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Waders Buying Guide

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Waders Buying Guide

Looking to purchase a set of waders? You’ve come to the right place. The following paragraphs function as a complete guide to waders, whether you're a seasoned veteran of the banks or a novice. 

A quality pair of waders offers you both warmth and comfort, but also access. Access to swims you wouldn’t be able to fish from the shore at a whole host of venues; rivers, vast reservoirs, commercial lakes or your local syndicate. It also allows you to capture and release bigger fish safely, keeping the bigger specimens in the water as much as possible is always a good idea and a set of waders permits you do just that without getting wet.

The following paragraphs cover all the different styles of waders, the materials used from suspender to sole and some care tips to ensure you get the most out of your waders.

To answer the question - which waders to buy? - we first need to address all the different wader styles and designs. 

Types of Waders

There are three main wader variants; hip or thigh, waist and chest – no prizes for guessing what these refer to – nonetheless there are circumstances in which you would benefit from having a certain style of wader.

All waders on Angling Direct shelves are high-quality, but like any other tackle item, they all have their pros and cons.

Thigh Waders

Thigh waders – sometimes referred to as hip waders – are the smallest and shortest off all wader styles, as the name suggests they waterproof your body up to the thigh area and are best used in knee-height water.

Thigh waders are compiled of two separate pieces, one for each leg, a brace then secures the waders around your belt to hold them up.

Being the smallest of all waders, thigh waders are, naturally, the lightest of all waders and as a result the easiest to transport, they are also the most comfortable choice in warm weather.

Thigh waders are ideal for a situation where you are going to be in relatively shallow water, for example, when launching a boat or wading into the margins to net a fish.

Waist-High Waders

Waist waders are the closest style to conventional trousers, and feature belt loops to hold them up, just like your jeans. Waist-high waders are ideal for water up to mid-thigh depth, its always a good idea to over compensate for depth, leaving 6-8 inches of wader dry, decreasing the chance of you tipping your waders, a quick inundation of cold water will soon ruin your day, or at least make it uncomfortable.

The benefits of waist waders are obvious, they offer more protection than a set of thigh waders, but without being as constricting as chest waders. Being trouser-like in design they are also probably the most comfortable.

Chest Waders

Chest waders offer you the most protection, keeping you dry up to the midriff area, ideal when facing fast flowing water or unexpected waves.

Its also worth noting that wearing a wading belt with chest waders is advantageous in case you do manage to tip your waders, meaning worst case scenario your torso gets wet but your legs remain dry.

The one disadvantage to chest waders is it can get warm! During the summer months you wont want to be sweating it out in your waders all day, but the advantages of having almost full-body protection outweighs the one disadvantage – in the winter months it wont even be an issue.

Wader Construction

Wader material can be grouped into two categories, breathable and non-breathable.

Insulated waders are usually made from neoprene. Neoprene is waterproof, stretchy and durable, making it perfect for waders, however, it can get very warm as any perspiration is trapped inside. Thicker Neoprene of 7mm or more can also be buoyant, making your life difficult in deeper, fast flowing water.

Breathable waders are naturally lighter and will obviously allow moisture to escape, hence the name. Common materials include nylon and polyester topped with a hydrophobic membrane such as Gore-Tex.

Unlike Neoprene waders, uninsulated waders do not become buoyant and as a result are preferred for situations when you find yourself in deeper water.

Wader Soles

The soles of your waders is more important than you would imagine, there are for main types of soles; felt, rubber, hiking and studded.

Felt soles are best for traversing rock-covered riverbeds, offering superb traction in these conditions. However, felt soles are not as common as rubber soles and may need to be purchased as a separate boot.

Rubber soles are the easiest to clean and best for wading through boggy mud, but they could let you down on a slippery rock surface.

Hiking soles are, as the name suggests, are for anglers who cover a lot of ground whilst fishing. Being designed for long-distance they are also the most comfortable sole to wear with your waders.

Studded soles offer superior traction on algae-covered rock beds, for situations where a regular felt sole is not quite enough, studs offer greater stability, but cannot be trusted in mud. Its also worth noting the studded soles will damage the deck of your boat if you like to fish from one.

Other Features to Lookout for

Wader belts - In case you do manage to tip your waders, a wader belt will ensure that only the torso section of your waders becomes inundated with water.

Gravel guards – Essentially sleeves on the ankle cuff of your waders, preventing gravel and dirt from entering your wading boots.

Pockets – Welded storage pockets help keep key items to hand and protect them from water. Handwarmer pockets do exactly what they say on the tin.

Cordlocks – Like belt loops the cordlock helps to ensure the waders are a snug fit for you.

Reinforced knees – Further material on the knee increases the longevity of your waders.


There are several manufacturers that produce waders, from Vass whose waders are instantly recognisable thanks to the notorious bright yellow suspenders. Daiwa - Yes, they seem to be good at everything - offer waders in all styles, the Daiwa Hybrid chest waders offer Neoprene legs and a breathable torso material.  

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