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MYO Waders?
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Mark Andersen
(MarkA) - F
MYO Waders? on 05/22/2009 11:16:13 MDT Print View

I'm not sure whether it's better to post this here, or in the fishing forum. I'll post it here since this is where the master-makers seem most active, and it seems more like a make/fabric question than a fishing question.

Has anyone attempted to make SUL waders? One of my main objectives in getting far into the backcountry is to explore new trout waters. Often, I don't carry waders and just fish from shore or wade wet, but on bigger, colder waters in the shoulder seasons (say, the upper Platte River in early May or mid-September), those aren't very viable options. My neoprene waders are 61 oz., and my wading boots are 52. So I am almost packing in more weight for wading than many of you are for total base weight.

Sure, several manufacturers sell "lightweight, breathable, packable" waders, but they are expensive, and they are a far-cry from being truly ultralight (I think most are at least 2 lbs).

I'm wondering whether anyone has made their own waders from UL fabrics, or whether the idea has any merit. It's one thing to make a tarp that doesn't leak in the rain, but it seems like an entirely bigger challenge to make something that won't leak underwater. I don't think the fabric needs to be breathable-how well can a fabric "breathe" when it's underwater, anyway?. Plus, as I mentioned, I'll really only be using these in cooler weather.

I would think realistic requirements would be:

1) Totally waterproof (duh)
2) Resistance to punctures/tearing
3) Ability to sew and also to seal with tape or glue
4) More durable fabric or "oversock" for the foot, to deal with abrasion caused by rubbing on boots.

Even if I resolve the question of waders, I haven't figured out any way around carrying the wading boots. Please don't suggest sandals or running shoes--the streams I fish have bottoms strewn with large, slippery boulders, and it can be hard to judge depth in rough water. My feet and ankles take plenty of abuse sliding off rocks, even with high-top, felt-lined wading boots, and I often go solo. Sandals or low-tops would be a recipe for disaster. I've seen boots (by Korkers, I think) that have interchangeable soles, so you could use rubber lug soles for hiking, then swap in felt soles for wading. But, those are expensive, and I don't know about hiking very far in heavy, oversized, wet boots.


Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
waders on 05/22/2009 12:38:00 MDT Print View

As far as SUL waders are concerned, If you are not concerned about breathability you might be able to make some light ones. Silnylon would be out because I don't think it would be waterproof enough for your application, but you might try some p/u coated fabric. I don't know what to tell you about the boots other than you might could take some lightweight trail runners or something and glue a felt sole on to them. I have even thought about trying the very thin green felt used to go under table legs and what not.

Jeremy Greene
(tippymcstagger) - F

Locale: North Texas
Re: MYO Waders? on 05/22/2009 17:41:25 MDT Print View

Some terms to help in your materials search:

heat sealable fabric

felt sole kit

Richard Nisley
(richard295) - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: MYO Waders? - Kayak Fisherman Solution on 05/22/2009 20:41:55 MDT Print View


Take a look at the Kokatat Tempest Pant with Socks which were designed for kayak fisherman... they are an ideal solution to your requirements.

They are cheap ($119 from MEC), light (17.25 oz for Med), 3 layer (durable), WPB (comfortable), fully featured (built in socks, gravel guards, and integrated waist seal so no wader belt is required). Combine them with a pair of shoes designed for canyoneering (Five-Ten models if you have wide feet or La Sportiva models if you have narrow). The sticky rubber on these shoe types work about the same as felt in most rivers and are also light and comfortable for backpacking in. Both manufactures make a mid model to satisfy your ankle support requirement as well as a low cut for minimum weight.

Edited by richard295 on 05/22/2009 20:42:42 MDT.

Mark Andersen
(MarkA) - F
Waders on 05/23/2009 22:22:30 MDT Print View

Thanks for the responses...

I'm not sure I'd consider $119 to be "cheap." I could get a really nice, breathable, relatively light pair of chest waders for not much more than that.

