High ‘N Dry Breathable & Neoprene Waders Review + Which Is Better?

October 13, 2022

I found High ‘N Dry waders after an extensive and exhausting search for a new pair of quality chest waders for waterfowl hunting. I bought my first pair 3 duck seasons ago and they instantly became my favorite company in the waders industry. Now I have both their breathable and neoprene waders as well as their B2 base layers and this review will include insights into all of them, as well as tackling the question; are breathable or neoprene waders better?

The Research Phase

I spent months looking at waders when I was ready for new ones. I looked at so many brands and designs and features that my head was spinning. There was only one constant, I could not find a single thing that was up to my quality standards. I sifted through hundreds of waders and the best of them had only mediocre reviews. I looked at cheap waders, mid-grade, expensive and premium waders, and nothing seem to last long. A service life of 1-2 seasons was the average, almost nothing made it through 3 seasons and I wanted better. To hear more about the challenges and difficulties of finding good waders check out my podcast episode All About Duck Hunting Waders.

I gave up looking for duck hunting waders and began looking for commercial and industrial grade waders. I decided if the hunting industry did not produce waders that were durable enough then I would look into other industries. That is what lead me to discover High ‘N Dry.  The founders of the company had roots as commercial watermen, farming oysters and clams. They were working in their waders all day, hundreds of days a year. They also couldn’t find commercial grade waders that were durable enough for the job so they decide to make their own. Being avid waterfowl hunters, they decided to also make the waders in various camouflage patterns and brought them to market.

I reached out to High ‘N Dry and asked them a series of questions about their products and they were the first company that had impressed me. I had developed a gold standard I wanted in waders so I asked them my big question: Will your waders last me 50 hunts over 5 years with responsible use and care? They did not hesitate to say that was a very reasonable expectation on my part. So I gave them my money. It’s been 3 seasons since that day, and that first pair of waders is not showing any signs of wearing out yet. 

What Is Unique About High ‘N Dry?

I can sum that up in two words, durability, and boots.  High ‘N Dry’s waders just keep working. They don’t wear out, they don’t wear through, they don’t come apart at the seams, they don’t dry rot, they don’t leak, they just keep working. My experience with the neoprene and the breathables is the same thus far.  They are rugged well-constructed waders. The breathable waders have 4 layers of materials with multi-layer seam sealing technology. The Neoprene waders have a single seam construction with 6-layer seam sealing technology.  However, nothing is indestructible, you can destroy them, more on that later. But they don’t seem to fail under any circumstances on their own, even after years.

The boots are also unique. They have 55% rubber reinforced boots with 800g or 1500g equivalent of synthetic insultation. Simply put, the boots are real boots. They are like putting on my Muck boots. They are not half shell boots, moon boosts, stocking foot boots, or any other cheap wader boot that only has insulation around you toes. The whole boot is insulated, the whole boot is warm, and it is strong, comfortable, has arch support and you can walk for miles in them. I don’t recommend walking miles in any waders, but I’ve had to do it and the boots are up to the task. They also have great grip and strong soles. Just 3 days before writing this review I did a morning hunt when it was 38 degrees Fahrenheit and we were sitting in 10″ deep water for hours. I had on only the 800g boots and my feet never got cold.

High ‘N Dry Neoprene Wader Review

I bought the High ‘N Dry Neoprene Waders first, in bottomland camo with 1600g boots. I wanted the warmest and more durable waders possible for the late season. And wow did they deliver with 5mm neoprene construction with Kevlar reinforced knees. Now any 5mm neoprene is going to keep you warm, it is a super insulator. Coupled with the aforementioned boots and they are outstanding. The coldest I’ve hunted in them was 7 degrees Fahrenheit. And let me tell you. That is brutal cold. But the waders were more than up for the task and we took home ducks that day. I have broken brush with them, I have stomped holes in inch thick ice. And I have braved mud so thick and sticky that you felt like it would tear your foot right off. Never had an issue. Check my High ‘N Dry Neoprene Waders Video Review as well.

