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How To Choose The Best Waders For Surf Fishing. The Complete Guide

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Having the right waders can make or break your surf fishing experience. But with so many options, which one is the best for you? How do you choose the appropriate waders for surf fishing?

Waders come in all different types—nylon, which is the cheapest but will break apart easier. Neoprene was once an expensive and popular choice, but they have dropped significantly in price as their popularity lessened. The newer, breathable waders are made with fabric specially designed to keep large water droplets out.

As a beginner, seeing all of these options may be daunting, but the goal here is to help you better understand your choices so that you can pick the perfect waders for your needs.

Different Types of Waders

There are several options for waders for you to choose from. In this section, you will find an in-depth look at each of these types to help you better understand your options.

Nylon or PVC Waders

The cheapest waders are made from nylon or PVC. They are waterproof, and the best thing about them is that they are incredibly lightweight, so they are easy to move around in but won’t keep you warm and dry for long.

Not only are they quickly worn down by exposure to the sun, but they also puncture easily.

As such, they are ideal for a quick lunchtime fishing expedition but should not be used in the ocean.

Nylon or PVC waders will not keep you warm in cold waters.

They come on both the boot foot and stockingfoot versions, so they are a good option if you’re new to surf fishing.

And want to feel out what it’s like to fish in waders with different foot options before you decide on a more permanent option.

Most come with a patching kit to get a good couple of uses out of them before you buy the real deal.

Neoprene Waders

Neoprene is a synthetic rubber fabric that maintains its flexibility over a wide temperature range and is often referred to as “scuba knit” because it is the substance it uses to make wetsuits.

It is non-breathable, and a must for fishing in areas where the ambient temperature or the water you’re fishing in is very cold.

Like all waders, they come in both boot foot and stockingfoot options.

They used to be very expensive, but prices have dropped drastically since the more advanced breathable fabrics have been invented and used to manufacture waders.

They usually have Velcro pockets, and hand warmers can be lined with different materials for additional warmth and protection.

Neoprene has to be stitched, and then the seams are taped to ensure durability.

But he does make them thick and more uncomfortable to wear than the newer breathable fabrics waders are now made from.

Neoprene will be your choice if you’re going to be in extreme conditions but not if the conditions are milder, and you have to walk a fair distance to get back to your car.

Breathable Waders

Breathable wadersOpens in a new tab. has become the most popular choice of waders for surf fishing. They are made from nylon or polyester with an added Gore-Tex membrane.

This gives the material the ability to be waterproof yet still allow water vapor to escape.

This makes these waders very versatile.

You can wear them comfortably whether you’re fishing on a sweltering day in the ocean surf or an icy lake in the middle of winter.

For the latter, you will need a couple of layers of thermals or jerseys underneath.

But, because the breathable fabric is so light, it won’t restrict your movement or make you uncomfortable.

These waders are not as durable as neoprene ones, but they are far more versatile. You will be kept warm and dry and be comfortable.

It is also easy to remove or add layers underneath. Most breathable waders have zippers and pockets that are also waterproof.

The more expensive breathable wadersOpens in a new tab. have what are known as welded seams.

Seams are glued together rather than stitched together and then taped, creating a smooth surface that adds to the waders’ durability and comfort.

Best of all, they are easy to get in and out of!

Watch this excellent video where an expert discusses the different types of materials waders are made from.

He gives excellent advice that will make your decision on which type of waders to purchase very easy.

Video credit: Sportsman’s Warehouse

What’s The Difference Between Boot foot And Stocking Foot Waders?

Another option that you have to choose from is the boot foot or stocking foot options.

Barefoot tends to be the more preferred choice for surf fishing.

Again, each of these options has its benefits and disadvantages to consider.

Boot foot Waders

The first thing to note about boot foot waders is that you don’t need to buy boots to go with them as you would with stocking foot waders.

These are made to have their own heavy-duty rubber boots attached.

Typically, surf casters tend to stick with boot foot waders because they have boots attached to them, so water and sand can’t get inside of the boots.

For this same reason, these waders tend to be warmer choices for cold-weather fishing.

There are some downsides to this option.

