Buying Waders Online
When it comes to buying waders, most folks head on down to their local fly shop or sporting goods store to get fitted before they purchase a pair. This of course is the tried and true method of getting the best fit and function out of your waders.
However; what if you don’t live close to a store that carries the waders you want…or any waders for that matter? What if you are an extreme introvert and hate being around people? What if you are a person that refuses to shop anywhere but online? What if the waders are not for you at all and you are buying a present for someone else? In these situations, shopping for waders becomes a bit more interesting and involved.
There are a few things beyond just the proper fit that you will want to consider.
Duranglers is a Simms shop. We mainly sell Simms waders, and here is why: Simms waders have been our go to wader for almost 30 years and we have found them to be the best and most durable available. Many people may balk at the price of some Simms waders, but there is a reason for the cost: they last a very long time. Many of our guides have put 15+ years into a pair of Simms Gore-tex waders with 200+ days on the water each year before retiring them. They just last. Simms Gore-tex waders are easily maintained. Simms has an incredible warranty and repair service out of Bozeman, Montana (where the waders themselves are made). We are a Simms shop when it comes to waders because Simms just preforms the best with hard use.
Now that being said, we have recently started carrying a few models of Patagonia waders. Patagonia has been in the wader business for a while now and has gotten their waders styles fairly dialed. For the price, they are really great waders; however, we have noticed that they are great for some, but not all people. Why? The fit. The waders fit some people great, while other people cannot fit in a pair of Patagonia’s properly to save their life.
However, I do believe Patagonia is actively working to better fit their waders and we should see them to only improve with time. In the meantime, pay attention to the sizing charts and make sure to call us (or any seller) to confirm your size before you order.
How often will these waders be used?
How often is a pretty important question to ask yourself when purchasing waders. If you plan on using them once or twice a year, then buying the highest end waders available may not be the best use of your funds. However, if you plan on going full on trout bum, quitting your life, and fishing until the rapture or when the Ramen looses it’s appeal; then you may want to consider a better pair. Buy once, cry once.
Where will your waders be used?
Where is also important to consider. Big open rivers? High mountain creeks? Saltwater? Silty or mossy spring creeks? Depth of water? Temps of the water (and air). These locations and factors can dictate the type, style, or material of the wader you want to buy.
How will your waders be used?
Again, this important to consider. Will you be hiking a lot where weight (and sweating a lot) is an issue? Will you mainly be rowing a boat? Are you going to hunt in these waders? Do you plan on scrambling over lots of abrasive rocks and boulders?
There are as many wader materials available as there are wader manufacturers; most being dubbed as some kind of “breathable” material. The actual breathability of different materials is up for debate, but for simplicity sake when we say breathable waders, we mean a thin but rugged fabric that allows water (and heat) to escape through the fabric away from your body. This is important during hot days when you are moving around a lot. Our favorite being Simms Gore-tex as it breathes great, lasts forever, and is very easy to repair.
Other wader materials include neoprene, rubber, and some kind of treated canvas. Neoprene waders were very popular until breathable waders came along, although neoprene still holds popularity with those who spend much of their time wading in water temps that are just above freezing. With advances in base layers, thermal insulation, and sweat wicking clothing however; we have found that a good pair of breathable waders work just as well (if not better) than a pair of neoprene waders.
Hip vs Pant vs Chest Waders
When considering where or how you will be using your waders (from above), you should be lead to a few wader style options that will best suit your needs.
Hip Waders – Hip waders are great for those who are doing a lot of hiking and very little wading. Chota Hippies are a great packable option for the high country or small and shallow creeks. Hip waders do have their limitations though in that one cannot wade much deeper than above the knee.
Pant Waders – Pant waders are actually becoming quite popular with many of our guides and clients for much of our local water. Pant waters fit just like pants (with a waterproof stockingfoot); but are not as warm as chest high waders. While pant waders are good for most situations, they do not allow for wading in water deeper than waist high. For most people, this is not a big issue as they rarely wade deeper than knee high anyway, especially here in the Rocky Mountains. Pant waders are also the best choice for those who spend a lot of time rowing a boat with a little time in and out of water that is not very deep. Hiking and scrambling over rocks and boulders are made somewhat more pleasant with pant waders. Our favorite pant wader is the Simms G3 Guide Wading Pant.
Chest Waders – Chest waders are by far the most widely known and most versatile. Some Chest waders even convert from pant to chest waders. If you are fishing deep, cold water; chest waders are the best choice. They are also a good choice for fishing through the winter or if you are planning on hunting in them. Late or early season steelhead fishing should be done in a pair of chest waders as they will keep you warmest. Our go-to chest waders are the Simms G3 Guide Stockingfoot Waders.
