Women's Gear Guide by Miss Mayfly®: Choosing Your Best Wader Style

Women's Gear Guide by Miss Mayfly®: Choosing Your Best Wader Style

With so many varying types of waders, knowing which type to purchase can sometimes become an overwhelming decision- particularly for a new angler. This guide will help you identify which wader style best suits your needs by highlighting the most common wader styles, foot and fabric types and explaining the performance ability, safety considerations and common features of each.  

Waders are commonly worn by anglers to allow them to stay dry while getting in the water where the fish are. Although primarily used for fishing, waders may also be worn for many different activities including ATV riding, nature photography, outdoor biology work, hiking through wilderness and streams, kayaking & boating, snow mobile riding or other activities which may require gear that keeps you dry. 

Wader Styles

Chest Waders- Full Coverage


A full-coverage chest wader is the most commonly wader worn of all the wader styles. This style of wader is waterproof up to the chest and features a suspender system created to hold up the wader body.  The suspender system should also include quick release buckles that can be easily released in the case of an urgent situation.


  • A chest wader should be worn when wading in water depths up to the chest. However, safety experts warn that wading above the hip can be dangerous. The deeper you wade, the more buoyant you become and the higher your safety risk becomes. 
  • If the user is inexperienced in wading or suffers from balance or health issues that would increase their risk of falling, a chest wader is their best option for staying dry in the event of falls.
  • When wearing a chest wader, a wading belt is always worn for safety in the event of a fall into the water and helps keep water from filling up in the legs of the wader.


Chest waders features may be simplistic with just a few basics, or more technically advanced including items such as:

  • Boot guards that prevent rocks and debris from entering waders that require separate boots.
  • Waist high conversion that allows the chest wader to be converted to a waist wader by folding down the upper body.
  • Chest pocket features such as a handwarmer and zippered pockets.
  • Some chest waders have options for comfort or non-slip suspender systems.

Wading Pants- Half Coverage


Wading pants are a great option for those who want ease of use, combined with full lower body coverage. Pants are waterproof to the waist and utilize a belt or belt system around the waist to help keep water out and prevent water from entering in the legs in the case of a fall. 


Wading pants are appropriate to use when wading waters below the hip- the greatest depth recommended for safety. They may be worn to cross through waters that reach the height of your waist, but are not recommended for regular use at those depths. When the water does not require wading above the hip- the pant is a great choice.

  • Pant waders have many performance benefits including faster and easier gearing-up and a greater ease in movement because there is no upper body fabric to pull from when bending.
  • The greatest benefit is a wading pant is easier use when 'nature calls', enabling the user to relieve oneself without first having to remove tackle bags and outer-layers from the upper body.
  • Wading pants are also an excellent solution for women and men with larger chest girths combined with a small hip circumference, allowing them to size to fit their smaller lower body, whereas in a chest wader they would have to size according to their fullest girth, causing the hip and leg area to be baggy.


Wading pants have less features than a chest wader due to most wader features being located on the upper body. However, wading pants can be paired easily with any type of vest or fishing pack that can provide the features that pants cannot offer. Some beneficial wading pant features are: Comfort and non-slip cinch waist or belt systems.

  • Boot guards that prevent rocks and debris from entering waders that require separate boots.

  • High waist designs that increase the height at which water can enter the wader.

  • Water-resistant and/or non-water resistant pocket(s).

Hip Waders- Partial Coverage


Hip waders are thigh high and primarily used in shallow waters. They have various straps or loop systems that are commonly threaded onto a waist belt. Hip waders do not have coverage in the groin, rear or hip area.


    • Hip waders will provide coverage in water depths from above the knee to the upper thigh, depending on the height of the hip wader and the leg length of the user. The user should consider both of these factors to determine how much coverage a particular hip wader will provide. 
    • Hip waders are intended for shallow waters where risks to drowning are low, however the risk, as with any wader, increases as the water depths and currents increase. 

    • Hip waders are a great alternative for travel as the utilize less space, can be stored easily and put on quickly.

    • Hip waders are versatile and can be used for various outdoor activities such as hunting and hiking.

