Accessories Trout & Char

Riverruns Wader Gaiters – Surprisingly Good & Under $20?

It’s not uncommon for people to buy inexpensive “no name” products on Amazon. From phone accessories, to household items, you name it, it can be found on Amazon. We do it in the tenkara community as well. Anglers seem to flock to those $8 “tenkara” rods, spools of generic tippet, flies of unknown origin… and typically those purchases come with mixed results. Some are servicable to good, but typically, the old adage is true, you get what you pay for.

Now what if I told you about a very inexpenisve fishing item that punches well above its price tag? Enter the Riverruns Neoprene Wader Gaiters.

About Wader Gaiters

Leg gaiters are not new in the tenkara scene. Many prominent Japanese tenkara anglers use them to protect their expensive waders, or as an insulating and defensive layer when wet wading. When tenkara came over to the US over a decade ago, images of tenkara anglers wearing leg gaiters did as well.

Confused? Adam Klagsbrun wrote a great article about his wet wading system for a prior issue of Tenkara Angler magazine.

Adam Klagsbrun wearing Tiemco Foxfire gaiters

Since wader gaiters are not really a common “thing” in the United States, most anglers that wanted to use them had to go the import route, directly buying from overseas, or from fabled tenkara enabler, But these gaiters could be a bit expensive. Brands like Little Presents or Caravan run anywhere from $50 to $120 depending on the length (and if they include knee pads). Not super expensive, but pricey enough to make you perhaps pause and contemplate, “do I need this” prior to purchase.

This past May there was a discussion in the Tenkara Anglers Facebook group about wading equipment and the Riverruns Wader Gaiters were mentioned by Joseph Ruckman, who had purchased them on Amazon. I was shocked to find they were only $11.99! (At the time of this writing they currently are listed at $13.99 with an MSRP of $19.99).

I immediately bought a pair, and told a handful of like-minded fishing friends who took the plunge as well.

Riverruns Wader Gaiters - Surprisingly Good & Under $20? - Tenkara Angler

The Field Test

I just got back from a week-long trip to the Driftless, and I fished it hard. The Driftless can be rough on gear… or more specifically, the high grass meadows that surround the spring creeks can. There’s all sorts of nasty stuff in those fields, including stinging nettle, splintery timber, stray barbed wire, and wild parsnip. That’s a lot of things that can wreak havock on one’s legs. Additionally, it’s beneficial to keep a low profile while fishing those meadow streams. Once the fish see you, they spook. Taking a knee is a common strategy. Doing that hundreds of times over the course of the day really takes a toll.

Riverruns Wader Gaiters - Surprisingly Good & Under $20? - Tenkara Angler - Driftless
Riverruns wader gaiters worn over quick dry pants, somewhere near a stream in Wisconsin.

Thankfully, the Riverruns wader gaiters eliminated all those issues (I wore over quick dry pants instead of waders), and made the fishing a ton more enjoyable. They were light, comfortable, and most importantly durable. Other than getting a little dirty, they still look as good as they did the day I got them. If nothing else, the kneepads offered just the right about of non-bulky cushioning. After a week of fishing and countless “ups and downs”, my knees feel great!

Fishing a spring creek in the Driftless

The only cons to these gaiters are that they’re not sized, so one size fits “most”. The velcro closure tabs are fairly generous, so don’t think anyone with particularly thin or wide leg circumference would have issues, but there always could be an outlier. Also, they come with a strap at the top of each that is supposed to loop over your belt to insure your gaiters stay up (sort of like how hip waders work). My friends & I all found that strap unnecessary. Fortunately, removing the strap is something an x-acto knife or razor blade can easily remedy.

Even though these gaiters were fished in a primarliy meadow filled, spring creek setting, I’m very excited to get these out to some high gradient mountain streams. The headwaters I love to fish can also be tough on your legs, usually in the form of in-stream boulders. The kind of rocks that bruise shins as you walk by and crunch knees should you need to climb over them to reach the next section of fishable water. Plus, if you’ve ever bushwacked through a wooded thicket, you never know what you’re going to brush up against – thorns, vines, poison ivy, etc… and don’t get me started about ticks!

Bang for the Buck

In the end, are these $14 gaiters as refined as the more expensive versions? Maybe, maybe not. I’m sure someone with $80 Little Presents will be very pleased with their purchase and could point out how their gaiters are better. However, I don’t know how you can beat this Amazon find for the price. The combination of comfort and durablilty is very good, and if you’ve always wanted to give leg gaiters a try, I think you’ll be happy in the value found in the Riverruns neoprene wader gaiters.

Riverruns Wader Gaiters - Surprisingly Good & Under $20? - Tenkara Angler - Brown Trout
Trout in foreground, gaiters in background

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    1. Well…. unless you want to pay $30 for shipping the wait time is “25-30 days”. And, if you need to make a return, the address is in…. China. So…. I’ll wait for Amazon to restock 🙂 They sure did look slick though.

  1. I purchased these and had to return them. When I fastened the knee pad section appropriately I had like 3 inches of excess at my ankle. Of course I am 5ft 2 so that was it. One size fits MOST lol.

  2. I’ve had the little presents waders for 3 years now. I do like them, but I don’t see any real difference between the two, other than these have the advantage of the hip strap, if you want to use it. I will say, I do find myself pulling my little presents back up from time to time as they do slip down. With the price difference if I ever need replacements I’ll be getting the Riverruns.

  3. I have the Little Presents version, which I really like. Looking at the two and not having tried the Riverruns version, it looks like there are some key differences. Foremost, the Little Presents version straps above and below the knee, whereas the Riverruns version appears to have the middle strap in the center of the knee. That looks like it would be uncomfortable. Second, the Riverruns have small patches for the velcro, which one hand hand seem like they would limit the fit but also have a lot less velcro exposed to collect seeds and whatnot compared to Little Presents. At this price-point though, I’ll have to get a pair to try them out. A cup of coffee almost cost more these days, so I can’t see how you’d go terribly wrong with them

    1. I think you’ll find the fit to your liking. That strap is not in the center of the knee (that would be painful!), it’s more beneath your knee at the top of your calf.

  4. I’m not a tenkara angler but I think these may be exactly what I need to prevent another injury to my shins while wading. However, I’m not sure these will be compatible with the guard socks I’ve been wearing to keep pebbles and other debris from getting in my boots. The guard socks also have a hook for attaching to boot laces. Can I use these without their hooks or will they work as a substitute for the guard socks?

    1. That’s a good question. You don’t necessarily need the guard socks you’re currently using. These should slide down past the tops of your wading boots and keep debris out. Depending on the cut of your boots, you may need to check them from time to time to make sure they stay down.

      That said, there’s plenty of “give” at the bottom to do both if you choose since they’re made to go over waders (which usually also have neoprene booties built in). Just pick a different lace to attach the little clasp at the bottom of your gaiters to your shoes and you should be good to go!

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