September 10, 2014
We all miss the days of old when the points system allowed for bigger limits (if you were selective about your targets). What we don't miss is killing all those ducks and geese wearing rain-soaked cotton flannels, wool and sweaty rip-stop nylon and rubber. Wet and cold — and lots of chattering teeth — our bodies went numb. Today there's honestly no reason to catch a chill.
The technology is such, fabrics like Gore-Tex and Rain-Blocker keep the precip at bay while PrimaLoft and Thinsulate keep your fingers and toes toasty. And the camo? We dare ducks to pick you out in a timber hole if you're draped in Realtree Max-5 or a cattail slough in Mossy Oak Shadow Grass Blades. Gore's Optifade is revolutionizing the sport with each fall that passes.
A pattern waterfowl see as nothing has us killing more birds over the decoys than ever before.
Banded | Hailstone Jacket
was designed specifically to provide core protection. It's super lightweight and packable too, and made of a windproof, rip-resistant shell fabric treated with a durable water-resistant finish. Insulated with 40-gram PrimaLoft.
Banded | RedZone Insulated Breathable
Walk far and sit long: RedZone
has you covered. Warm and breathable, these waders have 900D reinforced knees and seat. The boots are lined with 1,200-gram Thinsulate and we're eternally grateful for the side-zip chest adjuster, making the waders fit more like a bib.
Banded | UFS Fleece Full-Zip
The UFS Fleece
is a must-have for waterfowlers who hunt in rapidly changing conditions — this means you! It acts as a cozy stand-alone jacket on mild mornings, or a layering option when winter arrives. The brushed poly fleece shell is weather- and wind-resistant.
Banded | White River Jacket
We like having options when it comes to layering, and the White River wader jacket
is perfect for our walk-in hunts. Wear the liner on the way in and throw on the insulated, waterproof and breathable shell when you get cold. Waterproof YKK zippers and lots of useful pockets.
Beretta | Xtreme Ducker Beanie
Stocking caps don't stay on our bulging heads long, especially when our eyes are on the birds. Beretta
has shown us mercy with the Ducker Beanie
, equipping it with a cinch cord and in size XXL. Available in Optifade Marsh, the fleece cap is lined with WindStopper.
Beretta | Xtreme Ducker Gloves
More of a shooter's glove, the Xtreme Ducker's
contain some insulation, but not so much you lose contact with your shotgun. They include an adjustable cuff for a snug fit and gripper pattern for a better, eh, grip. WindStopper doubles the insulating capabilities.
Beretta | Xtreme Ducker Jacket
Ultra-soft, water-repellent fleece highlights the Xtreme Ducker athletic-cut jacket
, allowing for better mobility. Sleeves are reinforced at the elbows and neoprene cuffs keep the elements out. There are a bevy of useful pockets, and a mesh lining provides proper venting.
Beretta | Xtreme Ducker Pant
An excellent layering option, the Xtreme Ducker pant
can be worn solo in the early season as well. The zippered side leg and security pockets include wear-proof piping. The high-waist helps keep the elements out; side elastic and internal drawstring assure a comfy fit.
Cabela's | Accelerator 9mm
Walk on water in the Accelerator 9mm
. Zero Gravity keeps the boots at just 5.2 pounds per pair, excellent for those muddy soybean field death marches. Fleece lining keeps your feet warm while Airmesh wicks away moisture to avoid frozen toes.
Cabela's | Instinct Accelerator
deflects everything short of bird shot. The waterproof/breathable fabric and 5mm neoprene Armor-Flex boots stop potential punctures and treads are more rugged, capable of trudging across sloppy cornfields or the soft bottom of your favorite wetland.
Cabela's | Merino Wool Base Layers
Our go-to layering option when the temps dipped last season, the Merino
uses three different weight materials, the heaviest of which are at the core where heat loss is most likely. The Australian wool is soft and itch-free.
Drake | EST Breathable
Early teal season no longer has to be a sweat box with the EST Breathable
(available in standard chest or boat pant). Constructed of three-layer breathable fabric, it's very durable, and the fit is improved, including higher sides (chest), and Hydro-Flex knee pads.
Drake | MST Hybrid
A breathable wader with the insulation of neoprene, the MST Hybrid
is outfitted with 800-gram Thinsulate boots, Hydro-Flex knee pads and custom-fit ankle adjustments. Uppers include three-layer breathable nylon and polyester materials.
Drake | Synthetic Down Wear
The lightweight MST Pac-Jacket
and Vest handily fold into their own chest pockets. Both include 150-gram synthetic down, and the outer fabric is DWR-treated, keeping the down dry. Drake stayed simple with two lower zipper slash pockets and an internal zippered stash pocket.
Filson | Stryker
Being a bird hunter doesn't require you to dress like a goober. For the pretty boy in your blind, Filson's Stryker
has that cool, old-timey look, and it's functional too. Lightweight and easy to pack, the jacket has roomy cargos and insulated with 100 grams of ThermoLite.
Gore | Optifade Concealment Marsh
has turned waterfowling into a precise science with Optifade Marsh
, a digital pattern that makes hunters appear as nothing to ducks and geese. It's goal is not to blend you in like other camo patterns made of tree limbs and grass, but to confuse the birds' vision.
