We live in the Netherlands and my wife has a strong desire to get into the water in order to be at eye level with the bird life. What have any of you found to be the best option for protection from the water? She is considering fishing waders, a dry suit or wet suit. In your replies I’d appreciate it if you could consider buoyancy (she is a lightweight), mobility and warmth. Any other good tips to protect camera gear and lenses would also be appreciated.
Hi Bill. I use waders and hip boots for wading into the water. Neoporene waders are very warm and a little buoyant.
As far as tips go, she should definitely wade to the area she wants to shoot from without the camera first to check out the firmness of the ground and the depth of the water. When doing so, I’d suggest using the tripod to check out how deep the water is and how soft the ground is before actually stepping onto the ground in front of her. Otherwise, when shooting, I’d strongly suggest using a tripod at all times.
Many thanks @Lyle_Gruby
Hi Bill, I am an avid fly fisherman and have been through many waders! My recommendation would be to go with fishing / hunting waders that are made from a breathable material like cordura or gore-tex. I’ve owned Orvis, Simms, and Patagonia, but any of the major manufacturers including LL Bean, Redington, etc would be good. The benefits are that they are cooler in the summer but can be as warm as you want in the winter. For extended winter outings I wear multiple layers under them including synthetic down pants and I never get cold. You don’t have to break the bank, but I think that the durability and versatility will be welcome for your wife. She will stay completely dry in these. With a wet suit, she will be wearing very little underneath and will be wet inside and her body heat will warm the water. I think this option might be better for a more active sport as it could get cold pretty fast.
One more thought - A basic wading boot with felt sole would be versatile for wading on any type of bottom from mud to rocks. Some setups have waders and boots that are all one piece and sewn together. Couldn’t agree more with @Lyle_Gruby about using a tripod or wading staff. Especially in standing water, the firm ground can be pretty deep in the mud.
My two cents - hope that helps!
@Dan_Wood - thank you so much for your excellent and detailed reply. Really helpful!
Hi Bill. I’m late to this, and don’t do much of this kind of thing, but I do recall seeing a description of how someone got a winning photograph in a Texas photography contest. One of the things they did was make a floating camera platform. If I recall it was nothing but a piece of plywood with a tripod head mounted on an inner tube, or since they’re hard to find these days on any kind of flotation device. It looked like a good alternative to a tripod.
I agree that stockingfoot waders is the way to go. The stockings are made of neoprene while the rest is breathable. The most durable are made by Simms. You will need wading boots to go with your waders. Make sure you get boots with felt soles because those rocks are usually very slick and she could really hurt herself.
@Igor_Doncov @Dennis_Plank - thanks for your additional help and advice on this topic. She went for what we could find with a simple web search here in NL - not perfect or to all the specs we are looking for but should be good enough to at least start practicing in our local canals and shallow ponds. Will also see what information I can find re the floating platform - sounds interesting.
Make sure she puts a tight belt around her waders at waist level. People have drowned when their waders have completely filled with water and they’ve been unable to stand up to get their heads above water. The belt will keep most water out of the lower portion of the wader’s body and legs.