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The Frogg Toggs Hellbenders Stockingfoot Waders are a solid entry-level wader that boasts a great price-to-value ratio. They have a four-ply construction with reinforced knees and shins, as well as built-in gravel guards in the neoprene booties.
Most entry-level waders skimp on the chest pocket, but Frogg Toggs does a good job of creating a usable triple-entry chest pocket with a fleece-lined hand-warmer pocket — plus a pocket on the inside for your keys or license.
The MSRP is just under $130, but you can usually find them online for a bit less.
In addition, Frogg Toggs has released a second-generation of these waders — the primary difference is mostly cosmetic. The newer generation Hellbenders has a sweet gray color scheme with a slightly different chest pocket with orange trim. The MRSP remains the same.
All-in-all, the Frogg Toggs Hellbender Stockingfoot Waders are lightweight and capable with a decent bootie construction. We especially appreciate that you can find them with larger bootie sizes — up to size 15. (There are a lot of manufacturers that stop at size 13.)
If you’re looking for an entry-level wader, the Hellbenders should make your shortlist. If you want to learn more about the best waders, including midrange and high-end waders, check out our guide to our favorite 10 best fishing waders.
Frogg Toggs Hellbenders in action.
The excellent chest pocket.
Just after a deep wade.
Frogg Toggs Hellbenders Waders Review: A Note About Entry-Level Waders
Of course, there are a few things you should know before you invest in an entry-level fishing wader, and the first is having realistic expectations. If you’re willing to pay four or five times as much as the Hellbenders, you can get super durable, 6-ply waders that will last years with rough use and abuse.
On the other hand, high-end waders are only worth the cost if you plan on using them frequently — or you have the budget. If you don’t, you can definitely get by with an entry-level set of fishing waders. Our rule of thumb is this: If you use them around 10 times per year and treat them with reasonable care, you should get a few years of use out of them.
Once you start using waders more than 10 times per year — or if you fish in very brushy, thorny areas — consider investing in a stouter set.
All that said, there is still a common misconception about breathable stocking foot waders “leaking.” We’ve seen some guys blame their waders when in reality, they just spent a full day on the water, in the sun, and the moisture inside their waders is really from their own water vapor and sweat. It’s not uncommon to fish for a few hours, standing in very cold water, and still end up with some moisture from your own legs and feet inside your “breathable” waders. This even happens with high-end waders — but the guys who tend to buy high-end waders fish frequently and have figured this out.
At the same time, inexpensive waders just don’t have the rigorous testing that high-end waders go through and they are thinner, with fewer layers of material. We recommend that whenever you first buy a new set of waders, you should run a simple test to find out if there was a manufacturing error in your waders. Here’s how:
Turn the waders inside out and take them outside onto a clean, dry surface like a deck, porch, driveway or the back of your pickup. Very carefully start filling them with water from a garden hose, being careful not to let any drops or spray contaminate your test. You don’t have to completely fill the waders — we usually just go about half-way up the legs. If the booties are good, hold the top of the waders closed and lay them out so that a couple inches of water cover the back side, then rotate around, getting water coverage everywhere. Pay special attention to the seams and look for any slow leaks.
You probably won’t notice any, but if you do, you found a manufacturing error before you actually wore them in the wild so you should be able to return them or get them replaced relatively easily. The idea is to do this before a big fishing trip! That said, these errors are pretty rare but they make guys really mad, and because they tend not to have much brand loyalty built up yet, you’re far more likely to hear about them in the online store reviews.
In addition, we’ve watched our own buddies get so excited about the fishing that they walked through thorn and blackberry bushes without noticing. It’s pretty hard to blame a manufacturer if you walk your shin into a bramble — and don’t even notice.
Even so, a poked hole isn’t the end of your waders. Most waders come with patch and repair kits, but we like to keep a tube of Gear Aid Aquaseal in our fly fishing bag. It’s an industrial strength urethane adhesive that you can use on waders, rain jackets, rubber or leather, and we’ve used it to repair holes in things like KÜHL cargo shorts, tents, snow boots, sleeping pads, ski jackets, rafts and even cheap inflatable beach toys. The stuff works. You should get a couple of tubes to have on hand. It’s flexible, tough and waterproof. The only downside is that it takes 24 hours to fully cure, after which it’s very durable. For your waders when you’re on the river, another option is Gear Aid Aquaseal Repair Adhesive with Cool 240 Cure Accelerator — it speeds the cure to a couple of hours.