Field Test: Waders

Looking for a new pair of waders or hip boots to get you through duck season? We have some options you’ll want to see.
Field Test: Waders

Frogg Toggs BullTogg 5mm Bull Hide Bootfoot Wader

frogg togg waders

(888) 522-1140;

MSRP: $189.95

Boots: Men’s Sizes 7 to 13

Colors: Advantage Max-4 or Mossy Oak Bottomland

Don’t let the reasonable price fool you. Frogg Toggs’ BullTogg Bootfoot Wader is a comfortable, functional and warm premium product. It features a 5mm neoprene upper with durable, flexible and puncture-resistant “Bull Hide” poly-nylon shell. The 1200-gram Thinsulate insulated boots include the “Rip Track Mudd Walker” cleated outsole and an 8mm wool felt midsole. Adjustable double-locking neoprene and web suspenders lock securely with quick-release buckles, which worked very well. I also liked the fleece-lined handwarmer pocket within the dual-entry chest pockets as well as the rugged outside texture (including reinforced, embossed kneepads) and smooth inside texture, which made these waders easier to pull on. Here’s another thing: The 10-count shotgun cartridge loops are actually functional — the cartridges won’t fall out, which is often not the case with cartridge loops on other waders. All-in-all, the combination of features and reasonable price make these waders a good value in my book.

Cabela’s Millennium Wader Jean


(800) 237-4444;

MSRP: $269.99-$279.99

Boots: Men’s Whole Sizes 8 to 14

Colors: Outfitter Camo or Tan

This interesting lightweight, light-duty, wader really cannot be classified as such. This is more like your favorite pair of comfortable hunting pants that you can take into the water. The Wader Jean features breathable, lace-up-boot construction, cargo pockets on both legs, a zipper fly and button waist, and belt loops that accept Cabela’s Buddy-Lok accessories. It also includes detachable elastic suspenders. I found that the Wader Jean will give you about two or three inches more water clearance than hip boots will. The shoes are very warm and rugged, and they have an aggressive tread. This would be an excellent choice for early season and warmer temperatures; however, you could wear warm clothes under them later as temperatures dip. The Wader Jean is good for any situation where freedom of movement is important.

L.L. Bean Mossy Oak Duck Blind Helix Hunter Wader

ll bean waders

(800) 441-5713;

MSRP: $349

Sizes: S-XXL

Boots: Men’s Whole Sizes 8 to 13

Color: Mossy Oak Duck Blind Camo

One advantage with L.L. Bean’s Helix Hunter Waders is the freedom of movement, due, in part, to “Helix Technology,” which eliminates seams by wrapping the wader legs in a spiral and, says L.L. Bean, reduces the possibility of leaks. The other thing I like is the versatility because, unlike always-heavy and warm neoprene, the fabric on these waders is like a lightweight, breathable shell that lets perspiration escape, yet the four-layer fabric also traps heat. Simply adjust the amount of clothing worn underneath by weather conditions, extreme or otherwise, and you’ll stay dry and comfortable. The shoulder harness moves with you so it won’t interfere with shooting. Dual chest pockets prevent calls and lanyards from getting in your way, and the larger chest pocket offers compartments for heat packs. Low-profile buckles are placed close together to create a clear shooting path. Attached heavy-duty neoprene belt adjusts easily with cinch buckles. Comfortable deep-cleated boots are heavily insulated with 1200-gram Thinsulate. Though the zippers, buckles and seams seemed a bit light-duty, again, the freedom of movement make the Helix Hunter Waders a standout.

Drake Waterfowl Systems EST Boat Pant

drake boat pant

MSRP: $330

Boots: Men’s Whole Sizes 8 to 14

Colors: Realtree Max-4 or Mossy Oak Duck Blind

These are not quite chest waders; I’d call them “shorties” — a high pair of pants with an elastic waist, belt loops, and an adjustable belt for situations when full chest waders are not necessary. Drake’s EST Boat Pant is constructed of a three-layer breathable wader fabric that stays cooler in warm weather and allows moisture to escape, which prevents chilling and shivering in cold weather. The waders are cuffed at the ankles and reinforced on the seat and lower legs with Drake’s HD2 material. The internal reinforced kneepads make it comfortable to kneel in a boat. As the temperature gets colder throughout the season, you can add layers to suit the conditions. The boots are insulated with 600-gram Thinsulate, and their adjustable Boot-Lok system provides customized comfort and stability. I rate these a premium-quality, heavy-duty, comfortable wader, ideal when a full-height wader is not required.

