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Waders - Hip or Chest?

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#1 Guest_schambers_*

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Posted 23 February 2008 - 11:18 PM

I want to buy my first set of waders. I remember wearing my Dad's waders when I was a teenager, but that was mumblety years ago. I tried a pair on at Dick's Sporting Goods the other day, and I've been looking around on the internet. It looks like the ones that have boots to almost fit me have a waist too small, so I wonder if hip waders are the way to go. I also considered the stocking foot type. Then maybe I could use wading shoes with them, and use the shoes alone in the summer.

What do you folks like best? I don't have much $$ to spend.

Oh yeah, I'm a woman, if that makes any difference to your advice! I'm not small, so men's might fit as well as women's.

#2 Guest_fundulus_*

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Posted 23 February 2008 - 11:25 PM

Hip waders are relatively inexpensive and work well if you're careful where you walk in a stream; you're also a little more agile than with waders more like chest waders. I've been using Hodgman waders, which are not quite chest waders, designed for hunters. But they're expensive at ~$100. The sizes are somewhat arbitrary. Larger women wind up with men's sizes, smaller women wind up with child sizes. Dick's seems to be the easiest place to buy relatively inexpensive ones.

#3 Guest_smilingfrog_*

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Posted 24 February 2008 - 01:32 AM

Based on my personal experience, I would recomend chest waders if you can find a pair that fit reasonably well. There are plenty of times when I have been out collecting where I have wound up waist deep or even deeper. There are some relatively inexpensive ones out there if you aren't looking for insulated waders. I have been using the vulcanized rubber waders for several years. I haven't found them difficult to move around in though others collecting with me say that they have. I have never used hip waders so can't comment on how easy or hard they are to get around in. If you do go with those, as fundulus said, be careful where you walk. It's easy to get in deeper than you planned.
If you do go with the vulcanized rubber chest waders make sure to hang them for storage, don't fold them up and put them back in the box. I found that out the hard way. :blush:

#4 Guest_drewish_*

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Posted 24 February 2008 - 02:10 AM

I'd go with chest waders if possible. I've never used hip waders but a fishing buddy had them and got wet a number of times in cold mountain streams. You don't have to be quite so careful in chest waders as you do in hip waders. I also prefer the stocking foot because I like the feel of my own boots. If you don't spend a lot of time in the water, get the hodgeman waders. As long as you are careful not to run into rocks and sticks they will last awhile.

#5 Guest_mikez_*

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Posted 24 February 2008 - 08:19 AM

I have been wearing waders since I was 10 years old. I won't tell you how long ago that was but I will say there were no neoprene waders available back then. :rolleyes:
I grew up in a family of wading fishermen and hang out mostly with wading fishermen.
I will give you my observations on hip boots; no one who has worn waders ever goes back to hip boots. Lots of people start with hippers but very few stay with them long. Bottom line is, it's almost impossible to stay dry in hip boots unless you never go in past ankle deep. Once you get out there and start seeing stuff you want to catch, you'll never be able to stop yourself from going "just a little bit further". Of course that happens with waders too but you get more water to explore before you finally get wet. :smile2:
Nowadays there are so many fishermen and women of all shapes and sizes out there that you should be able to find a pair that fits you no matter what your measurments are. That will not be true if you limit yourself to the discount stores. If money is no object, I highly recommend a flyfishing shop. They usually have a good variety of top name brands but more importantly, a good fly shop should have excellent customer service with a live person showing you different waders, explaining the differences and letting you try on some of them. It's also very nice to have the backing of a reputable shop and a top name manufacturer if something goes wrong down the road. Also, flyfishing is the segment of the sport most likely to attract women so most shops carry women's sizes and have experience fitting them.
If you don't want to pay the extra at a flyshop, the catalog stores like BPS and Cabelas carry a wide selection including womens sizes. You can shop them online too.
As for boot foot vs stocking, there are trade offs.
Boot foot is cheaper, alot cheaper when you realize that not only are the stocking foot waders themselves more expensive, but then you have to buy wading shoes too.
The only other down side of stocking foot is that when you wade in strong current on sand or gravel, you get sand and gravel in your wading shoes. Not only is that very uncomfortable, it can wear holes in your waders. You can buy gaiters and some highend brands come with them.
The major plus side of stocking foot is the comfortable feel of a well fitting wading shoe. Your feet will slip and slide in a boot foot wader making walking long distances uncomfortable at best. Also, if you wade deep, water pressure has a way of finding those loose fitting folds in the rubber boot and compressing them into a mighty uncomfortable pinch.
I do sometimes wade wet in just the wading shoes as you mentioned above.
One last tip which can save you many a cold wet or even dangerous dunking is to pay the extra few bucks and get felt soles, whether on boot foot or wading shoes. It's like night and day when you hit those boulders that feel like greased bowling balls.

#6 Guest_sandtiger_*

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Posted 24 February 2008 - 08:32 AM

I like stocking foot neoprene chest waders. I never understood why anyone would want the hips, you never know when you might end up in deeper water and even in shallow water you end up doing quite a bit of splashing around. Neoprene is much easier to move about in then rubber and tend to last longer.

