If you are a duck hunter, you need excellent gear to support your hunting adventures.
Waders are a critical component to duck hunting and can make or break the quality of your hunting trip.
Choosing a great pair of duck waders will keep you comfortable, warm, and dry as you move through the water. Your comfort while hunting is essential to your overall outdoor success.
Comparison Chart of the Best Duck Hunting Waders
COMPASS 360 Deadfall
TideWe Chest Wader
Best for the Money
Best Chest Waders
Best Waders for Women
Hodgman Aesis Sonic Digi
Best Breathable Duck Hunting Waders
LONECONE Kids' with Boots
Best Youth Duck Hunting Waders
COMPASS 360 Point Guide II
Best Waist Waders for Duck Hunting
Guide Gear Men's Insulated
Best Insulated Waders for Duck Hunting
What Are Waders and What Are They Used For?
Waders date back to the 1850s. They are essentially waterproof boots that can extend up to your waist or chest, depending on how deep you are. Hodgman designed the first waders in existence for the comfort of waterfowl hunters. Today, there is an abundance of diverse models on the market. All of them are made to keep hunters warm, dry, and protected in the water.
Can Any Pair of Waders Be Used for Duck Hunting?
Technically, any pair of waders can be used for duck hunting. However, certain options have features that optimize them for this specific activity. The average pair will not be as durable, adjustable, or as practical as the ones in this article for duck hunting. Investing in a quality pair for duck hunting is a great idea. You deserve a pair with features that will best serve your sport.
Aspects to Consider Before Buying
Before you buy a new pair, there are a few important considerations to make. These considerations help you find the best product with features specifically for your uses.
How deep do you wade when duck hunting?
Waders come in various heights depending on the intensity in which you are using them. Waist waders protect less of the body than full chest options. Determine how much of your body needs to stay dry. If you are only up to the hips or waist, waist-high versions are the best option for you. If you are going deeper than that, choose chest to stay dry.
The choices in this review are either neoprene or nylon. Of these two materials, you need to know which one will work best for your needs. Ask yourself the following question:
“Do I tend to feel hot or cold when hunting?”
Neoprene is the best material for keeping you warm. The fabric ranges in thickness from 3-5 mm. This is a great choice if you tend to run on the colder side, but neoprene is not very breathable.
Nylon, on the other hand, is much more breathable. This lightweight fabric is perfect for hot environments or hunters who get warm easily.
Review of the Best Duck Hunting Waders
The following review is intended to guide you to the best pair of duck hunting waders for your individual needs. It lays out the greatest products on the market in various styles and materials. Compare and contrast these models while keeping your favorite features in mind. Somewhere on this list is the perfect pair for you.
COMPASS 360 Deadfall
The COMPASS 360 Deadfall Chest Waders have earned the title of “Best Overall” in this review. These are some of the most practical on the market and have been designed with your ultimate convenience in mind.
This two-in-one model features a zippered chest pocket to easily store any gear as you hunt. There is an additional fleece-lined, pass-through pocket for quick access. You can keep any technology safe and dry inside the extra flip-out chest storage pocket.
The elastic suspenders are adjustable to match your height and have quick release buckles for easy detachment. A sturdy wading belt around the waist features webbing and another quick release buckle. This belt has loops and is great for attaching additional gear.
Made of four-ply nylon fabric, these are durable with double layer material on the pant legs. The attached 4mm neoprene booties are designed to stretch and fit your foot just right. Customers love how this design prevents any bunching and how comfortable their feet feel.
If you are looking for the best model, it’s the COMPASS 360 Deadfall Chest Wader. Hunting in these, you can feel confident that your gear will stay dry inside its 2-in-1 pockets. Its fit is adaptable to each individual, with adjustable straps and an adjustable belt. This multi-layered nylon material is the most durable on the market.
Hodgman Caster Chest Waders
Ranking as the runner-up for “Best Overall” are the Hodgman Caster Chest Waders. These ones are constructed of neoprene for ultimate waterproofing. A 3.5mm neoprene shell adds to this model’s durability. Customers love being able to rely on these for warmth and dryness. Sealed seams ensure no water seeps through.
The adjustable suspender straps are made for your comfort. The suspenders converge in a “Y” shape down the back. There are two layers of material on the knees for additional reinforcement, and the chest pocket is lined with fleece. An internal pocket is included to protect your most important items.
The Hodgman stands out as a model that comes complete with boots. The attached boots are made of 200g Thinsulate Rubber and have cleated soles for optimal stability.
Some users report that their new Hodgman waders had strong scent upon purchase. Simply airing them out overnight fixed this minor issue.
