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You don’t have to choose between a pass-through chest pocket and a zipper on your waders anymore. You get both with Duck Camp’s new zip waders. That means you can clasp your hands together in the pocket to keep them warm, as well all do, while still enjoying the easy-on/easy-off convenience of zip-front waders. Other zip-front waders split that front pocket into two pockets, a clear case of more being less. To make room for that crucial pocket, the Duck Camp zipper runs diagonally from the right side down to the middle at the bottom. It’s a neat innovation in a pair of waders that were one of the few bright spots of my terrible duck season.
- Wader Type: Gore-Tex boot foot
- Boot Sizes: 6-14
- Wader Sizes: XXS to 3XLT
- Camo: Mossy Oak Original Bottomland, Mossy Oak Bottomland, and Shadow
- Other Features: Waterproof front zipper, custom insulated boot, unique shoulder harness
How The Waders Are Made
Before I tried these new waders, I had my reservations. My perception of Duck Camp was that they made clothes that were as much for wearing around town as they were for hunting. I have since come to love the Duck Camp lightweight hunting shirts for doves and birds, but that’s a different review. Waders are serious hunting gear, and these would have to do more than look good.
Perhaps also mindful of that brand identity, Duck Camp’s owners brought in a team of wader specialists and gave them all the time they needed for the project. The waders are made of four-layer fabric, with an outer poly/nylon layer shell chosen for durability and extra resistance to pinhole punctures. The tough fabric makes these waders feel slightly stiffer than my other breathables, but not in any way that impairs comfort. Beneath that outer layer, there’s both a waterproof polyurethane laminate layer and a coating that gives these waders an off-the-charts (greater than 30,000 mm) waterproof rating.
The waders are unlined, and the boots have a modest 1,000 grams of Thinsulate. That’s enough to keep your feet warm in cool temperatures but not in brutal cold. The tradeoff, though, is a trimmer, lighter boot that’s still warm enough for most duck hunts that don’t involve breaking ice. And, they do have removable shin/knee pads if you do run into a little sheet ice, or if, as I did, you do a lot of kneeling to set a spread of shells, silhouettes, and fullbodies on a rocky river sandbar.
What I Liked About the Duck Camp Waders
The diagonal zipper works well. It’s a Tizip, a well-regarded German zipper often used in diver’s dry suits. I liked its diagonal placement, which not only permitted easy on/offs and quick relief but also gave me easy access to my right front pants pocket, where I often stash my earplugs, car keys, and phone.
The front pocket is fleece-lined, and it’s backed by a large zipped security pocket. On the pocket’s front, there’s a molle attachment panel. The idea that the first thing you have to do with your $750 waders is buy molle accessories for them seemed wrong to me. But, as Ned Hobson of the design team pointed out, that makes the waders customizable, and everyone wants something different. Hobson would like a holster for his 10mm for fishing around bears in his waders, while all I want are six shell loops and a D-ring. Duck Camp already offers a muff that will attach to the waders, and other accessories should follow.
I wore these on a trip to hunt South Dakota potholes as well as on some slow hunts around home, during which I appreciated being able to twiddle my thumbs in the front pocket between flights. The waders also come sized by boot size, by body size, and in Shorts and Talls, so most people should be able to find a fit. Mine fit trimly in the right way, and I especially appreciated that the couple of times I had to make multiple trips through some woods to carry decoys to a hidden pond.
In these days of $1000 waders, Duck Camps seem downright affordable at $749. They hit that (comparatively) low price by selling directly to consumers and by using their proprietary patterns instead of paying a licensing fee. They come in DC’s Wetland pattern, which is their take on traditional duck hunting camo, and in their Woodland, reminiscent of the original Realtree pattern, for timber hunters. They come in boot sizes 7-13, and XS-2XL, plus Shorts and Talls in most sizes.