If you're an avid waterfowler, you have undoubtedly heard about Chêne Gear and how they have completely changed the way we as hunters view waders. Growing up, my brothers and I just assumed that all waders started to leak after a season, because that's all we knew. It wasn't until companies like Chêne Gear came along that we would have even thought about a wader that's backed by a lifetime warranty.
Needless to say, the brand is disrupting the entire waterfowl market, and doing so in a good way. Based out of Memphis, Tennessee, they're a relatively young company, but already have some impressive names supporting them, most notably the Duck Commander crew. Though their waders are their flagship product, they have recently been branching out into other technical waterfowl gear. I can say from experience that these varied products reflect the quality standard of the waders perfectly.
I recently just got back from Stuttgart, Arkansas on a mission to bag a daily limit of late season greenheads in the flooded timber. For the trip, I decided I would purchase Chêne Gear's all new Hydro-Lok Jacket to see how it holds up under wetter than normal conditions, as we were expecting heavy rain all the days we were there. It is called the Hydro-Lok afterall; this was the perfect time to test out if that name was earned or just plain given.
Why We Chose It
The body mapped design provides consistent comfortability in the fit of this great jacket
Technical design of the neoprene cuffs, adjustable hood, vertical chest pockets, and hand warmer side pockets
Active 3-layer nylon construction allows for high breathability and prevents restriction, Sciessant Agion antimicrobial treatment which helps to fight odors
$400 price point, although better than some of the competitors, it's still a higher market item.
Camo options only. This is a small complaint, however, solid options would be great and hope this is something they add in the future.
Chêne Hydro-Lok Jacket First Impressions
Presentation matters, especially on the first impression. Upon taking the jacket out of the box and plastic wrap, I could immediately tell they put some thought in it. And I'm not referring to the handwritten note that I got from them, although that was greatly appreciated as well, and something you seldom see anymore from consumer brands like this.
From the adjustable neoprene cuffs, to the fleece-lined neck, to the handwarmer pockets and the adjustable hood, it was clear that this wasn't just another generic shell that may or may not keep you dry. This was a piece of outerwear that took a great deal of development and testing to get everything perfect. I chose the Mossy Oak Bottomland pattern, as that has always been a favorite of mine, however the jacket also comes in Original Bottomland and Shadowgrass Habitat, both of which look amazing.
In the Timber
A good first impression is great, but it means nothing if I am soaked to the core in the timber. Nothing will ruin a hunt quicker than your shell not doing its job, even if the ducks are flying, there's only so much you can take. As the rain shot down hard and fast on the very first morning in the timber, I knew I would find out quickly if this jacket was worth the hype.
What I noticed first was just how breathable and adaptive it was to my body movements. One of my biggest complaints in the past with a waterproof shell is that I feel too restricted. There are companies that offer waterproof jackets that are incredible at repelling water, but I end up feeling like I'm wearing a straight jacket. The Hydro-Lok Jacket by Chêne Gear is perhaps one of the most active shells on the market today.
As I stated before, the drought that Arkansas had been experiencing for the past several months was about to be offset by about 3 inches of rain within two days, and it just so happens, that would be the two days I was hunting. Though the downpour kept some of the birds sheltered up, it allowed me to push this jacket to its limits on the waterproof side. Even through intense and consistent downpours, I was able to keep my core dry with the Hydro-Lok. My buddies and I kept commenting that it was as if we were wearing a full-body wader, only with more stretch on the top half. As far as repelling water goes, it exceeded all of our expectations.
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