Spring is in the air, which means anglers are finally pulling their waders out of storage and re-evaluating them for the seasons ahead. Here are a few of our favorite waders designed specifically for women and built to hold up for years to come.
I still have vivid memories of growing up fishing in men’s waders. I was both perplexed and elated when I first laid eyes on a genuine pair of women’s waders. Elated because, finally, I might have a pair of waders that actually fit. Perplexed because — well — why had it taken so long?
2019 finds female anglers faced with a variety of equipment made specifically for them. While some brands still apparently adhere to the “shrink it and pink it” philosophy, others are making decisive strides into the women’s market, creating gear that’s just as tough as the men’s but designed for the unique needs of women in the field.
As most of the country begins to leave the snow behind and the idea of spring fishing begins to tickle the fancy, anglers pull their waders out of storage and re-evaluate them for the seasons ahead. Here are a few of our favorite waders designed specifically for the ladies and built to last.
Best Women’s Fishing Waders
This wader from Orvis took home the “Best of Show–Women’s Waders” award at the 2017 International Fly Tackle Dealer (IFTD) Show. And for good reason: The lightweight, versatile waders are specifically designed, contoured, and fit for women. FIDLOCK SNAP magnetic fasteners allow quick and easy conversion to waist-high waders, an important feature for warm days on the water.
Lightweight and sleek, the Ultralight Convertibles pair with the Women’s Ultralight Wading Boot ($169) and Women’s Pro Wading Jacket ($349). The jacket took home the “Best of Show–Women’s Outerwear” Award at IFTD 2017. The compact, complete wading system weighs less than 6 pounds and takes up less than one cubic foot. They’re the perfect fly fishing waders for the traveling angler or the gal who tends to live out of her car.
The Ultralight Convertible Waders come in a wide size range encompassing 14 unique sizes, from XS petite to XL tall. See more on Orvis.com.
A solid standard for value waders, Orvis made the Women’s Encounter Wader with four-layer, breathable nylon fabric. And the design matches the popular fit in the Orvis Silver Sonic line. A front kangaroo-style handwarmer pocket, zippered mesh storage pocket, and self-fabric gravel guards ensure anglers have the features they need on the water.
Available in 12 sizes, from petite S to XL, and including tall S and tall M, on Orvis.com.
Patagonia’s midweight Spring River Waders are for ladies who spend a lot of time on the water but also value creature comforts. They have waist-mounted EZ-Lock suspenders for easy conversion from chest to waist height. An innovative rear buckle system makes it possible to quickly drop the seat for bathroom breaks without removing multiple layers. And the single-seam construction eliminates seams on high-wear areas on the legs.
Our favorite feature? The comfy, anatomically correct booties lined with cozy poly-grid and quick-draining flat-panel gravel guards. Pair with the brand’s new Women’s Minimalist Wading Jacket ($199) for a travel-worthy wading kit.
Patagonia’s Spring River Waders come in 21 different sizes in petite, regular, and rull ranges, including innovative “MS” (between small and medium) and “LM” (between medium and large) sizes.
This flagship Simms women’s wader is a workhorse. And I mean it. I just sent my 7-year-old pair in for repairs for the first time after hard use on five continents. They may not be the most stylish women’s wader on the river, but I appreciate the thicker GORE-TEX G3 material in cold water. So I don’t mind the fact they take up slightly more space in my suitcase.
The women’s-specific fit manages to somehow look almost flattering (a tall order for waders), and a scalloped top opening fits higher at the chest and lower in the back for comfort and coverage. The reach-through, microfleece-lined chest pocket has zippers, which a nice change from years past (oars tend to catch the pockets in certain situations). And patented front and back leg seams allow maximum mobility.
Available in 13 sizes, ranging from S short to XL full, on Simms.com.
Four layers of Toray waterproof-breathable laminate help make this midline breathable wader from Simms a good partner for long days on the water. An articulated women’s-specific fit comes in a variety of sizes for a specific and flattering fit. The reach-through handwarmer pocket, zippered top-stash pocket, and improved back yoke design are thoughtful details that bring value.
Available in 10 sizes, ranging from S short to XL, on Simms.com.
Created for value-seekers who still want waders that will keep up with their on-the-water adventures, the Simms Women’s Tributary Waders sport three-layer waterproof-breathable polyester in the upper and four layers of the same on the lower. A reach-through handwarmer pocket, zippered top stash pocket, and anatomical neoprene feet finish off the waders.
Available in 10 sizes, from S short to XL.
Sonic-weld technology means the seams on these waders are welded instead of stitched. This helps to eliminate potential pinhole problems in the seams. Four layers of waterproof-breathable fabric couple with stretch side panels for maximum flexibility, and minimal pockets mean a simple silhouette and reduced bulk for travelers. The neoprene booties have been very durable in our testing over several years.
Available in nine sizes, from S to XL.
While not as “techy” as many waders on this list, these stockingfoot waders from L.L. Bean are a decent offering for the occasional angler. The durable shell has reinforcement on the high-wear area from knee to ankle. And a roomy fit allows for layering in cold weather.
Available in four sizes from S to XL on LLBean.com.
Best Waders for Women: Final Thoughts
New advances in wader technology are making it easier than ever to spend long days on the water in comfort. Paired with an increased focus on women in the greater outdoor realm — and fly fishing specifically — we’re seeing more options than ever before available to women ready to hit the water.
Women are a notoriously challenging market, and for good reason: We know what we like and will look until we find gear that suits our needs, bodies, and outdoor activities. Luckily for us, the selection continues to grow. And within these waders, one is sure to perform up to your needed standard.