Casting from dry land can be like barking up the wrong tree – you'll never catch what you're after. All you'll do is lose money and your sanity every time you snag a rock. Surf fishing waders are the only way I know to avoid the frustration of shallow snags and reach the deeper hot spots where the big fish hunt.
Waders for surf fishing protect me from the cold, unforgiving elements in the Northeast Atlantic. They also help me reach the spots where I catch the most fish.
On this page, I'll review the top 11 surf fishing waders of 2023. Also, scroll down for my buyer's guide to help pick out some comfortable waders that’ll get you on the fish.
My Review Process
I expect a lot from my waders because I fish in cold waters in a town notorious for strong wind and rough weather. I've gone through some that make the cut and plenty that don't.
My top priorities are reliability (no leaks), durability (no rips), and ease of movement (casting and walking). There are plenty of other factors to consider, and I'll provide insights based on my experience to help you understand the value of each pick.
With that in mind, here are the best surf fishing waders of 2023, broken into 11 unique categories.
Unfortunately, waders are prone to leaks. That's why I love how Simms puts some skin in the game with their 60-day replacement policy and generous repair policy.
The confidence in their product totally makes sense once you check out the high-quality construction of these waders. The polyester material blend has 4 unique layers that balance durability and breathability to create a light but rugged feel.
I cover a lot of ground when I'm spot-checking. The last thing I want to do is take off my waders before walking. So, anglers tired of stiff, awkward-fitting waders will appreciate the natural feel of this flexible design.
No question about it, the Simms Freestone is my most reliable go-to wader in all conditions, any time of year.
Waders with attached boots are my go-to for cold conditions. The connected foot-to-chest design holds and circulates body heat well, but can trap sweat with the wrong material. That’s why if you hate the feeling of sticky, sweaty waders, you'll appreciate the light, breathable feel of the Bassdash 3D. It includes an inner mesh layer that seriously reduces stickiness.
I'm impressed with the overall construction quality of these waders. The seams are double-stiched and heat-sealed to prevent leaks and extend their life. The blend of rip-resistant, breathable nylon material outer layer and PVC inner coating is durable and waterproof. Also, the waterproof chest zipper section is a handy feature for keeping your phone and valuables dry and easily accessible.
Anglers who appreciate the convenience of an all-in-one setup will love these durable, breathable waders.
If I'm trekking between spots, I prefer stocking feet waders like the Compass 360 Deadfall because I can use my wading boots. It's more comfortable walking over rocky terrain with their abrasion-resistant neoprene socks. They also have built-in straps that prevent sand and other debris from getting into your boots.
The 4-layer, polyester construction has excellent durability. It also keeps water out while wicking sweat away from your skin. The only thing to watch out for is the zippered chest pocket, which isn’t reliably waterproof.
I usually cut bait and change lures on rocky, sandy surfaces. The double-reinforced knees make tackle changes more comfortable and extend the life of the waders. When waves are crashing in front of me, the last thing I want is water splashing into the top of my waders. That's why I love how I can adjust the chest drawstring based on conditions.
So, if you value the comfort and walking efficiency of using your own wading boots, these are the waders for you.
The north shore of my town is on the bay and more mellow than the southern-facing ocean coastline. Full chest waders are not always necessary in these calm waters. Sometimes, you just need to keep your legs dry. That's why I like to own a pair of waist waders.
These 8 Fans Stockingfoot Waist Waders combine well with my own wading boots. They have extra thick 4.5mm neoprene stockings, which keep my feet warm and reduce abrasion along rocky beaches. I appreciate the inclusion of neoprene kneepads. However, they're easy to remove if you don't like them.
Waist waders are like wearing waterproof pants and are great for casual fishing days in calm waters. On days like these, I'm more likely to bring my phone out, which is why I love the waterproof security pocket.
If you're looking for waders that'll keep you dry on those calm, casual days without the hassle of a full cover setup, these 8fans waist waders are for you.
Hip waders are the ultimate lightweight wader option. I use these Frog Toggs Ranna II in glassy, calm water conditions where I'm not worried about wading in deep water to clear the shallows. They're also easy to store and carry in my backpack. This makes them ideal for when I don't want to wear waders walking between spots.
The built-in boots do a great job keeping water out. They're also available in either rubber cleated or felt, depending on your preference for boot bottom grip. The inner sole could be better padded, but that's easily fixed by adding your favorite type of insole.
Anglers looking for a lightweight, minimalist pair of waders will love the Frogg Toggs hip waders.
The 8 Fans stockingfoot waders are breathable and great for warm, sunny days. Although it'd be nice to use waist or hip waders when the weather's hot, I can't always sacrifice full coverage.
The unique polyester and nylon blend creates a barrier that keeps water out but allows air to flow. It also wicks moisture away from the skin, drawing it to the surface where it's evaporated by the airflow. The gravel guards are protective but still breathable, preventing sand and debris from entering your boots.
Boot foot waders store body heat and can create a stuffy, sweaty feel. That's why I'd choose these stockingfoot waders for warmer climates.
