Breathable waders are one of the leaps and bounds in fishing technology that now allows anglers to stay dry and comfortable for hours out around the water. For anglers of all styles and experience levels, breathable waders may be an absolutely essential piece of equipment for their specific fishing needs. Choosing the proper set of breathable waders for yourself may be a daunting task when presented with the array of products available on the market.
Should you go for the high dollar, professionally endorsed pair that is sure to hurt your wallet? Or should you treat the equipment as more of an annually disposable item and run through a sub-standard $100 pair a season?
Well, for those lost in the middle ground somewhere, Frogg Toggs comes to your rescue. Frogg Toggs is a company that has built a career on developing affordable waterproof materials. From jackets to waders, Froggs Toggs are the budget outdoor enthusiast’s best friend.
One of the more popular performance and most affordable fishing waders they make, the Hellbender, provides budget-minded anglers with great performance value. Newly redesigned for the 2018-19 fishing season, this already renowned pair of wader setups upped its look and performance. If you are looking to keep your breathable wader budget under $200 but don’t want to make huge sacrifices in performance, let’s look into why these waders deserve some of your consideration.
When designing the Hellbender, it would appear that Frogg Toggs set out to make them a working-class pair of waders. A simple, yet fully-featured, set of breathable waders that will live up to the performance expectations of hard working anglers and leave them money for gas to get to their favorite fishing hole. Dependable for many years to date, the newest rendition of the Hellbender is stepping up the game even further while staying in a budget price range.
This pair of breathable waders takes into consideration the simplicity and elegant ruggedness found in higher priced breathable waders. Like its higher-priced cousins, the four-ply nylon construction of the Hellbender ensures an optimal balance of breathability, durability, and its waterproof nature.
For the high wear areas on the front of the legs, Frogg Toggs has taken note and added in a double reinforced layer. That way, you can kneel down in the dirt, mud, and rocks without the constant worrying of poking or tearing your waders or having them tightly wrapped around your knees.
For convenience, the front pocket design of the wader delivers many options. With a horizontal zip pocket like those on many other waders, you have quick and easy access to certain items. For even more convenience, the Hellbenders also feature two side entry pockets to help keep small items organized.
The Hellbender waders come in a variety of foot options, such as boot sizes in a selection of soles and a neoprene stocking foot. For most wader-wearing anglers, the stocking foot will likely be your preferred option in having the ability to dial in your footwear. The 4mm neoprene booties are seam-sealed and feature integrated gravel guards, one less thing to purchase later on.
The elegance of these waders comes from their simplicity. They are a no-frills, budget-minded option that should perform for seasons to come. The double reinforced knees set these apart from cheaper waders and the three-pocket chest storage system puts it a step ahead of similarly priced waders. These are waders for anglers that want to stay dry and cool when physically exerting themselves or fishing in warmer conditions.
Double Reinforced Knees are a standard feature of the higher end, breathable waders for a reason. They can significantly extend the lifespan of your waders. In most real-life fishing scenarios, people may spend a fair amount of time kneeling down on various surfaces.
On top of simply being in contact with the ground, the extra tension on the material from the bending action further makes it susceptible to damage. Having a few extra layers of heavy-duty nylon on the lower legs can put your mind at ease and limit repairs of your waders.
Three-Way Zippered Chest Pocket is a great feature that sets this pair of waders ahead of others in this price range. Most waders of this price come with one or no chest pockets at all. Frogg Toggs has figured out a way to offer a three-way zippered chest pouch on a budget.
With one horizontal and two vertical side zippers, it makes it easy to keep small handy items organized and within quick reach, say a camera for that quick burst of scenic light, or maybe a pair of hemostats to remove hooks, or even a snack that will be kept close to your body to prevent it from freezing
Integrated Gravel Guards are not always a feature of waders in this price range. However, you can find them on nearly all high-end stocking foot waders. If stocking foot waders and boots are your go-to, gravel guards are almost always a necessity. Frogg Toggs knows this and has taken the liberty of incorporating them into even their budget waders. That way, you don’t have to choose between buying and keeping track of an extra piece of wading gaiters or getting gravel in your wading boots.
Durability and Longevity are almost always going to be the sacrifice made when compromising on price for breathable waders. Breathable waterproof technology as of yet is inherently somewhat fragile and easily susceptible to damage, simply due to the fact that even the slightest pinhole will significantly negate the performance we are asking from the wader.
While the Hellbender waders offer a great price value and can be relied on for many uses, the simple fact of the matter is they won’t be as durable or have the lifespan of a wader twice its price. Thankfully, for savvy users, most tears, rips, and pinholes can be easily and creatively repaired with sealing materials designed for the task. This may render waders useable for years to come, so long as you don’t mind a few blotches of sealer or patches on your waders.
What are the Frogg Toggs Hellbender Waders Best For?
Named for the largest species of salamander in the world, a rough and gruff looking creature who spends its life clinging to the smooth cobble of free-flowing rivers, the Hellbender is a perfect name for a working-class fishing wader. These waders offer anglers a great middle ground in price and performance demands of a breathable fishing wader.
This waders fit the bill for those anglers looking for a breathable pair of fishing waders without breaking the bank. The four-ply nylon construction ensures optimal breathability and keeps you cool throughout a day of fishing, all the while keeping you high and dry up to your chest in water.
For extra protection in higher wear areas, the double reinforced knee areas are the same as those featured on much higher priced waders. To keep gear handy and organized, the three-way zippered chest pouch may even beat chest pouches found on higher priced waders.
Sizing options are plentiful with this pair of waders, making them a great choice for a wide variety of anglers. Available in nine different sizing options, the Hellbenders step up the game when it comes to finding that optimal wader fit.
Users also have the option of different boot foot options or a stocking foot option. Personally, I appreciate the ability to select a tight-fitting boot for my fishing, so I prefer the stocking foot version. If that is your style, know that the integrated gravel guards in these waders will work in your advantage and keep you from having to purchase another piece of gear.
For the price and features, the Hellbender is a guilt-free purchase for any serious angler and it is easy to see why.
It's already been said multiple times in this review, but these are truly a working-class, breathable fishing wader. With the newly redesigned edition for 2018-2019, you would be hard-pressed to separate these waders from higher-end pairs in a side by side line-up. They have the look, feel, and performance of some top of the line pairs while still remaining on the lower end of the price spectrum.
If staying cool and dry is something you demand when fishing, you need a pair of breathable waders in your arsenal. Whether you have a pair already or not, the newest edition of the Frogg Toggs Hellbenders is one of the best waders for the price on the market. Be sure to give them a look.