My initial pair of waders were not made for women. It was not even made for mature guys. I was in my early twenties and really needed a pair of waders, so I went to my local sporting goods store and purchased a pair of enormous, boy-sized Hodgeman waders.
Women were a small portion of the fly fishing industry; thus, the store did not offer women’s waders, and few companies cared to produce them. My new chest waders were a good fit as long as I did not need to wear warm layers below. I wore them for years, filling my fleece pants in Wyoming rivers in February and transporting them to Alaska to work at a fishing lodge.
Fortunately, the industry has changed tremendously over the past 15 years, and while women still have fewer wader alternatives than males, they have enough options that a gear review is necessary to compare and contrast them. I evaluated some of the top waders on the market to assist you in making a decision. Using the results of those tests and the opinions of other passionate female fishermen, we’ve compiled a list of the finest waders for women for any fishing circumstance.
How to Select the Appropriate Pair of Waders?
Good waders are an investment worth making. If you live near a fishing shop, you should try on several pairs. As with the majority of men’s and women’s clothing, there is no replacement for trying them on. If you are unable to visit a fly shop or sports goods store, measure your chest, hips, inseam, and foot size. The size options offered by companies vary greatly. You’ll need to know as much as possible about yourself to get the greatest fit.
Wear your budget, the situations you’ll be utilizing them in, and the frequency with which you’ll be wearing them. Do you intend to purchase a single pair and maintain them for 10 or 20 years? If so, you may want to spend extra now on a pair that fits well, is sturdy, and can be repaired. You’ll only be going out a few times a year and need something to keep you dry. Then you should choose a more economical one.
Consider the fishing circumstances while selecting the appropriate size. If you’re planning to be out largely in the late spring, summer, and fall, you may choose a pair that fits a little more snugly to support hiking in warm weather with minimal need for layers. If you’re going to be fly fishing in the winter, sliding down snowbanks, and standing in water while your eyelets freeze, you might consider sizing up to accommodate all the warm layers below.
Best Overall: Simms W’s G3 Guide
- three- and four-layer Gore-Tex material
- Micro-fleece-lined breast pocket with a zipper
- Mesh air suspenders
- Variable sizes
How it made muster
Simms listened to female anglers and created a wader that is sturdy, functional and fits properly.
- Costly for a standard wader
At the risk of employing a cliche, these chest waders fit like a glove. Simms is correct in claiming that their “patented front and back leg seams” provide “articulated fit, enhanced mobility, and higher durability.” The G3 waders allowed me space where I needed it and weren’t baggy when worn over my usual double layer of warm fishing trousers in late spring.
The “air mesh suspender system” is a fancy way of explaining that the suspender straps are sewn on top of a mesh cloth, making them feel far more comfortable than the elastic suspenders found on practically every other pair of fishing waders. I wore them while trekking up and down rivers in Wyoming and across sagebrush fields. They never restricted my movement, and I never felt like a child wearing waders made for my father.
The Simms G3 waders are both durable and comfortable.
The G3’s legs are constructed with four layers of GORE-TEX PRO, making them thinner and more durable than prior models. The top is composed of three layers to decrease the quantity of material without sacrificing performance. According to the manufacturer, the material is 33 percent more breathable and 23 percent more puncture-resistant than prior iterations of the identical waders. Field testing demonstrates that they are both breathable and durable.
These waders include several characteristics that may not appear significant but can make the difference between a pleasant day on the water and a frustrating one. First, Simms removed the hook from their gravel guards, eliminating the need to extend the gravel guard to an eyelet on your boot or risk snagging your line if water collects around your feet. Additionally, they contain a micro-fleece-lined pocket that provides a pleasant location to warm hands-on days when the temperature drops below freezing and the wind chill makes it considerably worse.
A detachable inside pocket carries a tippet, strike indicators, floatant, or any other item you may require quickly.
Each size offers a variety of alternatives for the majority of body shapes and dimensions. For $60, you can send them back to the maker in Montana for repairs, which means, as with the majority of the finest waders for women, you can anticipate years of usage even if you experience a few leaks that need to be fixed.
The Simms G3 is not the most inexpensive waders on the market, but if you’re looking for a pair that will keep you warm, dry, and comfortable, they’re a fantastic option. In addition, if you’re seeking the best waders for duck hunting, the G3s are an excellent alternative.
Best for Cold Weather: Patagonia Women’s Swiftcurrent Waders
- Shell made of recycled polyester microfiber
- Construction with a single seam for durability
- Rear-buckle recliner seat
- Reach-through Velcro pocket
How it made muster
As fishing equipment companies began producing men’s waders with zippers for toilet convenience on the water, Patagonia recognized it might also provide a solution for women. And it does.
- Easy access to the outdoors
- Loose, particularly around the breast area
Choosing a stocking-foot wader for chilly weather may seem like an exercise in futility. They are thin and must be large enough to fit several layers. The drop seat is the reason this pair made the list of the finest waders for cold weather.
Patagonia has developed an imperfect answer to river bathroom demands. The drop seat in men’s waders may not be as practical as a front zipper, but it’s light years better than the alternative. Too many below-zero winter days have required me to remove my jacket and anything else that did not fit within my waders in order to answer nature’s call. It is never perfect and perpetually quite chilly. Enter EZ-Lock suspenders and a drop-seat with a rear buckle.
