Finding youth hunting gear that is worth your money is insanely difficult; that is, if you’re looking for gear that actually works, isn’t cheap, poorly engineered, or just all out cotton which is useless in many cases.
I’ll never forget the process of introducing Cole to duck hunting several years ago. I honestly had to retrain my mind on everything, and it started with youth hunting gear.
We were planning on hunting flooded timber. About two weeks before the hunt I was driving down the road and it hit me like a 2x4 to the face: we can’t hunt this timber hole, because water that is waist deep on me is going to be over his waders.
Wait. We can’t hunt a pit either. He can’t see over the top of the pit. The same is true for a sled blind. He can’t shoot over the rail.
Those were the thoughts that came rushing in to my head.
Talk about a rude awakening.
We were 2 weeks from the hunt. This duck hunt was all he could think about, and all I could think about is how I’m going to pull it off, keep him warm, and hopefully get him a chance to kill a duck.
We were able to figure out the hunting situation, but that was only half the battle. The other half was keeping him warm, comfortable, and having a good time. To do that, I had to think long and hard about youth hunting gear designed for a 7 year old.
And friend, let me tell you, finding quality, dependable gear for a kid is so incredibly difficult. From guns to waders to garments, there’s just not a lot out there in terms of quality apparel engineered specifically as youth hunting gear.
It is out there, if you’re willing to do the leg work to find it.
So, the good news is, from one dad to another, I’m making that a easier on you my brother. I know what it’s like to be in a bind as a dad who wants to take your son or daughter hunting, and hopefully these insights on youth hunting gear will save you a ton of time to make those experiences easier on your budget and eternal on your memory.
Here’ we go.
By the way, you can click on any of the product images and see it for yourself.
Let’s start with weaponry … because you can’t kill a duck if don’t shoot at it!
The Mossberg 500 Super Bantam
You may not realize this, but Mossberg manufactures more firearms for youth than anyone on the planet!
Seriously. Nobody makes more guns for kids than Mossberg, and they are really, really good at it.
Mossberg youth guns are affordable, and reliable, too.
And that’s two ingredients that matter to me as a dad.
The 500 Super Bantam is light, rugged, sports twin action bars and an anti-jam elevator to ensure smooth operation when cycling a shell.
Most importantly the 500 Super Bantam has stock lengthening options. And that's a massive benefit for kids that are growing all the time.
Having Mossberg's EZ-Reach forend system means more control. And that means more safety for your child when handling a gun.
I’d suggest getting the 500 Super Bantam “Turkey” because it has a great price point, and comes with removable fiber optic sights that you can remove for waterfowl and put right back on for a spring turkey hunt. Yet, it is wrapped in Mossy Oak Infinity, so it works both for spring and fall hunt foliage.
Cole is on his second pair of Lacrosse Youth Mallard II wader systems, and they have been just super in terms of youth hunting gear that works well. He’s fallen a ton of times and they haven’t ripped apart yet. He’s even walked through frozen Mississippi Delta ice and they held up just fine.
When it comes to youth hunting gear designed for waterfowl, the Youth Mallard II has been around a long, long time.
These waders have double stitched seams. A good thing for kids that are clumsy at times!
What I like about them is they come with the Brush Tuff reinforcements that protect the high impact areas. Kids fall. A lot! So this matters to their knees … and to your wallet!
With 1000 grams of insulation, Cole hasn’t been cold yet on a duck hunt when it comes to protecting his torso.
If your son or daughter gets cold hunting, leave immediately. Seriously. If you don’t, they’ll associate ALL hunting with pain and torture. I’ve seen it happen to dads who forced their kid to sit through an awful deer hunt, and now the kid won’t even go dove hunting because they had a bad first experience.
Since we’re talking about falling ... let’s talk about getting your youth hunting buddy dry again.
PEET’s “Wader PEET Dryer”
Listen my brother. Just buy it. Seriously. You’ll never regret it.
No, it's not in your normal thinking in terms of youth hunting gear; it's actually even better because you'll use it as much as your son or daughter will.
