My history with waders is a long one. For years I worked as a guide in Alaska and later in Argentina, and back in the dark ages before neoprene and gore-tex, wearing waders every day meant pulling on an often damp, chest-high, suit of rubber that was hot in hot weather, and colder in cold water. After a few weeks of wear the rubber waders inevitably leaked from almost every seam, and they got cuts in them if you even looked at an aluminum boat. At the lodges where I worked, guides were frequent visitors to the kitchen, where bread bags could be obtained for wear over socks. This was the remedy for keeping your feet dry. You think you have a bad job? Try going to work every day with bread bags on your feet.
After rubber waders, there was a combination of fabric and rubber, and then came neoprene, which seemed Heaven-sent. Neoprene waders are still widely available and they have improved a great deal since their introduction. They are still one of the best options if you plan to stand in cold water for any period of time. But for those of you who will be traveling to duck hunt with us, consider Banded’s uninsulated wader, which you’ll see shown in the photos here. I don’t know who was responsible for their design, but if they gave Nobel prizes for waterfowl gear design, the architect of these waders would get my vote. They are lightweight and breathable, and they fit like a pair of bib overalls instead of a bomb disposal suit. The boots are comfortable and the seat and lower leg is covered in a Cordura trouser, so you can build blinds, scold the dog, or untangle decoy cords without worrying about creating leaks in the knees. They have a belt, which you should be wearing anyway. From a travel standpoint, they roll up small, and are like packing a pair of pants and a pair of boots. If you have a trip to Jacana, Los Crestones, or Uruguay for waterfowl, I’d pack a pair without fail. Banded also makes a waist high version which are ideal for shallow water hunting trips, and a Thinsulated-insulated model which are on my post-Christmas “gift for myself” list. Banded waders come in about four different camouflage patterns, so you can suit yourself in that regard. They are not inexpensive, but if you hunt enough in them, you’ll soon understand that they are worth every penny.
Hunt and shoot safely wherever you are headed.
Posted by Doug Larsen