Breathable waders vs saltwater?

David Loy

Senior Moment
Question: Are breathable waders damaged by use in saltwater?
I'm skeptical about advertising information so I'd like to hear your opinions. I know saltwater was fatal to early versions of Gortex.

I have neoprenes (both stocking foot and boot foot) but I'm more comfortable in the Simms Guideweights (Gortex). Felt soles are out (therefore my bootfoot waders too) so I've picked up some Marlwalkers for the stocking foot waders.
I know neoprene is warmer but I seem to have a high tolerance for cold (nordic blood I guess) so that's not a BIG issue for me.

I've looked through the site using search and didn't find anything specific, so excuse me if this is an old issue. Thanks in advance.

I've been using breathable Cabela's waders for a few years with no problems, other than normal wear. If you're wading up to your knees, you won't get too cold, or you can wear fleece pants and be OK. For the winter I use the neoprene with the boot foot. I like the stocking foot approach on my breathables for the comfort of a real boot for hiking on the beach. I have not had any moisture problems from using the breathables in the salt, although I do rinse them off with fresh water after use in the salt.

I fish mostly saltwater, and have for years, all the while wearing breathables. I've got a pair of Orvis Guides that I've been wearing for four or five years with no problems whatsoever.

I have been using breathables in the salt for at least ten years. My first pair of breathables, Simms Guide Model were purchased more than ten years ago and only recently (two years ago) gave up and not because of salt. I just used them to death.
More recently I've been using Hodgman breathables with the insulated bootfoot (fantastic for winter fishing) and Orvis Pro Guide stocking foot waders. Thus far I can see no ill-effects of salt water. I do rinse them off well and hang them to dry before putting them away after each use.
My pal Preston Singletary (Product Editor for Flyfishing & Tying Journal) receives a lot of test waders and always takes them straight to the beach. I haven't heard him complain about any problems with the ones he continues to use over time.
Good Fishing,
Les Johnson

Richard E

Active Member
My experience is the saltwater doesn't affect the breathables waders any differently than does fresh water.

HOWEVER, make sure that you rinse your boots very thoroughly, as those are the items that will likely have some type of metal (metal eyelets or what not), and the saltwater will get 'em. Ditto with any other portion of your waders, jacket, vest, or any other metal item you take with you that may come in to contact with saltwater.


Active Member
Since I agree with most of the above, I wasn't going to respond but, since Les has outed me, I guess I'll add my two cents worth. I've come to use breathables for almost all of my fishing; fresh water and salt water, year round. The only situation in which I routinely continue use neoprene waders is float-tubing in lakes when the water is still cold (there's something about being immersed to the ribs all day in cold water that makes the idea of neoprene and suitable undergarments comforting). I've had no problems with breathables that I would attribute to using them in salt water; just rinse them off well with fresh water after use and allow them to dry thoroughly before storing them away.

David Loy

Senior Moment
Thanks again guys.
Am fairly anal about gear upkeep so I rinse everything exposed to salt water, sometimes in the shower.
Preston - I agree 100% about neoprene & float tubes. I eventually get chilled after several hours in cold water. And it takes a loooong time to warm up after the bones are cold. With this knowlege I'll save the SF neoprenes expressly for tubing. As for being outed, we're all fortunate for the contributions you, Les, Leland & others make here. Thanks for sharing.
This question may be better suited for the general forum, but I'll throw it out here for starters.

I have size 15 feet (street shoe) and have been using Simms Extreme Bootfoot neoprenes in their largest size, with the insert pulled out, as the only bootfoot wader that fits me. I've had to use these waders for years for all my fishing, fresh-salt-winter-summer. They're starting to approach their end of life and I would like to continue with a bootfoot for convenience, but after scouring catalogs for years, and can't find another bootfoot in my size, nor a boot for stocking feet in my size, I'm beginning to panic the more my Simms wear out. Does anyone have any ideas where I can get a bootfoot or stocking foot that can work for a guy like me, or if Bigfoot ever takes up flyfishing?

I do have a pair of Marl Walkers (largest size they make of course) for flats fishing, but I don't know if they could work over stocking feet. I'm resigned to the fact I may only be able to get breathables (which would certainly be better in summer) if I can even get those in my size. Any help would be greatly appreciated.