best chest waders

Best Chest Waders

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Are you in the market for a do-it-all pair of fly fishing waders? A chest wader will keep you warm and dry in cold conditions, making your day out on the water that much more enjoyable.

Image Product Details  
flyfisherpro-table__imageBest Budget WadersFrogg Toggs Pilot II Breathable
  • 30 ounces
  • Stockingfoot
  • 4-ply nylon
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flyfisherpro-table__imageBest Overall WadersSimms G3 Guide Wader
  • 45 ounces
  • Stockingfoot
  • 3-layer Gore-Tex
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flyfisherpro-table__imageBest Compact WadersPatagonia Middle Fork Packable
  • 26 ounces
  • Stockingfoot or Bootfoot
  • 3 -layer nylon
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As you can imagine, with so many fishing wader brands on the market, not all chest waders are created equally. This article will discuss how to select the best fly fishing chest waders suited to your needs. I also go through 5 of my favorite chest waders on the market. 

Here is the quick guide to my favorite chest waders:

The 5 Best Chest Waders

These days, anglers are spoilt with choice with all the different manufacturers and models available. I have considerable experience with waders, either using them myself or observing their ongoing performance as close angling friends use them. Here’s a list of 7 of my favorite chest waders.

Frogg Toggs Pilot II Breathable

Frogg Toggs Pilot II Breathable

Available Here: Amazon, Cabelas, Bass Pro Shop

  •     Price: $239.99
  •     Sizes Available: LG – XXL
  •     Boot Style: Stockingfoot
  •     Material: 4-ply nylon construction with 4-ply leg and knee protection
  •     Weight: Not disclosed
  •     Warranty: Frogg Toggs warrants the Pilot II for one year from the date of purchase. 

The Frogg Toggs Pilot II wader’s booties are made from 4mm neoprene and are double taped at the joints to ensure waterproofing and durability. The integrated gravel guards work effectively to keep debris and stones out of your boot while wading. 

The wader comes with an elastic wading belt. Instead of one large front chest pocket, Frogg Toggs has opted to include two smaller zipped storage pouches on the Pilot II. These pockets make for ample storage for small items, but large items will not fit. 

The wader has an adjustable locking chest cord that can be pulled tight to ensure a snug fit against your body. The wader comes with a one year warranty against any defects in material and workmanship.

The only downside is that the Pilot II wader is not available in a wide range of sizes.

Simms G3 Guide Wader

Simms G3 Guide Wader

Available Here: Simms, Trident Fly Fishing, Tackle Direct

  •     Price: $549.95
  •     Sizes Available: Short, Regular, and Long. All these inseam lengths are available in sizes S – XXL
  •     Boot Style: Stockingfoot, however, anglers who want a bootfoot G3 Guide wader can load a custom order via the Simms website
  •     Material: 3-layer Gore-Tex pro shell upper and 4-layer lower
  •     Weight: 45 ounces

Simms needs no introduction when it comes to the best fishing waders. Although the Simms G3 wader comes at a premium, it is a serious piece of kit. It is constructed using 3-layers of Gore-Tex in the upper and 4-layers in the lower. The neoprene booties are anatomically correct, which means they fit, not like many other, more affordable options. Speaking of the booties, Simms treats them with an antimicrobial substance to prevent fungal and bacterial growth. The wader comes with an elastic wading belt.

For the storage, Simms has gone with a large zipped chest pouch. There is also a fleece-lined hand warmer pocket. A zipped attachment inside the wader allows you to attach one of Simms’ Tippet Tenders or a waterproof internal bag. 

These waders are handmade in the USA. Simms will also repair any leaks developed within the first year for free. They’re basically asking you to put their waders to hard use. 

Patagonia Middle Fork Packable Waders

Patagonia-Middle Fork Packable Waders

Available Here: Platte River Fly Shop

  •     Price: $349
  •     Sizes Available: Short, Regular, and Long. All these inseam lengths are available in sizes S – XL
  •     Boot Style: Stockingfoot
  •     Material: Upper is made from a 3 -layer 100% recycled nylon fabric, with the lower made constructed with a 4-layer 100% recycled nylon material
  •     Weight: 26 ounces

Are you doing regular hikes into the wilderness and need a lightweight wader that folds up really small? The Patagonia Middle Fork Packable chest wader is what you need. It weighs just over 26 ounces and fits into an 8″ by 13″ stuff sack (included). 

