In terms of gear, waders are just about as sexy to me as socks. I’d much rather fawn over new rods, nets, or a really nice wooden fly box. But, waders are a necessary fishing tool. Many years ago, I became a breathable wader convert but I had one complaint–a lack of durability. Even after trying several different brands and models, I came to the conclusion that breathable waders were pretty much “disposable” even when babied. That plus the fact that many decent waders run $300 – $400 is not a good combination. Sure, there were cheaper ones but they were pretty spartan in the features area. So imagine my elation when I found a durable, feature-packed breathable wader for $150 in the Frogg Togg Hellbender!
Breathability & Durability
The Frogg Toggs Hellbenders are stocking foot breathable waders with more features than you’d expect to find in a sub $200 package. After having worn them for about 6 months now in various conditions, I can tell you that not only are they durable, but they actually breathe! One time, I hiked a physically demanding three mile section of the S. Platte. It was quite a workout because you have to do a lot of climbing up and down a very steep bank to get from spot to spot. At the end of the full day of fishing, no condensation. The rocks and gravel of this river are also very abrasive the the Hellbenders shrugged them off (not to mention the miles of bushwhacking I’d already put on them). One feature that definitely contributes to the durability is the reinforced knee and shin area where waders typically get the most abuse. Overall, I am more than impressed with the durability and breathability of these waders.
Fit & Comfort
To me, the overall fit of these waders strikes a good balance–baggy enough to allow freedom of movement but tight enough to not make you feel like you’re wearing a sloppy garbage bag. I’m 5′ 10″ and weigh 140 pounds and a size Medium fits me perfectly. A nice touch is the elastic suspender system which is comfortable to wear all day without chaffing or restricting movement. I hate it when you bend down and your suspenders constrict you like a locked seatbelt. That doesn’t happen with these suspenders.
Storage & Organization
One of the features that I like best on these warders is the very versatile and well thought out front pocket. In fact, there’s so much storage, a tenkara angler with minimal gear could easily forgo the vesy or chest pack and just carry everything they need in the Hellbender’s pockets (in fact, I actually have on more than one occasion). Here is a basic layout of the pockets:
1. Main front pocket. This has a velcro flap closure and will easily accomodate fly boxes a camera, and other larger gear.
2. Front zip pocket. Perfect for smaller gear like lines or tippet spools.
3. Hand warmer pockets. These are fleece lined and a godsend on cold mornings or when winter fishing. You can also store quick access gear here.
4. Inside security pocket. You can’t see it in the photo because it’s inside the wader but there’s also an inside mesh security pocket that’s good for things like keys, a phone, etc.
Other Nice Touches
The waders come with integrated gravel guards which I like because it eliminates one more piece of gear I have to put on before hitting the stream (i.e. gaiters).
I also really like the belt loops that keep your wading belt forever attached to your waders so you won’t lose it.
The waders are very compact and stow in my wading box easily leaving plenty of room for my wading boots and other gear.
Overall, I couldn’t be happier with these waders. They shatter the myth that a decent pair of breathable waders with lots of convenience features has to cost $400 +. I could literally buy three pairs of Hellbenders for the cost of my old Orvis Pro Guides. Assuming that all breathable waders are in some sense “disposable”, it will certainly be less painful to eventually replace these than an overpriced pair. In fact, I’m thinking about buying a second pair for when the inevitable happens because you know Murphy’s Law: If it’s good, they’ll discontinue it!
They look like pretty good waders. Another pair of waders that I have heard are really durable and relatively inexpensive are the cabelas guide tech waders. Also if you are tall and skinny they have a size for you where they won’t be baggy.
I agree with you on these waders. I have a pair and I got em for $100 and I could not be happier with them. You’re exactly right about the pockets, more than enough room for fly box and line and tools. Plus a nice hand warmer pouch. Can’t go wrong for the price
My favorite waders? I have never had a favorite pair of waders due to the design of them. I am definately considering giving the Hellbenders a try since I am in the market for a new pair.
I’m just pleased to see something named after the largest salamander in the world! Fish in the Smokies enough, and you just might see one of these guys.
Jason, do you know what membrane/laminate/DWR these waters use?
It’s interesting, but according to studies funded by DAN and conducted at Duke, Gore and similar laminates fail suprisingly fast under low water pressure – one of the reasons for 3-5 layer laminates in waders.
Hi Robert, it looks like it’s a 4-layer laminate (5 layers over the knees). They call it Dri Pore Technology. I’m not a fabric techie–all I can really testify to is empirical experience and it works for me (so far).
P.S. Not sure I want to see a real hellbender. Those things look scary!
Thanks for the article on the waders. It is always good to see what is developing, as things to always seem to be changing in that field.
I might suggest your readers also consider LL Bean wading products, as (1) mine have worked without fail for 7 years, and (2) their warranty is unbeatable – unconditionally guaranteed, period. No time limit.
