You may have noticed when it comes to outdoor adventuring, that your ordinary active clothes just aren’t up to the task. With so much new and innovative gear having emerged on the market in recent years, many outdoorspeople are upgrading their wardrobes for fishing, hunting, and generally enjoying the wilderness. Let’s face it—wearing khaki cargo shorts to go fishing is not much different than wearing flip flops for a mountainous hike. You’re going up against the elements of nature out there! You need the right gear that will provide comfort and rugged lower-extremity protection; it can be all the difference between a great fishing trip, and a really bad experience.
Step Out of Swim Trunks and Into Fishing Waders
Protection in the wild is a must for humans. Our skin is fragile, and the human body doesn’t handle cold temperatures for prolonged periods of time. Factor in the possibility of being bitten by snakes, leeches, ticks, or even creepier—harmful water-borne bacteria that can seep into any open skin on your legs or feet, and most would understand if you just wanted to stay home! But we all know that’s not really an option. There are fish that need catching, and better solutions to be had.
In addition to leaving you exposed to cold temps and creepy critters, shorts provide zero protection from sharp thorn bushes, poison ivy, or hidden debris that can puncture your feet and/or legs. Not to mention that shorts and swim trunks are generally looked upon as novice fishing apparel by most seasoned anglers.
Shorts are great for fishing from a residential dock or pier, but truth be told, they’re far less practical than a pair of waders. You’ve got to get serious if you’re going to be trekking through rugged terrains or standing waist-deep in water for extended periods.
Why Choose Waders Over Shorts?
Whether you are fishing, hunting, trekking through wet terrain, or ready to tackle a muddy job, there are the substantial benefits to wearing waders instead of shorts.
Versatility & Storage
Staying organized is key when it comes to fishing, hunting wild game, and especially on a swampy job site. Essentially, anglers and hunters are walking toolboxes, and depending on how far you plan on hiking to a fishing hole or section of muddy property—the lighter you are, the better. Walking in cargo shorts, jeans, or boardshorts for prolonged periods not only enhances the risk of inner-thigh chafing, but the limited number of pockets for storing tackle, bullets, or electronics can also become problematic.
Much of the waders on today’s market include several durable pockets located on the chest or waist. Some wader designs, like Gator Waders Shield Series, provide water-resistant storage spaces as well as hand-warmer pockets for those chilly nights or mornings. Not only do waders provide ample pocket space, but full-coverage protection from the chest down. With the option of going up to the waist or upper chest, waders come in a range of durable fabric options that are designed to fit snugly and comfortably around the body.
Comfort in and out of the Water
Have you experienced a fishing or camping trip where you had to wait around the campsite for your clothes to dry out? Most brands of waders are essentially dry suits, providing full-on dryness before and after you enter the water or mud. It’s daunting to have to wait for your clothes to dry. But in waders, you can easily get out of the water with dry clothes on; allowing you to either join the family on a hike, or kick back near the fire and get to cooking the catch of the day.
Pairing waders with the right boots
Many waders come with boots attached, but there are also stockingfoot waders that can be paired with a rugged wading boot for improved traction while maintaining arid comfort. When hiking through unforgiving terrains, wading boots paired with stockingfoot waders can save you from blisters or soggy feet. And for fishermen, having reliable boots for the boat or rocky riverbanks becomes an important safety matter when you’re up against heavy stream currents or slippery rock surfaces.
Pairing your waders with a solid set of boots and socks has the added benefit of decreasing your chances for athlete's foot, as well as punctures from fishing hooks or sharp sticks. All outdoorspeople who plan to be frequenting the water or trekking through swamps or muddy terrain should consider wading boots with stockingfoot waders to complete the full package of protection. Reliable and trusted brands in the industry include:
Protection and peace of mind
The human body is resilient, but it doesn’t take much for hypothermia to set in if water temperatures are below 80-degrees. Weather plays a huge factor when you submit yourself to the natural elements. So, when you work on a boat, fly-fish the streams, or stomp through the muddy trails to track down your next wild boar or duck blind—waders provide the added protection you need.
Many wader styles are constructed with water-resistant and non-rip materials as well as insulated neoprene interiors that protect the body from cold water and frigid air temperatures. Neoprene waders are an excellent choice for basic levels of protection and comfort.
Selecting Your Next Pair of Waders
If you’re prepared to skip your old hiking shorts and bathing suit on your next camping or fishing excursion, there's no time like the present to have a look at some of the many affordable waders online. With the array of styles, waterproof breathable fabric, and fits for men, women, and youth—it’s simple to narrow down your choices. And choose from camouflage styles or bold colors that pair well with your activity and boot preference.
When shopping for waders, you’ll notice there are a variety of interior and exterior materials, usually consisting of neoprene, rubber, nylon, and breathable polyester. It’s most likely you won’t be entering any fashion shows in your waders, but like most active outdoor sports, style is still important. The style of your future waders can be easily narrowed down to activity categories like:
There are also three divisions of wader types that include:
Choosing the color or pattern
Depending on your work environment and factors of safety, it’s wise to choose brightly colored or light-color waders that can be worn with a personal flotation device (PFD) or other external elements of harnessing. This is especially if you’re working offshore on a rig during the nighttime hours. Camo patterns, on the other hand, are a huge plus for hunters. For fishing, camo isn't absolutely necessary, but muted colors are a good idea.
Finding your best fit
Sizes and fits vary among wader styles, so before you click that “Add to Cart” button, refer to the size chart and your measuring tape. Better safe than sorry! To ensure you get the best fit, measure your body’s dimensions while wearing the clothes you would most likely wear under your waders. This could be long-johns, a t-shirt, or a long-sleeve fishing shirt.
Likewise, measure the circumference of your chest and waist for a comfortably snug upper body fit. Take your shoes off to measure the inseam of your legs and have your shoe size handy—especially if you’re purchasing waders with boots. Many wader measurements are sized by weight and height, so knowing this information will also assist in choosing the optimal fit.
For a deeper dive on finding the right fit, check out this article about wader sizes. When you're ready to find your perfect pair of waders, shop our wide selection—covering all outdoor activities, in mens, womens, and youth sizes.