Every serious fly fishermen owns a proper wading jacket. A little rain should never stop a day of fishing, or even a down pour for that matter! Persisting through the elements and still having a good time is all about your gear — you can happily fish through some nasty conditions with the right equipment! Whether or not the weather turns truly brutal, it’s great owning a highly packable garment that can cut wind and keep you dry in any amount of rain. It’s an easily overlooked item for even the most habitual fishermen, but it’s an item absolutely worth owning.
Whether you’re interested in a wading jacket for cutting the wind in exposed areas, to stay dry in the event of a sudden rain or to just be prepared for anything, it’s one of the best items you can own as a die hard angler! A good wading jacket packs small, allows freedom of motion while actively fishing and of course is effectively wind and water proof. A nice wading jacket should also have a few features specific to fishing to support you on the water and maintain breathability despite being impenetrable to water.
It’s wise to consider treating your wading jacket and any other rain gear with a waterproofing product to further enhance it’s water repelling capabilities. Products like TX Direct Spray-On by Nikwax are perfect for enhancing the water repellent ability of both new and old rain gear without sacrificing breathability.
Our top five list has tracked down the best value and quality options for wading jackets in 2018. There’s a ton of wading jackets in the fly fishing world to choose from — some with incredibly high price tags. We’ve dug up the smartest buys around so you can cut right to the chase. Wading jackets priced above $300 like the G3 Guide Jacket from Simms are arguably the best on the market, and you should absolutely spring for one if you can afford to do so. The point of our top value list is to track down some totally comparable units for far more reasonable costs so you can gear up economically without having to sacrifice the quality of your new equipment. We’ve included the best value wading jackets from various price ranges so whatever your budget is you can buy with confidence.
$300 for a specialized rain jacket is a LOT to shell out — if you have that kind of cash to spare you’re better off selecting a unit from our list and putting the remainder towards a new fly fishing waist or chest pack, backpack or vest.
Here at Heavy we know that fishing is both a hobby and a passion and we want to provide our angling enthusiasts with the best possible deals on gear we can find! Tight lines and clear skies!
1. Best Highly Packable Wading Jacket: Orvis Encounter Jacket
Here’s a minimalist wading jacket for those who are searching for a no frills unit that packs tight and will keep you bone dry. The Encounter Jacket by renowned fly fishing outfitter Orvis is a super compressible 11 ounce fly fishing jacket that’s specifically designed for use on the stream. It’s a killer option for rain defense in any context and beloved by outdoorsmen of all kinds for its simplicity and quality of materials.
I purchased this jacket for myself prior to a fishing trip down to Patagonia in southern Argentina last fall. This unit took up essentially no space in my hiking backpack and provided excellent protection from the wind and rain I faced. I’ve since used this jacket fishing the windy coastline of my native Cape Cod Massachusetts and have even traveled across Europe with this bad boy. It’s my favorite fishing and rain garment I’ve ever owned and it’s holding up great after months of heavy use.
It’s minimalist in the sense that there’s only one pocket located on the chest. By reducing the amount of pockets down to just one storage space, the Encounter employs less material overall and is therefore even more rollable or stuffable when stashing it into your pack. The absence of pockets, zips and clips furthermore reduces the likelihood of line snags while casting. The good news is that the one included chest pocket is ideal for a phone, couple of fly boxes, wallet or something of comparable size. This unit will stuff into a fly vest or day pack easily, so it’s perfect for any type of excursion, big or small. The entire jacket has a regular fit but it’s built low profile to further avoid line snags while throwing those big loops. If you’re looking for a wading jacket that packs impressively tight and won’t let a drop of rain in, the Encounter is an excellent minimalist option.
The wrist cuffs and hood are fully adjustable, and the waist of course also cinches tight. The nylon material is water repellent and cuts wind beautifully while still maintaining some solid breathability. This is good option if you’re expecting some heat but still need rain coverage. I love throwing on my Encounter on fair weather days when the wind is blowing but the temperature is otherwise pleasant — it often allows me to lose a layer or two underneath my outerwear because it cuts the wind so well. Every fly fisherman knows it’s more comfortable casting without a whole mess of layers restricting your motion. Point is, rain or no rain this wading jacket is your best friend.
