Up until 2006, if I had to wade, I'd just jump in and wet wade. I guess getting older, that has become more challenging in the colder waters. Based on the advice of some friends, I purchased a pair of Simms Chest Waders in 2006. They have given me great service and I have certainly enjoyed the benefit of the rock solid Simms guarantee.
But, at times, chest waders are a bit much. You certainly do not need them in the mountain trout streams of the Shenandoah Park
Farther east in central Maryland, you encounter even shallower streams like Morgan or the Patuxent. Sure, they have deep pools, but a little bit of eagle eyeing allows you to dodge them as well.
If you do find yourself in a deep area, you can convert a set of chest waders into hip waders by merely running the shoulder straps around your waist. It does not look elegant, but works just fine.
Given that, you don't really need hip waders. If you are in hip country, turn the chesties into waist highs. If it's warm out and the water is not too cold, wet wade using a pair of neophrene booties. After all, it's your feet that are in the water all day and subjected to the most cold.
I purchased a set of hip waders two years ago and have yet to really find a good spot to wear them. On the few occasions where I gave them a try, I took that one wrong step and filled them with nice fresh stream water.
So, save a few bucks - don't bother with hip waders.
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