The Hodgman Caster Chest Waders are an excellent design, fully-equipped with strong rubber boots for your hunting ventures. Wade comfortably in this runner-up model and stay dry with its waterproof features. Shelled neoprene material, sealed seams, and double-layered knees make this product durable. You may want to buy them a size smaller than normal to get that perfect fit.
Best for the Money:
TideWe Chest Wader
If you are searching for the most affordable duck hunting wader, look no further than the TideWe Chest Wader. Without sacrificing quality, these are great for smaller budgets.
Made of durable 3.5 mm neoprene, this model is made even tougher with a jersey shell. Every seam is double stitched to keep your body as dry as possible.
Additionally, the pants are coated in polyurethane to ensure ultimate waterproofing. The built-in rubber boots are tough and insulated so that your feet stay warm. Traction has been strategically designed for your safety and comfort. The neoprene suspenders are adjustable for your ease of use.
The camo pattern helps you stay stealthy as you hunt. Customers praise both the look and feel of these. They are especially impressed at the affordability of such a quality product.
TideWe is upfront in their sizing advice, saying that these are baggy. For smaller builds, buy a size down from normal for the perfect fit.
The TideWe Chest Waders are the most affordable, high-quality pair on the market. Designed to be 100% waterproof, this model is durable and comes complete with a pair of insulated boots. The camo-print material is practical for duck hunters and the adjustable suspenders are included for your comfort. Make sure to buy one size down from your regular size for the best possible fit. At the end of the day, these are great option at a great price.
Best Chest Waders:
When it comes to the best chest waders, the Hodgman Mackenzie Hunting Waders are it. These are made great by their innovative design. The nylon shell fabric is coated with PVC for a lightweight, but warm, feel. Customers love how light these are and appreciate their comfort. They report less chafing in this nylon pair than in traditional rubber ones.
This model comes complete with a pair of included boots, designed to slide onto the foot without the hassle of any laces, straps, or buckles. The PVC boots are made for ultimate stability with special traction features.
An internal pocket is included for organization. Some customers report that while the top half of these are in excellent in durability, the boots are not strong enough for walking over sharp terrain. These boots may be best suited for mild to moderate environments.
The Hodgman Mackenzie Hunting Wader is an excellent choice. Stay dry and warm throughout the duck hunting season in this tough but flexible model. The lightweight design is made for your convenience of use. Store gear in the internal chest pocket and easily slide on these hassle-free boots. Many practical features like these make the Hodgman Mackenzie the best out there.
Best Waders for Women:
Are you a female hunter searching for the perfect fitting wader? If so, the SHE Outdoor Insulated Waders may be the model for you. Conveniently choose from 20 different size combinations to find your optimal fit in both body and foot measurements.
Designed with 5mm neoprene material, these will keep you warm and dry. Waterproof features include a RiRiStorm front zipper and reinforced knees. Additional ozone-resistance helps you stay protected from any outdoor conditions as you hunt.
The included boots are ultra-insulated to keep your feet as comfortable as possible. They are also cleated to provide great stability. The shoulder straps are adjustable as hook and loop types. There are two chest pockets for your ease of organization.
While these are designed for a great fit, some users report that the model fits snugly. Some female hunters do prefer looser-fitting designs, especially for layering. Overall, however, these work well for many female bodies.
With the scarcity of hunting products designed for women, the SHE Outdoor Insulated Waders stand out as great hunting waders. There are 20 different sizing combinations to help you find the perfect fit. The durable design keeps you warm and dry as you hunt. Waterproof features are complemented by ozone-resistance so these work well in any environment. Women can move comfortably in these snug-fitting, flexible hunting waders.
Best Breathable Duck Hunting Waders:
Hodgman Aesis Sonic Digi
If you love breathable, lightweight hunting gear, the Hodgman Aesis Sonic Digi Stocking Foot Waders may be the best fit for you. The 5mm neoprene is tough and strong with a quadruple shell coating. At the same time, these are not overly heavy and provide great ventilation.
Welded seams are designed to keep you totally dry. The DWR coating is water-resistant and additional waterproof seam tape increases durability. The front chest pocket offers storage space and the waterproof zipper protects your gear. There is also an internal pocket for even more organization. Adjustable suspenders make these easily adaptable to various body sizes.
Neoprene booties come with these. Customers love how comfortable and warm they are, while also being breathable. According to reviews, these are durable and have long lifetimes. Many praise the quality of the Hodgman craftsmanship.
The breathability of the Hodgman Aesis Sonic Digi Stocking Foot Waders is remarkable. Its four-shell design creates great ventilation as you hunt. Stay comfortable with its thorough waterproof features.
