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Guide to Selecting The Best Duck Hunting Waders

It's freezing, only 26 degrees outside. The sun is just on the rise. Your decoys are set. Your gun is loaded and ready to drop some ducks...and your pants are wet because your discount pair of waders have sprung a leak. The old adage has never rung louder nor truer in your mind: you really do get what you pay for.

Whether you’re a seasoned waterfowl hunter or gearing up for your first trip to the duck blind, you likely already know that a good, comfortable and warm pair of waterfowl waders is essential for a great duck hunting experience. With so many options available, it can be difficult to make a confident decision on what is best for you. Through this post and by understanding the materials and features that make up a great pair of waders, you’ll be able to make an informed choice for the best duck hunting wader that will keep you protected and comfortable for your next outing and those that follow.

There are several great pairs of waders for duck hunting on the market offering similar performance with competitive pricing. With so many to choose from you’ll want to focus on two primary elements: fit and functionality. We’ll key in on fit and functionality features with the top duck hunting waders on our list later, but first it’s helpful to get an understanding of the materials and features that make a great pair of waders as well as in what situations and environments those waders perform best.

Neoprene vs Breathable Waders

Breathable Waders

Breathable duck hunting waders are lightweight, durable and as the name implies, have much greater ventilation than neoprene waders. The reduction in overall weight of the wader allows you to move around more quickly and easily which keeps you comfortable in the field or blind for longer.

Breathable waders are not as flexible as a neoprene wader so be mindful when choosing your size. Ensuring there’s enough room for layering on the inseam and chest will help you select a better fit allowing you to move more freely and provide more comfortable wear throughout your hunt.

Neoprene Waders

Neoprene is a type of synthetic rubber used in a variety of marine and outdoor applications. It’s highly water resistant and maintains flexibility over a wide range of temperatures. The material keeps you warm in cold water and because it’s flexible, it allows you to layer up without needing a perfect fit on the inseam.

With that said, neoprene is old wader technology. It doesn’t allow for much breathability or ventilation which can be uncomfortable for many hunters. The vast majority of duck hunting waders on the market now are breathable waders. In fact, the more breathable, non-neoprene waders you see on the market today came largely from the necessity to produce them from materials that hunters didn’t have adverse reactions to. Plus, nobody wants to look or feel like they’re stuffed inside sausage casing.


If you’re buying a pair of waders for duck hunting online, we suggest first checking out the brand’s sizing guide. Once you’ve determined your boot size, the next key area you’ll want to make sure you size correctly is the inseam (particularly in breathable waders as they don’t stretch). You’ll also want to pay attention to the chest and waist measurements. Keep in mind the various layers that you may be wearing when hunting and account for this increase in size when taking your measurements. If you have a pair of waders that’s snug without base layers, they’ll likely be too tight when you do layer up.

*Note: The sizes in this chart reflect the Sitka brand and may not be accurate for other brands

Before you wear your waders into the field make sure to simulate natural movements when trying them on such as: kneeling, squatting and lifting your leg up on a chair. If it feels tight in the crotch, we recommend sizing up. Leaks typically stem from the inseam, particularly if over stressed.

Focusing on these areas for measurements, taking into account your layers and going through these standard tips for natural movements will not only help you select the most comfortable fit but can help prevent a blowout in the field.

We size thousands of people each year for new waterfowl waders and also have a good understanding when a brand of waders runs large or small. Our staff pros would be happy to discuss your needs, concerns and assist you in making the most informed decision for your pair of duck hunting waders.


Depending on where you’ll be hunting, you’ll likely be choosing between one of the following types of waders:

Hip Boots

The hip boot wader is best used in shallow water conditions and outings where you know you won’t be navigating deeper waters. 

Waist Waders

Waist waders are great when you know the depth of the water where you’ll be hunting. For example, most rice fields are mechanically leveled and it is unlikely that you’ll be wading through water deeper than a foot. Waist hunting waders work well in this situation because they give you a bit more mobility and are also good for early season hunting as they aren’t as warm or constrictive as chest waders.

