The Best Hip Waders for 2024: LaCrosse and Frogg Toggs Dominate the Competition!

Written by: John Baltes
Last Updated:
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A good pair of hip waders do a lot more than keep your feet and legs dry. In icy-cold streams, they’ll insulate you from the chilly water, and in murkier conditions, they’ll help keep your legs and feet protected from sharp sticks and other hazards.

If you’re been searching for tough, comfortable, effective hip waders, look no further.

Below, you’ll find reviews of some of our favorite hip waders, as well as a complete buying guide to get you up to speed on what to look for.

Quick glance at the best hip waders:

Related:

Best Hip Waders Reviewed

LaCrosse Big Chief

LaCrosse Men's Big Chief 32' Od Green Work Boot, OD Green, 13 M US

Amazon 

Material: Rubber

If you’re an avid outdoorsman, and you’re not familiar with LaCrosse, you really should be!

I’m a HUGE fan of their Grange boots, and I’ve worn them in the mud, water, snow, and ice. I’ve hiked for miles in them chasing deer, and I’ve waded into cold streams, impenetrable swamps, and through brambled that were nothing short of tortuous.

LaCrosse’s Big Chief takes the Grange boot and adds a tall shaft, reaching 32 inches. Ankle-tight, but designed with internal calf harness laces, they stay put, even when you plant your feet in deep mud. 

And the soles, boot, and uppers can take anything short of walking on upright nails.

I’ve owned and regularly used Grange boots for most of my life when hunting, fishing, and camping, and I can guarantee that they’re at least as comfortable on a long walk to a trout stream as your favorite hiking boots.

I’m not kidding about that.

And the grip is excellent, even in snow.

The only downside to the LaCrosse Big Chief is that the rubber is not breathable, so your feet and legs will get sweaty, especially if it’s warm out. But I’ve submerged my feet in snow, ice-cold water, and ridiculously low temperatures hunting and never felt cold.

Yes, they’re expensive. But they’re remarkably durable, offer extreme protection to your legs and feet, and keep your feet warm, comfortable, and dry (from the outside).

I can’t say enough good things about these hip waders!

Pros:

  • Tough as nails
  • Durable
  • Comfortable, even on long hikes to trout streams
  • Very protective
  • Excellent fit - won’t come off in deep mud
  • Great traction

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Not breathable

Frogg Toggs Men's Rana II

FROGG TOGGS Rana II PVC Bootfoot Hip Wader, Cleated or Felt Outsole

Amazon 

Material: Nylon and nylon-reinforced PVC

Frogg Toggs has a well-earned reputation among anglers, hunters, and outdoorsmen, and their products they deliver tend to deliver the quality you demand when you’re out in the worst of it.

They’ve thought through the design of these hip waders, providing an uninsulated boot made from 2mm of PVC that includes adjustable web belt leashes with quick release buckles. The upper is made from nylon reinforced PVC with sealed and taped seams.

The Rana II is available in both lug soles and felt alternatives, and if you’ll be wearing them more-or-less exclusively to fly fish, the felt might be the better choice. But if long hikes in these waders are a common occurrence, or if you need to protect the soles of your feet, stick with the lugs.

They do an excellent job keeping water out, and the uppers are very comfortable. But the absence of a steel or fiberglass shank in the boot means that there’s little undersole support, and that can get uncomfortable on long hikes or hours perching on rocks.

I prefer the feel and comfort of the LaCrosse Big Chief, but these Frogg Toggs are a fraction of the price, and available with a felt sole for better grip on slippery rocks.

The Rana II is an excellent hip wader, and overall, it’s much more breathable than the Big Chief. I don’t think it’s quite as durable, especially when you’re talking about punctures from sharp sticks and other hazards, and I prefer the fit of the LaCrosse - but you may not.

Overall, these are excellent, affordable hip waders that offer a great felt sole.

Pros:

  • Affordably priced
  • Durable
  • Lightweight uppers are very comfortable
  • Available with felt or lug soles
  • Excellent retention - won’t come off in deep mud

Cons:

  • Not as tough or as protective as the LaCrosse Big Chief
  • Not available with felt soles
  • Lack a supportive footbed

Frogg Togg Bull Frogg

FROGG TOGGS Men's Bull Frogg 3-Ply Canvas Bootfoot Hip Wader, Cleated, 10

Amazon 

Material: 3-ply PVC

Togg Frogg offers the Bull Frogg for anglers and outdoorsmen who need a tough, durable, protective pair of hip waders. They’re looking to unseat the LaCrosse Big Chief with these, and as a result, they've upgraded the material from single-ply PVC to far tougher 3-ply.

That increases the price quite a bit, bringing it into the same neighborhood as LaCrosse, but what you get is an exceptionally durable, protective set of waders that can stand up to pretty much anything you want to throw at them. 

Sharp rocks? No problem. A walk through brambles? You won’t even notice.

And like the Rana II, they’re available in cleated or felt soles, giving you the options of ultimate traction on algae-covered rocks.

Of course, PVC is no more breathable than rubber, so moisture-wicking is not something you can expect. That’s a trade off I’d be more than willing to make for the added protection, and even in cold water up to my thighs, I didn’t feel the chill.

I prefer an ankle-tight boot on my hip waders, but that’s a personal preference.

If you’re looking for a tough, warm, protective pair of hip waders that are available with a felt sole, I don’t think there’s a better option on the market than the Bull Frogg.