What you gain on the one end you lose on the other. The Middle Fork wader only has an internal pocket, which might not be ideal if you’re using a wader to carry your flies and tippet spools with you. This pocket, however, is fully waterproof. 

The Middle Fork’s suspension system allows the angler to quickly drop the chest down, converting it from a chest wader to a waist wader. This conversion is done without disconnecting the shoulder straps, making them perfect for warm weather fishing. 

The booties are made from a thin rubber, something completely different than the other waders on our list. This material keeps both weight and bulk to a minimum. 

Caddis Northern Guide Breathable Waders

CaddNorthern Guide Breathable Waders

Available Here: Amazon

  •     Price: $189
  •     Sizes Available: The four inseam lengths include Standard, Stout, Long, and Short Stout. All of these inseams are available in wader sizes ranging from S – XXL
  •     Boot Style: Stockingfoot or bootfoot
  •     Material: 240 Denier Heavy duty polyester.
  •     Weight: Not disclosed

The Northern Guide Breathable is available either as a stockingfoot or bootfoot chest wader. The stockingfoot utilizes a high-density neoprene sock that is taped on both the in- and outside. The wader is constructed with a durable 240 denier polyester material, making it ideal for rugged terrain. The integrated gravel guards do an excellent job of keeping debris out of your wading boots. 

A large integrated zipped chest pocket allows ample storage for a phone, a small camera, a couple of tippet spools, and a fly box. This pocket is not waterproof. Behind the pocket is a reach-through fleece-lined hand-warmer pouch, for those cold days. 

The Caddis Northern Guide chest wader is hard to beat if you’re looking for a heavy-duty, high-quality wader below $200. 

Cabela’s Classic Series II

Cabela's Classic Series II

Available Here: Cabelas, Bass Pro Shop

  •     Price: $179.99
  •     Sizes Available: Boot sizes 6 – 14
  •     Boot Style: Bootfoot
  •     Material: Neoprene
  •     Weight: Not disclosed

The Cabela’s Classic Series II is an affordable neoprene bootfoot fishing wader. It’s ideal for anglers fishing in cold climates looking for a durable and great value for money wader. The rubber boots feature 3M’s 200-gram Thinsulate Insulation that keeps your feet warm in freezing water. 

The reinforced knees make the wader durable and provide a soft cushion for your knee caps. The wader comes with a wading belt. A reach-through hand warming pocket is positioned on the wader’s chest area. Unfortunately, the Classic Series II wader does not have integrated storage systems. However, it does have two strong D-rings where you can attach a chest pack or other accessories.

As with all bootfoot waders, they are sized according to the boots. The Classic II is available from size 6 (for kids and women) to 14. If you are a big-boned man, I do not recommend buying these waders online. Go to your nearest Cabela’s and try on a pair. The fit might be too snug for your liking.

What to Consider When Buying Chest Waders?

So, you’ve decided you need chest waders. Now, the big question – how do you choose a pair? There are several considerations you need to take into account when selecting waders. This section aims not to bombard you with all the options around, but rather to clarify all the variants so that you can make an informed decision at your local fly shop.

What is the Best Material for Waders?

best materials chest waders

 

Wader manufacturers use three different primary materials types to construct their waders. The specific material used influences durability, breathability, and cost. 

Neoprene Waders

Neoprene waders are made from the same material as wetsuits. The thickness of the neoprene varies depending on the specific wader, where a thicker material offers more insulation. Neoprene waders are durable and ideal for cold climate and water scenarios. 

Pros:

  •     Neoprene makes for a very durable wader
  •     More affordable than high-quality breathable waders
  •     The perfect choice for extremely cold scenarios

Cons:

  •     The stiffness of the material hampers angler agility
  •     Might be too hot for warmer climates
  •     Not breathable

PVC Waders

pvc waders

PVC waders offer the beginner angler an affordable means to get into wading. They are lightweight and flexible, which enables the angler to move more freely. In my opinion, however, this is an outdated material for waders, as breathable materials have become cheap and are far more durable. 

