Written by: Tim Daughton
Bootfoot waders (far left) offer certain advantages in cold weather and for more (ahem) big-boned anglers. Stockingfoot waders (center) and wading boots are more comfortable stable, and are better for situations where you need to walk or hike.
[Editor’s note: I’m lucky enough to be writing this blog from a building that’s full of experts on fly-fishing gear, tactics, destinations, and anything else that relates to the sport. If you’d like to ask a question about any of these topics, comment below this post or send an email to email@example.com.]
Question from Joseph Tigerclaws Torres on Facebook: Is a bootfoot wader better than a sock foot one? Why would you choose one over the other?
Answer from Tim Daughton, Orvis Product Developer for waders and boots: Neither stockingfoot nor bootfoot waders are necessarily better than the other. They do, however, offer certain benefits that must be considered before deciding which is right for you and the type of fishing you do.
Stockingfoot waders require the angler to purchase a separate wading boot from a wide selection of styles and features. Try on several different boots to find the one that offers the best fit, support, and function for your needs, which is paramount to providing all-day comfort while fishing. If your feet are comfortable, you will be more likely to stay out and fish longer.
Stockingfoot waders and rubber-sole wading boots are more comfortable and offer better support for those times when you need to hike in to the fishing spot.
photo by Sandy Hays
Stockingfoot waders also pack down relatively small, which—when coupled with a lightweight wading boot—makes them an ideal choice for the traveling angler. Given that the airlines are not only charging for checked bags but will ding you for more money if your bag is over 50 pounds, too, keeping the weight of your gear to a minimum is important. If walking or hiking moderate to long distances is part of your fishing routine, then stockingfoot waders are the ideal choice given the weight factor and the fit of the independent wading boot. There is a much larger selection of stockingfoot waders, which allows you to find a pair that offers the best fit possible. Bootfoot waders usually come in standard athletic sizing—M, L, XL, etc.—and often don’t offer the short and tall sizes which many people need for a proper fit.
Stockingfoot waders are very easy to clean—yes, you should periodically clean your waders. Most are designed so that you can throw them in the washing machine on gentle cycle and then in the dryer on low heat. Periodic cleaning not only helps the wader to breathe better, but it restores the durable water repellent (DWR) coating that causes water to bead up and run off the outside of the wader. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for cleaning your particular brand of wader.
Bootfoot waders offer the convenience of an attached boot. There are no laces to tie or adjust; you just slip them on and go. They are definitely the fastest and easiest to get on and off. When you’re trying to beat your buddies to your favorite fishing spot, bootfoot waders will give you a bit of a head start.
Bootfoot waders are usually warmer because there’s nothing constricting blood flow at your ankle, and the air can circulate around your fee and legs better.
photo by Paul Schullery
Bootfoot waders are inherently warmer than stockingfoot waders. For early- or late-season fishing or whenever you encounter very cold water, they are a great choice for keeping your feet and you warmer longer. Also, untying frozen laces with numb fingers at the end of the day is always a challenge. The newer styles of bootfoot waders offer much better fit and support than the ones from just a few years back, but fit and support will never be quite as good as with a separate wading boot.
For those anglers who fish salt water from the beach, a bootfoot wader is ideal. There is no place to collect sand, and there’s no hardware on the boot that will corrode after prolonged exposure to the salt. The newer lug-sole bootfoot waders offer great traction in the sand, and when coupled with screw-in tungsten-carbide or aluminum studs, they can even be used on notoriously slippery jetties and rock outcroppings along the shore.
Finally, for those of us who are a bit older and perhaps a little heavier than we want to be, bootfoot waders eliminate the need to bend down to adjust the boot. It may not sound like a big deal to some, but it can make all the difference in the world.
Bootfoot waders can and should be cleaned periodically. Unlike stockingfoot waders, though, they can not be machine-washed or dried; instead, they have to be hand-washed and hung to air dry. While this requires a little more time and effort on your part, it will help enhance the performance and longevity of your waders.
I am sure there are other opinions as to which type of wader is ideal for your specific application, but I hope this brief explanation will get you started in the right direction. Your local fly shop is a tremendous source of additional information and would be more than willing to share their experiences with each type of wader to further aid you in making the right decision. Regardless of what style of wader you chose, be sure to wear a wading belt at all times and wade safely.
Tim Daughton is the Orvis Product Developer for waders and boots. He is the former manager of a fly shop in Flagstaff, Arizona, and was an Orvis-endorsed guide for River Run Outfitters in Branson, Missouri, where he fished the Taneycomo (White River) system.
29 thoughts on “Ask an Expert: Bootfoot or Stockingfoot Waders? (Repost)”
Quick question… I have a size 10 foot. Will I need a size 10 boot to go with my stockingfoot wader, or will I need a 10 1/2 or 11 to accomodate the fabric in the boot?
It depands on the thickness of the neoprene socks attahced on the wader. In most condtions, it is better to choose size 11 ones.
I have a pond in my yard I want to wade in to do work, up to 3 feet or so. If I buy stocking foot waders, do I need boots too? I thought the one piece would be more convenient but now I’m not so sure. Please advise….
If I were you, I will choose bootfoot wader. Commonly a bootfoot wader costs less than a stockingfoot wander and wader shoes. And the pond is in your yard. There’s no need to worry about the bulkiness of bootfoot wader. The last, it feels better when walking in the sludge that wearing bootfoot wader than stockingfoot wader.
