Get the breathable ones! I have only put on neoprenes 2x in the last 3 years and that was on days where the high was 10 deg F. I have a pair of the Orvis ones, comfortable as heck and 3 yrs old, no patches and hunted 30+ days/yr. And I am pretty hard on waders, never had a pair last 2 full seasons before this one.
Columbia Quad's have the most grams of thinsulate I've came across so far. Didn't know if there may be a happy medium:?. Our winters around here are from one extreme to another, sometimes in the same week. :roll: Just didn't want anything too bulky/heavy
I have to go with the breathable most of the time. I get them a little big and then I can layer under them very nicely. Two pairs of socks and an oversized pair of boots and they don't pinch my feet. If it's not too cold, I can wear one pair of socks and my standard wading boots that I use for fly fishing. Very modular setup and good for all weather.
Now, here are a couple other tips that make them worthwhile.
The breathables don't hold as much water, so they dry out faster and when it freezes they don't hold as much ice. If I am in brambles, I will wear a pair of BDU pants over the top to serve as an abrasion protector.
Another tip ... if you happen to be 68 to 72 inches tall (mens large waders) but you have smaller than size 10 feet, consider buying a woman's XL. They will fit about the same, but the foot won't have as much toe room. Those large mens fit up to size 13 feet ... and that leaves a lot of extra neoprene to fill.
Lastly, you don't need a fancy pair of breathables. In duck hunting they will arguably get more wear than while fishing. I personally like to take my old waders and use them when hunting in the fields when I have to lay in the mud.
Last year was my first year for duck hunting. I was asking the same questions as you. I ended up buying the cabelas supermag 1600 gram thinsulate. However, I believe the "ultimate" by cabelas is nice as well. I like them because they don't have buckles on the shoulders, just velcro.
Where I live the temps can be anywhere from above freezing in late fall and early winter, to the mid teens in Jan.
I get cold very easily and have had, and tried, everything for cold feet. I've come to the conclusion that my cold feet have more to do with circulation than anything.
My super mags.
Pros: Absolutley do not get cold in them. In fact I've gotten too hot in them while walking which can be extremely dangerous. I love the features on them, except for the shell holder that comes with them. It clips to the rings on the waders, it hangs from the rings. I just wish they had a way to fasten the bottom of the shell holder as well. For you skinny guys it may not be a problem but if you've got a big belly it sticks straight out making it hard to access shells, a problem easily fixed by dropping a few pounds.
They are heavy. Though I'm always warm in them, I'm always wet when I remove them, which takes forever to dry them out. This can be a problem if hunting morning and evening or an evening hunt then another hunt the following morning.
For ANY wader be sure and buy some fleece wader liners, they're a life saver. They wick away moisture while keeping you warm. Buy a couple of pair. Get the ones with the elastic foot stirrup so they won't ride up on your legs while putting on the wader and while walking.
Make sure to give yourself plenty of room in the foot.
Don't be afraid to pack in your waders and put them on when you arrive at your hunting spot. This is a little trouble but worth it. While your at it, buy or take something to stand on when you change them in the field.
I'll be buying a pair of breatheables this year as well and save my neoprenes for cold, cold weather.
I got the Gore tex breathable ones from Browning. I will never own neoprene again. They are like walking in jeans. They have 800 gram thinsulate in the boots. I just layer up with fleece and wool as needed for temperature.
Buy a Peet boot dryer with wader extensions ($45). Makes a great place to store them too. Just leave the waders on the dryer. Only bad thing is it takes up a lot of room if you go on a trip.
I've been wearing the Cabelas breathable waders for about 6 years. They are absolutely the most comfortable waders I've ever worn. The breathable waders are actually tolerable during the early teal season here in FL. I don't think they would be comfortable standing in very cold water for periods of time. However, in all other situations they are great.