Are you among the brave that venture into cold water and inclement weather? Do you pursue steelhead, salmon, coastal stripers, migratory browns, lunker rainbows, or other cold water trophies? If so, your regular-season waders probably won’t do the job any better than a summer sleeping bag in winter. Keep warm, snug, and safe with quality waders designed specifically for cold water and cold weather.
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Hitting cold water and inclement weather demands quality gear. Those who aren’t prepared know what a miserable outing can be. Picking the best waders for cold weather entails important considerations different than warm weather wading. This article will arm you with the right information to make a solid choice based on your unique needs.
How We Review Waders
How and where you fish in cold weather is unique to you. For that reason, we put a lot of effort into our wader reviews. We carefully establish the features and specifications, including design, materials, fit, colors, and other attributes of each and every brand and model. Then, we compare to price, and ultimately assign each wader to our proprietary value categories.
We want you to know exactly what you’re getting for a given price point, the value you are getting, so you can make more informed choices about which waders to buy for cold water and cold weather – whether practical or high end. We generally weed out cheap and outrageously priced models, though we sometimes mention them for fun. For more details about how we rate waders, be sure to read our informative article Your Ultimate Guide To Choosing The Best Fishing Waders – In Every Category.
Our Picks – Summary of The Best
The waders we recommend in this article are summarized in the outline and table below, followed by detailed reviews.
Why are there so many design and options for cold water waders?
When should I wear breathable in the winter, or neoprene in the summer?
Hunting waders for fishing, really?
As it turns out, there are many factors that determine which is best for you:
How deep you’ll be standing in the water (on average)
Weather (sunny vs. rainy vs. snowing)
Wind chill factor
How long you’ll be fishing
How much you’ll be moving around (generates warmth and gets you out of the water)
How many layers and types of clothes you’re wearing underneath the waders
How many layers / thickness / quality of wader materials, and whether a liner or not
How many grams of insulation (e.g. Thinsulate) are built into your waders boots (e.g. range 600 – 1400 grams)
Whether your waders are loose fitting, leaving room for layers of warm air, or too tight in feet and body
How much you perspire
Your own personal tolerance for cold
The more extreme the conditions, the more you’ll want to choose thicker neoprene. The less extreme, consider thinner neoprene or even breathable even in the dead of winter. So, think about what the typical conditions are for you, and make your selection based on that.
Then, when you pick waders try to buy them a tad too large, so you have room to layer up underneath – or not- depending on the conditions. This approach will give you the maximum degree of versatility. What we mean by this is we want you to get the maximum value out of your waders by using them under a wider range of conditions.
To illustrate, here are a few real scenarios – trips we have taken – with what we actually wore. Not assuming this is the best for you of course – but our picks might suprise you!
Sauk River, WA
Glacier fed river, year round cold temperatures
Generally fishing for trout up to thigh depth, max up to waist, not going in too deep
First pick 3.5 mm neoprene, possibly high quality breathable with ample room for thick socks and extra clothing layers
Oak Orchard Creek, NY
Oak Orchard Creek – Lake Ontario Migratory Brown Trout
Late fall and winter fishing for steelhead, browns, and salmon
Long periods of standing over waist deep, have to “stake out” spot due to popularity
First pick 5.0 mm neoprene, maybe 3.5 mm with well layered clothes, breathable not sufficient unless you are very cold tolerant
Kenai River, AK
Float trip with guide for fall monster rainbow trout, salmon
Partly in boat, weather inclement, frequently stop to wade fish, walk down long gravel bars to position by eddyline
First pick high quality breathable, with lots of room for thick socks and layers of clothes, paired with a heavy rain parka
Surprise you that we wore breathable in Alaska, but the thickest 5.0 mm neoprene in NY? You’ll also notice some hunting waders in our lineup – because hunters may stand in the water or cold for hours on end, sometimes their gear is made for more rigorous conditions than fishing gear. In any case, based on your own fishing conditions and preference, you can gauge which wader design is best for you!
