I found out the hard way that lightweight, inexpensive nylon waders have two problems. First, they aren’t warm enough for winter, but that’s a problem you can compensate for with layers of thermal underwear. Second, after a brief introductory watertight period, they leak like a sieve, a problem there is no compensating for.
It was time for neoprene waders.
The leaky, cold nylon ones I have are men’s waders, and they’re big enough to accommodate the Michelin man. Since neoprene waders keep you warmer if they fit properly, I thought women’s waders were the way to go, but that was before I discovered that women’s waders don’t come in my size.
I should mention here that I am a perfectly normal-sized human being. I’m about 5’9″, 140 pounds. This is not gigantic. My feet are an appropriate size to keep someone of my height standing upright without wobbling. Unfortunately, wader manufacturers – every single last one of them – are of the opinion that real women don’t wear shoes bigger than a size ten.
“Try www.yetiwaders.com,” Kevin suggested helpfully as I fruitlessly combed the Internet. Ha ha.
I was going to have to get the men’s version. I took comfort in the upside: if the Michelin man ever came to visit, we could take him clamming.
I went to see Amy at Sports Port, our source for all things fishing, and pulled the size eight Hodgman waders off the shelf. I took them out of the box, slipped off my shoes, and stepped into them. And then I tried to pull them up. And then I tried some more. I could barely get the damn things over my hips.
Red-faced from both effort and embarrassment, I looked at Amy. “They’re too small,” I said pathetically, gesturing at the skin-tight fit. What man could wear these things? Does Mick Jagger need waders?
“They’re supposed to be snug,” Amy said. “Like a wetsuit.” I knew she was right, but I couldn’t get past the idea of my butt, covered with tight-fitting neoprene, going out in public. There was no mirror (I mean, really, who cares what they look like in waders?), so I tried to crane my neck around to see my own rear end. I could just barely glimpse its outline, but that was enough.
I peeled them off. “I think they’re a little hard to get in and out of,” I told Amy lamely. She was extremely sympathetic and understanding, but I could see the pity in her eyes. “This woman cares what she looks like in waders,” was clearly written in a little thought bubble over her head.
I slunk home. What to do now? I went back to the Internet. Turns out, one of my favorite sites, Sierra Trading Post, had a pair of neoprene waders on super-sale because they only had one size left – men’s size eight. They weren’t Hodgman, and I hoped for a roomier fit. The only catch was that they were “wetland camo.” Not my first choice, but maybe camo is slimming.
A week later, the UPS man brought me my new camouflage waders. I got into them without a problem. In fact, if the Michelin man does come, we’ve got him covered.