Drake Waterfowl Systems is a relative newcomer to the waterfowl having been around for only twelve years. It’s hard to become an industry leader in such a short time unless the products put out are simply outstanding in their field. My first experience with Drake was in the fall of 2006, when I needed to update some of my waterfowl gear. Drake’s 3 in 1 Late Season Technology (LST) waterfowl parka caught my eye with its shell pockets, call storage, hand warmer pockets, and very tough construction. Advertised as being designed for duck hunters by duck hunters there was no doubt whoever designed them had spent a great deal of time in the waterfowl hunting arena. 2006 and 2007, were banner waterfowl hunting years for me. Back then we could hunt until the end of December and I wore that jacket for 80+ days in the field both years and was completely satisfied. Everything about the design worked as intended, it is tough, as waterproof as anything that isn’t rubber can be and warm. The only time I use the liner jacket is the coldest days of November and December, the balance of the time I use just the shell or a down vest under it. My hunting partner and I have eight years on our Drake parkas and look forward to another one shortly.
Being so impressed with their outerwear we have also used Drake neoprene dog vests, an awesome design that provides warmth, buoyancy and always for easy lifting the dog back in a boat. A set of Drake mallard decoys followed. These decoys look great and they feature a design that allows them to be used without keel weights on those days when there is only a light breeze to move the spread. They move with a slight breeze and stay upright looking great even in 10-15 mph wind.
Chest waders have been a nemesis for me ever since I started waterfowl hunting in 1967. It seems no matter how much I spent for chest waders, they would work for one season (sometimes not even that long) and the next year they would begin leaking. In fairness, we do a lot of walking in fairly rough terrain during waterfowl season in Alaska, much me than the average hunter waders are typically designed for. Miles and miles of walking, often times through brush and it isn’t all that surprising they get torn up and leak. So in 2011, after being so delighted with all other things Drake, I picked up a pair of their Early Season Technology (EST) breathable chest waders. Light weight and reinforced with a heavy cordura type material called Hydro-Flex, they incorporated the same type of waterfowl hunter features as their parka. Pockets in the right places, high sides and a decent fit that doesn’t find you have plenty of room for an average size Labrador retriever as do most.
Cautiously optimistic I used those waders hard in 2011. With 600 grams of insulation in the boots and no neoprene in the body they were not as warm as some but they weren’t intended to be and they are a delight to pound out miles of tidal cut crossings. The 2012 season was more of the same, no leaks, lots of days and miles. Heading to Redoubt Bay for the first huntof the 2013 season it dawned on me that I hadn’t checked the waders for leaks, not what you want to do on a fly in hunt. It didn’t matter, they worked great. Three seasons in a row with no leaks was practically unimaginable to me.
With the waterfowl opener a mere 34 days away I took my Drake waders to the lake and tested them. There was a very small leak in a seam on the inside of one leg which was easily repaired with Aquaseal. No complaints here, better than I could have hoped for. In fact, being so satisfied with the performance and hunter friendly features of these waders I picked up a pair of Drake Mid-Season Technology (MST) waders. 3.5 MM neoprene construction, 800 gram Thinsulate boot, even better Hydro-Flex protection on the connection to the boot and wader, the front of the leg and the seat, I expect these to perform every bit as well as the EST model.
A look into our waterfowl closet reveals a theme; practically everything in terms of gear for waterfowling carries the Drake logo. Not because anyone gives it to us, because Drake makes excellent gear for the waterfowler.