Let's plow through the top duck hunting wader choices.
High end waders have been the talk of the off season. Are they worth it? Will the customer service be worth the extra hundreds of dollars I will spend on these waders? Are they more comfortable? I'll do my best to answer in the post below.
Repairability is key...
“In all actuality, the best wader is the one that is easiest to repair or replace."
So let's get real. Most leaking waders happen on a Saturday morning out in the field. Imagine or maybe even remember this scenario if you will. You're hunting in the woods near Clarendon tromping the water busting ice and you feel cold water start to pour in. You get back to the truck after a freezing boat ride back and start to head to Stuttgart. You stop at Mack's and walk back to the back to see about getting your waders exchanged. They take them to the back to their little leak detector tank deal and come back to say... "Yeah, we didn't find a leak."
We've all been there.
So you start to walk down the wader aisle to then ask the attendant, "ya got anything in a size 11?" He's like, "haha, we haven't had any size 11s since Thanksgiving weekend!"
This is the reality of most people's situation when it comes to waders.
Your thinking about upping your wader game. After all they don't make those NatGear Neoprene Mack's brand anymore.
#5 Wader of 2023
Banded definitely has a great idea here. Slap a solid warranty on the same waders that we have used for the past few years.
Let's remove the concern of the ability to exchange these waders should they leak.
Same floppy material that feels like I'm wearing two big camo trash bags. Not a bad wader, but I think for the price compared to some of the higher end waders, you have a solid wader that will be replaced should a problem arise. No guarantee as to how long the exchange will take should a leak arise, but I've heard from a few guys with these waders that they will replace them at Mack's fairly easily. That is if your size still exists...
#4 Wader of 2023
With shotgun shell prices in the 20-30 dollar a box range and fuel costing $75 a tank, why not treat waders in a disposable fashion. Chock a leak up to happen stance and just grab a new pair when they start leaking.
This type of wader in this class is just that. Hopefully, China produced a solid pair that doesn't leak and you got lucky. Maybe you got the lemon. Who knows...
#3 Wader of 2023
After hearing a few good things, I feel this is the "elite" of the baggy pants variety of wader.
Drake was the original innovator and deserves the spot, but as far as returns and leaking goes, I haven't heard anything...
#2 Wader of 2023
The boots on these waders are out of this world. Lacrosse has mastered the boot, but Sitka hasn't quite mastered the seams.
After seeing multiple seam failures, these waders aren't the toughest that I've seen out there, but the fit is on point and the boots... Did I mention the boots?
The repair turn around time is wishy washy, but I've always been a big game Sitka guy.
I just don't know how well they stand up to the death march back to Bama in Government Cypress...
#1 Wader of 2023
There is no denying that I've been a Chene guy since day one. I like their grass roots approach to marketing their duck hunting brand with the focus being solely on the main tool in our arsenal, waders all the while hunting mallards in flooded trees. No pictures of hunting in cattails for this group.
These things are no doubt priced high, but after touring their shop in Memphis, I feel certain they can fix any issue with your waders in house. This means the world to me...
The boots aren't as comfortable to me as the Sitka Lacrosse boots, but the toughness of the wader material more than makes up for that minor setback.
When it comes to it, Chêne Gear has the best thing going when it comes to waders right now.
The State of Waders for 2023
The "other" companies ARE gonna step up their wader game... I just hope that I never have to worry about waders after my purchase of a pair of Chenes and a pair of Sitkas ever again.
These two are my favorite, both for different reasons, but at the end of the day, the Chêne Gear waders are tougher and easier to repair should the typical situation present itself.
That rip or leak will occur and the real test for me will begin. It hasn't happened to me with these two brands yet, but given how rough I am on waders I imagine I'll see it this season.
Until then, save your money, the high end waders are well worth it.
Written by : Jonathan Bradshaw