Help me choose chest waders.
October 17, 2011 4:19 PM   Subscribe

Neoprene of plastic? 3mm or 5.5mm? Pockets or no pockets? Help me choose my first pair of waders!

I need a good pair of chest waders w/ boots attached for waterfowl hunting. I have been borrowing an old pair of cheap neoprene booty style waders and using some nice Caddis fishing wader boots, but it is time for me to get my own pair. So many choices! One of the guys I hunt with has some Cabela DryMax waders that are uninsulated but very light weight. The other guys all have neoprene. I seem to get either really cold or really hot, no in between.

$150 or less
Chest Waders
Duck Blind/Realtree Max 4/Or other wetland pattern
Must last me more than 1 season :p

I am leaning towards Neoprene just because of the warmth they will provide. I am a skinny guy w/ size 9 foot as well. Do I buy a size 9, or get a 9.5? Also my sister works @ Sportsmans Warehouse and can get stuff at Cost+10%, I also have access to the Columbia Employee Store but unsure of the discount. I stopped by Cabelas yesterday (2 hour drive) and the cheaper 3mm Neoprenes were $139 (Or $109 on their website..). Please help a waterfowl/wader newb!
posted by NotSoSimple to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total)
I always preferred thin ones and just layered wet-safe materials underneath. The warm underwear and socks are useful in any number of other situations. I was also happier to have waders I could also take fishing in warmer weather, etc. Similarly, I shied away from integrated-boot models because I liked the flexibility of switching to different boots or, in nice fishing weather, parting the boots from the waders and going wet (boots for traction and toes, but leave the waders in the car).

So basically my advice is: if you want multi-use (hunting and fishing), think modular. If you want dead-simple, think thick one-piece. Oh, and it's almost always easier to cool off than it is to warm up.
posted by introp at 4:36 PM on October 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

No fishing, so this will be hunting exclusively. Ive been doing the two piece method and it is a PITA compared to the other guys. Good point on cooling off...
posted by NotSoSimple at 4:38 PM on October 17, 2011

I have a pair of neoprene Cabela's chest waders and they are warm. I just fly fish though and I find the heaviness and thickness (I believe they must be 5ml) too cumbersome and hot most of the time. For hunting purposes they might be the way to go especially since winter is around the corner and you will be out in the early dawn hours. I don't know where you live but you will stay warm with them but overheating will definitely be an issue on warmer days. Good luck.
posted by Odinhead at 5:49 PM on October 17, 2011

(From Mr Jamaro, who is absolutely thrilled to see a duck hunting question come up in AskMe)

The best system is to go breathable and then layer underneath as needed. Second choice would be neoprene. Rubber would be dead last. But there are some considerations that may sway you one way or another.

If you are going free roam with lots of walking in water you'll love the breathables. If you have a blind and are scooting out on a quad the neoprene and rubber won't be too bad. However, rubber can be brutal if you have to move a lot and you are hunting near freezing temps you don't want to break a sweat in them. It will give you the shudders something fierce. If you hunt alone most of the time as I do you have to really plan for the worst in weather.

The ideal undergarment will be polypro (I think you can get some at sierra trading post which is where I get my stuff) it will keep you warm and in wick away moisture if you overheat in either.

Here's the things to consider.

Can layer up as needed - so they work in any weather.
Flexible for a lot of walking with stocking feet and the right boots.
For boating and moderate walking the built-in boots models are great.
Easy to patch but you have to work on the seams your first season no matter what brand you get.
If you go stocking foot model and trek through a lot of sandy soil at the bottom of the pond your boots may get sand in them and it will grind a hole in the sole of your wader foot. Have lost a few pairs this way.
Easy to patch but you will have to patch them. You can get aquaseal and some ripstop nylon scraps from the fabric store and keep it in your car for multiday trips.
Stocking foot waders will not keep your feet as warm boot models in the coldest weather.

Durable and warm.
The big plus is that they will usually outlast the breathables.

When they do leak they are a little harder to patch in the crotch or at the boot edge.
In the early season (at least out here in CA) they are murder to free roam in, as you will fill the waders with sweat.
If you are hunting refuges or a blind with levee access you can always just keep them in a back pack or on a cart and put them on at waters edges so you don't overheat during the hike in.
Stockingfeet have the same problem with sandy soil as above (as sometimes the ankle protectors just don't work).

I think in terms of quality at your price range? I would give the edge to the thinner neoprenes as you can with a little care get 2 or 3 seasons out of them. In 2 seasons a 150 buck pair of breathable will likely not be holding up well - plus those additional layers if you do them well are going to cost you more than you may be willing to spend.
posted by jamaro at 10:38 PM on October 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

Thank you (Mr and Mrs) jamaro! Awesome information. I have seemed to have done quiet the range: Long boat rides, 2+ miles jump shooting a lake (Knee deep water), standing in thules for hours (Both dry and in ponds), and 3+ mile hikes to get to 'the perfect spot'. Early this season (Oregon here) it has been up to 50*+ and I have been pretty drenched in sweat. However once it gets pretty cold I think that might slow down a bit.

Sounds like some 3mm Neoprenes are in order. Is it worth it to pay extra for the 'brush tough' types of neoprene?
posted by NotSoSimple at 8:39 AM on October 18, 2011

I have some neoprene chest waders from Cabelas (not sure if they are 3 or 5 mm thick) and they work pretty well. Waterproof, durable and definitely warm, but I consider that a bonus most of the time (although it is awful to put them on when you're already sweaty). Couple of things to consider that I haven't seen mentioned yet: the boots themselves are not as comfortable as real hiking boots, so that is something to keep in mind if you're going to be standing or hiking in them for extended periods of time--maybe some inserts would help with this. The waders are also surprisingly heavy and a bit awkward to carry, so I personally would not want to have to "pack them in" over any extended distances.
posted by Jemstar at 12:45 PM on October 18, 2011

Well I got the Cabelas 3mm Neostretch waders. I put them on yesterday and wore them around the house. The 3mm is WAY thinner than I thought. Really thinking about returning them for the 5mm variant. The boots are not as heavy as I thought. The heel feel a bit weird but I do not think it will cause any problems. With two pairs of socks (1 pair wool) the boots fit good. Without two pairs they are really sloppy. Everything else is good to go. Just figured I would post to help anyone else out.

I also chose Cabelas due to warranty. My first choice was Columbia due to reputation, warranty, and my 50% discount however I found Columbia does not make their own waders and the awesome warranty does not apply to them; only a 1 year.
posted by NotSoSimple at 3:29 PM on October 27, 2011

I am a little late to this party, but if it were me I would trade in the the 3mm for 5mm, but maybe hunting in the upper midwest is colder than Oregon.
posted by caddis at 10:16 PM on October 28, 2011

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