I'm not sure whether it's better to post this here, or in the fishing forum. I'll post it here since this is where the master-makers seem most active, and it seems more like a make/fabric question than a fishing question.
Has anyone attempted to make SUL waders? One of my main objectives in getting far into the backcountry is to explore new trout waters. Often, I don't carry waders and just fish from shore or wade wet, but on bigger, colder waters in the shoulder seasons (say, the upper Platte River in early May or mid-September), those aren't very viable options. My neoprene waders are 61 oz., and my wading boots are 52. So I am almost packing in more weight for wading than many of you are for total base weight.
Sure, several manufacturers sell "lightweight, breathable, packable" waders, but they are expensive, and they are a far-cry from being truly ultralight (I think most are at least 2 lbs).
I'm wondering whether anyone has made their own waders from UL fabrics, or whether the idea has any merit. It's one thing to make a tarp that doesn't leak in the rain, but it seems like an entirely bigger challenge to make something that won't leak underwater. I don't think the fabric needs to be breathable-how well can a fabric "breathe" when it's underwater, anyway?. Plus, as I mentioned, I'll really only be using these in cooler weather.
I would think realistic requirements would be:
1) Totally waterproof (duh)
2) Resistance to punctures/tearing
3) Ability to sew and also to seal with tape or glue
4) More durable fabric or "oversock" for the foot, to deal with abrasion caused by rubbing on boots.
Even if I resolve the question of waders, I haven't figured out any way around carrying the wading boots. Please don't suggest sandals or running shoes--the streams I fish have bottoms strewn with large, slippery boulders, and it can be hard to judge depth in rough water. My feet and ankles take plenty of abuse sliding off rocks, even with high-top, felt-lined wading boots, and I often go solo. Sandals or low-tops would be a recipe for disaster. I've seen boots (by Korkers, I think) that have interchangeable soles, so you could use rubber lug soles for hiking, then swap in felt soles for wading. But, those are expensive, and I don't know about hiking very far in heavy, oversized, wet boots.