Waders really try to be waterproof, but there’s always a limit to how long they’ll stay that way. One could argue that any wader’s main purpose is to keep an angler dry, so no matter what is spent on a pair of waders, they should keep the water out. That’s a valid argument, within reason. The question is, under what conditions and for how long can any wader be expected to perform, and at what price to the consumer?
Most waders are made overseas. The days of USA-made waders are largely over, due to the higher costs of manufacturing and the demand for a lower-priced product. Even respected high-end outfitters like Patagonia, Orvis, and Filson have their top-of-the-line waders made in China. That’s not to say these waders are not worthy of consideration, however. And L.L. Bean’s Flyweight II Stocking-Foot waders are no exception.
There are two schools of thought on pricey waders. Some would argue that one gets what they pay for; buy high-end and the quality will speak for itself. Others argue, buy a reasonably cheap pair and spend a little for alcohol and wader patching material, as all waders are destined to leak.
The L.L. Bean Flyweight Stocking-Foot Wader makes a good case for going cheap. Indeed, the author purchased a pair in early spring and has been pleasantly surprised at their performance for a very inexpensive $79 price tag. And for this, one gets a decent pair of waders with built-in gravel guards, ergonomically shaped left-right booties in 3.5 mm neoprene, an 8″ X 8″ inner chest pocket, elastic suspenders with quick release buckles, and L.L. Bean’s no questions asked 100% guarantee.
The author’s use of these waders has encompassed spring, summer, and early fall seasons, mainly while warmwater flyfishing for smallmouth bass. The waders are very light, somewhat baggy, but easy to put on and use. The fit seems a little short to the crotch – not too restricting – but closer than normal, even with the suspenders at full length. The only other negatives would be breathability when fishing in warm or hot conditions. In some cases, so much moisture was contained within my L.L. Bean waders that it seemed they were leaking, but they were not. So these waders appear to be marginally breathable in hot weather when perspiration is high. In colder weather conditions, however, the Flyweight Stocking-Foot Waders performed just fine. Another consideration before purchasing these waders is their light weight. Using them for heavy duty wading or hiking / wading duty might not be the best choice, although the author has experienced no teras or adverse wear in a full season a-stream.
The L.L. Bean Flyweight Stocking-Foot Wader is a very good product for the price. Use them as a reliable and light wader back-up or wear them for lighter duty wading. Regardless, expect great performance for the money.