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.
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, TenkaraBum.com. 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.
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.
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!
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.
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