Pros:

  • Tough as nails
  • Durable
  • Very protective
  • Available with cleated or felt soles
  • Great traction, especially on slippery rocks

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Not breathable

Frogg Toggs Cascades

FROGG TOGGS Men's Wading Boots, Cleated, 12

Amazon 

Material: 2-ply rubber boot with polyester uppers

Frogg Toggs’s Cascades are another attempt to close the gap with LaCrosse. As you can see with the boot design, and the inclusion of a rigid shank, the Cascades look more and feel more like the Big Chief than any alternative you’ll find.

The boots are available with a cleated or felt sole - an improvement over the LaCrosse in terms of grip on slippery rocks. And they’re darn tough and more than capable of protecting your feet from hazards.

The uppers are a 300-denier polyester with stitched and taped seams that are then vulcanized to ensure waterproofness. And unlike the bargain-basement waders like the Allen Black River, these aren’t going to leak mid-trip, turning your feet to ice.

They’re plenty warm with good socks, and I wouldn’t hesitate to take them into cold streams, dirty swamps, or marshy wetlands. They’ll stay put and protect your legs pretty well.

I don’t think the polyester uppers provide the same level of protection as the LaCrosse Big Chief, but they’re noticeably lighter and more flexible, making them very comfortable on long days on the water.

Priced between the Rana II and the Bull Frogg, I’d say they’re the middle ground from Frogg Toggs in terms of comfort and protection. The addition of the firm shank underfoot is a big selling point to me, too.

Pros:

  • Tough
  • Durable
  • Comfortable
  • Very protective boot
  • Available with cleated or felt soles
  • Great traction, especially on slippery rocks

Cons:

  • Not as protective as the Bull Frogg or Big Chief, especially in the upper

Buying Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Hip Waders

For more wader options visit: Best Fly Fishing Waders - Hip, Pant, and Chest Waders Reviewed

Where are the Allen Black Rivers, TIDEWE, and other bargain brands?

If you go looking for cheap hip waders, you’ll find brands that have price points that are almost unbelievably low. 

When we tested these products, we found two issues with the bargain-basement waders.

First, they just didn’t hold up to real-world use. They’d leak at the seam between the boot and the upper or leak in multiple spots within hours in the water.

We’re not going to recommend products like that for serious anglers, potentially ruining your fishing trip.

Second, they were typically constructed from materials that were too flimsy to offer real protections against hazards. Inexpensive 2-ply nylon is not going to get it done if you slip and fall on something sharp, and even the Rana II is pushing it for us in terms of reliable protection if the worst happens.

Protection

Hip waders need to have tough boots and puncture-resistant uppers.

The issue is less that you’ll get a leak when you step on a nail, fall on a sharp branch, or slam your leg into a pointy rock. It’s that the resulting injury can take you out of the game, and you’re not typically just a minute or two from the ER.

I like hip waders that can offer real protection to everything they cover, and I think you will too.

Durability

If your hip waders fail on a fishing trip, you’ll end up wet and cold. 

And where I fly fish, the water is just a few degrees above freezing, even in the summer. If my waders leak, my feet go numb almost instantly, and I can’t walk without falling.

That’s pretty much a guaranteed end of the day.

I want my waders to take everything Mother Nature throws at them and just laugh, and in my experience, nothing beats LaCrosse, though the Bull Froggs are excellent as well.

Comfort

If your hip waders chafe your thighs, pinch at the top, or lack a thick, sturdy footbed, wading in them can feel like punishment.

On this front, it’s almost impossible to beat LaCrosse. I’ve logged hundreds of hours in mine, and they feel almost as comfy as a well-worn pair of slippers. Even in cold water, I’ve never had a problem while wearing good socks.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Rana II aren’t the best when you've got rocks under foot all day. The absence of a reinforced shank - and the lack of support that creates - can really become an issue after some time.

The downside of waders like the LaCrosse Big Chief and the Bull Frogg is that they’re going to get clammy as sweat builds up. That’s not much of a problem in cold water, but in warm weather, you’ll notice that moisture build up really quickly.

Sole type and grip

Lug soles are unbeatable when you use your waders to hike into a stream, or when they need to do double-duty for hunting or other activities where you need to keep your feet and legs warm and dry.

But for wading across algae-coated rocks, nothing beats a felt sole.

In that sense, the Frogg Toggs’s Bull Frogg is simply awesome, and if you’re looking for a protective, high-quality wader that features a felt sole, you’ve found the best around if you go with them.

Keep in mind, however, that some places ban felt soles, as they’re capable of transporting invasive species from one stream to another.

Are hip waders dangerous if you get into deep water? The myth busted!

There’s a long-standing myth that if you fall or step into deep water, your waders will fill with water and cause you to drown.

That’s simply not true.

As you can see in the video and confirm through science, the water in your waders is exactly the same density as the water outside your waders. The result is that filling them with water will not cause you to sink, though it can be a little tougher to swim, especially in a current.

Final Thoughts

A good pair of hip waders creates opportunities to fish that simply aren’t possible without them. They’ll protect your legs and feet from the cold and sharp hazards, provide excellent traction, and allow you to fish harder and longer.

We’re confident that one of the products we’ve reviewed today will fit the bill for you, and we hope this article has helped you make the right choice.

As always, we’d love to hear any questions or comments you might have, so please leave a message below!

About The Author
John Baltes
Chief Editor & Contributor
If it has fins, John has probably tried to catch it from a kayak. A native of Louisiana, he now lives in Sarajevo, where he's adjusting to life in the mountains. From the rivers of Bosnia to the coast of Croatia, you can find him fishing when he's not camping, hiking, or hunting.
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