When I was a kid my wading gear consisted of a pair of rubber hip boots. They did not have felt soles and I slipped and fell often. For wet wading I used tennis shoes made by Converse.
At some point, probably in the 70’s I bought my first pair of waders and they did have felt soles. They were made by Ranger, they were bootfoot waders and the material was coated cotton canvas. Then came neoprene.
The first neoprene waders were not lined on the inside so you could not just slip them on. You had to turn them inside out and roll them onto your body starting at the toes. That was time consuming and they were hot. But, if you fell into a river they were safe. They offered built-in floatation and insulation from the cold tailwaters. They were like wearing a wetsuit.
I think it was Simms who brought the first breathable waders to the market. They used a material developed by Gore. Many of Simms waders still use the Gore developed material today. Orvis started making breathable waders and we have been selling theirs along with the Simms selection. Chota, a Knoxville company, also made a line of breathable waders to compliment their selection of wading shoes. We have sold their waders since they started manufacturing them. We made a decision years ago to stop selling neoprene waders. Our customers did not want them. We got the message and reacted to it. At times we became dealers of other companies who made waders but now we have settled on three, Chota, Orvis and Simms.
This article concentrates on the lower priced breathable waders. People are looking for a bargain today and the waders featured here are in that category. None of them are made in America. All of them are proven to be well made and durable. They are all breathable. And I would be proud to go fishing in any of them. And, all of these waders are stockingfoot in design which means you will need to have a pair of wading boots to have a complete system.
So, here they are, waders that I would recommend at a cost of under $200. They may not be as durable as waders costing more. A higher price can mean more layers of material and better durability. But these are all a good value for you and they are backed by great companies that we have done business with for years.
Of the four waders featured here the Simms Blackfoot is the lowest priced wader. It sells for $139.95. They are lightweight and packable. I like the dark brown color. The legs are straight or non-articulated. That cuts costs. Articulated legs equate to higher labor costs. But listen to this. I can hardly believe it. These $140 waders have built-in gravel guards. That was unheard of just a year or so ago. The material is called Toray and I’m not sure if that is a exclusive material developed for Simms or a brand within itself. It looks good and feels good and I have not heard any complaints from customers. So, here is a nice pair of waders for $139.95. See them online and a size chart by clicking HERE.
Next in line is the Orvis Endura Waders at $149. These waders do not have built-in gravel guards in fact they don’t come with gravel guards. But, they are made using several layers of material in critical areas like the lower legs and the leg seams have been moved to the back. That eliminates abrasion. When you walk your legs are going to rub together. That’s OK but having the seams rub together is not. Many new waders today have the seams in the back for that reason. This is an upgrade from the older Endura waders. You can buy gravel guards if you want them.
The Orvis Endura waders also come in a large selection of sizes which is unusual for a economical wader. And they come in womens sizes. The neoprene booties are sculpted and made for right and left feet. Another good point is they are easily converted to waist highs. This is a heck of a wader for $149, period. I wouldn’t let the lack of built-in gravel guards sway my choice too much. See them online and a size chart by clicking HERE.
Next is the Chota Abrams Creek II named after our famous and beautiful stream that is born in Cades Cove right here in the Smokies. They sell for $179.95. Having the name Abrams Creek is enough right there but more features abound. Here we go again. They have built-in gravel guards. That’s worth fifteen to twenty bucks. They are double stitched, dual taped and feature two layers in the knee area. That is good for durability. The adjustable suspender design makes it easy to convert to waist highs. And there is a zippered security pocket. Is that it? No. These waders have articulated knees. Remember I said earlier that articulated knees cost more money. Well, the Abrams Creek II waders have them. I own a pair of these. I like mine a lot. See them online and a size chart by clicking HERE.
Now we are at the “high end” of the “low end”, the Freestone Wader from Simms. They are made from the Toray fabric like the Blackfoot but the legs are double layered for durability. The legs are also brown and contrast with the upper. They look good. They’ve got the built-in gravel guards. Gotta like that! They are easily converted to waist highs. There is a built-in belt loop in the back. Here is some added value, fleece lined handwarmer pockets. That is worth a few bucks. We have sold a lot of these. They are a great wader for under $200. See them online and a size chart by clicking HERE.
There you have it. Four great waders for under $200. We don’t charge for shipping and the size charts are on our online catalog.