When fishing in cold water, the Swiftcurrent waders are unrivaled. Christine Peterson
Instead of clipping your suspenders on and off as with regular waders, simply put the EZ-Lock suspenders over your shoulder, pull the front of the waders up, and seal the lock. When you need to hide behind a bush, you just unlock the locks, reach behind your back, unclip the suspenders, and draw down your waders; there is no need to remove your wading jacket or even unzip it. Simply pull everything back up, then clip it back together from behind. The suspenders are intended to remain in place around the neck, and they do so.
The top and legs of the Swiftcurrent waders are roomy enough to accommodate the essential cold-water day layers. Yet, they are also light enough to handle treacherous riverbanks and rocky bottoms.
They offer a simple front design with Velcro closure on the hand warmer pocket and a zipped pocket for tippets, flies, and other gear. As a bonus, the internal pocket is waterproof, so you can safely keep your phone and other valuables.
Best Rugged: Orvis Pro Wader
- Removable knee pads
- Robust, four-layer top shell and five-layer base
- Large internal stretch mesh pocket
- Accessible pocket with water-repellent zippers
How it made muster
These Orvis waders can withstand everything you encounter on the banks or in the water.
- Elegant, athletic design
- Knee pads
- Can feel rigid
If you fish often, this is the wader for you. This is one of the greatest waders for women who spend their life on the water, thus its name, the PRO. The wader has been meticulously developed from the robust buckles to the anatomically-correct neoprene boots.
It initially feels stiff, but it’s the most durable wader I’ve ever used. They were unfazed by bushwhacking through miles of spiky greasewood and squatting on jagged pebbles and gravel. Additionally, they are ideal for boarding and exiting boats and kneeling on docks.
The Orvis Pro is distinguished by its durability and intelligent design. Christine Peterson
While its durability should be the primary selling point, all the smart additions throughout should be a close second.
The fleece-lined front kangaroo pocket is secured with water-resistant zippers, keeping it dry and comfortable while not in use. A huge inside pocket fits almost imperceptibly close to the waders, but once you begin piling fly boxes inside, it extends to accommodate your demands. A detachable inside pocket accommodates tippet spools and other equipment. There is also an interior Velcro strip for attaching a waterproof pocket (sold separately).
The travel guards feature mesh backs that prevent water from being trapped inside, and the neoprene booties are thinner than other manufacturers, making them less bulky and better fitting within boots.
If you require everything, these are your waders.
Women’s Ultralight Convertible Waders offer the best value.
- Extremely lightweight at 31 ounces
- Integrated gravel guard
- Four-layer waterproof exterior
- New gusseted crotch for enhanced mobility
How it made muster
This is the finest option available if you want lightweight, well-fitting, and functional water.
I am aware that, at a few dollars under $400, they are not the least expensive waders on the market. However, they may be the least expensive fly fishing waders since they may be used for years (or perhaps decades) without needing to be replaced.
They’re not inexpensive, but they’re very decent waders for the price.
First, they are exceptionally light. These would be the only pair of waders I would contemplate stowing in my camping bag for a week in the wilderness. I have hiked miles through Wyoming’s remote streams while wearing these waders and felt as comfortable as I would in a couple of layers of standard hiking attire.
Orvis has spent years advocating for more women on the water, including their renowned 50/50 On the Water campaign to encourage more women to fish. And their equipment has evolved in tandem with their efforts. These waders were obviously made for a woman’s body and were not simply a smaller replica of the men’s waders. I’ve used them to slide down rocky and bush-covered slopes, bushwhack into high alpine lakes, and carry my little daughter on my back. They have been durable and breathable throughout.
Q: Can’t we just wear men’s waders?
Certainly, if you wish. Similarly, you can wear men’s camouflage and men’s hiking boots. We will not dictate what you should or should not wear. However, do women’s waders provide a superior fit? Absolutely. Will you be more at ease traveling to and from the water and across slick boulders? Definitely, there is a reason why women anglers have spent years advocating for companies to provide gear that precisely suits our bodies. If you own a pair of men’s waders, as I did many years ago, it is worthwhile to try on a few pairs of women’s waders to observe the difference.
Are waders essential?
Not usually, but they are quite pleasant. Some streams are small enough to allow for bank fishing. Others are warm enough to fish in sandals, old running shoes, neoprene booties, or wading boots, particularly on hot summer days. It is preferable on really hot days. In general, though, and especially if you fish during shoulder seasons or the winter, waders make the difference between a pleasant and a miserable fishing experience.
Is it worthwhile to get them repaired?
Yes, unquestionably. The average lifespan of a pair of waders, according to the majority of manufacturers, is between three and five years — longer for people who wear them less frequently and shorter for those who wear them frequently. However, a leak, often a very small pinhole leak, is frequently the cause of failure. If you cannot determine where your waders are leaking so you can fix them yourself, most companies will repair them for $60 or a comparable charge. Over the years, I’ve sent back several items and have always been delighted with the outcome.
Ladies: Numerous wader options are currently available. Sure, there are still fewer options than in men’s, but we no longer need to get enormous boy’s waders without hips or chest. Thus, it is time to make a decision. To pick the best women’s waders, consider what you will be doing with them: will you be hiking from lake to lake or up and down miles of the river? Will you be guiding passengers in and out of boats throughout the year? Can you get a somewhat more expensive pair and not have to replace them for years? An excellent pair of waders should accommodate your size and form like the proverbial glove.