I did some search on the heat sealable fabric, and that seems to be what I was after. Looks like the 70d stuff weighs 4.3 - 5.0 oz/yd (depending on who you believe). I'm roughly estimating that I'd need a 21" width of fabric to form each leg, plus joining two another 45" (a little more than my coat size) for the torso section. About 1.5 yards of fabric, if my math is right, so 7.6 oz. (assuming 4.8 oz./yd). Looks like I could get plenty of this fabric from for around $17, with shipping. I was thinking I could make some outer liners (to protect against abrasion inside the boots or wading shoes) out of tyvek, or something else light, tough, and cheap. I imagine that straps, elastic, thread, etc. would add another few ounces. Maybe the finished waders could be in the neighborhood of 10-12 oz. Sound reasonable?

I'll look into the canyoneering shoes you mention. Being able to use them for double-duty makes the weight less of a concern, though I still worry about a low-top for wading. I've taken a step in a stream into what looked like slightly deeper water and gone sliding into a 2' deep hole, knocking my feet and ankles on the way down.

Thanks again for the input!


Matthew Bishop
(mattsbishop) - F - M

Locale: Northern Frontrange, Colorado
Re: Waders on 05/26/2009 17:09:10 MDT Print View

Sounds like you're on the right track, I just wanted to caution against the use of Tyvek. I've got both soft structure (type 1443) and hard structure (building wrap) types, and neither seem especially strong or abrasion resistant. For example, I was marking the hard structure Tyvek with a mechanical lead pencil and when I went to erase a line the fibers started pulling apart.

I'd suggest that even plain old 1.1 oz ripstop nylon would be a better abrasion layer, and still reasonably cheap.

Tyler Sanford
(san39153) - F
lightweight, fairly durable waders on 12/09/2011 15:33:01 MST Print View

I have these, I don't think you can make anything lighter, easier to repair, or as effective for less. Those Wiggy's waders are$55, these are $15. I've fished out of them plenty, just realize their limitations and don't be stupid with them. the foot box is large, but I've never tried to put my shoe inside, just socks. Again though, very handy if you use wisely. PVC Utility Waders $12.99

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: lightweight, fairly durable waders on 12/09/2011 16:31:05 MST Print View

Tyler, whats the weight on these waders and can you really go up to your waist in a lake/stream without them leaking?
Please give me more information.

Sean Rhoades

Locale: WV
Re: lightweight, fairly durable waders on 12/10/2011 20:14:19 MST Print View


Have you thought about the breathable hip waders? They are fairly light from lack of material. As far as boots go, I've always hiked in my wading boots. They are not exactly UL but they aren't terribly heavy after a dip. But that leaves me re-felting the soles every other year. Also, I usually stick to no more than 6-8 miles total a day. It's a fish down slowly and fish back quickly trip.


These are a chest wader correct? Also, do you wear them inside you boots like normal waders? There's not much info on the site about these. Thanks for posting them though.

Edit: grammar

Edited by kingpin on 12/10/2011 20:26:05 MST.

Tyler Sanford
(san39153) - F
Re: on 12/11/2011 20:51:05 MST Print View

These are chest waders, I am 5'10 and a medium comes very high on my chest. I have fished in waist deep water for several hours completely dry with these on many occasions. However, you must remember they are PVC which will rip if you don't recognize their limitations (repair is easy with rubber cement and duck tape). If I am on a dedicated fishing trip, I wear these inside wading boots just like the normal breathable waders you mentioned with some big wool socks on the inside. I have also packed them for cold weather river crossings on short hikes, then I just carry my hiking boots. They are not ultralight, but they can pack-down fairly small. Basically, these are a good money saving option for small scale waterproof needs. I feel like I'm stating the obvious here, but these are not breathable at all, and you will sweat if you exert much energy in them; to compare these to a good pair of breathable waders is not realistic, but saving $100 is a big incentive for me to scale down here.