Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Finally! A women's waterfowl hunting line

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.

But this year, I was in for a terrific surprise: SHE Outdoor Apparel has just unveiled an entire line of women's waterfowl gear: waders, bib, jacket, gloves.

I was floored. And thrilled. This is an enormous commitment to make to a very tiny market - women waterfowlers number 131,000, at best, in the U.S.

SHE didn't have anything other than gloves that I could actually try on today, but here's what I can tell you so far:

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.

Sizes: XS-XXL

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.

Price: $120

Sizes: XS-XXL

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).

Price: $50

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


Tamar@StarvingoffhteLand said...

Nice! Every outing goes farther in convincing me that serious equipment is worht the price. But here's the big question -- do the waders go up to women's size 11? So far, I haven't found a single pair.

My current waders were on super-sale because they were made for a man who's about 6'4", maybe 280 pounds, with size 9 feet. Now that they leak in the crotch, I have an excuse to buy new ones.

The Writing Huntress said...

Holly- um...awesome? I'm really excited to see their stuff! (if they're needing another tester, let them know about me! ;-)
I only have two concerns. The first one is how warm this stuff is going to be and the price. I know that I wouldn't be able to afford almost any of that. But if it is a good enough product I'd save up. Two questions, however. How small are the smallest gloves they have? And the smallest boot size as well?

Have a great time!!


Shewee woman said...

Holy Crap it's about time. Yea ditto on the tester I would like to be one too. I do duck and inland goose and unfortunately you need two sets of bibs. I agree with you without seeing waterproof somewhere is kind of disappointing but the fact that they are addressing ours needs is great. We have the Eastern Outdoors Show coming up next month in Harrisburg PA, I will be looking for them there.

Gretchen Steele said...

Hallelujah! I've whined about this so long that my colleagues are ready to club me with a decoy! Waterfowl season is my busiest and most favorite time of year and covering waterfowl events throughout IL..I'm constantly on the lookout for gear ESPECIALLY waders that will work well on my short chubby grandmotherly type figure.. this looks to be the answer.. add me to list for a possible tester reviewer..I already have publishers waiting on reviews of women's waterfowl gear.. there just hasn't been any to review!

Anonymous said...

Holly & Gretchen,
I about fell over when I went to the booth and saw what she had! It is outstanding! I pre-ordered and just can't wait to try it out!

Anonymous said...

I would like to know about size 11 waders too. I've been wearing my hubbies waders but men's boots are too wide!

Blessed said...

I LOVE the way they are sizing their waders - and I have to admit that I enjoy the feminine cut to everything! The price points really are in line with good waterfowl stuff too - so far we wear mostly Drake waterfowl jackets/etc... and those aren't cheap either - but well worth the investment.

Gloves are the one thing I don't really have trouble with - I either wear a women's large or a man's medium - but I haven't found a waterfowl glove that keeps my hands warm and dry - I would definitely try these!

Holly Heyser said...

Tamar, HLYH and Anonymous - Boots 6-10, body S-XL. Sorry about that - when I was writing this post, somehow Blogger unsaved a bunch of things I'd written, and that bit of information was one of the things I missed when I was re-writing.

So Tamar, yeah, that's a problem for you, and I'm sure it's one your used to. I'm not even sure how high the Cabela's Cazadora waders go in shoe size. But the good thing for you is that gives you lots of options in men's waders. Not this sexy, though!

HLYH, there are two glove sizes - S/M and L/XL. They are the only women's waterfowling gloves I've ever seen, so having that much choice is huge.

Shewee Woman, I'm going to run by their booth today and clarify on the jacket. I actually found some other women's waterproof jackets yesterday that would work for duck hunting, but that's a later blog post.

Outfitterlife, I know what you mean! The most surprising thing was seeing the whole line, not just one item.

Blessed, same here. I wouldn't sacrifice function for feminine form, but if I can get both, fantastic!

I'm looking forward to giving the gloves a test. What I've been doing this year is keeping my trigger hand free, clutching a handwarmer in my wader handwarmer pocket, then gloving my other hand with a smartwool liner and neoprene gloves that aren't actually waterproof. The smartwool stays warm when wet, so that seems to do the trick for me.

Quackity Gal said...

It's like every Christmas and birthday present wrapped into one GINORMOUS gift!

I'm so excited I'm tearing up, seriously! I've been lamenting how I can't find a jacket that will fit me (men's are too big, youth sizes aren't made for my chest dimensions) and if I DO find a jacket I like, it's not in pretty Max-4 or Duckblind patterns!

Do you know if SHE will be at the Expo in Sac this weekend?


Anonymous said...


Everything here looks GREAT, with one exception.

Who ever thought that Hunting Waders wanted/needed a big Fastex Buckle right ON your shoulder?!!

