What are Waders?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 03 October 2019
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Waders are a style of waterproof gear designed to allow people to stand in relatively deep water without getting wet. There are two basic styles, hip waders and chest waders, and when they are worn with a warm insulating layer, they can be extremely useful in cold, wet places. For some jobs, this gear may be required while at work, to ensure that employees are protected from the elements. There are a number of applications for waders, which are also available from an assortment of companies and manufacturers.

Some of the primary uses of waders are outdoor sports such as ocean fishing, fly fishing, and hunting, where people might be forced to wade through water. They prevent the body from getting wet, and potentially catching cold. Commercial fishermen also wear waders while at sea and processing fish, as a protective garment. Some zookeepers also wear them, as do people who work in public works facilities such as water treatment plants. In addition, specially designed waders are available for people who work with chemicals. Naturalists and biologists frequently don them in the course of work as well.


Hip waders are boots which are held up at the top with straps that attach to a belt. They are made from strong, waterproof material that is also flexible so that the wearer can move with some degree of freedom. If water gets in through the top of a pair of hip waders, however, it can be extremely uncomfortable. For this reason, many people wear chest waders, which look like a pair of suspenders with boots attached.

Waders are not usually designed to be worn next to the skin. Ideally, the wearer has an insulating layer provided by pants between the waders and the skin. This layer also helps to keep the body warm, as waterproof materials like rubber can start to feel cold and clammy after a prolonged period of wear. Quilted jackets can also be worn to insulate the torso, and thermal underwear can be worn underneath everything in extremely cold places.

When selecting a pair of waders, users should try them on with the gear that would normally be worn with them. Consumers should be certain that they will allow them to move freely, and that they are not uncomfortable. An assortment of colors and patterns are available to cater to personal taste and uniform requirements. Different materials will also feel different, so wearers may want to try on several types before making a final decision.


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