Hunting clothing is a lucrative industry. Most people spend more time than they need to, obsessing over which pattern is best. The reality is that for most hunts it doesn’t matter because the animals don’t really have good eyesight.
Where this changes, is duck hunting, choosing the right clothing to wear is paramount to your success. Ducks have keen eyesight, you’re generally in wet conditions, and more often than not it’s colder than you would like it to be.
Items To Wear for Duck Hunting
Probably one of the most important pieces of clothing on your duck hunt will be your jacket. This will be one of the parts most visible to the ducks, it contributes a great deal to your overall warmth and keeping you dry, and it’s where you will keep your ammo so you can easily reload.
Duck hunting jackets need to be durable, extremely waterproof, and warm. They do not need to be quiet or lightweight, and for most hunts, they do not even need to be breathable, this depends on what state and time of year you are hunting.
I like to have multiple pockets for storing ammo and other miscellaneous items.
Another consideration for your duck hunting jacket is the hood. It needs to be a proper-sized hood, and I prefer them to have a peak. What you don’t want is a hood that starts blowing off when it gets a little windy.
Sleeves are another part of the jacket worth taking a look at, you’re hopefully going to be shouldering your gun a lot, and you don’t want sleeves that start riding up your arm or letting in streams of water.
You want sleeves with adjustable straps that can be tightened down.
When you have decided on what jacket to wear you will next need to decide on what camo pattern you want that jacket to come in.
While most of your jacket will be covered by waders there will still be enough on show to make it worth choosing a suitable pattern.
The pattern will depend on where you are hunting and what time of season you are hunting.
Most patterns will overlap and cover the majority of areas you hunt. I like the shadowgrass and Realtree Max 5 patterns and find I can hunt most places and seasons with these.
Your duck hunting pants can vary depending on how you plan on hunting or what else you are wearing.
If you are wearing neoprene chest waders your duck hunting pants don’t need to be so warm or even waterproof. Although, even the best waders leak after some time.
In this scenario, you can wear almost anything that keeps you comfortable. It doesn’t need to be camo or waterproof.
You may find though that if it is especially cold out that the neoprene waders alone aren’t enough to keep you warm and a warm pair of pants is needed.
If you are pass shooting or jump shooting in a pair of short boots or hip waders, it would be worth investing in a good pair of hunting pants and preferably waterproof.
For me, I like to use a pair of thin neoprene chest waders and a pair of warm waterproof pants. This way I can get the best of both worlds.
If you are not wearing chest waders you will need a good camo pattern to match the surrounding vegetation.
You can’t talk about duck hunting apparel without talking about what boots to wear.
Boots have both ruined and made some hunts. A good pair of boots will make the hunt successful whereas a bad pair of boots will ruin your hunt.
Nothing can destroy a hunt faster than going in the icy cold November water to find your boots have a leak.
For the most part, we will be talking about chest waders as they are required for the most popular methods of duck hunting. So what to look for in a pair of duck hunting chest waders
- Material – There are a few different materials on offer for waders. The two most popular types are neoprene and breathable.
Now if you’re a fisherman like me you probably know about breathable waders and may even have a pair. They are great in warm weather fishing to prevent you from overheating, super lightweight, and fast-drying. They are even great for warm weather duck hunting.
However, they don’t stand up to the harsh conditions of most duck hunting areas. It may be tempting to try them out but the chances are they are not durable enough, and you’re going to get very cold.
Neoprene waders reign supreme in the world of duck hunting due to their excellent insulation and durability.
It’s worth spending the money on a good pair from a reputable brand. Waders leak sometimes, even the ones from good brands, the difference is it doesn’t happen as often with a good brand and if it does, they have a better warranty to deal with the issue.
- Boot or stocking foot – Next you will want to consider boot or stocking foot. The same princepal applies here. The stocking foot is a great option for fishing, but what you will find is that what is good for fishing is not so good for duck hunting.
Bootfoot waders generally have superior grip to stockingfoot waders. Duck hunters are going into marshes that will suck and pull at every step, it’s thick and slippy. A bootfoot wader is going to perform better in these conditions.
Boot foot waders also come with better insulation. They are heavier but much warmer. Stocking foot waders are designed to be lightweight for walking up small sandy or rocky fishing streams.
- Warmth – For the majority of duck hunters out there, warmth is going to big a big contributing factor on what waders to choose. Waders will cover most of your body, they will be responisble for keeping your feet, legs and most of your torso warm.
As we mentioned above neoprene bootfoot waders are supreme at keeping you warm.
Neoprene waders also come in different thicknesses. The most popular options are 3.5mm, 5mm, and 7mm. I mentioned earlier I prefer to choose 5mm and a good pair of warm pants. This gives me more flexibility throughout the season.
Gloves serve a great purpose for duck hunting. As mentioned a few times throughout this article, it gets cold duck hunting.
It gets hard to move your hands when they get too cold, and blowing a call, pushing the safety on your shotgun, or squeezing the trigger becomes challenging.
A good pair of gloves should keep your hands warm, dry, and have good dexterity for operating the safety and trigger and keep you camouflaged.
Many duck hunters will use fingerless gloves or mittens to operate the shotgun.
Duck hunting is tougher than it may look. You heard the saying “like a duck to water”. Ducks like water, and the conditions you will be hunting them in will involve a lot of water, as well as cold and wet.
If you want to go after ducks, you need to be tough, as does your gear. It will pay to have warm, waterproof, tough, and durable equipment for duck hunting.
On top of all that it needs to blend in.