Sporting Gear: Duck Wader Shootout

Must-Have Waterfowl Gear

Outdoor Life Online Editor

Conditions were not great when we started our wader review. It was hot and muggy, and the heavy-duty neoprene on most models turned the waders into literal sweatboxes. Then a cold front blew in, and suddenly it was more like a day in December. Through both extremes, we field-tested these waders for mobility, ease of use, comfort and options. Here's what we found.

1. Hodgman's Dura-Mag Waders
If you prefer neoprene, this 5mm pair is one of the best. Extras include lots of pockets and exterior shell loops. The boots are well insulated and toasty, with 1,200-gram Thinsulate. Shoulder straps attach with Velcro, and the Durastrech construction makes for easy movement._ ($229.95; 630-897-7555; www.hodgman.com)_

2. RedHead's Bone-Dry Waders
These 5mm neoprene waders are heavy but comfortable. The "Ice-Sensor" outsole on the boot responds to the temperature, staying flexible on warm days and stiffening in the cold. That means better overall traction and mobility in varying conditions. Their snug fit made getting them off tough._ ($169.95; 800-227-7776; www.basspro.com) _

3. Cabela's SuperMag 1600 Waders
No details were overlooked on the SuperMag's pockets, which include a hand-warmer pocket, top-entry pouch and detachable shell loops. The boots are lined with 1,600-gram Thinsulate and the rest is made of 5mm neoprene. When I got stuck in the mud, I found I was slightly impaired by their bulkiness. ($179.95; 800-237-4444; www.cabelas.com)

4. L.L. Bean's Hydrofowl Waders
Flyfishermen are onto something: Breathable polyester waders dry quickly and store easily. The Hydrofowls offered great freedom of movement, were the easiest to put on and had a hand-warmer pocket. They're baggy to allow layering, but the extra fabric got in the way in the heat. The boots were not very warm. _($199; 800-441-5713; www.llbean.com)

_ 5. Herter's Expandable Waders
A custom fit is one of the great features of this pair of 3.5mm neoprene waders. The chest section expands to provide room for a jacket or contracts for a snug fit and easier mobility. Rubber-stud soles on the boots give extra traction when you're on unstable ground. This pair was the slowest to dry. ($139.95; 800-237-4444; www.cabelas.com)