Keep your kids warm, snug, and safe with quality waders designed specifically for youth. Not only are most major manufacturers now producing smaller versions of their most popular waders, but there are a boatload of makes and models now specifically for kids. The best news of all, is that the best kids waders are considerably less expensive than the same waders for adults.
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It may go without saying, that purchasing quality waders for your kids is imperative, because your child’s comfort and safety while outdoors depends on it.
If you want your kids to get involved in adventures with you out in the water, you’ll want to provide them with the right equipment. Waders are among the most essentials ones. Not to mention, keeping your children warm and dry while fishing isn’t only for their enjoyment, it’s also for yours!
You’ll be glad to know that more and more companies are offering down-sized versions of their most popular models for kids. And even better to know, is that kids waders are among the most affordable gear you can purchase.
Anyone who’s ever bought sporting goods equipment for kids knows one thing for certain – just like clothes – they out-grow them! A proper fit is of course important, but you can cheat a little more with waders than with other types of clothing, and upsize a bit more so they grow into them and can use them longer. Just don’t over do it.
The other nice thing about getting the best kids waders, is that they are not only for fly-fishing, but they can double up for introducing your child to many other outdoors sports, or just playing around in the water and mud!
How We Review Waders
How and where you take your kids to fish is very unique and special. For that reason, we put a lot into our wader reviews. We carefully establish the features, design, materials, fit, colors, and other attributes of each and every brand and model. Then, we compare to price, and assign each wader to our proprietary value categories.
Below you’ll find our detailed reviews of the best youth waders in the market today, including their features, advantages, and disadvantages. Mapped against prices using our proprietary value categories, our reviews will help you make an informed choice buying waders for your kids.
Speaking of prices, one thing to keep an eye on, is which of these waders include boots (either attached or as a package option), and which don’t. Those will factor into your own assessment of value, as for the stockingfoot waders that don’t come with boots, we can’t predict which boots you’ll buy to match up. Let us know in the comments page if you’d like us to do a review of kids wading boots!
All of these are chest waders, as in our experience kids like to get down and dirty, making hip waders and waist waders ineffective. All of our picks come in sizes for kids large enough to cast a fly rod, if you are looking for toddler waders, just check the lower end of the size charts to make sure they offer what you need.
One last thing to keep an eye on – we’ve rank ordered this in terms of price and quality, but you’ll need to decide what wader type is best for your kid depending on what seasons and conditions you fish. By that we mean, some of these are neoprene – great for colder weather but often too hot in summer, while others are breathable fabric great for 2-3 seasons but may not be warm enough in cold weather. And some will save you money with materials not breathable or neoprene, but may not be as versatile. Our job is to make it clear which waders have what features, your job is to decide!
PRACTICAL WADERS FOR KIDS
We rate waders as Practical when they have basic features for a lower price, but are reasonably quality not cheap in nature. There are quite a few on the market that are cheap, which we haven’t listed here as we still want you to have an element of quality even at a lower priced option.
White River you probably recognize is the fly shop within Bass Pro Shops. Their own brand of waders for young ones are built from rugged, heavy-duty PVC coated 420-denier nylon. The bib-type construction comes high on the chest and back, intended for better protection from the elements.
The Three Fork waders have reinforced, adjustable webbing suspenders with snap-lock buckles. This suspender setup is a nice cross between elasticity, allowing tightness for a snug fit and durability.
The front pocket comes with a unique Velcro closure, providing a handy place to put gear without fumbling with a zipper.
The boots are attached, with polyester-fleece insulation for extra warmth. Lugs are already installed in the soles for traction.
Caddis has been taking the market by storm, if not as established as some of the more traditional manufacturers. Their youth neoprene waders are an affordable wading option for colder-water and colder-season fishing.
They come in an attractive forest green color, made of 3.5mm neoprene material. Like the White River brand above, Caddis designed in bib-style suspenders with a high back design. Boots are attached, taped both inside and out, and have high density neoprene soles.
Add style to warmth and you’ve got Oaki waders in pink camo. These chest high neoprene waders will show off your personality, all the while staying warm, snug, and dry for a great price. We like the look and appeal that might get a kid excited to try fishing that might otherwise not, and credit Oaki waders for having more style than most waders on the market.
4 mm neoprene for warmth in most conditions
Front chest pocket
Front chest strap to keep shoulder straps up
High back prevents water from entering if they sit in stream
We rate waders Best Value when the manufacturer has done a really good job offering numerous features and quality for the price. It may cost a little more than you could spend, but you know you’re getting a lot for your money.
Frogg Toggs earned their way into the fishing world with lightweight, breathable but waterproof raingear. Even if their products were considered by some to be cheap, their inexpensive material and designs have made outer wear more affordable to for many. They have since gained a foothold now offer a broader array of products including waders for kids.
The Hellbender wader is built from a 4-ply nylon upper materials. The somewhat oversized multi-function chest pocket provides ample storage, that at a minimum keeps kids’ hands free and even helps avoid carrying a backpack.
