Updated Aug 22, 2022 5:03 AM
Good waders—not just ok waders, but good waders—are key to good fishing. The best waders will let you hit the water in search of fish any day of the year, but a substandard pair of waders will leave you cold, wet, and miserable, which will end your day early, or even quickly. Waders are crucial fishing equipment, so it’s important to invest in a good pair.
Simms has been making top-notch waders for hunters and anglers since lifelong fishing guide John Simms founded the company in 1980. His mission was to create products that would stand up to the elements day in and day out—and he succeeded. In 1993, the company moved its headquarters to Bozeman, Montana, where diehard outdoorsmen continue to fulfill Simms’s original mission today. Simms is ubiquitous for its fishing waders, and it makes other products that are water-ready for all angling scenarios.
If you’re in the market for new waders, Simms waders are an excellent choice. Here’s how to choose the best type of waders for you, along with some top Simms model choices.
How to choose the best Simms waders for you
Before you purchase a new pair of waders, consider how you’re most likely to use them. Are you going to be wading through water that rises above your waist? Then, you need chest waders. Do you plan to hike to small freestone streams and rivers? Consider light-weight wading pants. Do you fish when it’s really frigid out there? Get waders made with neoprene. Are you a woman and find unisex waders ill-fitting? Get waders for women. Will you be wearing the waders in warm weather? Get lightweight breathable waders. Simms makes all of these wader types, and more.
Simms makes classic chest waders
Chest waders, which are sometimes known as fishing overalls, are the most popular version of waders because they allow you access to deeper water than hip boots or wading pants. The only drawback is that chest waders can be bulky and hot if you’re only wading in shallow water.
Simms makes a good variety of well-made chest waders at all price points. Be aware that almost all of Simms’ chest waders are of the stocking-foot variety, meaning they don’t come with wading boots attached. You will need to buy wading boots (see below) to pair with your Simms chest waders. Simms chest waders are all well-made and durable, and come with zip-lock storage pouches.
Best Simms Chest Waders: Simms Freestone Toray Stocking-Foot Waders
They’re phenomenal waders at a mid-level price point. cabelas
The Simms Freestone Waders are made of 4-layer Toray QuadraLam fabric, which is both durable and breathable, and neoprene. The legs are reinforced for strength, and articulated knees allow for mobility on the water—i.e. crouching and kneeling without having the waders bind. The 4mm neoprene stocking feet keep you warm and comfortable, and the waders even have fleece-lined handwarmer pockets. This is a great pair of waders at a reasonable price.
Do you need lightweight waders?
Simms makes the majority of its waders with breathable material. Breathable waders tend to be pricier than non-breathable waders made with nylon and rubber, but the extra couple of bucks is worth it. You won’t get that clamminess—even downright wetness, if you spend enough time in the waders—that’s a byproduct of non-breathable waders. That’s crucial if you’re going to be fishing in sweat-inducing warmer weather. And if you’re going to shell out for a high-quality pair of waders, you really can’t beat Gore-Tex, a high-quality waterproof/breathable material. Gore-Tex waders more than pay for themselves when they keep you dry not only from the water you’re wading in but also from your own sweat.
Best Simms Gore-Tex Waders: Simms G3 Guide GORE-TEX Stocking-Foot Waders
The lighter weight and superb breathability make them perfect for active warm-weather fishing. cabelas
Simms G3 Waders combine the proven water-resistance of Gore-Tex throughout with durable Simms construction. The legs feature four layers of Gore-Tex Pro Shell material, ensuring waterproofness, breathability, and durability. The Simms G3 Waders are the most popular version of Simms fishing waders.
Fish on the go with wading pants
One of the major drawbacks with chest waders is that most hunters and anglers typically only use the upper half of the product a small percentage of the time. Odds are, you’re going to spend most of your time in ankle- or knee-deep water, meaning the top portion of your chest waders are rendered useless. This isn’t a big issue, but it can be inconvenient, especially during the middle of summer, when your upper half may start baking inside your chest waders. And if you have to hike to get to your fishing area, you’ll get hot quickly.
If you spend a lot of time fishing in warm weather, consider wading pants. These serve the same purpose as chest waders, but they’re more comfortable on hot days and are a great choice if you’re fishing from a raft or drift boat. You won’t be able to wade above your waist, but for smaller waders or in areas where you won’t need to wade deeply, wading pants are perfect.