Keep up the interesting articles and videos.
Thanks. I haven’t tried L.L. Bean waders but I’ve heard good things about them.
ive been wearing those waders for two years now. Great waders ill almost deffinately buy another pair if i ever wear these ones out.
Do you know how much these weight ? Am looking for waders to take backpacking.
Does this waders has articulated foot? Thanks.
Not sure what that means. It is shaped to fit your foot if that helps.
Thanks, that’s what i meant.
Thanks for the info Jason. Do you know what the warranty is with the Hellbenders?
Hi George. Not sure about the warranty. It’s probably on their website. Luckily haven’t had to use it yet.
Owned the first generation, brown color, of these waders over four years at 60 fishing days per year on the Kern River. They got hammered climbing over boulders and beating through brush. Great waders!
Hi Jason, they are the worst waders that i have bought in my forty years of fishing, they replaced three pairs of waders for me and it took well over a year to get one pair exchanged and they all leaked in the knee seams and the neoprene bootie area. Frogg Togg wouldn’t answer my emails and then they replaced my pilot waders with a cheaper wader and jacket otherwise i would have had to wait another six months and then those waders leaked on the first day and to be honest at that stage i had enough and couldn’t even be bothered emailing again. I can show pictures of perfectly clean new waders leaking. Bad batch of waders maybe ?.
Sorry to hear that. You might have hit a bad batch. I’m still using mine since I posted about them with no leaks or any other problems. Looks like Frogg Toggs should have give you better customer service.
Mine leak too and after only two years. And I took good care of them. I got only about 12 uses.
Hi David, maybe you got a bad batch? Mine are still leak free to this day.
Hi there just wondering if these waders can be converted to waist high?
Kind of if you finagle the straps, but they’re not designed to do that. I’ve been using the Orvis Silver Sonic waders lately which convert to waist-highs in a snap: https://www.tenkaratalk.com/2013/09/orvis-silver-sonic-convertible-waders/
I have had horrible wading experiences with my Hellbender waders. Water and air gets trapped in the lower portion of them and weighs your legs and feet while in the water. There is an area for the water and air to exit on the lower portion of each leg, but this design does not work efficiently. I would not recommend these waders. Honestly, I hate them.
Do not buy this kind and this brand of waders. After using this for a year the seam sealed tape from the lining stitches leaks and the company dont want to warranty it. So…. Why buy this brand. Many other brands which are very durable and good warranty….like simms and reddington
I used to be a big fan of Redington waders regarding an old model named Barrier flex which kept me dry more than 5 active fishing seasons until started to leak.
Unfortunately can’t say anything good about newer Redington’s. The cheapest model – Crosswater does not afford any dry wading, it started to leak after a few days of fishing.
Sonic-pro with Sonic-weld seams technology started to leek in a few places after less than 10 uses.
After that I decided to try Frogg Toggs Hellberder.
Hi Jason. This is a bit off topic but well related to wading and wader use – Water Shoe performance. Here is some video showing what various brands of H2o shoes can and cannot do for you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Ja-UH7o1Mo And a newer Ad: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSBWnYfNRPo I recently got a pair of Astral Hyacks but trout season here does not open until the last Saturday in April, so it will be a long time before I can fish again. But I thought this might be a good area of exploration for you to investigate….Karl.
Hey Karl, I’ve just been using my Chacos for wet wading. Not ideal, but these look expensive.
I got the Astral Hyacks for under $98.00 with free shipping. Most of the water shoes come in at about the same as low end wading boots. But in keeping with the Tenkara minimalist/simplicity motives, water shoes are considerably lighter in weight, smaller in profile, and feel more like slippers on your feet than clunky wading boots.
Adidas Bought 5-10 And Discontinued the Canyoneer 3
Postby Karl Klavon » Sun Aug 05, 2018 12:08 pm
Adidas bought 5-10 and dropped the Canyoneer 3 along with shutting off the supply of Stealth Sticky Rubber Soles to other wader and water shoe makers. Astral has come up with a replacement that is claimed to be at least as good as Stealth’s S-1 sticky rubber. My Canyoneer SRs have had the front sections of the Stealth out-sole re-glued last year (with E 600 Glue – 6000 PSI/Sq/In holding power, flexible and H2o proof glue) and the arch and heal sections re-glued this season, so I am presently looking for a replacement wet wading/fishing boot.
Two replacement candidates have been identified: Astril’s Hiyak Boot and the SoftScience Terrafin Fly Fishing wading boot. Here is some information on both: https://www.exploringelements.com/review-astral-hiyak/ and https://www.softscience.com/terrafin.html
Hi Jason. Unfortunately the first link given above does not connect with the desired information but, this one will: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ww0E8pdPJIM I am sorry for the inconvenience….Karl.