Additional gear can fit effortlessly into the two pockets and rest assured these items will stay dry too. While the majority of customers love the neoprene booties, some have reported that they are not as durable as they could be. However, when it comes to the best breathable waders, these are as good as it gets.
Best Youth Duck Hunting Waders:
LONECONE Kids' with Boots
The LONECONE Kids’ Chest Waders with Boots are an excellent fit for young hunters. In addition to their great kid-friendly sizing, the splash of rainbow on the front pocket has a fun, youthful vibe. This front pocket is perfect for storing any gear and snacks.
Other pockets are included to keep little hands warm and large buckles make it easy for kids to slide these on and off without needing help. They are designed to be 100% waterproof and comfortable. Made for flexibility, kids can move freely in and out of the water.
The design is extra durable to endure the roughness of a child's’ play. Parents appreciate the triple reinforcement of fabric. Boots are included with this model and reviews praise the quality of design. Some reviews say this model runs big, but the majority of parents are happy with the product.
Finding a great set for kids can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. The LONECONE Kids’ Chest Waders with Boots are perfect for young duck hunters. Children can stay warm and dry, and hunt in style with a splash of color on the front.
Complete with boots, the LONECONE was designed by a mom who understands the playful energy of kids. It is made to endure play well beyond the water. Young hunters and parents both agree: this is a great set.
Best Waist Waders for Duck Hunting:
COMPASS 360 Point Guide II
Of all the waist waders on the market, the COMPASS 360 Point Guide II waders are the best for duck hunting. Six-ply nylon material makes the fabric extra strong. This fabric is reinforced in the knees and butt area for ultimate toughness. Two pockets below the waistband are intentionally placed high on the body for plenty of storage room inside.
These are 100% waterproof and customers love how comfortable they are. The nylon material is breathable, so won’t make you sweat. Additionally, there is no need to worry about chafing. This model features special seams for smooth mobility.
If you are looking for an excellent waist wader, it’s the COMPASS 360 Point Guide II. As a durable, practical model, it features reinforced fabric and deep pockets for storage. Its nylon material is breathable and great for warm environments. Stay comfortable without any chafing in this great waist wader.
Best Insulated Waders for Duck Hunting:
Guide Gear Men's
There are many neoprene options out there, but the Guide Gear Men’s Insulated Waders are the very best ones. Constructed with 5mm neoprene, they are heavily-insulated and great for cold waters. Every seam is double stitched and the fabric is reinforced in critical areas. The top half is lined with fleece for your ultimate warmth.
The attached boots are also warm and cozy, with 1600 G Thinsulate Ultra Insulation. The suspenders use buckled straps for attachment. A chest pocket provides storage for additional pieces of gear. Conveniently, it also doubles as a hand warmer. The camo print of these helps you blend in wherever you are.
If you are duck hunting in the cold, you’ll want the Guide Gear Men’s Insulated Waders to be your pair. Heavily-insulated, these are designed to be as warm as possible. 1600 G Thinsulate Ultra Insulation works with the cozy fleece lining to keep you comfy. These are by far the best-insulated waders on the market.
Types of Duck Hunting Waders
These can be categorized into the following models:
These only come up to the waist. They are great for duck hunting in shallower waters.
These come all the way up to the chest. For hunting in deeper waters, they’ll keep you dry.
Kids options are designed for young duck hunters with comfort in mind. They may come in fun patterns and have extra features like fleece pockets for hand warmth.
Women's choices are great for female duck hunters. Before specific products for women came onto the market, many women struggled to fit into men's models. These are designed for comfort, adjustability, and convenience.
Breathable waders are often made out of nylon. They are great for warmer environments or for duck hunters who run on the warmer side. These keep you cool as you hunt.
Insulated options are most commonly made of neoprene. Neoprene keeps you warm as you hunt. It is perfect for hunting in cold temperatures and in frigid waters.
What Do You Wear Under Waders?
Many hunters use strategic layering techniques underneath. If you are trying to stay warm, make sure to wear medium/heavyweight synthetic wool-blend socks, fleece pants, and insulated tops. If you are trying to remain cool, wear medium weight synthetic wool-blend socks and a light synthetic base layer.
How to Size Waders
When buying, it is essential to get them in the correct size. Almost every brand provides a sizing chart to help you. You will need to find the measurements of your height, chest, waist, hip, inseam, and shoe size. Reference the brand’s sizing chart to choose the right size.
On any hunting trip, staying dry in the water is a must for your comfort. This article is your guide to the best products for your needs. What material is best for your environment? What style and height do you need? What size wader do you need? Remember to consider these elements as you choose your perfect waders.
