Chest waders are not indestructible. Anyone that has ever owned a pair knows this.
High end adult waders are not immune to abrasion and leaks, so there's no reason to believe youth waders will be bulletproof.
We'll cut to the chase. There are lightweight waterproof/breathable waders made from nylon or polyester, then there are heavier/warmer neoprene waders.
Which do you need for your kid? This depends on your kid and your environment. Is your child generally a little furnace or always on the cold side? Are they spending an hour in their waders, or all day? Will they be moving a lot or sitting still? Do they need to walk a considerable distance or are they just playing? If you need the flexibility, go breathable (remember you can always layer warm clothing underneath). If your main goal is warmth, go neoprene. The breathable and neoprene waders are similarly waterproof.
Choosing between neoprene foot and boot foot waders will be a personal choice. If you have a child with extra small or extra large feet for their age, often the flexibility of purchasing neoprene foot waders and separate wader boots is a good move.
- The size range is great, starting at an awesome toddler 2T going up to a 14/15 for camo neoprene waders. These are sized by age, so you'll need to check out our size charts to determine if the inseam and boot size is appropriate for your child. No other youth wader on the market has such a wide range of sizes. Most are offered in a S, M, L, XL.
- The price is great, you can't beat a youth wader price under $120. Comparable boot foot youth waders from well known companies such as Cabelas, Bass Pro, Red Head, LaCrosse and ProLine can cost up to $189.
- Oakiwear breathable waders are made from durable abrasion resistant nylon, not cheap polyester which frays and wears easily, common to most cheap breathable waders.
- The boots on the Oakiwear waders are made for kids, they are neoprene lined and lightweight, so they offer durability without the added weight of conventional youth boot foot waders.
- The fit is generally right on, no suprises.
- The waders often last multiple kids, especially if you take care of them.
You want youth waders to fit as well as possible, but feel free to go up a little in size if your kid is amenable. Too big though and the waders will actually wear out too fast. Material will rub more, and abrasion will be worse.
So how to we assure long-lasting youth waders? First off you want to inspect the high impact areas and seams after every wearing. If you start to see wear in certain areas first, know you might need to reinforce those areas to keep your kiddo dry long-term. It doesn't hurt to explain to your child that their waders are not indestructible, and that they should be avoid sharp objects and consistent abrasion.
Breathable waders most often spring leaks along the seams. Sometimes it depends on the stiffness of the seamtape compared to the wader material. If you start to see unusual wear along wader seams, get out a patch kit and reinforce the seam before a leak starts.
Neoprene waders most often spring leaks along the shins and knees, or the butt area due to consistent abrasion. If you start to see increased wear in these areas, again, consider reinforcements.
Unfortunately there's not a lot of options for reinforcing neoprene.
Just for the heck of it, we decided to try FlexSeal to make knee pads on our Oakiwear Realtree Neoprene boys waders. It sticks to most anything and it's supposed to stay flexible and make a seal, right?
We pulled out the masking tape (which sticks reasonably well to clean dry neoprene) and made a simple design up the shins, making sure we went high enough to cover the knees. (Note, from a previous trip out, we patched a small hole with SG-20 in this picture).
If you want a really clean product, use good quality masking tape and double up on the edges so overspray doesn't get onto other parts of the wader.
This was a test, a one layer application with a 3 hour dry time.
The actual testing went great. We camped out for 3 days, it was wet and there was a lot of kneeling on gravel and barnacles.
So how did the FlexSeal application work?
No new holes in the waders, so that was good. The single layer did wear through on the high abrasion spots - knees. Since it was so cheap and fast to tape and spray, we will be trying it again. Next time we'll opt for 2 or maybe 3 layers of FlexSeal, assuring a nice thick layer of protection.
There weren't any downfalls to this wader treatment, so I would definately recommend it if you want to beef up a set of neoprene waders.
If you want to see the application video and the full results, check out our Tuff Kids Outdoors YouTube Channel today!
We'll up date the blog once we get that second application layer on and tested.
Thanks for stopping by!