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Choosing the right pair of fly fishing waders is a big decision. A good pair of waders will keep you comfortable and dry while fishing, ensuring you stay warm without becoming overheated. Waders should also fit your body properly, allowing movement and comfort whether you’re on a drift boat or scrambling over boulders. Additionally, waders should include features that you need for your specific fishing, such as pockets, gravel guards, or a convenient front zipper. Today, we’ll discuss everything to consider when purchasing a new pair of fly fishing waders. Whether you’re shopping for your first pair of waders, or replacing an old pair, this guide should help you make an informed decision, free of any marketing hype.


One of the first considerations when buying new waders is which length to select. There are three categories of wader length: chest waders, pant waders, and hip waders.

Chest Waders

Chest waders are the most popular style of waders, and offer the most coverage and protection from cold water. They also offer nice features like pockets for fly boxes and gear, and some have tabs for attaching accessories like zingers, nippers, and hemostats. If the air temperature is hot, chest waders can get stuffy, but some manufacturers combat this problem by making a ‘convertible’ chest wader that can be easily converted into pant waders.

Pant Waders

Pant waders are just what the name implies, waders that go from the waist down without any material or suspenders above the waist. Pant waders are ideal for cold water conditions when the air temp is warm, so you can keep your lower body warm and dry without your upper body overheating. They’re also great for drift boat anglers who need more mobility in their upper body for rowing. Pant waders generally don’t offer storage space or pockets, but they’re a great option for rowing or wading small, cold streams in the summertime.

Hip Waders

Once a popular choice, hip waders are uncommon nowadays. They’re even shorter than pant waders and are essentially tall boots that extend to the upper thigh area. Although they’ve been largely replaced by pant waders, hip waders could still be useful for wading small creeks where you won’t wade beyond knee-deep water. They’re also the easiest of all the options to take on and off, and the most breathable, since they only cover your legs.


Most fly fishing waders are made of a breathable membrane material such as GoreTex, Cordura, H2no, or something similar. If you’re fishing in extremely cold conditions, you may consider neoprene waders, but be advised that they’re not nearly as breathable as modern materials, and offer limited mobility. Most neoprene waders on the market are designed for duck hunting.

Bootfoot vs Stockingfoot

When it comes to the foot design of waders, there are two options; bootfoot and stockingfoot.

Bootfoot Waders

Bootfoot waders have a built-in wading boot attached to the pant leg of the waders. This is a great option for extremely cold conditions where you’ll want plenty of room in your boots for thick socks and toe mobility. Bootfoot waders are also ideal for fishing in a mucky substrate, where you’d risk losing a traditional wading boot if you sink in too deep. Lastly, bootfoot waders are extremely easy to take on and off, making them a convenient option for folks who struggle to bend over to tie boot laces.

Stockingfoot Waders

Stockingfoot waders have a built-in neoprene bootie, which then fits inside of a traditional wading boot. They’re great for more aggressive wading and/or hiking, as laced wading boots are lighter and can offer a better fit than bootfoot waders. Stockingfoot waders are also more versatile since you can combine them with various boot types such as rubber-sole, felt, or studded-sole. Lastly, stockingfoot waders are generally more durable over time. We’ve seen issues with bootfoot waders leaking at the seam between the boot and the pant leg time and time again, but that’s seldom the case with stockingfoot waders.


Waders can offer a variety of useful features including front zippers, pockets, zinger tabs, gravel guards, and varying suspender designs. 

Of all the features, a front zipper is arguably the most important for many anglers. These fully waterproof zippers make putting on and taking off your waders much easier, and they’re also great for cooling off your upper body if you start to overheat. 

Spacious pockets are a great feature for anglers who prefer to carry lots of gear like fly boxes and tippets on their person. Shopping tip: don’t assume all pockets are waterproof. Some might be advertised as ‘water resistant’, which won’t be fully sealed to protect things like your phone or a key fob.

Layered material is another important feature that you should consider when purchasing new waders. Look for waders with more layers of material in the lower section for durability, and fewer layers in the upper section for breathability. The Simms G3 Guide Waders, for example, feature a 4-layer GoreTex lower, and a 3-layer upper, resulting in a highly durable wader that still maintains good breathability in warmer conditions.


Finding a pair of waders that fits properly is imperative to your comfort and the longevity of your waders. If they’re too small, you’ll have limited mobility and will risk stressing the seams to the point of failure. If they’re too large, they’ll feel heavy and awkward while wading, and you’ll look like the Michelin Man on the river, which is not ideal. To find the proper size, refer to the manufacturer's sizing chart. You’ll need to know the following measurements: your largest girth, your inseam, and your shoe size. Generally, wader sizing is similar to your t-shirt size, but this can vary by manufacturer and model of wader.


When considering wader sizing, it's also important to account for layered clothing. For example, if you’ll be fishing in cold conditions, choose waders that are sized to accommodate bulky insulating layers. Take your measurements while you’re wearing layers like thick wool socks, fleece longjohns, and puffy jackets.


Like most fly fishing gear, waders can span a wide range of prices, from under $200 to over $1,000. While they’re all designed to keep you dry, you should consider the features we’ve discussed above when looking at pricing. If you need a pair of waders appropriate for extreme cold weather, for example, you may consider bootfoot waders. Or perhaps you need the most durable waders available, so 5-layer GoreTex could be an important feature for you. Think about what features will be necessary for your fishing, and then narrow down your search from there.


A great pair of fly fishing waders undoubtedly helps you enjoy your fishing more. You’ll stay dry and comfortable, have your gear handy, and keep your valuable accessories protected from the elements. Whether you need ultra-durable cold-weather chest waders or simple lightweight pant waders, there are options at every price point. We hope this guide helps you choose the best pair of fly fishing waders for your fishing in 2024. Remember, the right waders will enhance your comfort and effectiveness and ensure you're well-prepared for any fishing conditions.


If you have any questions, feel free to contact our team of experts at 888-413-5211, or email us at [email protected]