Waders: Neoprene v. Breathable [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Waders: Neoprene v. Breathable

09-18-2004, 12:53 AM
Starting out at this, and I am ready to invest in a pair of chest waders. Question is, what things should I look for? I live in the PNW, we get some cold waters. Thoughts on Neoprene 3MM or 5MM versus Brethable waders would be appreciated. I am looking at something to go for most of the year round.



09-18-2004, 01:36 AM
Good evening,
Macker, I have to say I started out with a pair of neo's, 3mm, but found them to be BLOODY hot during our summers here above the 45th. So I switched to a pair of "Breathers" when, on a rather long hike through the woods, first day of a 3 day excursion, I tore a significant hole in the right foot of my neo's! Thats right no repair kit or super gooo. I made the best of casting from the shore, and made some bone chilling crossing's, brrrrrrrrrr!
So for your first pair, breathers would be my choice! And you can adjust the clothing under to your own comfort zone.

Oh, the neo's? They act as my back-up pair now, stashed in the back of the pick-up, just in case :wink:

And I remain..........dry :D


Nooksack Mac
09-24-2004, 04:45 PM

Here's one guy's perspective: (Note: I'm a thin-blooded Southerner who needs extra insulation year-round). I do the great majority of my fishing in cold rivers or cool lakes and saltwater, year-round. At least two-thirds of the time, I'm wearing 5 mm neoprenes, which, worn over thermal underdrawers and heavy wool trousers, keep even me comfortable in mid-winter steelhead streams. For spring/early summer streams and float-tubing, I switch to 3.5 mm neoprenes. (Both neoprenes are Cabela's, inexpensive but entirely adequate.) For summer-mild streams, I enjoy the light weight and comfort of breathable stockingfoot waders.

Willie Gunn
09-24-2004, 05:49 PM
I need both. Neoprenes for winter autumn breathables in the summer

tony j
09-27-2004, 01:15 PM
I like breathable waders but there are durability issues with them. I'm on my third pair of up-market breathables in just two seasons and I fish less than others here I'm sure. The warranty I have with these waders does, at least, mean they are replaced free of charge each time so - at this rate anyway - I'll never have to buy another pair of waders!!

09-28-2004, 02:50 AM
I fish in Sweden and i have bought G3 for the summer and when it gets really cold i also have a pair of neoprenes. PS I hate neoprenes but in the winter you have to keep warm.

11-15-2004, 12:55 PM
I agree about neo's being warm in the summer. I fish cold streams in Arkansas. The water is 55 deg or so, but the air is 90 plus. You can certainly get a nice sauna with 3-5mm neoprenes. I'm bucking for a new pair of breathables for next summer.


11-15-2004, 02:54 PM
Normally I wear breathables and when October & November come around, I pack on the lohnjohns and the insulated pants under the waders, but even this is not enough when standing still for long periods of time in close to freezing water. When it gets that bad, I shift to 5mm neoprene (Bare). Two issues: I should've bought bootfoot, not stocking foot. There's no substitute for bootfoot waders if you're gonna fish in the snowy months. Secondly, 5mm neoprene gives a body a workout when you're moving around. These aren't hiking waders. You can easily work up an almighty sweat on your upper half while your legs and feet are getting cold. When I strip off at the end of the day, everything is wet from sweat. 5mm are also a workout to climb around in as they don't give too easily. I'm in the market for a pair of bootfoot 3mm.

Anybody who wants to buy a lightly used, size medium 5mm neoprene Bare stockingfoot deluxe wader that's never leaked and has been well looked after, PM me.

11-15-2004, 03:00 PM
I do not own neoprene waders but I can't imagine I ever will either. I boil in breathables even in May just after iceout and the water is only 5-8 C though the air can be a lot warmer. I am partial to walking the most ridiculous long routes through the woods though. It seems to me that what you do on land should be at least as important in your choice as to where and when and for how long you go into the water.