Below you’ll find our detailed reviews of the best waders for cold weather and water 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 another brand or model of interest to you.
All of these are chest waders, as in our experience most cold wading is beyond hip waders and wading pants. If you are looking for wader size charts, you can usually find them associated with each product by clicking on the links we provide.
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 you depending on what seasons and conditions you fish. Our job is to make it clear which waders have what features, your job is to decide!
PRACTICAL WADERS FOR COLD CONDITIONS
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.
TideWe has brought a level of affordability to functional neoprene waders. These are well-insulated, if lightweight neoprene, and will serve you well in the colder months. The waders are made with a durable and strong design, and are resistant to any leak-causing nicks and dings.
If you are spending hours standing in cold water, for example steelheading, you’ll want the extra warmth that comes with 5 mm neoprene. This wader could be worn during winter or fall. While any 5 mm wader is going to be stiffer than its 3.5 mm counterpart, this TideWe wader is comfortable to wear, and for a very reasonable price, is heavily insulated which provides excellent warmth in cold water.
One of the most affordable yet quality breathable waders, the 360 Deadfall boasts durability combined with reasonable insulation for cold water and weather. Indeed, this Compass design is versatile enough to be a great option for a range of cool to cold conditions.
4- and 6-layer premium fabric
Full 6-ply lower with a reinforced seat
100% neoprene booties
Zippered pass through and box pockets
Belt loops and durable wading belt
Strong warmth and protection for breathable waders
Warranty for a year
Easy to wash and dry
Higher quality than most breathable waders in the same price class
This one is a durable and protective wader intended for active individuals outdoors during cold weather. It offers superb waterproof protection and is made to be durable. It blocks out the cold and it features a cleated sole intended for better traction. And some other features are great enough to be considered as one among the practical options to choose from.
3.5 mm neoprene laminated to durable nylon jersey
Rubber boots with 600-gram 3M™ Thinsulate™ Ultra Insulation
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.
This one is a durable and protective wader intended for extreme cold weather. It offers superb waterproof protection and is made to be durable. These waders not only block out the extreme cold effectively, but also come with strong functionality including a cleated sole for better traction. The full list of features make these waders among the highest performing neoprene waders you can choose from.
5 mm neoprene laminated to durable nylon jersey
Rubber boots with 600-gram 3M™ Thinsulate™ Ultra Insulation
For our best value recommendations, Frogg Togg has stormed onto the cold water market with a high-value-for-the-dollar wader. The steelheader is suitable for any cold water big game fish you are pursuing, with features that directly address the needs of wading during cold weather.
Breathable, multi-climate and insulated chest wader
120-gram zip-out/zip-in and removable insulated liner
4-ply nylon upper
Patented removable zippered liner system
2 diagonal-zip and fleece-lined hand warmer pockets
One of the most affordable yet versatile waders, the 360 Point Guide II boasts combined use in cool and semi-cold conditions. It is breathable enough to use in warmer months, yet it offers enough insulation to address many cold weather outings. Indeed, if you are looking for a reasonably affordable. breathable wader that is useful in all semi-cold weather, then this wader will serve you well.
Gator Waders have expanded their presence into fishing, from their roots in Texas swamps and offroading. Indeed, great off-road adventure waders will keep you dry and warm even in challenging cold fishing conditions. Constructed with a unique thickness of 4 mm neoprene, we find it to be a nice compromise between the mobility of 3.5 mm neoprene and the super-warm-but-stiff nature of 5 mm. With premium quality boots already built in, it will surely do the job for you.
We rate cold weather fishing waders as High End when they have top-end features and quality, for a distinctly higher price. Basically, in this category you get what you pay for, if not outrageously priced.
Waders in this category may or may not last longer than in the Best Value category, but you can definitely rely on the quality and features to serve your child extremely well.
If you wouldn’t mind spending a little more for breathable waders that dual in the cold seasons, then you can absolutely choose this one. A popular option in today’s market, features are indeed superb for performing in cold weather. It is designed for anglers, at the same time practically built for athletes. It is built to withstand the toughest conditions through premium quality features, design, and construction.