The cut descends exactly down to your waist so if you prefer more length you’ll want to buy a size up. There is a sage green and a black option, both of which have that classic, bad ass Orvis look. A bit expensive considering the lack of fly fishing specific features yet a masterfully designed option that does its job beautifully from a highly accredited outfitter. The Encounter is everything you need and nothing you don’t in one of the most compact and lightweight packages possible when it comes to wading jackets.
Price: $77.32 – $119.00 sale prices available on select options
- Low profile and minimalist design
- Waterproof chest pocket is perfectly sized for a phone, wallet or a few fly boxes
- Nylon material is highly breathable while remaining totally waterproof
- The wrist cuffs, hood and waist line are all effectively adjustable
- There’s only the one chest pocket to reduce line snags while casting — if you prefer to have a few spaces to stash gear then you might prefer something different
2. Best Overall Value Wading Jacket: Caddis Wading Systems Natural Breathable Wading Jacket
This is no doubt one of the best wading jackets on the market for under $100. I’ve always been a fan of Caddis Wading Systems for their fair prices on better than average fishing gear. It’s my go-to brand for purchasing breathable waders as opposed to the more expensive outfitters because their waders perform great and hold up well. Definitely a brand that should be on your radar if you’re a budget fisherman who refuses to settle for low quality equipment.
The Natural Breathable Wading Jacket from Caddis is no exception to their low price on quality fishing equipment. This is quite a well made jacket at a super reasonable price. It’s built with essentially the same features and materials as a lot of higher end wading jackets, at less than half the cost.
This unit features a fleece collar, roll up hood and cinch up cuffs for staying warm during the wind and rain. The design of the hood is great for shedding water out and away from your face when it’s really coming down and the cinch up cuffs effectively eliminate those unwanted chilly drafts. The durable Polyester outer material is highly breathable on top of being super water repellent. The fabric/material of this unit, like all jackets and breathable waders built by Caddis, is crafted with CaddisDry technology that allows perspiration out of the garment yet remains totally waterproof. It’s an impressive level of breathability for a rain proof garment at such a low cost. The two-tone green on gray color scheme has both a sharp and a bad ass look to it as well!
Don’t forget that by using a product like Nikwax to seasonally clean and re-waterproof your wading jacket you can keep it performing like new for years of heavy use.
Aside from the use of quality fabrics and materials, Caddis Wading systems has built this wading jacket with plenty of awesome features to support you while actively fishing. There’s a great array of storage pockets on the chest as well as two D-rings for securing or hanging gear like your forceps or clippers. An additional D-ring is present on the back for hanging a net. All the zippers are effectively waterproof and are built with large pull tabs for easy use. It’s a user friendly jacket for any style angler or fly fisherman. No doubt a solid buy you’ll fish in for years with the proper care and maintenance.
Price: $63.30 – $69.99
- Fabrics and materials are built with CaddisDry technology in order to be highly breathable while remaining totally waterproof
- Great array of pockets and D-ring attachment points for both stashing and hanging fly boxes, clippers, forceps, your net, etc.
- Fleece collar, roll up hood and cinch tight cuffs make this a good piece of outerwear to stay warm in when paired with some thermal layers
- Two tone color scheme has a pro look that will turn heads on the water
- Super reasonably priced considering the quality of construction and added features
- No neoprene or spandex around the wrists to completely eliminate drafts
3. Best Budget Wading Jacket: Frogg Toggs Tekk Toad Wading Jacket
Frogg Toggs is a fairly well known brand when it comes to fishing. The quality of their gear is by no means exceptional, but they offer a ton of different equipment that’s priced great from fishing boots to wading jackets that contends in quality with a lot of the more expensive brands. Make sure to do your research when buying Frogg Toggs, not all of their gear is safe for purchase if you want a long lasting quality product — fortunately we’ve done the research for you with the Tekk Toad Wading Jacket.
This is a total steal for a quality wading jacket in the $40 range. As mentioned in the introduction, you can easily spend $300 or more on a unit that essentially performs the same as a good value, budget option like this. The Tekk Toad is a fully equipped option that hasn’t spared any of the features you want in a good wading jacket. Zippered hand warmer pockets, upper chest pockets for plenty of gear storage, adjustable neoprene sleeves for an effective seal at the wrist — this jacket really has it going on. There’s even an adjustable storm hood and fully covered zipper front for really keeping the wetness out — that’s a lot of features for such a budget jacket!