One downside is that these are harder to move around in, so if you have to hike a distance to get to your fishing area, you may not like these options.

They are also heavier and harder to get on, which makes them inconvenient and uncomfortable to wear for a long period of time.

If you have to carry them around, they do take a lot of space in your bags.

Stocking Foot Waders

These do not have boots attached to them, but they have stockings attached to put your boots on over.

The good thing about stocking foot waders is that they are better fitting than boot foot waders.

If you move around a lot, you will like how these are lightweight options that you can move in easier.

They also are more versatile since you can choose what boots you want to wear with them. They are easy to put on and wear.

One major downside is that you are less protected from the elements when surf fishing.

Since the boots aren’t directly attached, you are getting much less protection than you would with boot foot waders.

That’s why these are great options when you go fly fishing in calmer waters but won’t necessarily hold up during your surf fishing adventure.

Different Style of Waders that You Can Choose From

Another option to consider is which style of waters you want to wear. There are two choices that you can choose from chest waders and hip waders.

Chest Waders

If you intend to go further into the surf to catch fish, chest waters are the best option for you.

In many cases, surf anglers don’t tend to go deep into the water, but they may if there’s a big catch that they are struggling with.

This will give you the highest level of protection when fishing.

Hip Waders

Hip waders only protect your legs and feet, which may be all that you need when surf fishing depending on your style.

This type of water will attach to your belt, which does offer more airflow than chest waders do.

However, this doesn’t give you enough protection if you have to go deeper into the water.

Both of these alternatives are excellent choices, but you need to be sure that you choose the best one for your fishing style.

Most anglers enjoy the extra protection of a chest wader, which is why this is the most popular choice for them.

How to Choose the Best Waders for Surf Fishing?

Waders have come a long way as far as style, materials, and options go.

These are such important pieces of equipment to have when you go fishing that you want to make sure that you make that you choose the right ones.

This section will break down the best ways to make a choice.

Your Fishing Needs

One of the essential things to consider is what type of fishing you are going to do and where you are going to use them.

If you are going fishing in colder weather, you will want to go with a neoprene wader that offers more protection from the elements.

If you prefer to fish in warmer weather, your best options will be the breathable waders.

Surf anglers tend to choose chest waders because these offer the best level of protection.

Some people may choose to have a few options so that they have the waders that they need for specific occasions.

The Different Materials

Waders come in a different variety of materials, as previously mentioned.

While neoprene and breathable are the primary options, you do have other materials that you can consider.

Rubber waders are cheaper options that are extremely uncomfortable.

But, you can patch them if you need to make them last longer.

Plus, since they are so cheap, you won’t get too upset when you do eventually need to replace them.

Canvas waders suffer from some of the same issues.

These are stiff and uncomfortable to wear, but they do have a lot more toughness than rubber waders have.

Canvas waders do tend to outlast the other materials.

Due to the insulation, you also get great quality of protection in them.

However, these may not be ideal for surf fishing.

With these different materials, you need to understand what type of fishing you are doing to pick the right materials.

For surf fishing, neoprene and breathable are the top choices with neoprene being the most popular option.

Wader Styles

Again, this can be entirely dependent on personal preference and the style of fishing that you do.

If you love getting into the water to get those larger fish, you will want chest wadersOpens in a new tab. that will give you the highest level of protection.

If you tend to stick more towards the shoreline, you can just stick with hip waders.

Chest wadersOpens in a new tab. are better in cold weather while hip waders are better in hot weather.

Chest waders tend to be more popular just because these are more versatile choices.

Wading Boots

If you have opted for stocking foot waders, you need to be sure that you pick a pair of quality boots to go with them.

There are different wading boot options that you can choose from.

Some are better for getting grips on slippery surfaces like rocks, while others are great for mud.

These may cost you, but you can choose the perfect pair for your needs and a comfortable pair that you’ll love to wear.

Make sure that you get a boot with the correct thread for your needs.

It’s also a good idea to buy boots that are easy to clean, especially if you go to different water spots so that you don’t risk cross-contamination in other water.

There are 3 sole types to consider when choosing wading boots:

  • rubber sole
  • felt sole
  • and studded.

