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Budget Basic Waders: Last Minute Save

Thursday, August 2, 8:30 a.m.

The Hodgman Bantam series waders are not your typical choice when you are looking for waterfowl weather quality.  To tell you the truth, I never paid them any attention until I forgot to include my waders in the gear that was tossed in the back of the truck for a major trip.

The trip started out in typical fashion.  Hours and hours of swapping tall tales and mixing in some truths finally led us to our destination in South Texas just a few miles from the Gulf coast.  Road weary and ready for a remote control and a cold one we ambled into the lodge to check in.  Only when the guys in front of us all rented waders did I realize mine were still warm and cozy in their bag on a shelf in the garage.  As luck would have it, the last of the rentals went on their merry way with the group in front of us.  The nearest town was a 40 minute drive back the direction we came from...

Searching high and low we found one of the rarest of establishments; an honest to goodness hardware store.  Being in the middle of Snow Goose country, they had more of a selection of guns and ammo than you could shake a stick at.  They also had waders!  Of course, what was on display and what they actually had to sell were two different things.  I had my choice; size 8 boots or size 12.  Luckily, I needed the size 12.  For a little more than $60 I was on my way.  Knowing full well these were not built for warmth, we quickly discovered a Wal-Mart and I promptly bought up all the thermal underwear and fleece sweat pants that I could carry.

The rest of the trip was flawless.  The waders held up in conditions that I thought were past their limits.  Thick 4-6 inch deep mud was normal.  It was all the sharp stalks left over in the fields that reminded me of the spike strips used by law enforcement that had me worried.  Slips and falls were common.  Three days of hard hunting, setting decoys, swimming through mud holes and not a single drop of water made it to the inside.  They look like they have been run over by a truck several times but, I won't hesitate to take them as a backup this season (why not, they take up just a little more room than a large shoebox when rolled up).

In summary, the waders held up just fine even when put through some moderate abuse.  My 6'3'' frame was a bit more than the leg section was built for but, the inseam stretched to fit.  The rubber construction left a lot to be desired for breathability.  If you happened to break a sweat, the inside of the waders held it in.  At the end of the day you were pretty much a walking gym sock (the sweat pants and thermals didn't make it home - trust me when I say they were dead).  If you are ever in this situation and improvising insulation, pant gators are a must.  I would not recommend the Bantam weight for long periods of cold water hunting or for your primary waterfowl waders.  I would however, spend the money for them again if I ever found myself in need.  The last minute purchase saved me from wasting the next hunting day trying to find decent equipment.

For more information on Hodgman waders visit their website:


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