neoprene waders

I have been wearing neoprene waders while kayak fishing in cold weather. Are they safe in case of a wet exit? Advice appreciated.

The problem

– Last Updated: Oct-02-07 12:25 PM EST –

Waders might make you -less- safe.

Once they fill up with water, they will be useless and probably dangerous in any water.

They are highly inappropriate for immersion protection in cold water.

You'd be better off in a wetsuit or dry suit.

a slight correction.
the problem is not when you are in the water, the problem is when you try to get out. If they are filled with water, even walking up the bank, you will notice the extra weight. Trying to climb back into or onto a kayak would be difficult.

But still, many people use them, with a dry top.

On kayak fishing sites, this has been

– Last Updated: Oct-02-07 6:19 PM EST –

gone over dozens of times. Same with fly fishermen. Some have tested the theory you cannot get back in the kayak...sit on tops...and have been able to get back in, but with difficulty. With sit insides, the consensus seems to be its no going to happen if the waders are full

All that said, both kayak fishermen and flyfishermen advise wearing a belt with the waders. That will keep the water out. Also, wear your PFD, it will keep you afloat.

If, however, you are fishing off the beach in the ocean or gulf, or in rivers with current, wear a farmer john or wet suit. The waders will work well with a belt for flat water and slow rivers, not swift water and the surf

The winter weather on the Alabama coast is much as it is in Texas. Spend the money for a dry top if you want, most don't...the exception being those who paddle through the surf to fish in the Gulf.

Though this article is form the West Coast, it was the easiest to access quickly, it pretty much covers the concerns of winter kayak fishermen in mild winter climates. The preference of breathable waders over neoprene is more of a comfort factor than anything eles, neoprene's are warmern:

neoprene waders
Thanks guys; guess I got some bad advice before. “They” said that the neoprene waders with a belt was excellent flotation, even without a PFD. Sounds like I need to invest in some different gear.

Not flotation, but they will keep you
warm and, if belted properly, won’t pull you down. The don’t do that anyway in flat water.

be careful with belt.
I wear waders all the time while fly fishing and don’t wear a belt.

My belief is that if I tighten up the belt and am fishing in knee deep water, the belt will keep the air in the waders if I step into a hole or take a tumble into deeper waters. This air in the bottom half of me will keep the top half of me under water, making it tough to inhale.

If I was going to wear a belt, I would leave it loose, go into water above my waist, and then cinch it down. This should expel most of the air that is trapped below it.

If I am wrong, please let me know.

Beltless Roy on the Miramichi

DANGER, we had a paddler drown
just last year. He went in, the water went in and he never had a chance.

Not the experience of other fly
fishermen. If it is a concern, then consider two things, a quick release belt and an inflatable PFD. The belt type PFD (not a substitute for the wader belt) is unobtrusive while wading and has the flotation to get you upright with waders on. I’ve never read of a wader held upside down by his waders when belted. You’ll probably float horizontally.

Debunking wader myths.
This slightly funny mythbuster is from down under, addresses your concern about air in the waders, suggests you just start swimming:

Personal experience

– Last Updated: Oct-04-07 5:13 AM EST –

I have worn waders to kayak fish in the winter when I lived in Texas. These were the breathable type, stocking foot with a dry top. I performed a test in the swimming pool. Jumped into the deep end and swam around a bit. Then climbed out over the edge as I would re-enter a sit on top. Result: About a cup of water in the waders and exit from the pool was easily accomplished. Real Deal: Capsized on a big lake in Texas in January. Water temps in the low 50's. Time in the water was significantly less than when I pool tested the theory. Thanks to a healthy burst of adrenaline. Result: Re-entry was a bit more difficult as it always is in a bouncing around sit on top, plus my hands were quite cold and getting a grip was bit more difficult.. Water in the waders negligible. I remained warm and dry. Continued to paddle and fish the rest of the day without further incident. Of course, this is purely anecdotal your mileage may vary. However, I found my results to be on par with what was reported in a recent "Field and Stream" article as well as with what the Sexy Loops site study found.

Same result as Lee Wulf, master
fly fisherman and writer, found over 30 years ago when he jumped with unbelted waders from a bridge into water over his head. Deaths of those in waders are from other factors, mostly panic and underlying health problems, not the waders.

I have also done “the test”…
having fallen in the river with neoprene waders while duck hunting. While I didn’t spend a lot of time in the freezing water, the waders didn’t even fill up with water. I think proper fit has a lot to do with this. Neoprene waders should not have a loose, sloppy fit anyway - or you lose some of the benefit of the insulation.

Speaking of fit - If you choose to use a wader belt, I can hardly imagine that you would get a tight enough seal to trap air in the waders for any length of time.

BTW - I spend some time fishing a certain hole that requires wading just short of the top of my waders. Yes - neoprene waders do give a little buoyancy. I would think that a good-fitting neoprene chest wader under a good and well-fitted paddling PFD would keep you afloat in just about anything - provided you keep your head…

Oh yeah - the sexyloop article makes me glad I don’t use a float tube. Paddlecraft…much better!

Float tube=very low center of gravity.
I used one for years. Don’t know what one would do to turtle in a float tube. But, even without waders, they are not easy to get back in when in deep water…being round seems to have something to do with that.

neoprene waders
The next time I have access to a pool I will jump in with waders on and photo results. It may well be that the difference in opinions is about neoprene vs breathable material.

Its been done, but satisfy yourself:

Sorry - can’t resist!
“But, even without waders, they are not easy to get back in when in deep water…being round seems to have something to do with that.”

Would it be easier for someone who is not round? :wink:

Round tube, round fisherman, you are
on to something.

Seems to me that since waders fit loosely and fit different people differently that it is unwise to make a generalization like this fellow does. Maybe for him and his waders the situation is benign, but for someone else the situation might be different, and neoprene waders are probably very different from non-neoprene waders.