    • Because hip waders have no 'seat' coverage and minimal water sealing ability, falling could result in water entering the wader legs and the user becoming wet. Water saturation could occur also if sitting on wet rocks.


    Hip waders have minimal features but have other features to consider when choosing a hip wader:

      • Boot guards that prevent rocks and debris from entering waders that require separate boots.
      • Adjustable height feature such as the CHOTA Hippie, pictured above
      • Easy to use in threading strap or loop to belt.

        Foot Options


        In this foot option, the foot is a waterproof bootie that fits like a loose sock. It is constructed out of neoprene and permanently adhered to the wader body. Neoprene bootie fabrics can range in thickness from 2ml to 5ml. A special boot that is made for wading must be worn on top of the bootie. Because of the neoprene thickness, wading boots are made with a larger cavity space to fit the bootie.

        • Pro: The neoprene bootie and boot combination allows the user to choose a better fit and different tread options, providing superior comfort, stability and traction.
        • Pro: Because the bootie is made of a soft material, the bootie will compress to form to the foot as the user enters the water, reducing the air trapped in the boot and likewise, reducing the risk of foot-float.
        • Con: A good pair of neoprene footed waders can be expensive along with the added cost in purchase wading boots separately.


        This foot option comes with an attached boot so that you do not need to wear a separate boot. The boot is usually made out of rubber.

          • Pro: Boot foot waders are commonly enjoyed because they are quick & easy to put on and are usually a less expensive option compared to purchasing separate neoprene-footed waders and wading boots.
          • Con: The boot foot fit is less accurate and commonly lacks in support and stability.
          • Con: A boot foot does not compress well under water and can trap excess air in the free space that is not consumed by the foot, which can cause your feet to float up in the event of a fall, making it harder to gain your footing. Likewise, the boot is much heavier if it fills with water and can make it difficult to exit the water.
          • Con: The less accurate fit and limited tread options, can reduce your foot and ankle stability and thus can decrease your traction and balance.

            Fabric Types

            Breathable wader fabrics are commonly made from nylon or polyester fabric weaves, with polyester being the most breathable. Ultimately, an effective breathable waterproof fabric is made up of multiple fabric layers which are adhered together. 

            • Pro: The layers work together to wick moisture away from the skin to provide a more comfortable feel than what is experienced in non-breathable fabrics.
            • Pro: The fabric is made waterproof via the application of an outer coating (DWR) which provides a barrier to water penetration, allowing the user to enjoy the comfort benefit of a pliable and soft fabric.
            • Pro: The fabric may be considered a light, medium or heavy weight fabric which is determined by the denier or density of the fabric fibers.

            • Pro: Breathable fabrics provide less insulation than neoprene fabrics but can be worn with appropriate layers that meet temperature and weather needs, making them a good option for all-weather wading. 

            It is important to note that the breathable function can only occur when the users under-layers are also moisture wicking. This way all the layers from your skin and beyond are moving moisture away and through the wader. If a user were wearing cotton, the cotton would hold moisture against the skin and impede the breathability.

            Neoprene waders are made from a coated rubber material that varies in thickness commonly ranging from 3mm to 5mm. The thicker the fabric, the more insulation the fabric will provide.

            • Pro: Although neoprene is not a very technical fabric, the rubber material is filled with tiny nitrogen bubbles that increase insulation and hence keep you much warmer than breathable fabrics.
            • Con: Neoprene doesn't have any moisture wicking capabilities which make them unsuitable for warmer temperatures. Even on cold days, you may find yourself damp from perspiration as the fabric has no way to move or evaporate body moisture.
            • Con: Neoprene waders are often heavy, stiff and constricting, making them the least comfortable and lowest performing option- unless warmth is your only priority. 

            Price Range

            After considering the options for water depths, comfort, and performance that each style provides- many times the final deciding factor is the... price range.

            It is true that you get what you pay for. Economy waders typically have a lower shelf life with basic features, limited warranty and require replacement more often. Typically a higher priced wader will offer more features and have a longer shelf life.

            At Miss Mayfly®, our mission is to provide gear solutions that enable more anglers to comfortably enjoy the outdoors. Miss Mayfly® offers premium technology in fabrics, fit, performance, durability and features, at a lower price range comparatively to other brands. 


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