Neoprene Waders ???

Might be a really silly question, but I need an answer from experienced paddlers. Any chance I could use them ? They are Proline, don’t leak. I bought them 20 years ago so they fit me, let’s just say quite snug around the waist. I would also be sliding a neoprene skirt over it. Hard to imagine water getting through. Also, there’s not a whole lot of room for anything else once I put myself in them. Just need to hear from someone who knows for sure. I suspect it’s dangerous, but have no experience.



What problem are you trying to solve?
Warmth in the boat on a cold day, yes they would work.

Ability to wade some into cold water to get into your boat without discomfort, they would work.

Dryness if you swam, no because water would get in at the waist.

If you think you might be trying to climb back into the boat after a capsize, you may find that each leg weighs a ton as you attempt to lift them out of the water (it will depend how much room for water there is inside, but a little slack goes a long way in terms of water weight). While you are actually in the water, they will not weigh you down, and may even provide slight buoyancy. If all you need to do after a capsize is get to a nearby shore, wearing them shouldn’t be much of a problem (but wear your PFD!).

The popular notion that waders are dangerous came about due to people wearing old-style (once the only style) baggy, rubberized canvas waters. Wearing those things, a PFD-less fisherman who got in over his head might have a tough time of it, with a six-pound boot on each foot and total outfit weight of 15 pounds or so. Yes, the weight is much less in water, but the mass restricting your leg movements still applies. Those old-style waders still are dangerous in such a situation. You’ll be wearing a PFD and waders that are far less cumbersome.

Neoprene waders - at least the Orvis ones I wear for fly fishing - fit pretty snugly. As long as you wear a wading belt and cinch it tightly you shouldn’t get much water in them if you flip a kayak. But they don’t fit as snugly as a proper wetsuit and they’re a bit clunky. My waders are the “stocking foot” style which means you wear wading boots with them, the other style incorporates boots but in any case they’re still clumsy.

But, as long as you wear a PFD with them, I think they’d be fine in all but the coldest weather (when you’d really want a drysuiit).

Thanks Everyone
Never thought about go googling this question, called one of my kayaking buddies up and he suggested it. Yeah, from what experienced people (you included) are saying, I’ll most likely be using these at least for this fall. They are pretty snug, bootie style so I’ll probably use my wading shoes with felt soles. Trying to get my act together for this fall. It’s my first year kayaking and I’m still in the process of getting the necessary gear. These should work for now. They’ll probably spring a leak soon enough. Took a long walk in my pool tonight without incident. Other issue is flexibility and room to layer. There’s not a whole lot of either. Maybe by spring I’ll have a decent wet suit, etc. Thanks a ton for dispelling the myth. When I told one of my buds I was considering these waders this past spring, he said I was crazy. :slight_smile:


Used to Do That Duck Hunting
I can recall a couple times falling in the water getting out of a blind and tripping in the water. If they are tight, like mine were, you should not get enough water in them to be a problem.

I would never use them

– Last Updated: Oct-03-15 6:11 AM EST –

If I were you, I would check with the manufacturer and ask how easy it is to swim with them full of water ?

About ten years ago, I was asked to use my kayak to help look for a hunter who had slipped off a river bank and drowned. He was wearing waders!

Jack L

try it under controlled circumstances
in pool or shallow water with willing help close by. Wade in, splash around and climb back in your boat. Then you will have more actual experience than us all combined.

That said, I can easily visualize the older, baggy waders and I know gallon fresh water weighs over 8 pounds. Good recipe for problems.

Done it. Took the swim.
Wearing snug fitting neo waders with a wading belt high around the waist (common setup for duck hunting these days), I fell in the river while retrieving a wayward decoy. Went in clear up to my head and slid with current at my back and feet forward. Was able to stand up and walk out. Wool outerwear drained out, but I barely even soaked any water into the waders.

I wouldn’t use them anywhere that a swim of any distance might result because they’re just too confining. And a pfd must be worn if water will be over your head (the waders have some buoyancy but won’t hold your head up). But if they fit properly and have a wading belt or snug pfd around the top, they won’t just fill up with water.

Use a wading belt
Should be fine as long as you wear a wading belt. With a wading belt it traps air in the legs and adds to buoyancy.

I used to use them and never had a

neoprene waders
Salmon and steelhead fishermen are in boats all winter and it is the standard thing to wear. If there is any doubt about water being able to get in during a swim, wear a strap or belt around your chest. Wear your PFD. They are warm and provide flotation.

Look up wader myth video.
Even paddling clothing outfitters now sell waders for paddlers. They sometimes call them white water bibs instead of waders.

As with any gear do a test swim before each paddle, if you want to see if the gear you have will work.

I’ve had a dry suit failure that almost got me, because I was windsurfing and not wearing a life vest in the 80’s. I’ve cut my neoprene waders a few times on some rough sticks swimming in rivers and it was not problem.