Good outdoor gear doesn’t have to cost a fortune!
Frogg Toggs has been quite a success story. Founded in 1996, to the best of my knowledge, their first product was a super-lightweight waterproof jacket that many outdoorsmen fell in love with from the get-go. The original jacket and matching pant could be folded compactly to fit in a large zip-lock bag. I do not recall the price, it’s been a long time, but it was friendly enough that I kept several on my boat for loan to fishing clients and another in my truck. Those original Frogg Toggs suits saved my bacon many times and Pam still keeps one on her boat for emergencies. I recall a nasty, rainy IFA Redfish event at Aransas Pass back in 2005 when nearly all the contestants wore those original Frogg Toggs jacket and pants to the weigh-in.
Fast forward – Success over the years spawned a variety of increasingly better rainwear products for a full range of outdoor activities, and Frogg Toggs eventually entered the wader and footwear market. Today’s lineup is very impressive; highlighted with fashionable and functional designs for both men and women, all at attractive price points.
Anxious to learn more about their wader and footwear lines, I jumped into the Hellbender Wader and Aransas Wading Boot for the opening of the current waterfowl season. Waterfowl hunting is tough on gear, even under the best of conditions. Unless you have a surface-drive or airboat to get you where you want to go, hunting coastal marshes can include long walks through heavy vegetation to reach backwater ponds, knee deep mud with bits of abrasive shell, and snagging clothing on hastily erected blinds. There can also be some kneeling and lying in mud and marsh grass. Not for the faint of heart, it’s a torture test of both men and gear. I figured if my Hellbenders could make it through a rigorous season of this activity they’d surely survive a full season and probably more of cooler weather wade fishing.
Right out of the box, I was pleased when my Hellbender Wader fit perfectly. It hasn’t always been so easy with other brands. At 5’-11” and 190 pounds, I selected the Large size. The waist, chest, and inseam are perfect for a guy my size, with adequate room for layering on colder outings. The neoprene bootie was a good fit with light socks for warm weather and still room for thicker wool socks when necessary. I also liked that the overall height of the bib and back of the wader reach high enough to protect for inadvertent stumbles into deeper water. I rarely encounter this while hunting but it happens often when I’m fishing.
The Aransas Wading Boot is comfortable with nice support in the footbed and arch. My normal size is 10, which is a great fit with a thin wading sock for wet wading. I went with size 11 to wear with waders to avoid a too-tight fit when adding insulated socks. I like that the zippered closure is snug enough to prevent boot-sucking muck stealing my boots. The cleated soles provide lots of traction for clambering up muddy banks.
The Hellbender Jacket – So far so good in the rain-shedding department. I have worn it (size large) through one miserably chilly morning of north wind that pelted us with steady drizzle and several brief downpours. Like the wader, there is plenty room for additional layering for a guy my size. The generously-sized chest pockets have plenty room for lots of stuff hunters and fishermen need to carry and keep dry. I would have preferred this jacket in camo for hunting but the stone color it came in works just fine when the blind is covered with faded palm fronds or layout hunting in dead grass. Just keep still ‘til time to shoot – the ducks won’t mind.
Summing this all up, in addition to being very functional, the items described here come at a very friendly price point. Yes, I own and use some very popular and expensive gear of other brands, but this look into Frogg Togg’s offerings is aimed at the more budget-conscious consumers. Guys looking for quality that simply cannot afford pricier stuff, and those that need to consider outfitting youngsters and other family members in addition to their own needs. Aside from budgets, gear at these price points also make good sense for outdoorsmen who do not hunt or fish several days a week throughout the colder and rainier seasons, and therefore find difficulty justifying heftier purchases.
The Hellbender Wader offers many features and is easily affordable at $139.99. The Hellbender Java Jacket sells for $89.99. The Aransas Wading Boot is competitively priced at $59.99. All carry a One-Year Full Replacement Warranty for normal wear and tear.These goods and more from Frogg Toggs can be found at the following fine retailers near you: Academy Sports + Outdoors; David’s Tackle Box; Fishing Tackle Unlimited; Johnny’s Sport Shop; Port O’Connor Rod and Gun; Rockport Tackle Town; Roy’s Bait and Tackle; Serious Tackle; Tackle Box of Victoria.