiftcurrent Ultralight and Patagonia Swiftcurrent Expedition utilize extra resilient material to fortify this vulnerable area.

Pockets and Storage

Even if you fish with a vest or a pack, wader pockets come in handy for quick fishing missions or additional storage on longer days. Look for waders with convenient pockets for storing essentials like flies, leaders, and tools. If you do fish with a vest or pack, keep in mind the pocket placement under your preferred fishing apparatus. Or if you like to fish only with a net and want your waders to store all your gear, make sure you have enough storage.

Many waders have designated hand warmer pockets. They can be lined or unlined, but having a spot to get your hands out of the wind or a quick thaw after releasing fish can be valuable and can extend your fishing hours when the weather or water is chilly. 

Some waders also have submersible and water-resistant pockets. Submersible pockets are totally sealed, like the inside pocket of the Patagonia Swiftcurrent Ultralight. Water-resistant pockets have waterproof zippers, but the pocket will take on water if submerged, like the Redington Escape Wader.


A top-hem drawcord cinch system allows the user to tighten the top hem to help customize the fit and keep the elements out.  It’s also used on drop-seat systems. If you want to keep the chest section down on hot days, you can cinch it tight to keep the upper from being too baggy.

Shoulder Straps

Adjustable shoulder straps allow you to customize the fit for maximum comfort. Again, you will want to look at the strap placement and make sure they cross and fit correctly on your shoulders. After you have adjusted the shoulder straps, double-check the placement of the clips and make sure they won’t rub or put pressure on your shoulders when/if you wear a fishing vest or pack. The Boundary Zip Stockingfoot Wader has the most customizable shoulder straps we tested.

A convenient feature to consider is the drop seat wader system. Patented in 2019, it allows you to keep your shoulder straps on while lowering the wader’s chest section down far enough to go to the bathroom. Gone are the days of wrestling shoulder straps to relieve yourself.

Waist Belts

Waist belts are a must for waders. They help create a more custom fit and, more importantly, provide a crucial safety feature. If you fall into the river, a correctly worn waist belt will help stop water from filling the legs of the waders, allow for the air trapped in your legs to act like balloons, and keep you from sinking like a rock. To wear a waist belt correctly, you need to cinch it tight. Not too tight to where you can’t breathe, but you don’t want it hanging there, not doing anything. Belts are included with your waders but can be easily lost in the hustle of pulling gear in and out of vehicles. Additional waist belts are inexpensive and it is wise to have extra on hand for yourself or if you see someone fishing without one. They are not an accessory; they are a safety feature.

Gusseted Crotch

A gusseted crotch allows for extra range of motion and seam durability. Without a gusset, the seams are placed under more stress when taking giant steps up a bank or over a log. A gusset relieves the tension on the seams and creates a more comfortable stride. Boundary Zip Stockingfoot Wader, Patagonia Swiftcurrent Ultralight, Patagonia Swiftcurrent Expedition, Grundens Vector Stockingfoot, and the  Orvis Pro all have crotch gussets.

Care and Maintenance

Taking care of your waders is crucial to their longevity, and they are pretty low-maintenance. Don’t keep them in your vehicle for days on end, as the heat and UV rays will damage them. When you are done fishing, make sure to dry the inside and outside. If you are saltwater fishing, be sure to rinse with fresh water after and let them dry.

Depending on use, you can wash the waders up to 3 times a year. Use a washing machine without an agitator or hand wash. Use cold water and a detergent that does not contain bleach. Never put your waders in the dryer! Again, make sure you dry the inside and outside before you put them away in storage.

When storing the waders, you roll them up; don’t fold them! The creases will cause weak points.


Fly-fishing waders are usually crafted from lightweight materials, enabling improved mobility and breathability. In contrast, hunting waders tend to feature thicker construction to provide warmth during prolonged periods of sitting or standing. Additionally, hunting waders often come with integrated boots.

There are two primary heights for waders: hip-high and chest-high. Hip-high waders extend only to the hips and consist of separate boots reaching up the leg with attachments to a belt or a pair of wading pants. On the other hand, chest-high waders come with suspenders that go over the shoulders. Certain chest-high waders offer the flexibility to drop down the chest section, allowing them to be worn more akin to wading pants

The choice may vary based on weather conditions. Still, as a general rule, wearing a base layer underneath (the thickness of which will vary depending on outdoor and river water temperatures) and a long-sleeve fishing shirt for sun protection is advisable. In colder weather, opt for waders that allow enough room for additional layers, like a warmer jacket. Although not worn beneath waders, wearing a brimmed hat and polarized sunglasses is always recommended for sun and glare protection while on the water.

Double-check your warranty, if you spring a leak in your waders. If they are still covered, repairs will be free. Outside of the warranty terms, all the brands we reviewed will repair waders for a fee and shipping costs. If it is not covered or you want to fix it on your own, grab a patch kit and get to work!

It depends on your fishing location and style. For something breathable and easier to move in GORE-TEX®, waders are great! If warmth and a lower price range are your primary goals, then neoprene will do the trick.

Read the full article here

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