Best Simms Wading Pants: Simms Freestone Wading Pants
They’re great for anglers who don’t need to wade deeply or fish smaller creeks. cabelas
Simms Freestone Wading Pants are perfect for small creek fishing on warm summer days. They’re lightweight and breathable but still solidly waterproof. Best of all, these wading pants are durable and can stand up to busting through creek-side willows without springing any leaks.
Simms makes great waders for women
Most waders are made for men—and men’s bodies. Men’s waders are typically fairly wide around the shoulders and taper down to the hips. These often don’t fit well on women, with material where it’s not needed and not enough material where it is.
The company makes several types of waders for women, with various parts of the waders sized to accommodate the female form.
Best Simms Waders for Women: Simms Freestone Z Stockingfoot Waders for Ladies
They are tailored to fit women and allow for more natural mobility. cabelas
Simms Freestone Z Stockingfoot Waders for Ladies are made with 4-layer Toray QuadraLam waterproof breathable on the lower sections and three layers on the upper. They’re designed to fit women’s bodies, and even the feet sections are anatomically correct. There’s a fleece-lined hand warming pocket, a zippered top stash pocket, and a wading belt is included.
Double up with Simms wading boots
Wading boots, also known as wading shoes, are necessary when using stockingfoot waders. Your wading boots will go over the waders’ neoprene booties and protect your waders from tearing, while also giving you traction on the riverbed or lake bottom.
Wading boots are sized to match your typical shoe size but the fit is only approximate, because wading boots are worn over the thick neoprene foot sections. This means that it’s a good idea to have your waders in hand before trying on wading boots, as the thickness of your booties will affect how the wading boots fit. Also decide if you want felt, rubber, or interchangeable soles. Felt is banned in some areas and bodies of water because it can transport harmful invasive species and pathogens from one body of water to another, but is generally grippy on gravelly and sandy terrain. Rubber is better for hiking to your fishing spot and in potentially icy conditions. An interchangeable sole wading boot gives you maximum versatility.
Best Simms Wading Boots: Simms Freestone Wading Boots
The lugged rubber wading boots are comfortable and offer excellent traction. cabelas
The Simms Freestone Wading Boots feature lugged rubber soles that won’t transport invasives, but offer excellent traction on slippery streambeds. Midsole cushioning provides comfort, and strong materials prevent abrasion.
Budget fishing gear: What you get for less than $180
Waders are relatively pricey pieces of fishing gear. It makes sense: Waders are required to be entirely waterproof while putting up with the abuse of walking along brambly riversides, and that doesn’t come cheaply. A poorly made pair of waders will spring a leak—or three—quickly and stop doing the job it was made for. Don’t be afraid to spend more money and get a pair of waders that will last a while.
Simms’ cheapest waders are still priced well above the cheapest waders on the market today. If you’re looking for a true pair of budget waders, consider a budget-oriented manufacturer like Reddington or Cabela’s. That said, Simms does offer some lower-priced waders that are still well-made and durable. They may not feature premium Gore-Tex, but they will still get the job done.
Best Cheap Simms Waders: Simms Tributary Stockingfoot Waders
They’re Simms’ lowest priced waders, but still boast durable construction and breathability. cabelas
The Simms Tributary Stockingfoot Waders have durable polyester construction, are breathable, and feature a secure chest pocket to keep tools and fly boxes at hand. A large fleece-lined, reach-through hand-warmer pocket is handy for fishing during those cold spring or crisp fall days.
Q: How long do Simms waders last?
Simms waders are known to last a very long time. If you maintain them well—by making sure to dry them after every outing and store them unfolded, away from the sun—they will last for many years.
Q: How do you waterproof Simms waders?
Simms waders are waterproof. Hit the water with confidence that you’re going to stay dry and comfortable.
Q: Do Simms waders have a lifetime warranty?
Simms waders do not have a lifetime warranty. The company will provide a free repair if you spring a leak within your first year of owning the waders. Beyond that, Simms charges a flat $60 for wader repairs.
The final word on Simms waders: Dependability
Simms is recognized by experienced anglers for making dependable, well-made waders. Ill-fitting, leaky, cumbersome waders impede fishing or make you stop entirely, which makes investing in a pair of Simms waders an investment in good fishing.