Fishing in warm weather? These 8fans chest waders are light and breathable without sacrificing the coverage you need.
I'm a big fan of neoprene waders in cold water and weather. While other materials keep water out, neoprene keeps you toasty warm by creating an extra layer of insulation against cold water and wind. The thickness of the material also traps your own body heat.
Neoprene can be more challenging to repair, which is why I like the construction quality of these Foxelli waders. They feature glued, stitched, and taped seams to provide extra protection where it matters most. It's also reassuring to see that they've included a 4-month, no questions asked return policy and a 1-year warranty.
The lightweight boots with anti-slip soles compensate for the neoprene's added weight. In addition, the d-rings, interior mesh pocket, and chest pocket, which keep your hands warm, are very convenient.
So, if you're looking to stay warm during the coldest parts of the fishing season, these Foxelli neoprene bootfoot waders are your best bet.
Inexpensive waders are great for beginners looking to save a few bucks, as well as experienced surf anglers. I buy budget fishing waders as a backup for when I need to repair my main set. They're also great when you want to fish with a friend who doesn't have their own pair.
These Magreel chest waders are a solid blend of value and performance. The 2 layer nylon construction is incredibly lightweight and breathable. This does, however, mean they're slightly less durable.
Nevertheless, they're true to size and easily adjustable using a chest drawstring, waist belt, and shoulder straps. I find the included boot hanger very convenient for drying and storing these low-priced waders.
You don't have to break the bank for quality waders. That's why I'd recommend these Magreel bootfoot chest waders for anglers looking for their first waders or a backup pair.
If my mom, partner, or female friends have an interest in surf fishing, these are my top choice for breathable waders. Women often have trouble finding waders that fit their curves. This usually leads to ordering a few sizes larger which creates an uncomfortable, baggy fit. These women’s waders from Caddis provide more room where it's needed and less where it's not.
I like how lightweight and breathable the polyester and nylon material blend makes them. The chest pocket provides storage and doubles as a comfortable hand warmer. The teal color also creates a uniquely feminine style.
Women tired of awkward-fitting waders will love the look and feel of these Caddis stockingfoot waders.
Are you planning to surf fish in cold water? Make no mistake, neoprene is your friend. Unfortunately, there are very few neoprene waders specifically designed for women. So for my adventurous female friends who don't mind braving the cold, I suggest these Hisea bootfoot waders.
Anglers concerned about waders fitting your curves without being too baggy will love these waders. They're designed for women to provide a true-to-size fit that feels natural. The leopard print pattern also provides a fashionable touch.
The neoprene is durable, and at 4.5mm thick, it does a great job insulating against the cold and retaining body heat. In addition, they feature insulated rubber boots to keep your feet dry and warm. They're also rubber cleated to make walking over slippery rocks and rough terrain easier.
You don't have to sacrifice comfort for warmth. These Hisea women's neoprene waders will provide the natural fit you need while keeping you toasty warm.
Growing up in the Northeast, I understand how difficult it is to motivate yourself to get out late or early in the season. The water is frigid, the winds are icy and relentless--it takes a lot to convince yourself it's worth it. A set of heavy-duty waders designed for cold, demanding conditions makes it mentally and physically easier to get out there.
These Tidewe neoprene waders are 5mm thick, a good deal thicker than your average neoprene material waders. I love that they're fleece lined for extra warmth. My feet are the first to get cold in icy conditions, which is why I appreciate the heavy-duty 1600g of boot insulation.
No one likes leaks, but when the water is in the 30's, it's critical to have watertight waders. It's comforting to know every seam on these waders is double-stitched and liquid-sealed.
Anglers looking to stay warm in the coldest conditions mother nature can throw your way should look no further than these Tidewee waders.
Do You Really Need Waders For Surf Fishing?
If you value comfort and efficiency on the water, waders for surf fishing are your best option. Let's look at three reasons why.
1. Protection And Layering
Waders keep you dry and protect you from cold water and wind. They also let you customize your warmth depending on the weather and time of year.
During colder weather, you can choose to wear warmer clothing. During the summer, you wear lighter clothing underneath. I love the ability to put on my thermals or sweatshirt in the morning and switch to a light jacket or t-shirt once the day heats up.
2. Better Access To Spots
Some of the best fishing spots require walking into the water a good distance before you're in a safe place to cast without getting snagged on rocks. This is especially true when surf fishing at low tide or at rocky areas with long, shallow shoals.
Waders allow you to stay dry walking through these shallow areas until you are deep enough to cast safely.
3. Gear Storage
Carrying and accessing essential fishing equipment is much easier when you wear waders. I use the built-in pockets and hooks to carry pliers, rags, and extra lures. You can even bring out your cell phone if the waders have a waterproof, zippered pocket.
Alternatives To Waders
Chest waders will cover your needs in most situations. However, I use a wetsuit when I fish spots that require swimming. For example, I'd choose a wetsuit over waders if it's a higher tide and a rock I like to cast from is in water over chest high.
