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Keeping dry with waders

Investigating this specialist footwear – designed to be at least thigh-length – for use in water.

by Stuart Morgan

Image © avdee/007

‘Waders’ are very tall water-resistant boots or boot/garment combinations which extend all the way from the wearer’s foot to his or her chest (so-called ‘chest waders’). The name chosen for this style of footwear is straightforward and descriptive, as it is generally worn by people who need to wade in reasonably deep water. For decades, waders were made solely from vulcanised rubber, but in recent years they have become available in other modern materials such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and neoprene. Waders are available either with boots already attached or with ‘stockinged feet’ – usually made of the wader material – to wear inside a separate pair of boots.

According to some reference works, the first waders that were produced in a factory (rather than by an artisan) were made in the 1850s. When rubber became popular shortly before World War I, this became the material of choice for waders. Once rubber production was refined further in 1942, the same technology was utilised to make waders similar to what we have today.

Waders have a wide range of applications. They can be worn for leisure purposes while angling, planting out in water, operating model boats, hunting waterfowl, and even off-roading in all-terrain vehicles. Heavy-duty waders are also worn by workers in the chemical and agriculture industries, in utilities maintenance and, on occasion, by the emergency services.

Environmental impact

Certain types of waders – specifically those that have porous, felt soles – are being banned around the world on environmental grounds. The reason for this action is that such solings can host various invasive organisms and plants that could be carried from one body of water to another and thereafter pose a threat to fish stocks and vital fish habitats. For example, beginning in 2012, several US states – as well as the Yellowstone National Park – have banned these kinds of waders for sport fishing in fresh water. In New Zealand, the use of felt-soled waders and boots for sports fishing was prohibited in 2008 following the discovery of an invasive alga in South Island rivers.

Publishing Data

This article was originally published on page 16 of the January 2019 issue of SATRA Bulletin.

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