Pros

  •     Lightweight
  •     Often comes with attached boots
  •     Cheap

Cons

  •     Nylon and PVC waders are notoriously easy to tear and offer little puncture resistance
  •     Not breathable

Breathable Waders

Breathable waders are the latest, and in my opinion, the greatest to the wader world. They are lightweight, super comfortable to wear, and relatively durable. The most noteworthy advantage is the term breathable. The material wicks moisture away from the angler’s body and allows it to pass through the material while preventing water from entering.

Pros

  •     Breathable, making them ideal for warm climates
  •     Very comfortable to wear
  •     Comes in a variety of sizes, making it possible to find the perfect fit for your body

Cons

  •     Less durable than neoprene

Storage Pockets

storage pockets

Most chest waders have at least one storage pocket. Some of the cheaper models, especially the neoprene waders, have no pockets at all. If you always wear a fishing vest or backpack, the storage space incorporated in the wader will be less critical. I know some minimalist anglers who only use these integrated pouches. 

Please note, even though some manufacturers do state that the storage systems on their waders are waterproof, I have yet to come across a genuinely waterproof pouch. Always place valuables and electronic devices in a proper waterproof container.

Price

The price of chest waders can vary drastically. Affordable waders may be purchased under $100, whereas premium brands can charge well over $800. The price depends on the material used and where the waders are made. You pay a premium for well-known brands.

After Sales Service

chest waders

It is challenging for any wader manufacturing company to offer extended warranties on fishing waders. Waders take a great deal of beating, and the extent of use varies from angler to angler. However, some companies offer up to a year’s worth of warranty and will repair any leaks beyond that timeframe. 

Boot Style

Both neoprene and breathable waders come in either a boot-foot or stockingfoot format. Boot-foot waders have integrated rubber boots, while separate wading boots must be purchased with stockingfoot waders. Each variant has its pros and cons.

Boot-foot waders

Pros

  •     The boot is incorporated with the wader
  •     Very quick to put on and take off
  •     Cheaper than the same wader bought with separate boots

Cons

  •     The wader is sized according to the boot, making it impossible to customize the fit
  •     Limited boot sole options.
  •     Boot-foot waders are bulky, which is why they’re not the best option if you regularly travel

Stocking-foot waders

stockingfoot wader

Pros

  •     It is possible to get the best fit as there are many wader and boot sizes available
  •     There are many boot sole options to choose from, including various rubber compounds, felt, studs, and aluminum bars
  •     More comfortable to travel with as the wader and boots can be packed separately

Cons

  •     Can work out quite expensive, compared to the equivalent boot-foot wader
  •     It takes some time to put on and take off

Fit

If you fish often, it is of paramount importance that you are comfortable in your chosen chest wader. They should not restrict your movement. Unfortunately, boot-foot waders are sized according to the size of the boot. Therefore, it is quite rare to get an exact fit. 

Breathable waders are available in a wide range of sizes. Therefore, they are ideal if a custom-fit is of great importance to you. 

Climate

climate chest waders

Where and in what temperatures (air and water) will you be doing most of your fishing? Neoprene waders are ideal for extremely cold scenarios like winter Steelhead fishing in Alaska. However, that same pair of waders will make it hard to fish Montana during summer. A breathable wader will be better suited here. 

If you have to choose one wader to do it all, a breathable wader selected one size up would be my recommendation. In cold areas, you can simply wear thermal insulating clothing under the wader. 

Portability

How portable do the pair of chest waders need to be? If you leave them in your riverside cabin, they don’t need to be mobile at all, and a pair of boot-foot neoprene waders will work well. A lightweight, breathable wader folds up surprisingly small and is ideal for the angler who regularly travels or hikes into the wilderness.

Zip vs. No Zip

Advancements in zip design have made it possible to produce fully waterproof zips. These zips have made their way into wader construction and allow the angler to open and close their wader when nature calls quickly. Waterproof zips do come at a premium and considerably increase the cost of the chest wader. 

Conclusion

Ultimately, the best fishing waders is a piece of fly fishing gear to keep you warm, dry, and safe. I hope that you’re able to select one that suits your needs the best with the help of this article. If you buy the correct one the first time, it will save you a heck load of money and get you on the water more. 

Please share this article with your fellow anglers if you found it helpful. Leave any comments and questions below, we’ll love to hear about your experiences with chest waders. 

Until next time.

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