LaCrosse Brush-Tuff Extreme ATS 1600G

lacrosse brush tuff wader

(800) 323-2668;

MSRP: $280

Sizes: Medium, King, or Stout

Boots: Men’s Whole Sizes 7 to 15

Color: Advantage Max-4 HD

LaCrosse really pulled out the stops and put a lot of thought and materials into its tough, feature-packed Brush-Tuff Extreme ATS (Advanced Tracking System) waders. They feature heavyweight 5mm fleece-lined neoprene with abrasion-resistant, bidirectional facing to help avoid punctures. The 1600-gram Thinsulate Ultra insulation in the boot helps keep feet warm in the coldest water. LaCrosse applied its footwear expertise to the aggressive outsole system for enhanced traction in wet, muddy conditions. Buckled straps, reinforced double-stitched seams, top loading pocket and hand-warmer, reinforced knees, and a built-in shell holder round out the roster of features. At 12 pounds, quite frankly, these are heavy waders, but that speaks to the features and insulation. Really, these are designed for the toughest waterfowling conditions. For the worst conditions of late season (December), I’d probably pick these.

Mack’s Prairie Wings Grand Prairie Chest Wader

(877) 622-5779;

MSRP: $249.99

Sizes: Regular, Tall, and Stout

Boots: Men’s Whole Sizes 6 to 16

Colors: Advantage Max-4, Avery Buck Brush, Avery KW-1, Bottomland, Duck Blind, Mossy Oak Shadow Gross, NatGear Natural

This is the ultimate wader for the toughest cold-weather conditions. The upper portion consists of 5mm neoprene with extra tough Dura-Hyde outer shell. Seams are built with the company’s new “Macks”imum Seam Sealer for superior leak protection, and a diamond expanded crotch design which allows for extra stretch with less stress on crotch seams. The chest pocket is deep with a fleece-lined warmer, closeable top storage pocket, and neoprene shell holders, plus there are front thigh pockets with drain ports. The boot foot (newly designed with a looser ankle for easier removal) has 3mm textured accent pieces, neoprene inner lining, 1200-gram Thinsulate Ultra insulation, fiberglass shank, wool felt mid-soles, and molded and expanded rubber outsoles. Additional features: a built-in belt, over-sized (knee to shins) embossed knee pads, reinforced D-rings, and a zippered security pocket located inside the wader. Totally adjustable suspenders with Shark Skin neoprene grips help keep waders in place — no slipping or sliding. These are everything about that the LaCrosse waders are, and then some. The generous insulation combined with the attention to detail all add up to impressive design and construction. These are, hands-down, the ultimate wader for cold-weather conditions.

Redhead Bone-Dry Extreme Series Wader

redhead bone dry extreme wader

(800) 227-7776;

MSRP $199.99

Sizes: Chest from 40 to 50 inches; inseams 32 to 36.5 inches

Boots: Men’s Whole Sizes 7 to 14

Colors: Advantage Max-4 or Mossy Oak Break-Up

The Redhead Extreme Series Wader is what I’d call a good, heavy-duty, all-around working man’s cold-weather wader. Warm, durable and extremely comfortable, these waders feature Redhead’s 3-ply stretch Span Tough outer material that, the company says, resists punctures and abrasions. The tough shell is backed with a warm, durable 5mm neoprene layer for an upper for nasty hunting conditions. One-piece construction runs the upper right into the wader’s durable boot. The boot’s 1000-gram Thinsulate Ultra insulation lining and 8mm wool felt midsole helps keep feet warm. Special “Sure Track” outsole design, complete with metal cleats, ensures top traction in a wide range of conditions. The high-back design allows wading into deeper waters while the suspenders adjust for a comfortable fit. A camo wading belt for safety is included. These were a nice, rugged, heavyweight wader — not overly fancy. Its affordable price and sensible set of features make these a good value.

Hodgman Quivera Chest Waders

hodgman quivera chest wader

MSRP $279.99

Realtree Max-4

As I started my field test of these waders, it slowly dawned on me that they are pretty much the perfect wader for my needs and preferences as a waterfowl hunter and wetland trapper. This model features cleated rubber boot feet topped by an insulated polyester shell. The shell insulation is 200-gram high-efficiency quilted fill while boots are insulated with 4 mm of neoprene. There are side buckles for easy on and off, open hole mesh padded suspension along shoulder straps for breathability, upper kangaroo pocket with top entry hidden pocket that stores a flap with shell loops, an interior pocket that stores the waist belt, and reinforced knees with articulation. It all adds up to a waterproof but breathable and surprisingly warm yet lightweight piece of serious waterfowling equipment, featuring maximum functionality and comfort. I could — and no doubt will — wear these all day.


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