Tips For Buying Your Next Wading Jacket

What you need to know before pulling the trigger on a new wading jacket

One of our guides tells his story about a Simms Guide Classic jacket he bought back in 2009.  To this day it is still in operation despite getting throttled by many seasons in Alaska, 15 winter steelhead seasons, and multiple trips to the flats.  He wished he would have known the jacket was going to last so long as he jokes “it was an ugly color when he bought it and didn’t get any better with age.”  

Whether you are replacing, upgrading, or making a first time purchase on a wading jacket here are the 5 key points to weigh when shopping for a wading jacket.

#1 Quality

As the saying goes…”there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear.”  A wading jacket is an essential piece of equipment to help keep you fishing when the weather turns ugly.  Poor quality jackets can ruin a day of fishing and even provide an element of danger if conditions are cold and wet.  

Quality waterproof fabric like GORE-TEX or H2No® will keep you dry.  They are the top two materials on the market that when constructed into a wading jacket will last you for years.  They will also protect your body from the wind and rain. With the advances in materials they have been able to create better waterproof yet breathable fabrics that are lightweight.  Make sure to take note that just because it feels lighter on the touch does not mean it is less durable.  

When choosing a wading jacket, it is important to consider the brand of which it is produced.  We believe that Simms and Patagonia are the top brands creating wading jackets for our customers.  While there are several more competing brands out there we’re sticking with these two as they continue to create the highest quality gear.  

#2 Comfort

Make sure to take into consideration that higher end wading jackets can last over a decade.  You’ll really want to make sure the fit is right or you might be uncomfortable for years.  Make sure the jacket fits comfortably on your arms and shoulders and that your body has good range of motion.  For new anglers, note that most wading jackets are cut short in the torso to keep the jacket out of the river when wading deep.  Some of the newer styles have started to get more lengthy so that they can be worn as everyday apparel.   

Most wading jackets on the market are non insulated waterproof jackets.  Meaning they will protect you from the elements but will not keep you warm.  Choosing the right layering system underneath to stay warm is key.  While getting fitted for a new jacket take into consideration what you will want to wear underneath.  Bring your layers with you when trying on jackets in the shop to get the most realistic fit possible.

#3 Price

The number one determining factor on how much you should spend on a new jacket should be how many days a year you will fish in it.  For the angler who is willing to battle the harsh cold, wet, and windy days all winter long should look for higher end jackets.  The higher the price correlates to the amount and quality of material, pockets, and zippers used to make it.  These jackets fetch a hefty price tag, but that is the price to pay for top of the line gear to protect you from the elements for years to come.

For the casual angler who will less frequently spend days in the cold and wet conditions a mid priced jacket should do.  The mid priced jackets are a great tool for the intermediate level angler who is starting to spend more days in the elements.  Lower priced jackets are a good starting point for the new angler.  The jackets wont break the bank and will keep you dry for a few seasons.  They are a great first time purchase but will probably be upgraded down the road.

#4 Material

We can’t say enough good things about GORE-Tex.  The fabric has been around since the 1950’s and offers the most breathable waterproof, and windproof material on the market.  There is something about the feel and comfort that can’t be beat.

Patagonia’s H2No® has been put through the gauntlet of product testers in the harshest conditions.  It performs at the highest level and will be with you for the long haul.  

‘Toray’ is a waterproof breathable material used in jackets with a lower price.  This material will do all the same things higher priced jackets do just for not as long of a time.  The life span of products made with ‘Toray’ tend to delam quicker than GORE-Tex and H2No®.  

#5 Features

After considering material, make sure to study the bells and whistles of the jacket.  Check out the pocket configuration and zippers and make sure it suits you.  Internal pockets for phones, wallet, keys, and fly boxes are key.  Bigger chest pockets for fly boxes and tackle are important.  Check out that the cuffs on the wrists are comfortable.  Study the hood of the jacket and see if you like how it sinches and integrates with a ball cap or a stocking cap.  

Simms Bulkley Jacket


We absolutely love the new version of the Bulkley Jacket.  This is a PrimaLoft® Silver insulated jacket on the inside and 2 layered GORE-TEX outer shell.  It is 100% waterproof, windproof but still breathable.



Mostly, we like how you can wear light layers underneath giving your body more mobility while fishing.  The PrimaLoft® Silver inside provides plenty of warmth all winter long. We are digging the neoprene cuff system being the most comfortable cuff while casting and rowing.

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Patagonia Swiftcurrent Jacket


This 4 layer H2No bullet proof jacket is the most durable jacket in our line up.  It features two big front pockets for fly boxes and two zipper lined hand warming pockets on the chest.  The hood is fully adjustable, it has vents so you don’t get overheated and it integrates to any headwear you choose.  

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Simms G3 Guide Wading Jacket


The G3 jacket is made with 3 layers of the first GORE-TEX Pro stretch.  This jacket gives your body full range of motion while on the water.  The gore membrane is folded up like an accordion when manufactured.  When your body moves the accordion folds expand and flatten giving you incredible range of motion.  The cut of the jacket fits longer from the collar to the waist so it is suitable for everyday wear.  

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Simms Guide Classic


This timeless wading jacket has been in production for decades.  The quality of materials have improved over time but the design of this jacket has remained the same.  It is made with 3 layer GORE and it has been the workhorse for anglers.  It has the true wading jacket cut above the waist for the anglers who like to push the limits when it comes to wading deep.   

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Simms Freestone


This is the best entry level jacket on the market.  It is constructed with 3 layers of ‘Toray’ with ample pockets.  It has a comfortable fit and can withstand the pouring rain and when the wind blows sideways.  This jacket fits true to size and you will get a lot of use with it out of the gate.

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1 comment

  • This is really great information! I willbe there to buy soon

    Bryce Wang

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