The first time I came to the SHOT Show - the mammoth hunting and firearms trade show put on by the National Shooting Sports Foundation - I spent a lot of time walking around looking for women's duck hunting gear. I never found any.
Waders: The most brilliant thing about these waders is the sizing option: First, you pick your shoe size. Then, you pick your body size, ranging from S to XL.
After working with Cabela's to develop women's duck hunting waders, what I heard most from women was how much they wished they didn't have to settle for one-size-fits-all. These waders address that problem. Quite honestly, I don't know how SHE can afford to do it, because we're talking about very, very small numbers of women in each sizing option. But God bless 'em for doing it.
The wader design also shocked me, because, holy crap, it's feminine.
What I don't know is how it looks on someone who's not a beautiful, slim model like the woman you see in this photo. But my experience with SHE pants in the past has been that they worked well for those of us with the figures of mere mortals. (They're going to send me a pair later this year, so I can report back in full detail in, hopefully, a few months.)
For all my duck huntin' sistahs in the cold parts of the country, you're going to love these: 5 mm neoprene, boots with 1000-gram Thinsulate.
Price: $240 - steep. But at this point, it doesn't look unjustified based on the design - it's pretty carefully built.
Boot sizes: 6-10
Body sizes: S-XL
Only concern: They don't have a hand-warming pocket - it just wouldn't work with the zipper front you see here. But I'm happy to give them a test-ride to see how I like it.
Jacket: This jacket has a feminine cut that tells me it will work beautifully under the waders (how I prefer to wear my jacket), but SHE CEO Brian Zaitz told me it's cut with enough room to wear it over the waders (and with the beautiful cut of those waders, I can see it).
The jacket is made of brushed tricot with 200-gram Thinsulate, and it is waterproof (note: in the original version of this post, I wasn't sure whether it was waterproof, but I've confirmed it). There's a zip pack-away hood, magnetic pocket closures and fleece-lined hand pockets, which may make up for the lack of handwarmer pockets on the waders, assuming you wear your jacket outside the waders.
Price: $120 - well within the realm of normal for a duck hunting jacket.
Bib: I don't do any dry-land duck hunting - I have ZERO expertise on bibs - so I'll just give you the catalog details: brushed tricot, 200-gram Thinsulate, two chest pockets, full front zipper, knee side zippers, internal gaiters.
Click on the image if you want to see a larger version to check out details for yourself.
Glove: Lord, one of the most frustrating things about being a woman hunter is finding properly fitting gloves. This may be the only women's duck hunting glove, based on what I've seen so far. (If I'm wrong, e-mail me.)
This one I got to try on, and it was quality. It's a neoprene extended-cuff glove, with 600-gram Thinsulate, and unlike my other duck glove with an extended cuff, it was really easy to get my hand and into this (on the ones I have now, the lining gets all bunched up and I can't get my fingers into the finger holes - irritating).
Sizes: S/M, L/XL
So, when can you get this stuff?
For those of you who, like myself, still have a little bit of your duck season left, you won't be able to give these items a test ride in your last weeks in the field - this collection isn't available for sale yet.
Personally, though, I'm just happy there are some more options on the horizon for all of us duck huntresses.
© Holly A. Heyser 2011