What to look for when buying your next set of waterfowl equipment

From a strictly functional perspective, your outerwear is the most important piece of waterfowling equipment you will purchase. A basic level of comfort brings the clarity you need to operate effectively; without it, none of your other gear matters. Comfort starts with being warm and dry, but those aren’t the only important things to look for when making a significant investment in your new jacket and tails.

Here’s a quick list of boxes to check when shopping for your new set of gear, not just for waterfowl hunting, but everything from ice fishing to archery—or maybe even just digging with shovels on the road. We looked at a few different models from WindRider to give examples of some of the features you’ll want in your new rig.

What to look for when buying your next set of waterfowl equipment

Built-in floating foam

None of us plan to end up drinking, but it happens. Freezing water and pockets full of gear, these things are not conducive to swimming. It makes sense to give yourself as much priority as possible. Building flotation into jackets and pods can be done without affecting functionality and could possibly save your life.

Although something like Hayward’s WindRider or Pro All Weather equipment is not rated as a personal flotation device (PFD) by the US Coast Guard, the manufacturer claims it will support a 300 lb person. for 2 hours. The buoyancy material is on the outer shell of the tails and jacket, so the inner insulation can be removed without affecting movement.

What to look for when buying your next set of waterfowl equipment

Versatile for use in 3 seasons

Good equipment is not cheap. Spreading the cost over multiple seasons helps take some of the sting out of it. The choice of clothing with multiple configurations provides comfort in a wide range of temperatures and conditions. Look for insulating layers that are easily removable, but also secure enough that once they are fixed in place, they move as a unit.

WindRider has designed its gear for three-season use. The inner layer is filled with 3M insulation and is secured using zips, clips and straps. The jacket liner can also be worn as a soft jacket with pockets and D-rings, so it’s fully functional. When shopping, look for fit.

What to look for when buying your next set of waterfowl equipment

Stay dry in all conditions

It seems pretty obvious, to stay warm and comfortable you need to keep the water out. The problem is if you’re wearing real outdoor gear, you’re probably doing something to get tired. Keeping moisture out of your device while keeping it out isn’t easy, but it’s possible.

You can find gear that is completely waterproof, but that also means it won’t breathe. Products like WindRider’s Hayward and Pro All Weather Gear are made with fabrics with a 10K waterproof rating. If you’re not familiar, a fabric sample is tested with a water column. Water is added to the column, when the weight of water is large enough to pass, the measured height of the column, in millimeters, is the fabric rating. A 10K fabric will hold a long 10,000mm water column, which is said to be enough to stop rain and heavy snow, while allowing the moisture inside the garment to evaporate.

Lightweight yet durable

We all want products that will stand up to any abuse we throw at them. But quite often, heavy duty can also just mean heavy duty. The key is good materials and reinforcement in the highest wear areas. Spots like your knees, leg cuffs, and even the seat of your pants are all places where you can expect to see more.

Looking at a product like WindRider’s Hayward Bibs, high wear areas are reinforced with additional Cordura fabric. The high-tech synthetic fabric allows for abrasion and cut resistance without adding excessive weight or impeding movement.

What to look for when buying your next set of waterfowl equipment

Variety of storage options

If all you needed was the ability to carry stuff, you could throw a bag over your shoulder and call it a day. Yes, you need storage, but you also need organization. Look for a variety of pocket sizes; most of them should have a closure that secures the items inside. You also need pockets that have storm flaps over the openings to keep water out. Internal pockets for things like ID and your phone that you won’t have to reach for in the blind and will be as dry and secure as possible.

A Hayward jacket has everything listed above, plus fleece lined hand warmer pockets on the front. And, in addition to the pockets, it has D-rings on the chest to hang anything from a duck call, ice pick, or maybe even a bottle opener.

Lifetime protection against defects

Good gear is tough and will take all your abuse—until it doesn’t. This is why you want to check the manufacturer’s warranty before making your purchase. Some brands are happy to do repairs, at your expense, which is generally a bit cheaper than the replacement cost, but can still be an unplanned expense. Many value brands consider their parts to be consumables that require replacement every few years. Not only is it more expensive in the long run, but it’s also not very environmentally friendly.

WindRider knows that zippers and seams, no matter how well designed, will fail at some point. In the event of a failure of one of these components or problems with the item’s workmanship, your equipment is guaranteed for life.

Sponsored by WindRider.

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