Stockingfoot vs Bootfoot
Simms has been building bootfoot waders for many years now. Bootfoots have a few advantages over stockingfoot waders. The most obvious benefit is that you don’t have to put on waders and then lace up your wading boots (nor do you have to buy wading boots). You just slip into them and go. The other benefit is they are extremely warm. Many of our guides opt into the bootfoot waders when guiding on the San Juan River tailwater as the water flowing out of Navajo Dam is released from the bottom of the lake at right around 40 degrees. Bootfoots make great waders for tailwaters, winter fishing, and steelhead fishing.
However, the drawback to bootfoot waders is they are heavier and bulkier than standard stockingfoot waders and boots. If you do a lot of moving and hiking when fishing, bootfoot waders may not be the best choice for you. However, if you value warmth and ultimate comfort; you may want to consider a pair of bootfoots.
Price can be a sensitive or heated issue for many, and everyone’s economic situation is different. When it comes to most waders; you get what you pay for. While everyone is entitled to their opinion about wader price and quality, our suggestion is this: buy the best pair of waders you can reasonably afford. That does not mean they have to be the best waders made; there are plenty of mid-price range waders that will work great for you. The most notable being the Simms Headwaters PRO Gore-Tex Waders. Buying the best you can afford will lead to fewer headaches (and less money spent) in the long run.
Many of our guides have put 15+ years into a pair of Simms Gore-tex waders with 200+ days on the water before retiring them. We have seen cheap waders leak and fall apart after less than ten days of use.
If you were to buy a pair of $80 waders at big box retailer, where 10 days of use is about the max that we have ever seen before they leak too much to be comfortable: you spent $8 per day on the water for those waders.
Now as we have been proven time and time again, a $550 pair of Simms Gore-tex waders (Simms G3 Guide) have lasted many of us 200 days a year on the water for 15+ years. Let’s just be conservative and say that we only guided in them 100 days a year for 8 years. That equals out to spending $0.68 per day on the water for those waders. The difference of $8 a day vs. $0.63 a day is quite different.
In the end, it is up to the individual to choose what is best for them. Just remember that leaky waders lead to less time actually fishing.
Sizing is quite possibly the single most important consideration when buying waders online. Buying the correct size not only equates to wearing comfortable waders; it also determines the longevity of the waders. Buying waders that are too large will cause wear and tear over time when there are too many folds in the material. Waders that are too small will cause stress at the seams and crotch and wear out in these areas quicker.
When buying waders online, your initial sizing assistance should come from the manufacturer’s provided sizing chart. For example, Simms not only has a wide variety of wader sizes; the sizing charts Simms provides are extremely accurate. Finding your measurements on the Simms sizing chart is a very reliable way to accurately size yourself for waders. Your best bet is to break out the measuring tape and get some accurate measurements. The three most important measurements to size yourself for waders are:
- your largest girth around in inches (chest, waist, or hips)
- your inseam in inches (crotch to floor)
- your shoe size.
We do provide all of these sizing tables with all our waders listed in the Waders section of our Online Store. However, here are a few sizing charts to use when sizing yourself up for waders:
- Simms Men’s Wader Sizing
- Simms Bootfoot Wader Sizing
- Simms Women’s Wader Sizing
- Patagonia Men’s Wader Sizing
- Patagonia Women’s Wader Sizing
However when in doubt, when it comes to size; give the online retailer a call with your concerns. Any reputable online store will have a contact phone number where you can ask your questions or state your needs before you buy. We at Duranglers are available to answer any wader questions 7 days a week. Call us at 970-385-4081 or e-mail [email protected] with any questions or concerns.
One small note about buying boots online. Sizing for different manufacturers varies. Currently the two boot companies we carry are Simms and Patagonia. When buying either of these boot companies, it is good to keep this in mind:
When buying Simms boots, round up one size from your street shoe. If you wear a size 9 street shoe, you will need a size 10 Simms boot. If you wear half sizes like 9 1/2, rounding up to a 10 is a good idea; however if you plan on wearing multiple socks you may want to bump that up to a size 11 for the added room. The boot may feel a little big, but the warmth and circulation of your foot is more important.
When buying Patagonia boots, buy your shoe size. Meaning if you wear a size 9, buy a size 9. The sizes run a little large so that when stuffed with two pairs of socks and a neoprene bootie, they still fit great. If you wear a half size like a 9 1/2, then round a half size up to the Patagonia 10.
Buying any garment online can seem overwhelming at times, but with a little research we are confident that anyone can find the best waders for their needs. Again, please contact us here at Duranglers if you need any help picking out the best waders for you.