The quest for the perfect pair of long-lasting waders is enduring for any waterfowler. Although Chêne doesn’t claim its waders are perfect, the design and serviceable materials make the waders a worthwhile investment.
For testing purposes only, we traveled down to Arkansas during the height of duck season to see if the waders lived up to the social media hype. In the midst of the towering oaks, we spent long hours navigating through shin-deep water.
There was no shortage of birds in the area. We dealt with fluctuating temperatures, climbing over levees, and trudging through muddy fields to test the waders in a variety of conditions.
In short: Chêne Gear’s duck hunting waders are among the few pairs of waders that should be labeled as premium. From the waterproof zippers and comfortable boots to the iconic patterns and useful features, these waders are the favorite of many.
Chêne Gear Waders: Review
If you haven’t already heard the origin story, a group of devoted duck hunters founded Chêne Gear with a determination to design and produce top-quality waterfowling gear. In each Chêne product exists the ethos of Arkansas duck hunting. As the company continues to grow, its flagship product continues to be the Duck Hunting Wader.
Chêne has quickly amassed a large social media following and devoted Chêne Underground loyalty program. With the popularity of its waders, its media content, and its commitment to conservation, Chêne has quickly become a standard bearer in the waterfowl community. As its business is direct-to-consumer, you may have never seen a pair of the waders in person. This begs the question, do the waders live up to the hype?
The Chêne Gear Waders are priced at $1,100 and are backed by a limited lifetime warranty that includes most repairs. All repairs are handled in-house at Chêne HQ, so you know that personal attention is paid to each pair brought in for service.
The waders come in an assortment of patterns, including the iconic Mossy Oak Bottom, Original Bottomland, Shadow, Mossy Oak Habitat, and the soon-to-be-released Mossy Oak Treestand and Brown.
For sizing, Chêne’s website contains an in-depth guide to help you find the ideal fit. In my experience, if you wear a large in most clothing items, large will be your body size. The range on the boot size is from 6 to 14 and for the body size XXS-3XLT.
Boots Built for the Duck Woods
Starting from the bottom, Chêne Gear waders have an impressive boot that is designed to keep you comfortable while standing in the flooded timber. The 5mm neoprene rubber ankle is wide enough to allow you to easily slide the boots on and off, even with multiple layers. With 1,200 g of Thinsulate, your feet should stay warm throughout most of the season. Although there is a sealed boot cover, the intuitive drain vent flushes water and keeps you moving freely. The rugged but sturdy nonslip outsole, combined with an EVA midsole, performed as expected. Whether we walked over submerged obstacles pulling sleds or through muddy fields carrying decoys, the boots kept us upright and stable. The robust construction gives your foot a gentle landing zone and a soft feel when standing for long durations. The boot sizes mirror those of shoes and seem to fit true to size. Overall, the boots were a positive experience.
The waders are constructed with a four-layer waterproof nylon fabric. This choice in the fabric allows the digitally printed camo to seamlessly blend into the woods, but also adds to the durability and longevity of the waders. In the duck woods, the dark camo prints match the shadows created by the oak trees and mimic the mossy bark that is common in this part of the world.
Because the seams are mechanically bonded, the waterproof seal is flat against the fabric. This method makes it easy to lean against the trees without feeling a seam when you bend or squat.
The sizing of the waders ranges from XXS to 3XLT, with sizes similar to standard shirt dimensions. An in-depth sizing guide is also on the Chêne website. There is a DWR finish on the waders that keeps the water from soaking through. But if you have any leaking issues, more repairs will be maintained under the limited lifetime warranty.
Although Arkansas duck hunting doesn’t typically involve kneeling, a set of knee pads would be a nice addition when hunting in other environments. Ultimately, the waterproof fabric, camo patterns, and flexible construction make the waders ideal for the flooded timber setting.
Durable Zipper and Additional Features
Aside from the waterproof materials and durable boots, the YKK AQUASEAL front zipper serves as a vital feature. We all know the dependability of YKK zippers, and this one is no different. The large T-shaped zipper tab is easy to operate with bare hands or gloves. Behind the zipper is a neoprene backing that limits friction between the zipper teeth and your base layers. Although the zipper is tough to slide the first few uses, we noted it became easier over time. Be patient. The adjustable shoulder straps and belt are designed to equally distribute the weight of the waders and your waistline. As the weather changes, the adjustable nature of the shoulder straps and belt will also accommodate additional layers under your waders. The padding on the shoulder straps keeps your shoulders comfortable, and there is very little rubbing that occurs regardless of the number of layers.
We found it easier to keep the straps at your desired length and just unzip the front zipper when removing the waders. Because the belt is elastic, it will bend and move with you throughout the hunt. The buckle is easy to handle, and the nylon keeps the belt from twisting.
Plenty of Pockets
The waders come with zippered chest pockets, hand warmer pockets, and internal storage pockets. We used the zippered chest pockets, which are suitable for storing items like your wallet or keys and that come with a water-resistant YKK zipper. However, we wouldn’t suggest keeping these pockets submerged.
Fleece lines the inside of the hand warmer pockets for those who go without gloves. In each of the interior pockets, we recommend inserting hand warmer packets on cold days.
All the features on the waders were designed with the duck hunter in mind. From the location of the pockets to the depth of the pockets, and the zippers — each feature enhances the user experience.
The Chêne Gear Waders aren’t cheap, with a suggested retail price of $1,100, but that also includes the limited lifetime warranty.
Chêne Gear Waders: Conclusion
The Chêne Gear duck hunting waders are the latest in premium waders. The brand incorporated functional features, iconic camo patterns, and comfortable boots into the waders to enhance the duck woods experience. In addition, Chêne employees will repair most issues with your waders in-house, under the terms of the limited lifetime warranty.
From its inception, Chêne has sought to build exceptional products, including its waders. After thorough testing, we can confidently say that Chêne delivered on that mission. If you can spare the price, these waders should be on your waterfowl gear list.