Patagonia focuses exclusively on high-end gear, and their Swiftcurrent wader is no exception. It is simply one of the toughest and the most technical waders out today, an awesome product with a matching price tag. You can be proud wearing a product made from 100% recycled H2No Performance Standard face fabric, along with a multitude of excellent features making it high-performance gear.
Quick-release suspender system
Pockets and tools for interior and exterior organization
Simms has dominated the high end market for many years, bringing the G4Z into play recently for guides and any angler who demands top-notch quality. The G4Z boasts Gore-Tex Pro Shell fabric that is particularly crafted for combined breathability and durability. The product sports easy high waist conversion and it features micro-fleece lined hand warming pockets too. There are two zippered chest pockets along with more features to offer.
3-layer GORE-TEX Pro Shell upper and 4-layer GORE-TEX Pro Shell lower
YKK waterproof zipper
Patented compression-molded stocking feet
Built-in belt loops
Patented Sharkfin buckle, front and back leg seams
What are the best waders for cold weather and cold water?
We recommend making a careful choice based on your own fishing conditions – water and air temp, duration of wading & how deep, how much clothing underneath, and other factors. Our top 11 recommendations are:
PRACTICAL (Under $200)
1. TideWe 3.5 mm Neoprene Waders, Cleated Bootfoot
2. TideWe 5.0 mm Neoprene Hunting Waders, Cleated Bootfoot
7. Compass 360 Point Guide II Stft Breathable Chest Wader
8. Gator Waders Men’s Retro 4.0 mm Neoprene Waders with Boots
HIGH END (Over $400)
9. Orvis Pro Waders
10. Patagonia Swiftcurrent Expedition Waders
11. Simms G4Z Waders
What do you wear under waders in cold weather?
What are the best waders for the money?
What are the best breathable waders for cold weather?
Do you wear shoes under waders?
Do you wear jeans under waders?
Do you wear pants with waders?
What should I look for in cold weather waders?
Are breathable waders warm?
What size waders should I get?
Are Simms waders worth the money?
How long do neoprene waders last?
Do you wear socks with wading boots?
Should you layer socks?
Do waders keep you warm?
Criteria For Choosing The Best Waders For Cold Weather
Once you’ve worn waders in cold weather that didn’t do the job, you’ll wish you had purchased a better product. So, here are some of the things to consider before you purchase the best fishing waders for kids:
As said earlier, picking the best cold-weather wader must consider and avoid certain factors. So, what are these factors to consider? Here we go!
It is crucial to find a comfortable wader in cold weather. Neoprene waders seem to be a great choice for cold water since they are stitched along the seams that pinch and bulge underwater if water pressure is applied. And this offers matchless comfort among other waders.
Another important factor to consider is the fit of the wader. It is important that you choose a pair of waders being form-fitting and fit snugly without being constricting. Take note that loose-fitting waders are definitely cumbersome and could cause snagging, tripping, and general unwieldiness too.
This one is indeed a big deal in terms of waders in cold weather. Body temperature could get zapped out the legs fast even in warm water while you wear waders. Insulation could be your first and also most critical line of defense from cold water as well as hypothermia.
When choosing waders for cold water wading, this factor is really important. You should choose a wader that would keep you warm standing in near-freezing water, at the same time you could perform strenuous work in long hikes, labor, and scrambling upstream in finding new spots.
This one is a key factor when it comes to the best waders for cold weather. Most waders these days feature reinforced shin, butt, and knee sections intended for additional protection and durability. The said areas are prone to dings and nicks that could lead to leaks. The said reinforced patches would make these problem areas a lot more resistant to leaks.
And honestly speaking, the price of the wader really matters. Choose a wader that comes at a reasonable price that you wouldn’t regret in the end. Remember that not all expensive ones are of high quality and not all cheap ones aren’t good. So, you have to choose wisely, based on these cited factors and your preferences too.