The zippered handwarmer storage pockets provide extra protection from the elements. Knees are double-reinforced.
Made with proprietary Dri2Pore, 100% nylon material
Available in a good array of sizes
Oversize multifunction pocket
Zippered handwarmer storage pockets
Zippered horizontal storage
Waterproof while still very lightweight
Cool to wear
Some reported leakage problems
May not be as durable as other wader brands, but then again that may be what you want if you expect you kid to outgrow it soon
Redington has adapted their well-known Crosswater wader for youth, and notes they are designed in particular for adventurous up-and-coming anglers.
We like this setup in particular because boots can be purchased with the waders as a package, keeping your overall cost reasonable. Many other brands and models we cover require boots to be purchased separately.
Materials are 3-layer breathable polyester, coated with DWR waterproofing.
There are also opposing buckles intended for easy conversion to waist high, a feature normally only seen in adult sized waders.
This wader has a convenient “flip-out” pocket with a YKK zipper, and belt loops are built in with wading belt included for one less thing for you to think about.
Gravel-guards are integrated and come with a hook. Built for warmth with high-density neoprene booties.
High-density neoprene booties
Integrated gravel-guards with hook
3-layer waterproof and breathable DWR coated fabric
Opposing buckles to convert to waist high easily
Waterproof and breathable
Well-made and sturdy material
Great appearance and design
Comfortable and lightweight wader
Separate boots available as a package purchase
Pushing more pricey, but not quite in our “High End” category, still good value
While these neoprene waders are made and marketed for waterfowl hunting, we like this quality wader / boot combo for cold weather fishing. Assuming you’re good with the camo color finish, Cabela’s proven construction and durability – adding extra material features both inside and out – will serve your kid well under most conditions. If you are looking for warm waders, you can’t go wrong with Cabela’s in general.
3 mm neoprene
Exterior enhanced with “Armor-Flex” for abrasion resistance
Large front pocket with a protective handwarmer
Boots lined with 600 gram 3M™ Thinsulate™
Webbing suspenders with snaplock buckles
Mobility, reasonably lightweight
Extra abrasion resistance coating
ThinsulateTM is a proven insulator
Double-layered kneepads especially protective for kids
Chest pocket has enough capacity to help your kid be self-sufficient, plus a handwarmer
Boots attached, no separate purchase needed
3 mm neoprene won’t quite meet extreme cold conditions like 4-5 mm neoprene would (at reduced mobility that comes with thicker material)
This one is definitely a quality option for kid chest waders, equivalent to the best Simms waders produced. They are built with a blend of 3 and 4 layers of fabric promoting breathability in its upper zones and also durability in its lower-leg zones. Plus, it has an articulated cut which leads to natural mobility on both the trail and water.
Three-layer waterproof breathable polyester in the upper part
Four-layer waterproof breathable polyester in the lower part
Two belt loops, includes a 38 mm nylon waist belt
Neoprene stocking feet, anatomically engineered with an anti-bacterial finish
Self-cleaning gravel guard with gathered elastic bottom hem
Reach-through fleece lined hand warmer pocket with a zippered top stash pocket
High quality, breathable and waterproof materials
Handwarmer pocket for chilly days
Anti-microbial finish prevents mildew and smell
On the expensive side for a wader that will probably be outgrown
Orvis has taken their popular Clearwater waders for adults, and downsized them for kids. It’s almost as if “honey, I shrunk the waders!” (to reference a very dated movie). In so doing, Orvis has struck a strong balance between breathability and durability. In our view, this is as good a youth waders as you’ll find anywhere on the market.
The Clearwater waders are cut with a design intended to eliminate traditional bulk compared to many other wader designs, irrespective of your little angler’s experience level and size.
Four-layer waterproof breathable nylon fabric is light yet durable
30K waterproofness / 8K Breathability rating
Opposing side-release buckles allow for waist-high conversion on warm days
External storage pocket with stretch panel for small items and fly boxes, plus a kangaroo-style handwarmer pocket on the front chest.
Anatomical neoprene booties with integrated neoprene gravel guards to reduce water drag and collection.
Low-profile seam construction and low-profile belt loops with 1½” webbing belt included.
Hook and loop patch on interior pocket to attach Orvis waterproof pocket (8G3H sold separately).
Nylon shell with a polyurethane membrane nylon tricot liner
Built for kids, essentially a miniaturized adult version
Modern fit reduces traditional wader bulk
Opposing side-release buckles allow for waist-high conversion (for warm days)
External storage pocket with stretch panel
Kangaroo-style handwarmer pocket
Updated neoprene booties design, with integrated neoprene gravel guards
Boots must be purchased separately
The most expensive kids wader we could find
Criteria For Choosing The Best Kids Waders
Once you purchase waders for youth that aren’t fully waterproof or if it doesn’t fit your kids properly, you’ll wish you had purchased a better product – especially if you kid falls ill from the cold or wet.