It doesn’t matter how many ducks you shoot, if you’re cold and uncomfortable, duck hunting can be miserable. In my opinion, duck hunters subject themselves to more torture than any other hunters. It’s wet, muddy, windy, and the best days for duck hunters are the worst days to the general public. The words, “cold front,” excite duck hunters. There is no doubt that the key to comfort while duck hunting is dependable waders. Here’s a look at the different styles of waders and what to look for when buying.
Nylon waders are lightweight, roomy, and easy to get on and off. Head down to the nearest trout stream in your area and there is a good chance all the trout anglers you see are wearing nylon waders. They vent very well which makes them great for warm weather use. Hunters in cold weather country should leave the nylon waders to the trout anglers.
Rubber waders are the old reliable of waders. Our granddads most likely wore rubber waders and if you’re like me, your first pair of waders were rubber. They were probably worn by a half dozen other kids as their first pair of waders. They are durable, warm, and cheap. However, they don’t breathe at all. Typically, you sweat in them to the point that your clothes become wet from sweat and then you get cold. They are also heavy and tend to get stiff in cold weather. Another drawback is the boot. Most rubber waders simply have rubber boots made of the same material with little insulation. If you go with a rubber wader, be sure to look for some with Thinsulate in the boot.
Neoprene is the warmest material for duck hunting waders. They are durable and comfortable. Most manufacturers offer 3mil and 5mil waders. This number refers to the thickness of the neoprene. For Gulf Coast hunters and gunners who wouldn’t dare hunt in cold weather, the 3mil are great. Personally, I love to hunt when there is ice on the water. The added durability and insulating qualities of 5mil makes them an easy choice for me. Again, look for a Thinsulate rating on the boot to find out how warm they are. For Northern hunters, I recommend at least an 800 rating, but higher is better. If your feet are cold, your whole body will feel cold. Wearing lightweight cotton socks on opening day will keep you comfortable even in heavily insulated wader boots. If they say “Insulated,” there is a good chance the insulation is low quality.
Hip or Chest?
If you can only afford to buy one pair of waders, buy chest waders. They will keep you dry in most wading situations and better yet, keep you warm. I pull my chest waders down around my waist and use the straps as a belt when hunting shallow water during warm weather. If you plan to hunt creeks or shallow ponds, hip waders can be all you need. They are nice in certain situations. But chest waders always fit the bill. Hip waders can be like bringing a knife to a gun fight. Wearing chest waders can be like bringing a tank to a gun fight. I like those odds!
More Buying Tips
Duck hunting is getting exponentially more popular as a fall sport -- and often that means running about, AND IN, some fairly cold water. Almost every duck hunter has experienced the "shivers" as they tread through water. No less the case with guide Phil Schweik.
Phil says that whether you're in a duck blind, placing decoys, or standing quietly waiting for a fly over... if you're in the water, you're going to get cold. Indeed, Phil has seen some pretty severe cases of hypothermia from hunters who were not properly equipped. And what is that needed equipment? A good set of waders. Waders will of course keep you dry, but it's equally important that they keep you warm.
You have some choices: Waders have been around for a long time -- dating back to the 19th century and before. Most of the "old timers" used (and they're still available), the rubber chest waders. They work for sure, BUT they are heavy, bulky, big, and tough to get on and off. Most modern-day hunters, if they have a choice, will opt for neoprene waders. They're light and warm – and, yes, of course, they'll keep you bone dry. Neoprene waders will run in the hundred-dollar range -- and of course, you can pay a lot more for special "this" or an extra "that." Phil believes that you can spend the money, of course, but a simple GOOD pair of neoprene waders will do the job perfectly.
Neoprene waders come in a variety of colors, insulation and thickness. Phil use a 3-mil thick neoprene wader – which, while not real "fireplace toasty" will keep you "comfortable" -- at least for Phil. Now Phil will also tell you that if you're prone to getting cold quickly, buy a thicker neoprene wader. They come in many thicknesses and materials. Make sure you try them on first so you know how you feel in them, their warmth, how heavy they are, and how quickly you can move. You don't want to end up walking along like Gort from "The Day the Earth Stood Still"!
There are a couple of different "models" of neoprene waders. There are the most common type which have the boots built right into them. And then there are some models that have a "stocking foot," so you have to buy separate wading boots. "Whoa Nellie," you say, why would you ever do that? When traveling, some hunters like the idea of being able to pack away the waders themselves, while still wearing the boots, and then when they arrive at their hunting spots, they pull the boots off, put on the waders, and then put the boots on again. It does save weight and the confinement of the waders themselves when traveling.