If you’re looking for one tip when choosing duck hunting waders, the best advice would be “Don’t try to cut corners to save a little money.” If you do select your waders based on price alone, you’ll soon regret it, according to outdoor veterans. The amount you spend on your equipment, such as a gun, vest, even your vehicle, should be matched by the money you invest in your waders.
If you use a valued canine companion in your hunting, you don’t try to cut corners with care and feeding, so why not care for yourself at the same level? Trying to stay on the low-end with duck hunting waders can mean that someday, when you’re out with your dog and your excellent gun, you won’t be able to relax and enjoy the experience because cheap waders are leaking and stiff in the cold.
Unfortunately, too many people go straight to the lowest price, or try to buy their waders from someone selling them at a garage sale, because they don’t hunt anymore. If you do get your waders from a friend or neighbour, make sure you know what you’re buying. If they were a high-quality product when they were originally purchased and the seller has taken good care of them, you should be fine.
However, you should take the same steps with this item as you do with any other purchase – be an educated consumer. Read as much as you can on the top waders, making sure you get your information from traditional, reliable sources. Read customer reviews and testimonials as well, but be careful not to fall into the trap of believing everything you read. One person’s experience shouldn’t be enough to persuade you to buy that brand, just as one review shouldn’t turn you away.
There are certain features and benefits you should look for when you begin shopping for duck hunting waders. One of the first things you should look for is the thickness of the material. You’ll come across measurements such as 3mm and 5mm. It’s probably best to stop and ask a question at this point, because weight and thickness of material will help you answer the question: “What are you going to use your waders for?”
If they’re going to be for fishing in spring and summer, you should be searching for a different product than you would if you’re shopping for duck hunting waders. If you can afford only one pair, but you take part in both fishing and hunting, you may have to decide which activity is going to put the waders to work most often. Give serious thought to the temperature of the water you’re going to be in. It’s better to be a little too warm on a hot day than to be cold on a cold day.
You should also consider the base material your duck hunting waders are made from. At one point, the old-timers only had rubber waders, which kept them dry but could be uncomfortable in both hot conditions and cold conditions. They would cause you to sweat during the summer, then would be cold and stiff in the winter. Many of the hunters had to rely on extra clothing to keep warm.
Neoprene is the top choice for both manufacturers and for those buying the waders. It’s durable, will generally keep you dry, and it is usually available in 3mm and 5mm. Duck hunters should give serious consideration to the thicker neoprene. While colour isn’t necessarily the most important feature, you may want to think about quality waders with good camouflage finish. Waders may also be available in brown and green.
Boot Foot? Stocking Foot?
As you shop for duck hunting waders, you’ll see two major categories: boot foot and stocking foot. Obviously, if you choose stocking-foot waders you’ll need to get a good pair of boots to go along with these. Several companies make high-quality waders in the boot-foot style. These will probably be best for the duck hunter because they perform so well in cold weather and water.
These attached boots are usually insulated, so you’ll need to look for that as well. Thinsulate, a trademarked product that will keep you warm and comfortable, is another feature to look for when shopping for duck hunting waders. Stocking-foot waders are popular when lower weight is the key factor. If you using stocking-foot waders with a separate pair of boots, you may struggle with gravel and sand in the boots, which isn’t a problem with the all-in-one design.
Make sure you buy boot-foot waders with strong, lugged soles for wear and traction. Never try to take short cuts with cleaning and storing the waders, since they will be the most important item you have for personal comfort while duck hunting. There are a couple of other key factors to consider when you’re buying quality waders.
One thing you should consider is Gore-Tex®, which makes your waders breathable. This permeable membrane allows moisture to escape through your waders, even when you’re in the water. These can be an excellent choice for summer use, but are also quite capable of standing up to winter conditions if you add sweat pants or fleece pants for warmth.
Chest, Hip, Fitting
While it may be tempting to just buy a pair of large, loose waders, you should spend plenty of time getting a pair that fit you well. You certainly want to be warm and dry, but you also want to be comfortable with the fit. Waders that are too loose or too tight can present problems when climbing in and out of the boat, getting up to get into the water, and, of course, while wading.
Don’t buy waders that fit tightly. They should be loose enough so you can add a layer of clothing for cold days. If you decide to buy from an online source, take some time to get the right size, even to the point of contacting the company or the website owner to discuss fit and sizing. If you provide your weight, height and shoe size, you can usually get solid advice about the waders to fit you. When you buy from a shop, try waders on. Walk in them and do some knee bends to get an idea of the comfort.
This is a good time to think about whether you need hip-high waders or chest waders. If you’re going to invest your money in one pair only, buy chest waders. They’ll work in almost every situation and will keep you warm. Hip waders are fine for fishing and hunting in shallow creeks or small ponds, but chest waders will provide protection in all situations.
You may want to look for duck hunting waders with a shell pouch on the chest. Get the one with “D” rings and shell holders as part of the chest material. You may also need to look for pockets, if you carry a phone or other items with you. As you shop, be sure to look for quality waders with reinforced knees and pay particular attention to the construction of the seams. Some waders even have a hand-warmer pocket.
After getting through all these details (it will be worth the time) you can focus on colour and pattern. For duck hunting waders you definitely want camouflage. Look for specific names for those patterns, such as Realtree. If you can’t go with camo, you should always get a dark brown or a green.
Next, you have to decide which color, or pattern, you want. If you are going to be wearing them duck hunting, you are going to want a camo pair. Now all you have to do is simply decide which pattern you like most, Realtree Max-5 seems to be the most common. Camo does cost more usually, and if they are out of your budget, you might want to go with a dark brown or green.
Knees and Patches
Talk to the seller or online supplier about repairing waders too. Do you get a patch kit with your new purchase? Do you have access to a kit so you can have it on hand? This is strongly recommended by veteran duck hunters and fishermen alike. Don’t take chances with not being to use your waders when a stick or branch causes a tear.
You’ve already read a bit about getting waders with reinforced knees, but this feature should not be taken lightly. Without reinforcement you’re going to be vulnerable to leakage. It’s that simple. In addition, you should always ask about warranty. Some of the leading suppliers often lifetime replacement if damage or wear occurs during normal use. You should certainly get duck hunting waders with a one-year or two-year warranty, minimum.
If you follow these tips and guidelines, you should be able to enjoy hunting without being wet or cold, thanks to a pair of high-quality duck hunting waders.