I've had some waders that had this buckle there and ended up safety pinning the strap and buckle folded over onto the backside! On those waders I'd only ever fasten the left hand buckle. Who needs a sharp edged 1/4" extension added onto their LOP? (Shotgun butt length)

Living and hunting where I do, I'd want to make SURE that Jacket was made using a Goretex or similar breathable "waterproof" material in it. Ditto on the Bibs if it rains a lot where you hunt.

Everything else about their line looks great. The lady Goose hunters should really appreciate the bibs.

The gauntlet style gloves look great!

Keep up the good work SHE Outdoor.

Bill C.-Orygun

Holly Heyser said...

UPDATE: Yes, the jacket is waterproof, and I've updated the post to reflect as much.

Quackity, I don't know. But I do know they don't have a bunch of floor models you can try on, so the most you could do is look at them.

Bill, I wondered about that strap issue too, but honestly, the Cazadora waders I helped design also have two layers of neoprene and Velcro at the shoulders and it has NEVER caused me a problem. Only difference between mine and SHE's is that mine are wider, and I just won't know how that affects performance until I try them on.

Hil said...

I've got a pair of the SHE waders at the house right now. God bless them for trying to cater to our market. The waders run SMALL. I'm a typical large and I would need an XL in these waders. They sent me a MEDIUM, which zips so tightly that I literally could not sit down if I tried. Speaking of which, a zipper up the front of waders is not my idea of practical, but maybe it's super-duper waterproof. Time (in the marsh) will tell.

Holly my very first thought was "where's the handwarmer pocket?" I own a pair of the Cabela's Cazadora waders and love them, and the lack of a handwarmer pocket on the SHEs is kind of a deal-breaker for me, at least when hunting flooded timber. If I'm a pit blind or something where I have room to carry and rest a blind bag, it's doable, but the SHE waders just do not have enough pocket space if I'm having to carry and hold all my gear and ammo on my person.

They've got 1,000 grams of Thinsulate and 5mm neoprene, though, which is awesome. I see Cabela's did the same in the Cazadora waders this year too! I wish I'd waited a year to get those. :)

Holly Heyser said...

Great info, Hil! Brian told me you'd gotten a pair, so I'm glad you weighed in.

I wasn't sure about the rationale for a zipper, except that it allows you to make the waders a bit more form-fitting. (I get the zipper for men's waders - the point is for them to be able to take a leak without having to pull the whole waders down.)

REALLY good to know they run small, and if you're an XL (I've seen your photos), I'm guessing they're cutting a lot of bigger women out of your customer base. That's one way in which the Cabela's one-size-fits-all design serves some customers better.

Still, I'm looking forward to getting a pair and trying them out. And I remain grateful that SHE is thinking about waterfowlers.

Hil said...

Agreed, I am very grateful they're thinking about us. Like you, I wondered how the heck they can afford to try this given how small our market is. I hope they do well with the whole line.

I guess I just EXPECT that when you wrap yourself in 5mm neoprene, sexy goes out the window, and with a bumpy rolly curvy figure (at the moment, post-Christmas, I'm a 12/14 size jeans), it REALLY goes out the window. So the whole idea of trying to make waders "feminine" seemed absurd to me from the get-go. Make them short enough, make them fit, make them as comfortable as rubber and neoprene can be, but feminine — not happening. Or at least not a factor I consider when I am trying on waders. So as you say, the point of a zipper is pretty much JUST so you can make them slim-fitting, which is just not ringing my bell. I'd give up the zipper for a handwarmer pocket in a heartbeat.

I also really enjoyed Tamar's recent comment (on another blog entry) about "stuff lust." I admit I get a LOT of stuff free and there are thousands and thousands of dollars worth of free hunting clothing in my and my husband's closet right now. It got to the point this year that I thought "my gosh, it will take me years to wear all this, I've got to stop collecting STUFF." Some of it is great, some of it is average, some of it is useless, but I can't think of more than two or three things in that entire closet I would pay retail price for. First, I am cheap, and second, I am old-school, raised in Pennsylvania by a dad who still wears red-and-black-checked wool parkas and thinks scent-blocking clothing is a joke. If I had to buy my own hunting clothing I would still be wearing his hand-me-downs, accented with a few bargain pieces from Cabela's and Bass Pro. No way would SHE or Prois or Rocky or the other men's companies be in my price range. They all make great quality stuff, but there's only so much I can afford.

By the way, a few of the things in the closet I would be willing to pay retail price for:

1. The Cazadora waders
2. My Irish Setter boots
3. Avery WindTamer outwear
4. The Prois rain jacket
5. Darn Tough socks. Seriously. I love good socks.

Holly Heyser said...

Wow, glad to see the Cazadoras on your list!

I'm with you in that it never occurred to me that waders could feminine - when I saw these, one of my first thoughts was, "Doh! Why didn't I think of that?"

But if you can make something feminine and still functional, it's definitely a selling point.

Hil said...

The Cazadora waders are absolutely top-notch and Cabela's priced them right. You designed a real winner!

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