Rubber soles are the easiest boots to clean. These are also the ideal choices for marshy or muddy conditions.

Rubber sole wading boots are generally the types of boots attached to boot foot waders.

Felt soles are eco-friendly due to its ability to transfer microorganisms from one area to another.

However, this is also a downside to this type. Felt also is not the most durable option, but it does provide adequate traction.

Studded soles can be found on both felt and rubber boots. The studs offer additional traction if you are walking on rocks or very slimy surfaces.

Wading Accessories

In addition to purchasing wading boots if necessary, there are other accessories that you can purchase to ensure that you have everything you need for your fishing trip.

One accessory is the wader belt if your wader has belt loops on it.

This can be an important accessory because it can reduce your risk of drowning and prevent flooding.

Another important accessory is the wading socks.

You may think that you can get away with wearing any type of socks, but wading socks are specifically made for wearing underneath waders.

This means that they won’t slide down as often as traditional socks would.

Whatever socks you choose to get, they should be heavy wool socks to keep you warm.

It’s also an excellent idea to have extras so that you can change them if you need to.

Lastly, there are wader repair kids that you can invest in.

Wader repair kits can help you fix your waders while you are out so that you can continue your trip or help you hold off when you have to buy a new pair.

These accessories aren’t essential; however, they can be great options for you to invest in to make the most of your new waders.


Whenever you are purchasing anything, you will want to consider your budget.

This is especially true if you intend to buy a couple of different options to have on hand.

For instance, if you are limited in budget, it may be more cost-effective to get boot foot waders rather than stocking foot options.

Do your research to find a reasonable budget for what you need and use that to help determine the best options for what you can afford.

How to Size Waders

One of the biggest issues people have when buying any item of clothing or shoes online is getting the right size.

Otherwise, you have to worry about the hassle of returning the items and hoping that you can reorder the right size.

This is a long process that causes people to just go to the store and settle for whatever it has when buying waders.

Check this video from Sportsman’s Warehouse to have an idea on how to choose the bet size for you.

Video credit: Sportsman’s Warehouse

This will help you get the best fit for your waders if you’re going to buy them online.

These are the size measurements that you need to buy waders online:

  • Shoe size
  • inseam, in inches (The inseam is the measurement from your crotch to the floor)
  • The largest girth in inches around your chest, waist, or hips.

Once you understand this information, you can look at sizing guides to find out what the best fit is going to be for you.

There are different guides for boot foot waders, different genders, and different types of waders.

Be sure that you are looking at the right guide to get the most accurate fit. If you are not sure, you may want to consider getting a size up just in case.

Why You Need Waders for Surf Fishing?

Some people aren’t convinced that waders are essential items to go fishing.

They think that just going in your pants, shorts, and regular beach shoes are perfectly fine.

While it may be “perfectly fine,” there are situations where you will want to have a pair of waders on hand before your next fishing trip.

What if there’s a big catch that you need to go deeper in the water for, but the water is on the colder side? What if a big wave comes upon you?

Waders offer you the protection you need in any fishing scenario.

You have the option to go deeper into the surf to catch the fish that you want, and having waders gives you the ability to do that with confidence.

Waders protect you from the elements, especially if you’re fishing in colder conditions. If you get wet and It’s a cold day, you’re going to be stuck freezing or head home early.

Surf fishing requires you to get as much leverage as possible to get those large fish that you have dreamt of catching.

Waders allow you to get closer to the fish without worrying about the water being too cold or being nipped at by underwater creatures.

Waders give you the protection you need to have the best surf fishing trip possible.


Waders are an essential investment to make the most out of your fishing trip.

There are so many different options for waders out there that it can be an overwhelming task for beginners to pick the perfect pair for them.

By reading this guide, you will have all of the important information that you need to make sure that you get the best pair of waders for your needs.

Once you get your first pair and go out on your surf fishing trip, you will never want to be without your waders again.


Zaldy G.

I love feeling the cool ocean spray every time I hit the beach with a rod and a bucket of bait. I love the thrill of feeling bites on my line whenever I hook a big one. And I especially love the pride that comes with cooking a fresh catch and sharing it with my friends and family. Thank you for stopping by. Let's go catch some fish!

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