A Simple Guide for Finding Reliable Waders for Hunting and Fishing
Are you on the hunt for hunting waders? Here's your buyers guide so you can choose the best option for your next duck hunting or fly fishing trip.
Hunting is on the rise throughout the United States -- and as a result, so are purchases of hunting gear.
In fact, hunting clothes and shoes are the fastest-growing facet of the overall sporting goods economy, with sales topping $38.3 billion each year.
With over 90 million Americans taking part in some kind of hunting activity every year, it's safe to say that interest in purchasing the correct gear is more of a priority than ever.
Having the right shoes can make or break almost any experience, but when it comes to duck hunting or fly fishing, feeling uncomfortable when walking can make all the difference in the world.
If you're in need of some new shoes for your next hunt or fishing trip, we strongly suggest investing in a pair of waders.
But how will you know you're buying the right pair of shoes?
When Should You Wear Hunting Waders?
First, let's discuss the types of hunts that require waders, and make sure you're clear on exactly what they are.
Waders are primarily used in two types of hunting: fishing and duck hunting.
In a nutshell, waders are long waterproof garments or boots that you wear over your traditional hunting clothes. They're designed to keep you safe from the elements, as well as to keep water out of your shoes when you wade deeper to get a catch.
They come in a variety of sizes and styles. Sometimes, they look like overalls and reach above your hips and waist. Other times, they can come up only to a few inches below your hips.
The Factors To Consider
When you're shopping for waders, there are several things you need to keep in mind.
First, consider the weather conditions and temperatures you'll be hunting in. Next, start thinking about the types of environments you'll be exposed to.
Also keep in mind the speed of the currents and the feel of the terrain (is it more muddy or rockier, for example?)
Because of the thickness of the socks that you need to wear with waders (as well as how much your feet tend to swell while wearing them) most people find that they go at least one size up in hunting waders.
Now, let's take a look at the different types of hunting waders available, and which ones are right for the hunt you have planned.
Wader Model and Brand
Our expert's rating
Stocking foot wader. Large selection of sizes to fit almost everyone
Stocking foot wader. Very high quality construction make them durable for frequent use. For serious hunters and fishers.
Stocking foot wader. 4-Ply Nylon along with double reinforced knee and shin.
Stocking foot wader. Good price, but pockets are not waterproof and seem to have quality issues.
Stocking foot wader. Only a 1-year warranty, which is too short for the price.
Stocking foot wader. Waterproof zippers and pockets. Still only a 1-year warranty...
Stocking foot wader. Pockets are only "water resistant." At least the front pocket is top-loading.
Stocking foot wader. Neon zippers on the front (don't know if that is a pro or a con). The stocking feet on these are too tight for our liking.
Boot foot wader. Excellent price. Very light weight nylon/pvc wader. These aren't going to last a lifetime, but for occasional use, they're not bad.
Boot foot wader. Great choice if you want a light weight boot foot wader. Solid construction.
Stocking foot wader. Same as the Orvis above, except, you know, for women.
Stocking foot wader. Women's.
Stocking foot wader. Women's.
Stocking foot wader. Women's.
Boot foot waders for kids / youth. This was the best kids wader we found.
Which Type Of Wader Is Right For You?
The main things you need to consider when buying the right type of hunting waders?
Whether or not you're willing to pay for an additional pair of boots that you need to wear over them, and the kinds of conditions you'll be hunting in.
If you're a novice hunter -- or just don't go out very often -- then hip waders will likely do the trick. Think of these as knee-high stockings for hunting. They come up a few inches above your knees and are kept in place by a belt.
Usually, hip waders are great for those who will only hunt in shallow waters, like streams or creeks.
If you wear hip waders, make sure that you stay out of rushing waters with a fast current, as it can be easy for water to get inside of them.
Are you more serious about the hunting lifestyle and hunt in more dangerous or tougher conditions?
Then chest waders will likely be a better option for you. Think of these as a pair of hunting overalls that allow you to layer both over and underneath them.
If you're hunting larger fish or game, then we suggest going with chest waders as well. Same goes if you're still planning to go out for a hunt on a rainier day of the year, or in deep waters.
As the name implies, stockingfoot waders do not come with an attached boot, meaning you'll need to buy an additional pair of shoes for your hunting waders.
This is a smart choice for hunters who go out on a variety of terrains and hunt in lots of conditions -- and need to change their footwear often as a result.
It's also a lighter option, meaning it's great for those who are always on the go.
Can't handle the idea of having to shop for separate boots for your hunting waders?
If so, then we suggest investing in a pair of boot foot waders, which are certainly the most convenient option. These come with your hunting boots/shoes already attached to them, so you won't need to worry about buying another pair.
As an added bonus, they'll also help to keep you warm -- hence their popularity among hunters heading out in the colder months.
What About Wading Soles?
When it comes to hunting waders, the type of sole that you choose for your wading boots is just as important as the material that the actual shoe is made out of.