The material used here is 100% polypropylene. Frogg Toggs has employed their Dripore breathable technology into the design of the Tekk Toad so you won’t overheat. It’s absolutely capable in a down pour and also great for maintaining breathability. Because of the storm hood, neoprene wrist cuffs and zippered hand warming pockets, this is a suitable winter wading option. If you buy one size up you’ll have plenty of room to add some thermal layers underneath. Incorporated features for battling the cold weather and built from a highly breathable material when temps get hot, the Tekk Toad is an awesome all-season wading jacket.
Frogg Toggs has some excellent options when it comes to wading wear so don’t forget to check out some of their other model jackets for angling like the Hellbender Fly Wading Jacket and the Cascades Sportman’s Wading Jacket. Both are highly reviewed by fly fishermen for performance and also come at a more than reasonable price!
Price: $36.49 – $49.98
- You can’t beat the price of this jacket if you’re a budget angler
- Loaded with over sized pockets and places to stash gear — this is a great wading jacket for fly fishermen who tend to have a lot of equipment on hand
- Adjustable neoprene sleeve openings and storm hood allow you to really cinch this jacket tight when the wind and rain gets intense
- Dripore breathable technology ensures you won’t heat up too much while wearing this jacket — it’s great for both hot and cold weather
- Zippered pockets are great for warming your hands
- Some customer reviews complaining about the profile of the hood. Some users love the hood for its full coverage but some find it to be in the way even when folded down as flat as possible
- The stitching on this jacket is inferior to most higher end jackets — it should hold up fine as long as you’re not outright abusing it but don’t expect this one to last a lifetime
4. Best Wading Jacket for Fishing Excursions/Expeditions: Marmot Men’s Precip Jacket
The Precip Jacket by Marmot is a top notch, all inclusive rain jacket option that also packs super tight. This is one of our top picks featured in our post of the Best Packable Rain Jackets for 2018. Although the Precip is not specific to fly fishing, it’s included here for it’s awesome array of features, rock solid defense against wind and rain and fair price tag. If you’re an expedition type of angler than this might be the perfect fit for your rugged wading jacket needs.
This unit is an impressively light 13 ounces and conveniently collapses into a built in pocket when it’s time to stash it. For a rain jacket this packable and lightweight Marmot has included a lot of awesome features. There’s slanted chest pockets that are accessible while wearing your pack, underarm zips for enhanced ventilation during high activity and a moisture wicking ‘DriClime’ chin guard around the zipper to protect your face. The hood can also roll up if you prefer full visibility. Marmot has furthermore built the PreCip with “Angel-Wing” movement in order to provide an awesome range of motion so it’s a winner when it comes to unrestricted casting. This jacket won’t hold you back when you need to be highly active making it a great option for both hikes out to the fishing hole as well as regular use enduring the elements.
The full length zipper is reinforced with a double storm flap that employs a snap and Velcro closure so this bad boy is truly water tight. Marmot’s 100% seam taped, Precip Dry Touch material is one of the best around for both breathability and resistance to water.
This jacket is easily and effectively adjustable which gives it big points in my book. An elastic draw cord hem can be cinched tight when the wind and rain become intense and the integrated hood provides great coverage when you’re ready to deploy it. It’s nice having the choice to have your hood present or not. The Precip is designed to comfortably fit over an insulating layer, so this unit is compatible with cold weather gear if you’re expecting low temps. The pit zips really come in handy for this reason — when you’re layered up and moving fast in the wilderness it’s quite nice to have the ability to offload your extra heat as you generate it. Marmot has masterfully designed this one to be a great fishing companion through whatever mother nature throws at you — no doubt an excellent option for the rugged outdoorsmen and adventurous angler!
Price: $84.00 – $139.95
- This is a tried and true model from Marmot that’s been a fan favorite of hikers and fishermen for years!
- The material used to build the Precip paired with the incorporated pit vents makes this jacket highly breathable on top of being impenetrable to rain!
