If you intend to do much fishing in your life, you won’t regret buying a pair of waders. Waders are one of those items that are better to have and not need than need and not have. Even on the most beautiful of beaches with sunny weather and white sand, you can, occasionally use a pair of waders. In northern climates, where river water is the result of snow melt, you may find comfort in a good pair of waders all summer long. Even nice warm swamp water is still swamp water, so it’s normal to want something between you and it. Yeah, waders have a lot of utility, and you should probably get some. Here’s a short rundown on what to look for when you go shopping.

1. Know Your Size

To purchase most waders, you’ll need to know the length of your legs and your waist size. Sort of like buying pants. You’ll also need to know your shoe size if you’re buying a pair with built-in boots. For better fit, this isn’t the item to kid yourself about being large or extra-large in the long run.

2. Keep Them Roomy

Waders are normally a bit baggy in the chest in relation to their leg length. The boots aren’t always available in specific sizes. When in doubt, go a bit bigger when you order. Being able to wear heavy socks or a jacket underneath won’t hurt a thing.

3. Rubber is Tough

Most of the true rubber waders you’ll find for sale these days are made more for work than fishing. They’re not exactly comfy or fashionable, but they are darn tough. If you’re going to find yourself in a lot of brush or other creek debris while fishing, they’re not a bad option. Don’t worry about ripping them. These can be mended with a patch.

4. PVC is Affordable

Vinyl has been around for a long time, but it gets better and more affordable every year. These days, waders are made from PVC, which is a good choice if you don’t think you’ll be spending a lot of time in them. Or aren’t too worried about tearing them up. Go with these if you’re on a budget.

5. Neoprene is Sweet

The best of both worlds is in a pair of neoprene waders, but they cost a lot more than the other options, and you may cry if you tear them. Neoprene keeps an angler nice and warm in cold weather and breathes enough, so you don’t sweat to death. That makes for a fine piece of equipment, but somewhat of an investment.

6. Bootfoot is Foolproof

The great thing about having waders with attached boots is that you can’t forget to bring your boots. The downside to bootfoot waders is having to add ice cleats or overshoes if you want to change the tread for better traction in different environments. They’re also not one-size-fits-all. Keep this in mind when selecting a pair for you.

7. Stockingfoot Offers Options

With stockingfoot waders, you can add any old pair of boots or shoes to the bottom and walk around in the water. Assuming you don’t mind basically ruining the footwear in the water. Wading is hard on any attire. You won’t be keeping the footwear too long unless it is built specifically to work with waders.

8. Rubber Soles for Swamps

When it comes to swamp wading, a good old pair of bootfoot, mud boot-type waders are the way to go. These waders make it easier to get through the muck and are easier to clean when they get nasty. Go affordable with them, too. There’s lots of pokey stuff in swamps.

9. Felt Soles for Fly Fishing

Nothing will keep you from ending up sitting in the river better than felt-soled boots. Round river rocks are unbelievably slippery, but felt soles really do take a lot of the tripping and falling out of the equation. Just make sure to dry them out completely before moving to a new body of water. They can transfer invasive species.

10. Don’t Buy Hunting Waders

There is a very real difference between hunting waders and fishing waders, and you should try to avoid making one work for the other. Hunting waders feature more insulation and are generally made of tougher material. These waders are also a lot more expensive. Get the right pair and be happier in the long run.

A Few Final Thoughts

If you can find a used pair of waders for a reduced price, and they’re at least in the neighborhood of fitting properly, consider it not a bad purchase. Used waders are a good way to figure out if you enjoy wading and angling with a minimal investment. Get a deal and give them a try to see what you prefer.