High ‘N Dry Neoprene Chest Wader Features:

  • Neoprene reinforced knees with exterior Kevlar® protection
  • 5mm neoprene body with limited, single-seam construction
  • Six-layer seam sealing technology
  • Available in Mossy Oak® Shadow Grass Blades, Mossy Oak® Bottomland, and Brown
  • Thinsulate™Ultra + Neoprene + Synthetic Wool insulation = 1500g eq.
  • 55% natural rubber reinforced boots
  • Gusseted crotch for mobility and comfort
  • Exterior rainproof pocket
  • Men’s sizes 7-15 in Regular, Stout, and Tall

Additionally, I can say the suspender straps are comfortable and durable and the clips are very nice. For cold weather applications these waders are the best of the best. I cannot recommend them highly enough. It is true they are not super cheap, but their only competitors cost 2-3 times as much and give no additional performance benefits. The only downside is the nature of neoprene waders, they are heavy and bulky. It is just a bulky material. You need that when it’s cold but in the early season it can be a bit much. Which lead me to try their breathable waders.

High ‘N Dry Neoprene Wader Review

As much as I like the neoprene waders, I wanted something more manageable for the early season, so I set my sights on the arguably even more innovative High N’ Dry Breathable Waders. And wow, they were everything I dreamed they would be, light, flexible, strong, and more comfortable when it was 60 degrees+ outside. I was thoroughly impressed by the construction, every seam and weak point is reinforced. The area’s most likely to fail have extra layers, extra protection, Kevlar armor, and more. They are made to last. My favorite feature is that I can pack them into a backpack with the boots sticking out the top and walk miles into the woods to jump hunt and then pull my waders out and put them on if I hit a duck. That is pretty much impossible with neoprene.

High ‘N Dry Breathable Chest Wader Features:

  • Neoprene reinforced knees with exterior Kevlar® protection
  • Four-layer breathable fabric
  • Sonic Welded; Multi-layer seam sealing technology
  • Available in Mossy Oak® Shadow Grass Blades, Mossy Oak® Bottomland, and Brown
  • Thinsulate™ + Neoprene + Synthetic Wool insulation in two boot options = 800g & 1500g eq.
  • 55% natural rubber reinforced boots
  • Exterior rainproof pocket, interior zippered pocket, reach through chest pocket
  • Men’s sizes 7-15 in Regular, Stout, Tall and B.I.G.
  • Uninsulated Upper to allow optimum comfort thru layering

The breathable waders are also easier to dry and move around in. I can put them so quickly in the field as well, which I have to do regularly when jump hunting creeks, so the downed ducks are not swept downstream. The engineering on these is very impressive. Neoprene also tends to be a little more durable than breathable waders and can stand up to a little bit more abuse. Here is my neoprene chest waders review video.

Wader Repair

No waders last forever. High ‘N Dry will be the first ones to tell you that. But they should last for years and they should not fail before their time. That said, if you walk into sharp things at high speed, have knife accidents, fall onto jagged rocks, or any other of the many high impact things waterfowlers do, you can cut, puncture or tear your waders. And that is no problem. High ‘N Dry has a proprietary relationship with 3M and sells 4000 UV Marine Grade Sealant in black. Put this on this on both sides of the puncture and you are good to go within 24 hours. It is flexible, leak proof, strong, and long lasting. I did once charge into a jagged spear of a stick that we used to make a blind near dawn suffering from sleep deprivation and poked a hole in the outer layer of my neoprene. The 3m stuff left it stronger than it was before.

Bells & Whistles

If High ‘N Dry is criticized for anything it is their lack of bells and whistles. Both neoprene and breathable waders have a pocket or two with a couple of clips that you could attack things like hand warming muff to. That is it. No removable insulating layers, no dozens of pockets inside or outside, no built-in safety whistle, no shotgun shell loops, no duck call holders, no carabiners, no tool holders, nothing. And I am so thankful for that. The wader industry has been trying so hard for years to take cheap waders with moon boots that only last a season and a half and dress them up with all kinds of fancy features you do not really need instead of just making good waders. And here is the thing, the more gizmos you add, the more potential failure points in the construction there are.