11-15-2004, 03:42 PM
I recomend that you buy your self a pair of breathable waders. I have been breathable for about 10 years. If its really cold I just wear another layer of some high tech pile clothing under the waders. I must admit that an average day of fishing for me includes from 3 to 12 miles of trail hiking so neoprenes is totaly useless for me. The breathables are widely accepted as the perfered choice by the vast majority of anglers here in the PNW.

11-16-2004, 11:22 AM
I wouldn't even consider neoprenes anymore. Breathables are superior waders.

I use bootfoots in the winter and the water can often be in the mid-30s. If you need more warth, simply wear more clothing underneath them. It doesn't matter whether you have your insulation under the wader or rely on the wader to provide some insulation itself (neoprene). Water pressure can compress your clothing so try to wear something that wont be so affected.

11-16-2004, 12:27 PM
I started out float tubing with Seal Dries! I could only fish occasionally, so whenever I could get out, I did. That sometimes meant some pretty cold water and windy days. You don't move around much in a float tube so you learn to wear expedition undies if you want to stay warm under those conditions.
Waders evolved. Neoprenes were a blessing. Not only were they warm, ,they flexed and stretched. All was well until I took up stream fishing. Mountain streams stay cold well into the summer. I found there were days that, even with 2mm chest highs, I was wishing I had left them at home and wet waded. And you look pretty silly walking around in (even lightweight) long johns, which you must wear under neo's to wick away the persperation, and carring your waders. :Eyecrazy: 100 degree air temp and 55 degree water is a hard combo to work with.
I put off going to breathables until they evolved to the point that they would not tear whenever you walked through the brambles..... And now I'll never go back to neoprenes. Even though I now live in the PNW and my river stays cold all year long. You can wear these things over anything from fleece to Levi's, dress pants, walking shorts. You can wear them all day long. Hike in them. Drive in them even.
You can always pack on more fleece and stay warm. But you can't work in cold water, warm weather and stay cool,,,,without breathables.
So,,,unless you sit in a boat all day in frigid weather, there is no question about it. Breathable waders, and a breathable rain coat. Two of the best investmates you can make.

Bob Pauli
12-11-2004, 03:03 PM
What is neoprene?

12-11-2004, 03:15 PM
you can alway dress warmer, but you can't cool down in neopremes. Just wear some wool socks, I wear fleece pants under the breathables in the spring.....works like a charm!
PS" plus...that is what the thermous of hot chocolate is for :-)

12-12-2004, 02:48 AM
Year Round Breathables for me.

Thats from Winter Fishing in Washington to August on the Henry's Fork.....pretty much everywhere in between. Throw down the extra cash and go Breathable. You can thank us later. :razz:

Brian Simonseth
12-12-2004, 02:57 PM
Breathable for me year round, Moonlight kind echoed my sediments about neopermes. I donít walk nearly as far as Moonlight, I just add a layer in my breathables.

salt dog
12-14-2004, 08:36 PM
I gotta go with breathables year round. I'm dating myself, but I still recall the rubberized canvas waders I sneaked out of my Dad's closet as a youth when heading out to fish. Compared to those, neo's are great! But, after wearing breathables, my neopreme waders are strictly backup and for guests.

Regarding longevity, breathables do have some problems though. My issue appears to be from the friction of the neoprene footer rubbing inside my wading boots causing seepage so small that its just enough to make you uncomfortable damp on a cold day, but to small to find the hole and fix it.

I noticed "Neoprene Socks" advertised to be worn over the wader neoprene foot as extra insulation and to protect against excess wear on the footer. Is anyone using these and have an opinion on their value? I'm about to re-gear up for another pair of boots and breathable waders and could use some feedback on the subject. With a 2mm Neo sock, would you go up a full boot size ?

12-15-2004, 08:14 PM
Breathable all the way! Buy the best that you can afford. In waders you get what you pay for...don't skimp. Save an extra $50 a month for a few months and buy a pair of Simms top of the line guide model extra heavy duty what ever along with a pair of their boots and don't look back (speaking from experience two pair of neoprene, one pair of non breathable light weights and one pair of Cabela's later...).