Gazette Article - How To Properly Handle Trout!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Oakiwear Toddler and Children's Breathable Waders - First Impressions

Our daughter turned 3 years old in February, has an interest in the outdoors, and loves water. She has spent the last 3 years wondering why she doesn't get to play in the water with mamabear and papabear during our fishing adventures. Now she can!

This will be my 5th year working in the fly fishing industry, and one of the things that struck me as odd when we became parents was the complete lack of waders available for toddlers/children from the major suppliers of outdoor gear. And, even though some people will try and tell you otherwise, having kids doesn't mean that you stop living an active lifestyle. In fact, many new parents can't wait to take their kids fishing. Bree was two months old when we took her on her first fishing trip, and we never looked back!

Recently, Kristen was searching the web for toddler sized waders and came across the Oakiwear website. Oakiwear's entire purpose is to sell waterproof gear for outdoorsy kids, or to help parents create outdoorsy kids. When we saw that they sell waders we immediately bought 2 pairs! There are a plethora of options available in both neoprene and breathable, and a range of sizes from 2T to age 12.  Colors include: camo, pink camo, blue, and tan.

Like waders made for adults, Oakiwear's waders for kids run big. There's a size chart available on their website. When ordering online, fitting for any type of clothing becomes problematic. Trying to fit someone for waders is a total pain in the butt, and that's our only complaint. Fortunately, they do sell to retailers, so maybe if parents make enough noise at the Covey here in the Springs we can bring them in the shop!

Kristen ordered sizes 3T and 4/5 because Bree is close to the 90th percentile in weight and height. Since our little girl is the size of a 4 year old, we got the 4/5 thinking that they might fit, but they are massively big on her. Size 3T is large enough on Bree that I doubt she'll grow out of her waders this season, and when she does we will be ready with backups.

The waders themselves are basic, and that's not a bad thing. The breathables have a single layer nylon shell,  sealed at the seems, with rubber boots attached. The boots on the 3T waders are size 10T, which is both good and bad. The large size is good because it leaves plenty of room for Bree to grow, and it also creates plenty of separation between her foot and the water. The separation is important because it helped Bree stay warm while standing in a freezing cold river during March.

The large size is bad because it's hard enough for a toddler her age to learn how to walk in water. There were times when it seemed like Bree had on a pair of swim fins the way she was walking. You float tube guys and gals know exactly what I'm talking about.

She fell several times just standing in one spot while picking her feet up. Fortunately, we wouldn't let her wade in anything but calm water, and never deeper than a foot. Bree also has enough respect for cold water that she landed on her butt in a way that allowed her to stay dry. None of that having to do with previous experiences...

(Warning: put your toddler in the water at your own risk, Sue Happy America) There, I said it!

This brings us to accessories. The waders come with a wading belt, WHICH IS IMPORTANT, and a nylon bag to carry everything in. There are no chest pockets, or any other fancy bells or whistles. Again, basic is all you really need. It's not like your toddler has a smart phone they plan on taking on the water. And the last thing you want is food in a pocket somewhere, waiting to be forgotten, only to ambush you 2 weeks later while cleaning.

The waders are currently on sale at for $84.99. Price will vary slightly with size. Shipping is free! Regular price is $129.00, which still isn't bad.

What would you pay for the price of experience? Honestly, that's what we are talking about. $129.00 for waders that allow your kiddo to get that much more enjoyment out of their time on the water with the family, or $129.00 on toys and junk that they will play with once before losing interest? We would much rather watch Bree throw rocks, catch fish, and play during our adventures, than sit her in front of a t.v.

This is a first impressions review, so we can't go into detail about warranties or durability until we have some more time with the waders. They do come with a limited 1 year warranty, and Bree put the breathable variety through it's paces on the first day and walked away dry. Just like any breathable wader with a rubber boot, you won't want to leave these in the car or hanging out in the sun to long because I'm sure they're susceptible to dry rot. We will keep you updated as Bree breaks them in!

For now, check out the rest of the photos of our test run. This day also happened to be the first time that Bree played and landed a fish! She is a little small to cast a 9' 5wt. yet, so daddy did the fishing, and Bree did the landing with daddy's instruction. She was so pumped she gave the 14" Dream Stream cuttbow a big kiss before we released it!

Going in for the smooch!


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