- Packs down into its own pocket or rolls smaller than a t-shirt
- Has an awesome array of features and packs impressively tight — this is a great wading/rain jacket for intense fishing adventures and expeditions
- This is a highly packable rain jacket designed for ultralight use trekking or backpacking and not specifically designed for fly fishing so it lacks a few features like a D-ring on the hood for net attachment
5. Best Value, Top Quality Wading Jacket: Orvis Men’s Ultralight Wading Jacket
If you’re shopping for a truly top notch wading jacket, you should know about the Ultralight Wading Jacket from Orvis. This unit is built with some of the best materials, fabrics and features on the market in regards to fly fishing. It’s not an inexpensive jacket by any means, but if you’re going to spend the big bucks this is our pick for the best value option. It contends with the best of the best at around $100 less than the top quality options from other high end outfitters like Simms.
The quality and craftsmenship you get with Orvis is almost unmatched — it’s one of the most trusted and consistently reliable brands for everything fly fishing. This jacket is designed to be the ideal companion for a fly fishermen while on the water — it’s been very mindfully built to support you while actively fishing in every imaginable way. Orvis makes an even higher end wading jacket, the Pro Wading Jacket — but I find that it’s not as good a value as the Ultralight Wading Jacket overall.
There’s a nice array of both external and internal pockets, all of which are mesh lined for improving ventilation and in order to reduce overall bulk. The exterior pockets are built with YKK ‘AquaGuard’ water resistant zippers so your water sensitive gear is safe when things really get wet. There’s not much space within the upper chest pockets for more cumbersome gear, but the lower hand pockets are ideal for warming your hands or for stuffing some slightly larger equipment.
The highly adjustable storm hood is not removable nor collapsible so it’s always present — but it’s built exceptionally ultra-light so it won’t be in your way or bog you down. The hood furthermore features a laminated brim for effectively shedding water away from your face in a downpour. The “Dolphin Skin’ cuffs around the wrists are a super cool added feature that greatly reduce wetness in and around your sleeves when the rain is really coming down or when you’re handling fish while on the water. Tight closure around the wrists is something that a lot of comparably priced wading jackets overlook, but for a product in this price range it’s a feature that ought to be included. The waist also cinches tight and the front zip extends nice and high above the neck — Orvis has really hit all the bases in order to keep ALL wetness out no matter the conditions.
The material employed in the design of this jacket is 100% nylon with a PU lamination and fully taped seams. This one is not letting any water in — period. Orvis has built this unit to be supremely repellent to both wind and rain so you are covered no matter the conditions. Customer reviews praise this jacket’s ability to remain breathable despite its total resilience to wind and water. Don’t forget to seasonally treat whatever wading jacket you choose with a cleaner/water repeller to enhance its performance and extend it’s lifespan.
The design of the Ultralight Wading Jacket is an impressive feat considering its weight coupled with its array of features. The XL is just 20 ounces — that’s pretty dam light for all the included components here. Orvis didn’t call this one the Ultralight for nothing! The price tag is definitely high, but it’s the attention to detail and expert design that you’re paying for. The fit is streamlined and low profile like most of Orvis’s outerwear, so if you want to comfortably add some heavier layers underneath this jacket consider buying a size up. This unit is designed for actively casting and moving while fishing so it will perform great in all outdoor settings.
The water tight wrist cuffs, water resistant chest and waist pockets and plethora of internal storage make this unit the ultimate wading jacket. The mindfully incorporated rubberized tabs are perfect for attaching forceps, clippers, tippet loops or whatever else you might want to have directly on hand. There is of course a D-ring on the back of the neck for net attachment so you can toss this jacket right over your fly fishing vest when the weather turns sour. The sporty, but non-restrictive fit makes it ideal for fly casting and the laminated hood ensures your vision remains intact when the rain tries to cramp your style. A serious wading jacket for the serious fly fishermen, the Ultralight Wading Jacket from Orvis is one of the best value and highly packable options out there.
Price: $249.00 & Free Shipping
- The material used here is exceptionally water and wind proof while maintaining great breathability — when you buy Orvis you’re buying quality!
- Super lightweight and packable even with the wide array of pockets, gear attachment points and non collapsible hood
- Provides a particularly sporty fit ideal for actively casting
- “Dolphin Skin” cuffs around the wrists reduce wetness in your sleeves when the rain’s really coming down or when you’re handling fish
- This is definitely a high price to pay for a wading jacket, but the quality and potential lifespan of this unit can’t be beat
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