So, here are some of the things to consider before you purchase the best fishing waders for kids:
You can choose from three of the most common materials used for a wader: PVC, nylon and neoprene. Most options are made from combining these three (often in layers, and with neoprene booties even if other materials are used above the feet).
Youth neoprene waders tend to last longer, but at the same time are generally heavier and less breathable compared to PVC or nylon. If your child fishes primarily during the warmer months, avoid neoprene (unless the water is perpetually cold such as from snow or glacier runoff), and choose instead a material that is lightweight and breathable.
Ensure your child’s safety by getting boot treads that would sufficient traction on slippery surfaces. Be sure to avoid cheaper brands with designs that are susceptible because the sole isn’t thick enough, making it prone to penetration either by sharp objects or rocks. Many children’s waders come with boots already attached, so be sure they are durable and reliable.
As you well know, when you child is happy, everyone is happy! Conversely, ill-fitting waders can result in an uncomfortable or even miserable child, limiting your time out on the water.
The tricky part is, more often than adult waders, size charts can be off relative to what you’d expect. So, it is actually crucial to check the sizing charts carefully, and read customer comments about the waders, to avoid a mis-fit. Just because your kid normally wears size 8, doesn’t mean the wader will match what you and they are accustomed to. Our suggestion is that if the sizing chart isn’t clear, or if customer comments suggest it’s hard to find the right fit, ask for purchasing assistance rather than taking a stab in the dark.
We mentioned above but will again here – it’s OK to order a size big, so they can grow into them. Just not too big, as you don’t want extra fabric subject to the force of stream flow which can be a safety hazard (especially given they are probably smaller than you and I!).
For comfort, safety, and to allow growth, look for waders that have more adjustable features. H-straps, wading belt, snap-locks, and zippers are helpful in adjusting dimensions.
Easy To Wear
To encourage independence and kids mastering their own skills, buying waders that are easy for kids to put on and take off themselves. Of course, many kids prefer not to be helped, and will do more themselves if the gear allows it. That argues for a little looser fit, especially in the feet, along with easy to use snaps, straps, and zippers – look at the pull tabs, do they adjust easily, etc.
Style and Color
Of course, most waders come in neutral colors or camo, but there are an increasing number of styles and colors available. Waders with a brighter color may not only be more fun, even exciting for them, but also serve a safety function. A bright color is easier to spot if your child starts wandering off or even getting lost.
Waders tend to be bulky and thick by design, as they usually contain several layers of material. From experience, kids tend to get dirtier faster than we do.
Waders life is shorter, and breathability compromised, if they stay dirty. So, to lengthen their life and get the most out of them, become familiar with the care instructions.
As a general rule of thumb, you want to dry them inside out every time after use. This not only avoid mildews that’s smelly, but also avoids compromising the waterproofing and durability of the material.
Assuming you’d like your kids to carry some of their own essential things, such as a fly box, basic tools and snacks, make sure that waders have really good pockets. Some kids waders (but not all as manufacturers try to keep costs down) come with a chest pocket, which can be large enough to hold a wide variety of objects.
While you’re at it, you might as well consider waders with hand warming pockets. This will increase the versatility of the waders, and increase your child’s confidence in joining you for a chillier outing. Just like snow sports, it’s usually the extremities that get cold first, so consider having your child carry fishing gloves with them as well.
We want you to get the most for your money, and know exactly what you are getting for your hard earned dollar. That’s why we developed our proprietary value rating system, describe above.
When it comes to purchasing waders for kids, as it turns out, prices are fortunately substantially lower than adult waders, however, also come with considerable variation.
Consider how long you expect your child to be able to use the pair, and how often and what features will really be useful to them. In general, the more you pay the more features and quality you get, however, we’ve tried to present only those waders that have quality and features for the price point noted.
Return Policy and Warranty
Warranties are often glossed over, but when you buy something online without having a chance to try it on, be certain you understand both the return policy, and also the warranty.
Very flatly stated, some companies offer warranties (usually for manufacturer defects), and some don’t. Some will not accept a return after a single use, while others offer lifetime satisfaction.
Just take a minute to read the fine print before you bank on the return policy and warranty. Most warranties last only a certain length of time, while others only cover the manufacturer’s defect discovered upon opening the box.
In most cases, if you cause any damage, it won’t be covered. So, it is up to you on understanding and evaluating the warranty.
There you have it! Those are the top waders for kids that you can choose from, along with a description of the factors to consider before buying a pair. There are many cheap brands of kids waders beyond these, that might save you a few bucks, but won’t have nearly the comfort or durability of these products. If you are looking for reviews of Gator waders, or of Tidewe waders, we’ll be adding those soon. Fortunately, there’s a wide range of features and prices, so you can select exactly what fits your own bill. Enjoy your next outing with you kid, warm, dry, and safe!