By Jerry McBride
Even in Florida, wintertime water gets cold enough that launching or getting out to stretch or shoot pictures is uncomfortable without waders. However, chest waders or even rubber hip boots can be bulky and hot, and the prolonged leg motion of pedal-drives raises concerns of weakened wader seams that speed the development of leaks.
Chota Hippies address all those issues. The light, breathable nylon socks can be worn as traditional hip waders beneath shoes or boots, and once in the kayak, rolled down below the knee to reduce heat and eliminate wear and tear on seams. Compact and mere ounces, they won't weigh down pedal kayakers, and can be rolled up and stored in a small plastic bag in the nearest hatch when not in use.
The 3-millimeter neoprene bootie is attached beneath a gravel guard to a tough 3-ply nylon upper. An adjustable stretch drawstring keeps the top tight no matter what level they're worn. A built-in cinch strap just below the knee keeps water out should the wader take a wrong step or end up on the wet side of the kayak.
Chota Hippies are available in traditional tan or a new and unique, digitally designed Camo pattern. $139.95 Camo, $129.95 Tan; www.chotaoutdoorgear.com