In fact, I have 2 sets. One for me, and one for Cole. After every single hunt, I put my waders on my PEET system whether I got water in my waders or not, because your body heat causes you to sweat when you’re walking out after the hunt. So whether or not that you fall, your waders get damp from sweat.
You’ll be glad the next morning when you put them on and find that your wader boots are nice and dry.
And if your son or daughter falls in the water today, well, you’ll be able to hunt tomorrow … if you can get those waders dry. And to do that, you’re going to need a fast drying system ... and that's where PEET saves the day.
Instead of spending 3 hours sitting on a chair and holding a hair dryer trying to dry those waders out, you can throw them on a PEET system, and go take a nap!
Youth Hunting Gear That Changes The Game.
Banded’s PrimaLoft Hand Warmer
You may not believe me, but this one product was a complete game changer for Cole. No kidding.
Nobody, and I mean nobody, rivals Banded Hunting Gear for an all-inclusive product approach to waterfowl gear. Why? Because duck hunters design the gear at Banded. These guys know their craft. And the know it well.
This $24.99 little piece of hand warming magic will do absolute wonders for your kids.
As warm as Cole typically is in his torso, his hands and face are what take the most punishment. He'll tell you that he's hands get cold first.
When a kid’s hands get cold, their tolerance for staying out in the elements diminish by the minute. Literally. And that means you got up at 3:30 am for a duck hunt that lasted 60 minutes after sunrise.
You must keep your kids warm ... or it's game over.
What’s nice about the Banded PrimaLoft Handwarmer is that it is amazingly soft on the hands. It’s warm, weighs next to nothing, and straps around the waist. Truthfully, I bought one for myself! I love it.
Cole will tell you straight up that he doesn’t want to hunt without it.
Banded UFS Fleece Toboggan
As you likely know, 80% of your body heat is lost from the top of your head. Well, not any more, if you wear this toboggan.
Seriously my brother, don’t put this thing on unless you mean it! It’s warm baby. And I can personally attest, it holds up like a beast in the rain. The UFS Toboggan is legit.
When Cole starts getting chilly, I put that thing on his head, and within minutes he’s smiling again. Again, he always wants it in his gear bag. It’s been a game changer as well in terms of keeping him comfortable.
Blind Side Duck Loads
Every single animal Cole has every taken in the field he’s taken with Winchester Ammunition. Every turkey, every duck, and this year, we’ll add a buck to that list hopefully!
The Blind Side loads are Hex Steel in design, and in the 20 ga. payload they travel at 1300 fps. They have their revolutionary Drylok Super Steel System and that matters because it keeps moisture out.
You might think that there's not a ton of difference in shotgun shells. And you'd be wrong.
I'm not being unkind, I'm just being candid. Winchester is putting out some absolutely amazing game loads these days. Their waterfowl and turkey loads are hitting birds like a Mack truck bent on destruction.
Winchester Ammunition is a legendary ammo company putting out legendary loads. They simply hold up, and they’ve never once misfired on Cole.
Smartphones have basically replaced cameras in today’s world. When it comes to hunting with your kids, chances are that you’re going to capture the bulk of your pictures on your phone.
Mossberg has a 100% free eBook that you can read in 10 minutes and it’s all about how to take epic images with a smartphone.
Seriously. Download it. No kidding. When you’re old and your sons and daughters are 50 years old, you’re going to be so glad you took 10 minutes to learn how to take great images on an iPhone.
Never forget, 20 years from now, your son or daughter is not going to remember how many ducks you killed. They are just going to remember that they were with you. They are going to remember that you took time, a lot of time, to spend investing in their heart, and you did it through the wonderful world of God’s creation played out in the context of hunting.
And that’s why we do it, dads. You’ll never regret a single penny spent on youth hunting gear if you keep this simple truth on the forefront of your mind.
Jason Cruise is a published author and speaker. He's the host of Spring Chronicles on Sportsman Channel and the producer of Mossberg's Rugged American Hunter series. www.JasonCruise.com and @JasonLCruise on Twitter.