I’m a smaller fella and wear a medium wader. Most stocking foot waders only have a 9 1/2 shoe size. Anybody know of a manufacture that makes a smaller wader with a larger stocking? I wear a size 12 shoe and all the waders I’ve had smash my feet.
I would change the stockings on the Waders you already got. Most divingcenters will repair suits/waders, or you could just do it yourself.
I am new to fly fishing. I am looking to fish the Chattahoochee river with a river temp of roughly 55 degrees. What would be the best wader to use; boot foot or stocking foot? Is this river temperature considered a cold water riVer?
In the Chattahoochee a stocking foot wader will be preferable because with stocking foot waders you also have wading boots that go on top of the stocking foots that give you incredible in the slippery Hooch. The only con of the boot foot wader would be that you will not get get as much grip on slippery rocks in the river.
Thank you so much for the great answers here, I happen to be in question regarding this very thing. Know all the great information that I have already gotten from Orvis, it was the first place I looked for my answer.
Again Thank You!!!
Headed out west to fly fish and I have wader boots that I would like to use with just shorts and not my neoprene waders due to heat. What socks would you recommend?
I always wear these: https://www.orvis.com/p/neoprene-guard-sock/1p2x
Otherwise, I think you’ll want the thickest wool socks you can find, to take up all the space in the boots. The problem there is that they can get heavy when soaked.
Hi – i’m from Australia and this is not fishing related but I’m hoping someone can help me :O).
I want to do a hike in our Tasmanian wilderness which involves walking through creeks and mud that can be knee deep. I have a condition (Reynaud’s) which means I need to keep my feet and hands warm, so I can’t afford for my feet to get wet. If I bought some bootfoot waders I’m guessing they would solve my problem and keep me perfectly dry, even in fairly deep water. Is this the case? And are they heavy? We have to carry all our own food etc for six days. BTW do they come in small women’s sizes? Sorry for so many questions and thanks a million in advance to anyone who can help!
I’m looking for advice on stocking foot waders. I recently tired on a pair of my friend Simms Freestyle waders and nearly had a heart attack trying to remove my foot from the neoprene sock.
Are all stocking foot waders difficult to remove??? Regards
A great service, thank you. I’m one of those older, shorter, chubbier guys. Just can’t handle the wading boots any more. Have seen some boot foots with laces or other closures. What’s your thinking. Thanks
Can I rub something on the seems of my neoprene wader to make them more water prof?
Lately my feet are getting wet through my Orvis stocking foot waders. Is there something I can treat the neoprene stocking foot with to make it waterproof again?
I recently bought a pair of stocking foot waders. To fly fish in the summer warmer weather. My question is how is the best way to store them or hang them. Don’t like to leave them folded up. And not as easy to hang like my hip waders. Thank you for the advice.
My husband has broken his ankle and has limited flexion in that foot. The ankle also swells. He finds that where the neoprene attaches to rest of boot is too tight at that part of his leg. He currently wheres an 11 on good foot but 13EEEE on bad. Any suggestions? Anywhere to where to have a pair of waders custom made???
I have a question; I have a size 14 wide shoe size what size waders will I need to get?
I have sz 16 feet. I am 6′-5″ tall. 42w x 34ins. 52″ chest. What do you have available in either stocking foot or boot foot? I would interested in a direct conversation if thats possible
Aarrgh TIM – I’m going nuts over this – all the options are so confusing – Desperately need your experienced advice please…….
I’d like to :
1. during the 1.5 hours hike up into the hills over rock mud and grass, have reasonable grip and very comfortable feet, and bodily not overheat (air temperate usually 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit)
2. When at the slippy rocky river, be safe dry and at a comfortable while spending 90% of my time in 2 foot of water, and 10% of my time in 4 foot deep water (water temperature usually around 50-60 Degrees Fahrenheit)
4. Minimize the amount of kit I have to carry
5. Achieve a convenient solution with a medium budget
Please advise: I appreciate there may be no magic wand here, and I will likely have to compromise a bit somewhere. Thank you.
Instead of paying big bucks for waddingboots for stocking foot waders,get scuba diving shoes instead. They are inexpensive and very comfortable
Hi, I am new to fishing and have a serious problem with cold feet and hands but plan to fish in northern Maine. I am also a small woman and wear a women’s size 7 shoe. Is there a boot foot wader that would work for me at a reasonable price?
I have a pair of men’s size 6 (women’s size 7.5) neoprene boot foot waders. They are brand new, but I’m curvy and the body suit is just too snug. These are hard to find. Believe me, I looked. They were $169 new. I would be willing to sell them to you for a discounted price. Just contact me.
I have a dumb question. If I buy stocking foot waders with boots do my feet get wet or is the foot part of the waders waterproof?
You might have already figured out…the “stocking” on the stocking foot waders are made the same as the rest of the waders, generally neoprene. They are typically thick and bulky and you will go up at least one size in boot to fit comfortably.
Where can you get good quality woman’s plus sized boot foot fishing waders? Have a size 9 womens shoe and don’t wear extremely large clothes but not size 10-12 which is about the size of all waders I’ve tried on. Get them on but can’t move. Help would be appreciated. I’m not tall enough to wear mens.