Chest Waders

The most universal style of waders are chest waders. Chest waders allow you to navigate through pretty much any terrain. If you’re looking for the most essential and versatile option, chest waders are it. This style of wader is great for various conditions and any situation where you may have to navigate deep waters. 

You also have more room for layering options with chest waders which can keep you more comfortable and protected in most any hunting conditions and temperatures. Today’s chest waders offer so many new features and advanced technology in their structuring which lend to your comfort and peace of mind for the best hunt experience possible.

Stockingfoot & Boot Waders

Stockingfoot Waders

Stockingfoot waders are predominantly worn for fishing and designed so the appropriate outsole/traction can be tailored to the bed of the waterbody.

These waders usually end in a neoprene sock which allows you to mix and match separate waterproof boots to suit each excursion’s needs.

Bootfoot Waders

On bootfoot waders, the boots are attached to the waders which allow for better insulation. Your blood can circulate more freely as there aren’t the points of constriction that there are with stockingfoot waders. Bootfoot waders are also pretty much impossible to get stuck in the muck (i.e. your boots won’t fall off in the mud!).

Bootfoot waders are also very convenient to slip on and off since everything is attached. This also means one less piece of gear to forget. Bootfoot wader sizing primarily varies by the boot itself and is typically driven by foot size. However, many companies offer varied combinations of boot and wader size to fit a wide variety of body types.

Insulated Waders vs Uninsulated Waders

Many duck hunting waders come with both insulated and uninsulated options. If you’re always going to be hunting in cold weather, insulated waders are your best bet. If you’re going to be in varying climates or get hot easily, uninsulated waders are a good option because you can adjust your layers specifically to suit your personal comfort and needs in different weather conditions. 

*Note uninsulated waders used for waterfowling do have insulated boots. It is the upper (body) of the wader that is uninsulated.

Keep in mind that if you are going to be layering up, you will need to factor that into your wader size. Inseam, chest and waist sizes are all impacted by layers increasing the circumference and width of these measurement areas.

While uninsulated wader options offer more versatility in layering dynamics, an insulated hunting wader supplies the needed warmth without having to purchase multiple additional mid-layers. Personal preference of course plays a role in how constricting multiple layers may feel and what is most comfortable for you.

Wader Price & Quality

The basic materials used to create today’s waders are all pretty high-quality. For example, a $300 pair of waders from “X Brand” are typically made of the same outer materials as the $700+ pair from leading brands. The waterproofing and breathability are fairly comparable between most options as well.

While the waterproofing may be very similar, a higher priced pair of waterfowl hunting waders is giving you additional features and likely superior insulation. Today’s best waders also include new and innovative means of construction that have many advantages over more economical products. You may also find reduction in overall weight of the wader as the price increases. You really do get what you pay for in regards to waterfowl waders; a higher price equals a more valuable, high-quality and functional product, shoulder straps to boot!

Wader Warranties

Top brands are continuing to back their waders with extended warranties and no hassle repair/replacement options should actual defects arise. This continues to be a major selling point and should always be taken into consideration when looking at options for a new pair of waders. Warranty and repair policies show that brands are confident in their hunting waders and the advances in construction to stand up and stride through your hunting experiences.

Best Waders for Duck Hunting

The following list of duck hunting waders are MPW’s picks for the best waders you can buy. They combine many of the elements of a great pair of waders we discussed above and are the top of the line from each brand.

Sitka Delta Wader

The last wader you’ll ever buy, every part of the Sitka Delta Wader is designed to be serviceable or replaceable, including the boot.

Built with Gore-Tex Pro - these waders are as breathable as they come. The leg of these waders is articulated which makes these particularly easy to walk in and the boots are incredibly comfortable - if you’re in the cold make sure you’ve got a good pair of wool socks on (no cotton).

Keep in mind the uppers are uninsulated so if you’re hunting in cold weather you’re going to need some additional insulation on the bottoms. Make sure you’ve got a good pair of socks on if you’re in cold water.