For me, waders are tool, like hammer or wrench. You want them to do their one job well, every time, forever. My hammer doesn’t need a cup holder or a rear-view mirror. I do not want any of that stuff that makes the waders heavier and cost more, I just want quality durable waders that keep me dry and last a long time. That is it. I do not want removable insulation on waders that don’t make it through two seasons. I can wear more layers if it’s cold. I can get neoprene waders if it’s really cold. I want every dollar of the purchase price to go into quality material and construction, and that is what High ‘N Dry does. It is like they read my mind.

High ‘N Dry B2 Base Layers Review

This season I got a Set of the B2 Base Layers as well. You can also buy just the quarter zip hoody or bottoms. These layers are so nice, especially for the early season. They are designed and cut to be worn under waders, so they don’t bunch up where you don’t want them to and they have heel stirrups and thumb loops so you can get them into your wader boots without them riding up and slide your arms through outer layers. They also wick away moister and dry quickly, especially when paired with the breathable waders. They are nice and warm as well. With the hoody, my favorite part is the built in facemask that you can seemingly pull out of nowhere to cover you face with a great camo breathable layer. My biggest complaint is that they do not come in full camo, I found that I would have worn them alone on some of warmer days during this year’s early season.

Quarter Zip Features:

  • DWR Treated fabric: Durable Water Resistant to shed light rain and mist
  • Moisture wicking
  • Internal face mask/neck gator
  • Thumb loops
  • Magnetic chest pocket
  • Hood
  • Athletic fit
  • YKK Zippers

Bottoms Features:

  • DWR Treated fabric: Durable Water Resistant to shed light rain and mist
  • Moisture wicking
  • Heel stirrups
  • Draw string closure
  • Athletic fit
  • Side pockets

These are marketed as mid layers/base layers. I find the pants have enough room that I can wear a nice base layer under them when its that cold, the quarter zip doesn’t have enough room for that. So order a size larger than you normally wear if that is your plan. Else it fits well as a next to skin layer and both are very comfortable for that job with lofty polar fleece and spandex added to the material. They are high quality smart layers with lots of little features that are very nice.

What Is Better, Neoprene or Breathable Waders?

This is a very easy question for me to answer now that I have the highest quality and most durable neoprene and breathable waders on the market to compare them. It depends on when, where, and how you hunt.

  1. For the early season or any mild climate, the breathable waders are the best tool.
  2. For cold weather, breaking ice, and late season hunts, the neoprene waders are the best tool.
  3. If you want to put the waders in an easy to carry backpack and go jump hunting, then you want breathable waders.
  4. If you are hunting thick, dense stuff that puts a lot of wear on your gear, you want neoprene because it’s a little thicker and more durable. 
  5. If you get cold easy, get neoprene.
  6. If you are prone to running hot all the time, get breathables.
  7. If you are prone to running out of energy quickly, get the lighter breathables.
  8. If you walk far in your waders, on land or in the stream, get the breathables.
  9. If you spend alot of time standing or sitting in cold water, get the neoprene.

The best answer is you should get both, so you have the best the tool for every hunt. But most people, like myself, are only buying one at a time so you need to pick which one is best for you to start with. For me, and how I hunt, and what is most important to my area and needs, I think the breathable waders are the better tool for more days of the season. But you have to decide which is best for you. The neoprene is a little less expensive, that’s a noteworthy factor as well.

The Final Analysis

I think High ‘N Dry makes the best waders on the market right now. And no, they are not paying me to say that.  They may cost a little more than some other brands, but I believe they will last ALOT longer. Your cost per season should be much lower with High ‘N Dry because you can go more seasons without having to replace your waders. And they are more comfortable, more usable, and enjoyable for all of those seasons than most of their competitors. 

Be sure to listen to The New Hunters Guide Podcast and check us out on YouTube

Till next time. God bless you, and go get em in the woods!

George Konetes Ph.D. – Founder and Host of the New Hunters Guide.

The New Hunters Guide is simply what George wishes he would have had when learning how to hunt; a single place to get practical hands on knowledge about different kinds of hunting, gear, strategy, and tips that can improve your comfort and fun factor in th

As a note, High N’ Dry gave me the breathable waders to review, thanks to them for their support. I bought the neoprene waders with my own money.