Since this is about choosing a pair of waders to suit your needs I’m simply going to point out some choices and characteristics to look for. Each individual has different needs and considerations that come into play when choosing a pair of waders. Hip boots can be a a good choice if the streams you plan on wading are fairly shallow and you do not plan on wading deep water. They are relatively inexpensive and are available in rubber, neoprene or a breathable fabric. Touching base on hip boots sets up the next choice at hand…waist high waders. The main consideration here is how deep you will possibly be wading. They will definitely be cooler in warm weather, but you also can purchase chest high waders that convert to waist highs. If you’ll be wading deep waters then you will obviously want a pair of chest high waders.
Now that we have covered types of waders, lets discuss features. I will start from the top down. Shoulder straps – do they have enough adjustment and padding if any at all. Chest compartments – just inner or inner and outer, or does the outer compartment sport any bling such as zingers and tippet spool pockets? Are there hand pockets on the side of the compartment lined with fleece to warm your hands on days with a slight chill in the air? Wading belt – most waders come with either an adjustable standardized belt or an adjustable elastic belt. Belts can also be purchased separately and are inexpensive if the one supplied is not of your liking. Seams – are they double or triple stitched on the inside of the legs? Today some of the high end waders are sporting more stitching and you will find that the seams are being placed on the back or front of the legs resulting in less wear and lower probability of leaks in that area. Is there any reinforcement? Do the knees have an extra outer shell or multi ply reinforcement. How many plys do the overall waders have? Boot foot or stocking foot – Boot foot are easier to dawn and doff and in my opinion keep your feet warmer, however they tend to be more expensive. The soles are on them may not be to your liking and compared to stocking foot, it is more likely that the boots will outlive the waders. Breathability – “of course applying to breathable waders only” are they Gore-tex, the leading manufacturer in breathable apparel, or another type/brand of breathable fabric. Size – some brands of waders have a limited size range where others can accommodate more of a size range, and can in fact even customize your pair to your size specs. Be aware that all brands size charts vary so I strongly suggest you compare sizing while also weighing the other options and durability of each you may be considering.
I believe that it rests on the individual regarding how much to spend on a pair of waders by how much time you will actually spend in them. For the person who may only wear them a couple of weekends a year you could easily get away with a relatively inexpensive pair. At the other end of the spectrum would be the hardcore angler that should dive in a little deeper or find themselves purchasing less costly waders more frequently. But in the long run buying a more expensive pair of waders may have been a break even proposition and resulted in less hassle.