Hard Core | Backwater Full-Zip
Simple, effective and affordable, the Backwater Full-Zip
is made of 100 percent polyester, anti-pilling fleece, seam-sealed to keep the elements out. An adjustable cord-lock keep drafts out and the kangaroo-style pockets will warm cold hands.
Hard Core | First Flight
Keep the First Flight
handy in case of the chills, or layer it beneath a parka on frigid mornings. Available in Realtree Max-5, it's made of 100 percent polyester, anti-pill fleece to hold up season after season. The vest includes two zippered hand-warmer pockets.
Hard Core | Wader Pant
Please stop tying rubber bands around your blue jeans (you look ridiculous) and get a pair of HC Wader Pants
. The non-piling fleece won't bind you up, and elastic stirrups keep the pants from riding. Eat all you want at breakfast too, the waistband's elastic.
LaCrosse | AeroTuff
Constructed of AeroForm, the AeroTuff
has a lightweight, glove-like feel that provides insulation and durability. Uppers are made of 5mm puncture-resistant neoprene. Injected liquid polyurethane around 7mm neoprene in the foot creates an ultra-insulating shell.
LaCrosse | Alphaburly
The Alphaburly Pro
wears like a tennis shoe (and is about as light), but won't get sucked off in the mud thanks to the Ankle-Fit technology, which keeps feet dry. A friend went down to his thighs in a sloppy mud hole during goose season and came away with two dry feet.
Mossy Oak | Shadow Grass Blades
focus was on waterfowlers who hunt field edges and potholes with its Shadow Grass Blades camo
. Blades precisely places wind-blown, broken and bent-grass blades; underneath these elements are depictions of lesser and dead grass thatch.
RedHead | Bone-Dry Extreme
Extremely warm, comfortable, and rugged, the RedHead Bone-Dry Extreme
waders won't spring a leak thanks to advanced 3-ply stretch Span Tough puncture- and abrasion-resistant material. Behind the tough shell is 5mm neoprene 1,000-gram Thinsulate boots.
RedHead | Canvasback Parka & Bibs
The Canvasback parka
is waterproof/breathable and has a zip-in liner (which can be worn separately and is reversible). Elbows and shoulders are reinforced with Oxford Ripstop honeycomb fabric articulated for comfort. Bibs
offer full-length side zippers and ThermoLite Insulation. Pockets have drain grommets and all zippers are covered and guttered to keep rain out.
170 (parka); $
Realtree | Max-5
There's probably not a hunter on earth that doesn't own a piece of gear in Max-4. The innovators at Realtree
have gone a step further with the advent of Max-5
, a multi-use pattern at home in marshes, flooded timber...really anywhere. It's a remarkably detailed pattern filled with more natural elements than ever before.
Rig'em Right | Billed Beanie
They had to special-order my brother a new football helmet every year in high school (all five of them), and the Billed Beanie
even fits his giant noggin'. Fleece-lined, the cap features a tight-knit weave to keep the elements at bay.
SG-20 | Outdoor Adhesive
The only thing more frustrating than watching some malcontent shoot your swing ducks are waders full of frigid pond water. SG-20
fixes rips, tears and punctures in just about anything and dries within an hour.
Sitka | Boreal Bib Pant
For extreme conditions, the Boreal Bib
is shrouded in Gore-Tex to keep out precip, and lined with 650-fill duck down blended with PrimaLoft to keep you toasty. The zippers are waterproof; cargo and hip pockets have quiet snaps.
Sitka | Dakota Beanie
Anyone who has ever been to the Duck Factory during the heart of the migration knows the wind never stops, but this aptly named Dakota Beanie
, lined with Gore WindStopper, will keep the gusts at-bay. It's constructed of four-way stretch material, so it fits most heads.
Sitka | Grinder
Not every waterfowling excursion requires bone-crunching cold. For those moments Sitka's Grinder
provides moderate warmth on cool mornings, but also breathability as the day goes on. A fully-gusseted crotch and articulated knees enhance range-of-motion.
Sitka | Hudson Mitt
If you bundle up like an Eskimo just to shoot a few ducks, then the Hudson Mitt
is a fine option. The glove provides unsurpassed warmth of a gauntlet-style mitt, but remains functional, meaning you can still slap the trigger on plumed out greenheads.
Under Armour | Decoy Glove
Durable enough to bust sheet ice at our favorite honey hole, UA Decoy Gloves
are made of a polyester/polyurethane blend to keep hands warm and dry. Fleece-lined, the waterproof uppers slip over your parka to the elbows.
Under Armour | Infrared Skysweeper
We wore the Skysweeper
through the worst winter Illinois has seen in 40 years, and in Arkansas' early season. It wears like a windbreaker, but has the warmth of your best ski parka when the temps dip below zero. The ArmourStorm shell wicks away rain and wind.
Under Armour | Reversible Beanie
Stretchy polyester fleece keeps your noggin' warm when it's cold outside. But the Reversible Beanie
is also outfitted with a HeatGear liner, which instantly wicks away sweat after a long morning of setting decoys and brushing in layouts.