Nothing can put a damper on the joy and relaxation of a day of fishing like being wet, cold, and uncomfortable. That’s where waders come in handy. They give you a waterproof barrier that allows you to spend your days on and in the water in comfort.
Besides the fact that waders come in a few different lengths, there are a few different materials to wade through when you’re choosing a set for yourself. The choice really comes down to hip waders vs. chest waders in the material you prefer.
Hip waders are essentially long boots that reach to your hip. They are very convenient since they’re easy to slip on and off. Most hip waders have some kind of belt straps to help hold them up. They are great for wading in shallow water and for tasks like launching and bringing in boats. If you don’t intend to wade into any water deeper than thigh height, hip waders will serve you well.
Chest waders are a one-piece pair of waders that reaches up to your chest. They offer nearly twice as much coverage as hip waders. Chest waders will allow you to wade into water up to your chest. If you intend to wade a lot, go with a pair of chest waders. Chest waders also allow you to be prepared for the unexpected. The waters we wade can be treacherous, and you never know when you’ll come across a hole, drop-off, waves, or strong current. All of these can lead to a stumble or fall, and chest waders will keep you much drier than hip waders in those situations. Chest waders can allow you to be more flexible, too. Chest waders won’t restrict where you can and can’t go nearly as much as hip waders. Unlike hip waders, chest waders also double as rain pants on wet days if you’re an all-weather kind of angler.
Essentially, there is no overkill when it comes to waders. Investing in a pair of chest waders means that if you do decide to go deeper in the future, you don’t have to buy another pair of waders to do it.
Remember to always wear a wader belt with chest waders. It will help keep any water from getting inside if you get a splash over the top of your waders.
You generally want to get breathable waders, especially if you fish in warmer weather with chest waders. Breathable waders are made from materials that block water out, but let your sweat and moisture evaporate and escape. They allow you to wear a t-shirt and shorts in the summer, and warmer clothing as needed in colder weather. Waders made from breathable materials can be expensive, but they’re worth it.
Neoprene waders are not very breathable, but they are form-fitting, durable, and great for cold weather.
Nylon waders come in grades from lightweight to heavy duty, and they’re fairly inexpensive. They aren’t breathable, but they’re a fantastic option for anglers on a budget.
Rubber waders are becoming less and less popular in chest waders due to the popularity of newer, lighter materials. Rubber hip waders are more common. Rubber is a great barrier against the water, but doesn’t breathe well and can be heavy.