Notes on Wader Selection...
> Wader Suggestions...
There are a few options to review: neoprene, rubber, PVC coated, and breathable. Rubber is cheap, heavy and susceptible to ultraviolet rays. They don't breathe and will crack over a fairly short time. They are good if you plan to cycle through inexpensive waders frequently and don't walk long distances on sand, etc. If you end up in the drink, they are lousy swimsuits.
Always, always wear a snug belt to keep them from inflating like an umbrella when submerged.
Neoprene are the best for cool weather and water temps. They are extremely comfortable, flexible and warm. For rivers in spring and fall, and for float tubes, they are the cat's ass. They are too warm for summer beach fishing during the day, or when you need to walk back to the rig after a morning outing, or whenever temps rise. Thus in my opinion they are not the best single choice for striper fishing.
PVC coated waders, wadelites, etc. - are inexpensive, durable, light and comfortable. The problem is that like the neoprenes when walking long distances in warm weather they are like wearing a baggie... the sweat and condensation combines makes the insides clammy and damp. This is particularly bad when you walk a long way in the afternoon and end up fishing into the night, the moisture from the afternoon sweat session saps your body heat away as the cool night sets in. You can line them with microfleece pants to keep the moisture to a minumum but then during hot weather you will sweat more.
Breathables are very expensive, yet light, comfortable, and drastically drier than non-breathables when sweat and condensation (caused by differences in water temps and body temps) are in play. They are also much cooler (breathe) in hot weather, which makes them highly suited toward summer striper fishing. My experience is that they are not the most durable wader style, but in terms of performance for summer fishing nothing comes close.
My hands-down favorite non-breathable wader is the OS Systems wader, which is made by a dri-suit maker in Oregon. I have abused my OSS waders for over 8 years and they are the toughest waders made. The seams are incredibly strong and the feet are a molded diver's latex "sock", the most comfortable wader stocking foot in the market - bar none. There are no seams in the foot because it is a single molded drysuit foot. They do not breathe, making them susceptible to condensation, but for durability there is no equal. OS Systems is developing a gore-tex version as we speak. They run $149 plus tax and are the best value for a non-breathable anywhere. These waders are extremely hard to find.
For breathables, there are high end and entry level makes. On the low end, Reddington offers a four year unconditional warranty on their breathables which retail $169 - how can you beat that? On the high end, Simms Guide Model Goretex is the upper echalon of wading technology at 350-400 per pair with a 2 year warranty. You can pull your jersey over the top of these waders and walk into a restaurant without anyone noticing you're wearing waders. You will feel like you're in your old khaki's too! They have neoprene feet, cut to fit the form of the foot. Second only to the single pc. diver's latex foot for comfort. Warning - neoprene feet are more than a little warm in hot weather!
The lower priced breathables usually come with stocking foots of the same material, which usually results in wear and leaks. They do avoid hot feet on the flats and sand dunes. If they are properly formed, they are less susceptible to leaks from folding and rubbing.
Vendors like Cabelas and LL Bean contract the above companies to manufacture re-branded equipment, usually with some concession of features to keep the original brands a cut above. I would generally recommend going with name brands for this reason.
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