The foot of this wader is the LaCrosse Aeroform insulated boot. The AeroForm completely changes what a rubber hunting boot can be by replacing the rubber shell with one made of extremely durable, lightweight and insulating polyurethane. Designed for optimal fit and flexibility, the waterproof AeroForm is built for ultimate comfort and will keep hunters light on their feet. Its Brush Tuff material stands up to unforgiving brush and briers while an abrasion resistant shin guard offers extra protection without added bulk.

One of the Delta Wader’s main selling points is the customizability on sizing. They offer 38 different size combinations so no matter your foot size or body - they’ve got an unbelievable amount of combinations. If you’ve got a big foot and you’re skinny they come with a bunch of different options.

And did we mention they zip down the middle?

Banded 2.0 Elite Waders

The Banded Redzone waders were by-far one of the most popular pairs of waders over the last couple of years. Taking what they learned from years of testing and innovation, Banded released the RedZone 2.0 and RedZone 2.0 Elite model.

They’ve identified typical fail points in older models and improved the system with GO-FLATSEAM assembly which reduces the total seam stitch-count by over 50%. They’ve also mapped the anatomical movement of the human body to create seam mapping that mirrors body movement. So not only is the stitch count greatly reduced, the seam locations are placed to minimize friction which means longer lasting waders.

The boots are packed with 1600-g Thinsulate™ insulation. GO3-LAYER fabric construction is lightweight and provides superior durability and performance laminated with SHEDS™ Waterproof Breathable Technology.

Removable brush guard overpant with 900D reinforced knees, fleece lined chest pockets, built in belt, LED light system in chest pocket, and shell loops are just a few of the many features of the Banded 2.0 Elite waders.

Top all of this off with a new 2-year warranty and you’ve got a pair of waders you can’t go wrong with. If you don’t need all of the features the Elite model offers, Banded also has the RedZone 2.0 model which is equally impressive.

Drake Guardian Elite Breathable Waders

One of the most diverse pair of waders, the Drake Guardian Elite series waders can be used for both fishing and duck hunting thanks to an innovative layering system. The Guardian Elites can be used for:

  • Insulated Duck Hunting Wader
  • Uninsulated Duck Hunting Wader
  • Insulated Non-Camo Fishing Wader
  • Uninsulated Non-Camo Fishing Wader

Drake has done some extensive field testing to come up with a pair of waders that can be used in almost any situation.

They’ve reduced the number of needle holes by up to 75%, greatly reducing the risk of leaks and seam failure.

Drake has created a modular wader system with an ability to add and remove both the insulated liner and the exterior camo bibs. This essentially increases the number of ways you can use these waders.

Drawing from customer and product testing feedback, Drake has re-engineered the Buckshot Mudder Boot from the ground up. The weight has been cut in half while maintaining 1600 g Thinsulate insulation throughout which helps you retain heat in extreme temperatures.

Similar to some of the other brands in the industry, Drake is offering a 2 year, strap to sole repair or replace plan that can ease any “dilemmas” you may have about pulling the trigger on this pair of waders.

LaCrosse Alpha Swampfox

Lightweight and versatile the Lacrosse Alpha Swampfox waders are designed to keep you warm in the snow and rain without weighing you down.

A lightweight, breathable, and abrasion resistant nylon keeps you dry in addition to double stitched and taped seams that greatly reduce the risk of seam failure.

The upper part of this wader also converts from a chest wader to pant waders by rolling down the nylon upper and securing with a belt.

Premium Lacrosse Alpha-constructed boots have 1000g Thinsulate Ultra insulation a contoured ankle-fit design to prevent heel slippage and the Swamp-Lite outsole delivers outstanding traction in mud and loose terrain.

120G lofted insulation is integrated throughout the entire upper making this wader ideal for cold conditions. The insulation is designed with synthetic materials which maintains its warmth when wet, an ideal feature for a pair of waders.