If you know you'll need to enter the water for decent periods when you go fishing or hunting, then waders might be the utmost essential piece of your wardrobe. They keep you dry, comfortable, and safe from excessive exposure to the water—plus all the potential hazards that it may contain. The benefits of waders translate to endurance so you can fish or hunt longer, safer access to areas in which you'd otherwise be vulnerable, and usually a more enjoyable and successful trip.
Waders are generally available in two options of foot type, known as bootfoot and stockingfoot. Both foot types have pros and cons, leading to situational benefits that make one better for particular activities and the other better for different ones. So, which waders should you choose for your upcoming outdoor adventure? You'll make a confident choice once you've read this article.
The Pros, Cons and Use-Cases
Here we have gathered examples and scenarios to illustrate the advantages, drawbacks, and best-suited activities for bootfoot and stockingfoot waders.
Bootfoot Wader Benefits
With a one-piece construction, bootfoot waders have boots permanently connected to the legs of the wader body. Here are the ways this can be useful to you.
- Get out into the water quicker with less prep time because you won't have to put on separate footwear.
- Add convenience and potentially save money, as there's no need to purchase or transport an additional pair of boots.
- Bootfoot waders retain body heat better; the one-piece construction holds in the warmth.
- Enjoy warm feet when the water temp drops because most bootfoot wader boots are insulated.
- The wader-to-boot transition is subtle, so there's no need for anglers to concern themselves with any fishing line getting tangled there.
Bootfoot Wader Beefs
There are times when you may find you would rather not have boots connected to your waders. The following circumstances are examples where that could be the case.
- Bootfoot waders are not machine washable. They must be hand-washed and air-dried, making them higher maintenance than some stockingfoot waders.
- Traveling outdoorspeople may find bootfoot waders cumbersome and difficult to properly store (compared to waders without boots attached.)
- If you are going to be in a hot climate, bootfoot waders retain warmth, and stockingfoot may be better for you.
- Bootfoot waders may require some sacrifice in fit due to the nature of finding your exact individual boot and wader size combo.
- If an activity comes up for which the boots or waders on your bootfoot waders aren't appropriate, you'll need to acquire an entirely different set of waders and/or boots.
Best Bootfoot Activities
The ideal activities for bootfoot waders are in the dirtiest and coldest outdoor climates, but they aren't limited to those use-cases. These are some examples of scenarios when bootfoot waders are most instrumental.
- Winter or Ice Fishing
- Deer, Waterfowl, or Other Cold Weather Hunting
- Saltwater Fishing
- Surf or Swamp Casting
- Off Roading
Stockingfoot Wader Strengths
Stockingfoot waders do not include boots, which you will need to buy and put on separately. These waders have soft, sock-like booties attached to the wader leg, typically made from neoprene or similar engineered fabrics. Then, you wear separate footwear over the attached neoprene sock. There are some distinct reasons why an outdoorsperson might prefer stockingfoot over bootfoot waders, and here they are.
- Purchasing boots separately allows you to have a more customized fit.
- Freedom of choice when it comes to boot tread or other footwear features which you may be partial.
- You'll have the option to interchange your fishing and hunting waders with your favorite wading boots.
- When paired with the proper wading boots, stockingfoot waders offer a better range of motion and are the preferred choice for movement and comfort.
- While these waders also need to be hand washed and air dried, it's less challenging to do so without the attached boots.
- Stockingfoot waders are generally easier to slip on and take off.
- They may be easier to store away and travel with because they are compactly foldable.
Stockingfoot Wader Snags
The truth is that bootfoot waders are the most popular wader, and there are downsides to the stockingfoot variety. These are the potential issues you could have with stockingfoot waders.
- You will need to purchase your footwear separately.
- The cost of waders and boots combined could be more expensive than the price of bootfoot waders alone.
- It can take longer to get ready with stockingfoot waders because you have to put the waders on first and then put on your boots.
- Fishing line or other debris has the potential of tangling or gathering around the area where your waders meet your boot.
- Stockingfoot waders retain less body heat, lacking the one-piece construction.
Supreme Stockingfoot Activities
Stockingfoot waders are less apt to retain your body heat, so they tend to be a better choice for warmer pursuits. But, more often than not, people choose stockingfoot because they have a particular boot in mind that they want to wear on their trip.
- Late spring, all summer, or early fall fishing
- Hunting in hot climates
- Boat, dock, or jetty casting
- Any activity for which you have specific or preferred footwear
Which Brands Have Your Preferred Wader Foot Type?
Not all wader manufacturers offer both foot-type options. Some of them cater to specific outdoor activities hence why they would only sell bootfoot or stockingfoot. This chart features some of the top wader brands in the industry and illustrates which ones offer which waders.
Bootfoot/Stockingfoot Knowledge is Power
There you have it—the good, the bad, and the utility of both bootfoot and stockingfoot waders. You are now equipped with the knowledge you need to shop for your new waders with confidence. We encourage you to go out and show off your newfound wader expertise on your next outdoor adventure.