The downside to wetsuits is that you'll get cold quicker. Also, unless you have the proper surf fishing backpack, you won't be able to carry gear with you.
How To Size Surf Fishing Waders?
Figuring out the right size waders can be difficult, especially if it's your first set. It's incredibly frustrating when you're excited to receive your waders, only to have them arrive and find out they don't fit. You'll have to go through the hassle of returning them and waiting for a new set.
To help you find a comfortable fit, here are the steps to finding the correct size waders.
- Use measuring tape to determine body sizes
- Chest size (measure underneath the armpit, fully wrap around chest and back)
- Waist size (measure by around waist/hip)
- Inseam length (measure from the ankle to crotch)
- Determine your foot size
- Wader boot sizes usually run 1 size up from your typical shoe size. This is especially true if you plan to layer socks into bootfoot style waders
- Check out the manufacturer's description and customer reviews to see if people suggest going up one shoe size
- Look at the size chart
- The manufacturer will provide a chart that you can use to line up the dimensions you recorded in steps 1 and 2 with their wader sizes
- Your dimensions may fall into different sizes. For instance, you might be a "large" waist but a "small" inseam. You'll have to decide which dimension is more important to your comfort. Or, you need to find different waders with sizing more aligned with your body type.
Surf Fishing Waders Buying Guide
To make it easier to find the perfect pair of waders that’ll keep you warm and dry, we'll cover the key features you'll want to consider in this buyer's guide.
The style of wader refers to the areas of the body kept dry and protected against the elements. Picking the right type of wader requires thinking about where you fish and the typical conditions.
All styles of waders are available in either bootfoot or stockingfoot. First, we'll take a look at the difference between these bootfoot and stocking foot waders. Then, we'll cover each style of wader.
Bootfoot is a common style of wader that includes an attached boot.
- You don't have to spend money on separate boots
- Rocks, sand, and other debris can't enter your boots because they are tightly sealed to the waders
- Body heat from the waders circulates to the boots, keeping your feet warm
- They're easier to put on and take off because you don't have to lace up and put on boots separately
- The size that fits your body may come with boots that are too large or too small (one size does not always fit all)
- Built-in boots may not be as easy to walk in as wading boots
- They don’t fold up as compact as stockingfoot waders
Stockingfoot is a common wader style with neoprene or mesh socks attached to the pant legs.
- They're more comfortable and easier to walk in because you can customize the size and style of your wading boots
- They're easier to store and transport because they fold down into a compact size
- Neoprene stockings help keep your feet warm
- Neoprene stockings also add cushioning, making walking on rocky surfaces more comfortable
- You'll have to spend money on a separate pair of wading boots
- The on/off process is longer because you need to put on wading boots separately
- Rock, sand and other debris can enter the boot because there isn't a perfect seal between the boot and the waders
- Body heat held in the rest of the waders can't enter your boots
Chest waders cover from the feet to the chest and provide more protection from the elements than any other wader style. This is critical at spots that require walking out into waist to chest-high water before you're safe to cast without getting snagged on a rock.
Waist waders cover from the waist down. A belt, straps, or drawstring allows you to adjust the waist size. They maximize the breathability of your upper body while still allowing you to wade into semi-deep water.
These types of waders are great for summer or fishing in calm, relatively shallow water.
Hip waders cover from the upper thigh down. They're held up by straps that attach to an adjustable belt around the waist. They're the most breathable and least restricting style of waders. However, they provide the least coverage.
Hip waders are ideal when the weather's warm and you only need to wade in calm, shallow water.
Nylon and polyester are the most breathable fabrics. They're also flexible and lightweight wader materials. However, they provide the least insulation.
They're often combined with vinyl (PVC). This increases water resistance but decreases breathability. Waders that use these materials are excellent for warm conditions. They're also great if you prefer to customize the clothes layered underneath.
Neoprene is a soft rubber that provides excellent insulation and durability. However, it's less breathable than nylon or polyester. This makes neoprene best suited for cold weather/water conditions. Neoprene also is heavier and less flexible. If you plan to walk long distances, you'll want to keep this in mind.
The saying "you get what you pay for" is especially true for waders. Cheap waders will likely have less reliable seams and use thinner, less durable material. This can lead to unexpected and more frequent leaks.
You'll need to decide whether it's worth a few extra bucks to have a reliable, long-lasting pair of surf fishing waders. Otherwise, you should prepare yourself for repairs and replacements.
The right surf fishing waders will help you catch more fish while keeping you warm and dry.
Looking for the highest quality wader that provides the best protection and a premium warranty/replacement plan? The Simms Freestone stockingfoot chest waders are far and away my favorite.
However, if inexpensive waders are what you're after, the Magreel bootfoot chest waders are a great mix of quality and value.
*The information on this site is based on research and first-hand experience but should not be treated as medical advice. Before beginning any new activity, we recommend consulting with a physician, nutritionist or other relevant professional healthcare provider.