Usually, you'll be choosing between three main types of soles: felt, rubber, or studded.
Felt soles are ideal for those who plan to spend much of their hunting trip sliding over slippery river rocks. If you always seem to slip and fall while on the hunt, these soles will help you to be a bit less clumsy.
Keep in mind, however, that they'll need to be replaced more often than the other types of soles, as they wear down quickly.
Studded soles will help you to get a great grip when walking on slippery or especially rocky terrain. However, if you're going to be wading into a swamp environment, you may not want to go with this option.
In addition to possibly getting stuck, it's also a nightmare to clean out mud and swamp filth from studded soles.
Most hunters end up going with standard rubber soles.
First of all, they're super easy to get clean. Additionally, they work well with a variety of terrains. So, if you go on several hunting trips in various locations throughout the year, you'll love the versatility of a rubber sole.
Which Material Should You Choose?
When you're shopping for hunting waders, the material that you choose can make all the difference.
You need to find a material that is both comfortable and breathable, but also one that can stand up to harsh elements.
You can -- and should -- expect to come into contact with rocks, sticks, rushing waters, and swampy terrain when you're hunting. So, you need shoes that can keep you moving without making too much noise.
In general, we suggest looking for hunting waters that are made out of neoprene. Neoprene helps you to stay both dry and insulated and can withstand even the toughest of the elements.
Plus, it's incredibly easy to clean, which is perfect for those of us who weren't exactly born with great laundry skills.
Additionally, neoprene has a long lifespan. This means that, even if you paid a little bit more than you expected for your hunting waders, you can relax knowing that you've made a great investment.
Finally, neoprene can be dyed in a variety of colors and patterns, making it easy for you to blend in with any environment. While most hunters select a camo pattern, others may choose a solid color like green or dark blue.
What Should You Wear Under Your Waders?
There is no "off" season when it comes to waders. No matter what the calendar or the thermometer says, it shouldn't stop you from strapping on a pair.
However, depending on the season and even on the terrain, you may need to switch up what you wear underneath your hunting waders.
In the spring and fall seasons, or if the weather is over 60 degrees, your focus should be on managing sweat and ensuring that water from ponds and lakes stays out of your waders.
We suggest leaving your cotton socks at home, as they won't give you the breathability you need. Instead, try a lightweight pair of socks made from synthetic wool.
Remember that hunting waders are designed primarily to go with heavier, thicker socks. As a result, your waders might feel a bit looser than they do in the cooler months.
For some hunters, a looser fit isn't a concern. But if you're worried that having too much space in your hunting waders will make you uncomfortable, you can always buy a pair that's one size smaller for the warmer months.
In the wintertime, sweat is also a concern.
This is because your feet will create moisture in an attempt to stay warm, especially if you're wading in icier waters. This means that your feet will get damp faster than they do in the summer.
For best results, throw on two pairs of socks. We recommend layering a thick wool sock over a lightweight option. While you don't need to wear knee-high socks, ensure that they do at least cover your ankles.
Which Accessories Do You Need?
To finish up, let's talk about the kinds of accessories you should be sure to pick up when buying hunting waders.
First of all, make sure that you invest in a high-quality wader belt. This will help to prevent your hunting waders from slipping down, which can be an incredibly irritating distraction that cuts any hunt short.
Next, invest in an official wader dryer. Sure, you can use a hairdryer or let your waders dry on their own.
However, doing so may lessen the lifespan of your waders.
For best results, we suggest getting a dryer that's been designed to reach all the way down to the bottom of the boots.
Finally, make sure that you pick a wader repair kit. Especially if you hunt more frequently than others -- or on rougher terrain -- you're going to get a tear in your waders eventually.
For best results, choose the repair kit created by the same brand that made your waders.
Wrapping Things Up
Thanks to this post, you now know exactly what you should look for when buying a pair of waders.
Keep in mind that the type of waders you select will be influenced by the terrain, your preferred sole material, the temperature, and the depths of the waters you'll be spending time in.
You may find that you end up investing in several pairs of hunting waders, in a variety of sizes, allows you to fulfill all your footwear needs.
If at all possible, we suggest heading to a store to buy waders as opposed to buying online. This is the best way to ensure you're getting the correct fit.
Need Additional Shoe Advice?
Of course, we know that hunting waders aren't the only kinds of shoes you'll need in your closet.
You'll also need shoes to encourage you to hit the gym, shoes to wear on your next date night, and shoes you can wear on vacation.
No matter where you're going or the type of activity you have planned, the right shoes can make all the difference. We want to do everything we can to help you keep your feet happy.
Spend some time on our website and blog to learn more about how to find the best possible pair of shoes for you or a member of your family.
Whether you're in need of snake boots or an awesome pair for parkour, we've got you covered.
The journey of a thousand miles may begin with a single step -- but you better make sure you have the right shoes if you want to get there.