#7 Guest_farmertodd_*

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Posted 24 February 2008 - 10:39 AM

Hey Susan, it was GREAT to meet in person yesterday!

I thought about your wader question some more last evening, and here you asked online already :) In hind sight, I should have grabbed a pair out of the garage so you could see exactly what I was talking about. Sorry I didn't think to do that.

I think your best bet that will have the most flexibility in a variety of condtions and long last for you will be to go with a stocking foot 3 mil neoprene wader and then a canvas lug soled boot or appropriately sized tennis shoe (which is 2 sizes bigger than what you normally wear).

If you go to Cabelas up in Dundee, they'll fit you perfectly, as they'll have all sizes of these waders with with all heights, and you can try them on right in the store. These waders cost $50.

Then the boots are where you'd have some choices... Cabelas has a lug soled canvas boot for $35. That's pretty much the cheapest for the specialized... If you go that route, I would consider with parting with another $15 (for $50) and get the Hodgeman lug soled canvas boots (which they may not carry there). They have held up SO much better for me. I can look up model numbers and stuff if you go this way.

However... To really save some bucks, I would borrow a pair of my neoprene gaitors and go to ValueCity and get a tennis shoe for cheap that's 2 sizes too big. Then you'd have money left over to buy your own gaitors for those hot summer months and wear the same shoe. Something to think about.

Me? I use nylon sock foot waders. But I'm a sweaty guy who over exerts trying to catch every danged last fish in the river, so if I'm wearing waders (which is only really an October thru early May thing), it's worth it to spend the extra money so I don't sweat to death. It gets funky in there. But I do have 3 mil for walleye fishing, when I'm just standing still. And most people aren't made for cold weather like I am. So the neoprene is really the most flexible for them.

You're more than welcome to stop over and see the differences before you go shopping. Again, sorry I didn't think about it when you were already down here.


#8 Guest_nativeplanter_*

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Posted 24 February 2008 - 12:09 PM

Finding waders to fit a woman is a huge pain in the a@@. My advice is DON'T bother with men's waders. They simply do not fit properly, and what you think is tolerable in the store becomes unberarable in the river. You will want stocking-foot waders so that you can choose your own shoe. I'm not sure that they even make women's boot-foot waders. The problem with boot-foot is that women tend to have much narrower feet than men, so the boots become a liability as you slide around in them and fall on your patooty. Or knees, which is much, much more painful on the rocks.

I also suggest chest waders. If the water is shallow, you can always roll the top down to your waist. They just provide more flexibility if you are going to only have 1 pair.

Also, I suggest buying in person, not the internet. To make sure you get a decent fit and can fit the shoe properly (the neoprene booties of different brands are often different thicknesses). The companies are still mostly catering to men, and haven't really caught up to designing for women (instead of just making it smaller). So, an in-person fit can save a lot of trouble.

It can be more expensive at first this way, but it's a lot cheaper than wearing a pair a couple times then deciding that you need a better pair. Been there, done that...

#9 Guest_Irate Mormon_*

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Posted 24 February 2008 - 01:11 PM

Ditto chest waders of the stocking foot variety, if you can afford to go that route. And yes, it's nice to have felt soles if you're gonna be on large rocks.

#10 Guest_teleost_*

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Posted 24 February 2008 - 01:45 PM

I agree with all that has been said above but would like to offer an opinion on stocking foot vs boot. In my experience stocking foot waders will usually fail (leak) in the feet and boot waders will fail where the wader meets the boot. My buddy Matt calls me a swamp monkey (he's right) and I've found I prefer boot waders on soft bottom. Nothing like leaving half of a $ 50 pair of wading shoes in 18" of silt. If you spend lots of time on very soft bottom, this is something to consider.

#11 Guest_farmertodd_*

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Posted 24 February 2008 - 01:49 PM

Finding waders to fit a woman is a huge pain in the a@@.

Yeap. This is why she's lucky to have Cabelas so close. We had a terrible time fitting Erika (Baby's got back! What can you say? :) ) and I just threw my resolve to never shop at Cabelas out the window. It was waaaay better to just try them on there. And they'll have womens sizes etc.

Felt bottoms here is a bad proposition. It's always a balance between how much habitat either felt or lug are appropriate for. Around here, the 2 times in a life time where we're on rocks that actually have thin periphyton like a trout stream aren't worth the every day slippage of saturating the felt with mud and biting it on silt laced rock (esp exposed rock). The one time I seriously hurt myself falling was walking on some dried bedrock on the Maumee in felt. I really smoked my elbow when I went down, and if I hadn't been 25, I mighta busted my arm. Rubber is far more forgiving on those substrates.


#12 Guest_nativeplanter_*

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Posted 24 February 2008 - 01:53 PM

Teleo, are your boot-foots rubber bottomed? Mine ar felt. I guess they can come either way?

