Breathable Duck Hunting Waders Bring Challenge, Opportunity
- August 12, 2015
- By Brian Lovett
Waders used to define seasons: a light model for spring fishing, a heavy pair for trapping and, of course, rubber or neoprene waders for duck hunting.
But then, the idea of breathable waders, long a popular concept in the trout angling world and some corners of the duck hunting scene, crossed over to the mainstream waterfowl market. Suddenly, hunting waders became “seasonless,” and waterfowlers demanded a product that would keep them cool and mobile during early teal seasons yet warm and dry during the frigid grand passage of late fall. Manufacturers such as LaCrosse Footwear Inc. listened. Today they and a number of other companies offer a variety of breathable waders in Realtree MAX-5 camo.
“Breathable waders are growing in popularity, likely due in part to their all-season flexibility,” said Erin Hutchison, marketing communications specialist for LaCrosse. “They can easily adapt to a variety of weather conditions, either being used in the earlier, warmer seasons or layering up underneath to be used in the cooler seasons. In general, breathable waders are more lightweight, provide better air flow and dry more quickly. We started producing breathable waders in 2013 with the Alpha Swampfox. We absolutely recognize consumer demands and the growing popularity in breathable waders.”
That emerging market represents a crowded field. Many quality companies make or sell breathable waders — including Cabela’s, Drake, Frogg Toggs, Gander Mountain, Bass Pro Shops, Banded Waterfowl Products and Caddis Waterfowl Wading Systems — so manufacturers must set themselves apart and sell the benefits of their products.
“We work closely with retail partners to educate them on the latest LaCrosse technologies and how to best communicate the seasonless benefits of breathable waders to consumers,” Hutchison said. “Breathable or not, we strive to communicate the importance of how our waders will keep users dry and their feet warm."
That process often involves more listening than talking.
“We receive product feedback from numerous sources,” Hutchison said. “We take into account our own experiences as waterfowlers but also (seek) feedback from hunters nationally to better understand product demands across different regions. We continue to tailor our breathable waders to best meet the needs of the consumer, including anything from recommendations regarding insulation levels to upper torso fit. When a need is identified, we seek to address it with innovation, design and premium quality solutions. Ultimately, we understand the No. 1 need is always to keep the hunter dry and comfortable.”
Of course, no waterfowl hunting wader, breathable or otherwise, would be complete without great camouflage. That’s why LaCrosse sees great benefits as a Realtree licensee.
“Our partnership with Realtree provides the consumer a combination of quality product with highly advanced concealment,” Hutchison said. “We have a great respect for Realtree and recognize that our partnership has greatly aided our brand’s growth in the waterfowl market.”
Waders are just one important necessity for hunters who are passionate about duck hunting. For a look at other recent purchasing trends in the waterfowling world, read more here.