Anyway, the sliding around in the boot is still a huge consideration. I once lost two toenails by sliding all day in boot foot waders. Not pretty. Or comfortable.

#13 Guest_Skipjack_*

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Posted 24 February 2008 - 01:57 PM

I say breathable chest waders, stocking foot variety. I think this gives you the most flexibility. You can wear your wading shoes with or without the waders. Breathable waders will serve you longer into the spring. In midwinter, you can add layers underneath. Sweat pants, long johns, or fleece pants all work well.

If you wear out the boots in boot foot waders, the waders are shot. If you wear out a pair of wading shoes, the stocking foot waders are still serviceable. I have worn out 6 pairs of wading shoes in the last five years. So to me it seems like footwear is the weak link.

I also feel that felt soles are a must. Many streams are downright dangerous without them

Cabelas or Bass Pro are good places to find reasonably prices waders.

#14 Guest_farmertodd_*

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Posted 24 February 2008 - 02:22 PM

Teleo, are your boot-foots rubber bottomed? Mine ar felt. I guess they can come either way?

Anyway, the sliding around in the boot is still a huge consideration. I once lost two toenails by sliding all day in boot foot waders. Not pretty. Or comfortable.

Yes, they can also dig into your shins. And make blisters. As well, they hold air, which makes a huge difference in how tired your legs are at the end of the day. You've not only been supporting yourself on uneven bottom all day, you've been shoving a balloon under the water with every step as well. I can attribute faaar too many falls at the end of the day to boot foot compared to sock foot.

And I disagree that layering up for a poikilothermic organism like the human female will do anything for them :) It just doesn't work. When it's cold, they'll still need to layer under the neoprene, and when it's warm, they're not going to be upset about having a little bit of sweat.


#15 Guest_teleost_*

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Posted 24 February 2008 - 02:23 PM

Teleo, are your boot-foots rubber bottomed? Mine ar felt. I guess they can come either way?

Anyway, the sliding around in the boot is still a huge consideration. I once lost two toenails by sliding all day in boot foot waders. Not pretty. Or comfortable.

Currently all of my waders are rubber (lug) soles. I went through many felt sole wading boots years ago and I could never get a full season out of them. Are they any better these days?

My toes are stinging just reading about losing your toenails.

#16 Guest_farmertodd_*

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Posted 24 February 2008 - 02:27 PM

Currently all of my waders are rubber (lug) soles. I went through many felt sole wading boots years ago and I could never get a full season out of them. Are they any better these days?

I've been really happy with the Hodgeman lug sole boots. Here's the boots:


You can get them straight from hodgman, never thought of that. lol

Go back to "Footwear" in the sidebar, and you can see the cheaper canvas ones too. I can't guarantee anything about them though. And we broke a LOT of armor in the streams this year getting out rayed beans. I've NEVER had a pair of boots last me even a regular season.


#17 Guest_schambers_*

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Posted 24 February 2008 - 04:02 PM

Thanks for all the great advice! As you all probably figured out, I met farmertodd yesterday and he showed me his tanks. (Thank you, Todd!) I went home thinking to myself, "Gotta get some waders! Wanna look for fish right now!"

After reading all the replies, I think the best option for me would be stocking foot hip waders and some wading shoes. I'm really attached to my toenails. (Big wince.) I don't need insulation, I'm always hot anyway. I can wear some sweat pants or something heavy underneath if it's cold. Since I remember flopping around in Dad's waders back when, I really like the idea of the shoes that fit well. I'll have to plan a trip to Cabela's.

#18 Guest_schambers_*

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 12:13 AM

I went to Cabelas and got some waders today. I ended up with men's waders and wading shoes. I told the guy who waited on me what I wanted, and he went and got me a pair of breathable stocking foot waders that fit. They were Cabelas brand and $80. He had a little more trouble with the wading shoes, he had to go get two boxes of those. They didn't have much in the way of lug soled shoes. The salesman told me that they just quit carrying some that would have fit me well. I tried some Hodgman's lug soles and they were a little long, although they lace up snugly and my feet didn't slide around in the store. I also tried the womans Cabelas brand shoes. They fit well, but only came in felt soles. I went with the Hodgman's for $60.

Now I just need my fishing license and I'm all set!

#19 Guest_farmertodd_*

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 11:27 AM

Awesome! Maybe we can go play in Tenmile this Sunday!? I'd like to get some orangethroats and blacksides, my last cohort finally exhausted. I guess I'll have to see how well the tiling of the floors goes tho ;)

Aw man it's March already. Crap I gotta get a license too now lol.

#20 Guest_schambers_*

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 03:21 PM

Cool! I'm open Sunday. I'll PM you my number. I'll be sure to pick up my license this week. I can't wait to get them wet. Though if it keeps raining here and the ground doesn't thaw, I'll need them to get to the mailbox.

I have to buy a powerhead, too! If I get a small one & put it in a 5 gallon tank, will that work for quarantine? I ran out to Select Stone today and bought some nice rocks & gravel. I'll be working on my tanks this week.

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